Alan Rangel’s spotlight was turned a little bit brighter when he was added to the Atlanta Braves’ 40-man roster last November, but although he received his first major league call-up during the season, Rangel put more question marks on his profile following an up-and-down campaign.
Preseason Report Card
Rangel was a surprise addition to the 40-man roster last winter to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, and the addition gave the long-time farmhand an upper hand towards making the majors. Rangel had spent his career as a top-30 arm and remained as such for us entering the season, even in a weakened class. He quickly made a name for himself by getting to Low-A Rome as a 19 year old in 2017, he hit a plateau and didn’t advance beyond A-ball until 2021. He broke out in 2021 with an improved fastball and an above-average changeup, and garnered mixed expectations on whether he could continue his delayed ascent through the system.
What we saw in 2022
Rangel’s strikeout rate spiked in 2021 and in his first full season at Double-A, he repeated those numbers. His 144 total strikeouts in 117 2⁄3 innings made him one of the top strikeout arms in the system, but beyond that the season for him was a regression. Rangel’s ERA steadily stayed above five over the first month and a half until a four start span in which he allowed four runs over five innings pushed his ERA below 4.50 in June. Then he hit another rough spell which pushed his ERA back over five where it finished the season. Rangel’s command through most of the season was a notable regression from 2021, and through his first 20 starts it manifested both in high walk rates (4.63 BB/9) and frequent hard-hit balls (1.18 HR/9). He was able to rein in the walks towards the end of the season, but was still prone to extra-base hits. Rangel was recalled to Atlanta on September 24th for the first time in his professional career, but he did not appear in a major league game before being sent back to Triple-A.
He finished his Double-A stint with a 5.26 ERA, 4.30 FIP, and 4.52 xFIP in 114 2⁄3 innings spanning 26 starts.
Rangel finds himself in a delicate position going into 2023, where he needs a strong performance to hold onto his 40-man spot. A repeat of 2022 would likely see him as one of the first to get designated for assignment if spots are needed, and at 25 years old and in a system deep with pitching he needs to break out to remain a starter with the Braves. His late-season improvement in his walk rate lends some confidence to his performance going into 2023, but with a curveball that isn’t as advanced as his other two pitches he may profile better in the bullpen. He can sit in the mid-90s as a starter, and in shorter stints he may be able to capitalize on his two-pitch mix. That said, the Braves have been notably hesitant to move pitchers without an injury history to the bullpen and Rangel will likely be given a starting role in Gwinnett to kick off the season. At that level, it makes it likely he would make his major league debut next season in some capacity if he can keep his hold on a 40 man spot.