Texas Rangers

Rangers rolling with left-handed prospect Joe Palumbo in early Saturday game

Joe Palumbo on Rangers debut: ‘I’m kind of speechless about it’

Texas Rangers left-hander Joe Palumbo called his MLB debut awesome. "I'm kind of speechless about it."
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Texas Rangers left-hander Joe Palumbo called his MLB debut awesome. "I'm kind of speechless about it."

The Texas Rangers will start left-hander Joe Palumbo in Game 1 of a double-header Saturday against the Oakland Athletics.

Palumbo, who has a 3.38 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) over 50 2/3 innings with Double-A Frisco, will be making his major league debut.

The 30th round pick in the 2013 draft is unlikely stay with the club long. But manager Chris Woodward is keeping an open mind.

“You never know,” Woodward said. “If he dominates the Oakland A’s, him being left-handed with a dominantly right-handed lineup, if he were to pitch pretty well against that team, it may show enough for us to consider at some point becoming one of our rotation guys.”

Palumbo, 24, spent his first four seasons in Single-A or lower. He had Tommy John surgery in April 2017. He was promoted to Frisco for his final two starts in 2018 and fared well. He is rated the No. 7 prospect in the organization by MLB.com.

“It’s a good opportunity to get him out there. If it’s only one start, great, it’s a good experience for him,” he said. “We are not asking him to take on the fifth spot for the rest of the year. He has been throwing the ball pretty well, he has been throwing strikes, his command has been good.”

No matter how well Palumbo pitches Saturday, he’s most likely to go back to the minors, if only for a while. Adrian Sampson will pitch the 8 p.m. Saturday game when Adrian Beltre’s No. 29 jersey is retired.

“It just gives us an option as we move forward if something happens to our rotation, he may be the guy who comes back,” Woodward said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how that comes out, As a young guy, you never know. All the reports we’re getting, this kid can handle it.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.