Five Texas Rangers Highlight Utah’s World Series Ties
Oct 25, 2023, 1:32 PM | Updated: 2:01 pm
SALT LAKE CITY – Many have a hard time thinking of Utah as a hotbed of baseball activity, but the Beehive state is well-represented in the 2023 World Series.
The National League’s Arizona Diamondbacks are set to take on the American League’s Texas Rangers in the 119th fall classic
Your 2023 #WorldSeries matchup is set:
— MLB (@MLB) October 25, 2023
From low-level minor league stops with the Ogden Raptors and Orem Owlz, to the doorstep of the big leagues with the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees, professional baseball is alive and well in the Beehive State.
With Big League Utah aiming to bring an expansion Major League Baseball team to the state, we celebrate the World Series participants whose baseball career has taken them through the state.
The Rangers, one of six franchises to never win a World Series, advanced to its third fall classic after beating MLB’s modern-day version of Goliath, the Houston Astros, in a seven-game classic. Texas finished the regular with a 90-72 record, tied with the Astros for the AL West Division lead.
Nathan Eovaldi – Starting Pitcher
Before becoming a two-time All-Star and 2018 World Series hero for the Boston Red Sox, Eovaldi was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. That summer, Eovaldi made one appearance, throwing 2.2 innings for the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League. In 2010, Eovaldi was back in Ogden to make one start for the Raptors. He picked up the win in a five-inning appearance.
Nathan Eovaldi is one of the most impactful Red Sox postseason pitchers ever. Whether it be his dominance in the 2018 World Series, or his sparkling performance against the Yankees in the ‘21 Wild Card Game.
A Boston legend in my book. THANK YOU NATE!!!pic.twitter.com/PBL0aNvWPK
— Boston Sports Gordo (@BOSSportsGordo) December 27, 2022
In his first season with the Rangers after signing as a free agent, Eovaldi went 12-5 with a 3.63 ERA.
Andrew Heaney – Starting Pitcher
Now in his tenth MLB season, Heaney was originally a 2012 first-round draft pick of the Miami Marlins. After being traded twice in the same day during the 2014 off-season, Heaney ended up in the Los Angeles Angels organization where he was assigned to pitch for the Salt Lake Bees. He would go on to make 15 starts for Salt Lake in 2015, pitching to a 4.71 ERA in 78.1 innings.
"We just gotta reset…it's a new series we just gotta go play better."
— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) October 20, 2023
Heaney spent seven seasons in the Angels organization, making three stops with the Bees between 2015 and 2019. Combined, Heaney started 18 games in a Salt Lake uniform.
Heaney finished with a 10-6 record and 4.15 ERA in the 2023 regular season.
Josh Sborz – Relief Pitcher
Sborz became an important piece of the Rangers bullpen in his fifth MLB season. Drafted out of the University of Virginia by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015, Sborz appeared in two games, starting one for Ogden in 2015. He threw four innings, struck out four, walked four, and allowed two earned runs with the Raptors.
Josh Sborz, Painted 85mph Curveball and 97mph Fastball, Individual Pitches + Overlay pic.twitter.com/9fjaIZMgik
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 23, 2023
Sborz finished the regular season with a 5.50 ERA in 52.1 innings across 44 appearances.
Corey Seager – Shortstop
Originally a first-round pick of the Dodgers in 2012, Seager signed a 10-year, $325 million contract to the Rangers starting shortstop as a free agent in 2022.
— MLB (@MLB) October 24, 2023
Before ever dreaming of a big-money free agent deal, Seager made his professional debut with the Ogden Raptors as an 18-year-old in 2012. In 46 games, Seager slashed .309/.383/.520 and flashed the All-Star potential he would eventually grow into. Seager finished his first summer of pro baseball with eight home runs, 33 runs batted in, and 54 hits.
A four-time MLB All-Star, former Rookie of the Year, and 2020 World Series champion, Seager batted .327 this season with 33 home runs and 96 RBI.
Will Smith – Relief Pitcher
Looking for his third consecutive World Series title in 11 major league seasons, the one-time All-Star has made appearances with two Utah teams during his storied career.
After the Astros won it all last year, I remember finding Will Smith in the clubhouse and reminding him that we met in that same situation with the Braves the year before, when he donated his spikes
— Josh Rawitch (@HOFprez) October 24, 2023
After being a seventh-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in 2008, Smith started his pro career with 16 appearances for the Orem Owlz that summer. He finished the year with a 3.08 ERA and 8-2 record in 16 appearances and 73 innings.
In 2010, Smith was back in Utah but now with the Bees. As a 20-year-old, Smith made nine starts for Salt Lake. He left the Bees with a 2-4 record and 5.60 ERA in 53 innings of work.
Smith previously won the World Series with the Atlanta Braves in 2021 and Houston Astros in 2022.
Donnie Ecker – Bench Coach & Offensive Coordinator
Formerly the Bees hitting coach in 2018 under current Salt Lake skipper Keith Johnson. Ecker got his first MLB coaching job with the Cincinnati Reds in 2019 and has spent the past two seasons in his role with the Texas Rangers.
Bobby Wilson – Catching Coordinator
Wilson’s professional playing career began in 2003 when he hit .284 in 57 games for the Provo Angels, the rookie level affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. Wilson went on to play 214 games for the Bees across parts of five different seasons.
He hit .203 in 386 major league games across ten seasons before retiring following the 2019 season. Wilson has been a coach with the Rangers since 2021.
Arizona is playing in its second World Series and first since 2001 when the Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in an instant classic game seven. Arizona made the playoffs as the final wild card and bucked the odds by winning games six and seven in Philadelphia to overcome a 3-2 series deficit. The Diamondbacks finished the regular season with an 84-78 record, the lowest win total of any team to make the playoffs this season.
"There's probably going to be some tears."
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) October 25, 2023
Despite not having a player from Utah on their roster, the Diamondbacks triple-A Reno Aces share the Pacific Coast League West division with the Salt Lake Bees. Reno won 14 of 18 games against the Bees this season and took five of six in their lone trip to Salt Lake back in April.
NLCS game seven starter Brandon Pfaadt struck out eight Bees and allowed three hits in seven shutout innings in a 3-1 Aces win on April 20. Pfaadt started three times against Salt Lake in 2022, totaling 20 innings and allowing 13 hits, six runs, and striking out 23 batters.
Game seven starting third baseman Emmanuel Rivera hit safely in all five of his starts against the Bees in that April 2023 series. Rivera piled up ten hits, one home run, five RBI, and scored six runs in the Aces series win.
Coverage of Game 1 of the World Series starts Friday at 7pm ET 📺 pic.twitter.com/VRMnw9yFqQ
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 25, 2023
Rangers Meet D-Backs in 119th World Series
Game One of the 2023 World Series between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondback is scheduled for Friday, October 25 in Arlington, Texas at Globe Life Field.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:03 p.m. (MT). The entirety of the 2023 World Series will be broadcast on FOX.