Texas Rangers

Rangers didn’t want to promote Hearn until summer. Here’s why he is starting Thursday

The pitching prospect the Texas Rangers wanted to keep in the minor leagues until at least the All-Star break will instead be making his MLB debut Thursday after only a handful of starts at Triple A Nashville.

Dallas-born and Royse City-raised Taylor Hearn, a top-10 Rangers prospect, will start against the Seattle Mariners. The left-hander is needed because right-hander Adrian Sampson, who was scheduled to start the opener a four-game series at T-Mobile Field, was used in relief Wednesday in the Rangers’ 6-5 loss to the Oakland A’s.

A lack of pitching depth, an issue that started late in spring training with the sudden retirement of Jason Hammel after he was told he had made the team, put the Rangers in a position the were hoping to avoid.

Hearn, though, is on turn and on his way to the major leagues.

“He’s got power stuff,” manager Chris Woodward said. “When he’s in the zone his fastball plays well. He throws hard. His secondary stuff, when he throws it with conviction, he’s got elite stuff.”

Hearn is 1-3 with a 4.05 ERA and 26 strikeouts through four Triple A starts. Acquired from Pittsburgh in the Keone Kela trade last summer, Hearn is on the 40-man roster and was the choice over right-hander Phillips Valdez.

Valdez is not on the 40-man nor is he as stretched out as Hearn, who could provide the Rangers with some length after two straight bullpen-heavy days.

On Tuesday, the Rangers scratched lefty Drew Smyly from his scheduled Wednesday start and placed him on the 10-day injured list. That forced Kyle Dowdy, the long man, into a spot start.

After Lance Lynn lasted only 3 1/3 innings Tuesday and forced Wei-Chieh Huang and Jeffrey Springs to pitch, the Rangers were short on relievers. Dowdy lasted only three innings, and Sampson was the choice for the sixth inning after Jesse Chavez worked the fourth and fifth.

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.