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The Road to The Show™: Rangers’ White

No. 61 overall prospect overcomes injuries to shine for Texas
Rangers prospect Owen White sported a 1.91 ERA to be named the Arizona Fall League Pitcher of the Year in 2021. (Norm Hall/MLB Photos)
April 11, 2023

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at third-ranked Rangers prospect Owen White. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here. Patience seems to have prevailed in the early part

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at third-ranked Rangers prospect Owen White. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here.

Patience seems to have prevailed in the early part of Owen White’s professional career.

Entering 2023 – five years after he was drafted – White had been limited by various injuries and the pandemic to 115 ⅔ innings. But his performance so far over that time has inspired confidence in his ability to one day be an important part of what could become a stacked rotation in Texas.

The 23-year-old has an above-average four-pitch mix, led by a four-seamer with some arm-side run and carry and can reach 98 mph. His slider is on par or maybe even ahead of the fastball and has some sweeping action. He provides a different breaking ball look with a downer curveball and also throws a fading changeup.

“I had some ups-and-downs from recovering from TJ, and I broke my hand last year. Through all that, just coming out and being able to compete, it’s just been a blessing,” White told Rangers Insider last season. “Just being mentally tough. Just kind of staying nose to the grindstone. And just kind of pushing myself and having the rehab group push me.”

MLB Pipeline’s No. 61 prospect made his season debut Friday, firing three one-hit innings for Double-A Frisco. His short pitch count was to be expected after he was once again limited this spring. White was shut down from throwing for most of March because of a lingering nerve issue in his neck that was causing numbness down his throwing arm. It was the same issue that ended his impressive 2022 season in July.

The Rangers selected White out of China Grove High School in North Carolina with the No. 55 overall pick in the 2018 Draft. He decided to forgo his commitment to the University of South Carolina and other offers to play quarterback, instead signing with Texas for a reported $1.5 million bonus.

White did not leave the complex or pitch in any games in 2018. He needed Tommy John surgery the following May, and the pandemic delayed his Minor League debut even further.

The inauspicious start to his career took another difficult turn once he finally debuted with Single-A Down East. White broke his hand in his first start in 2021 after punching the ground in frustration following an error.

“My emotions just got the best of me,” White told last spring. “I did what I did, and I had to pay the consequences. I'm maturing and being able to sit in rehab for those three months and mature and to really think about how I'm not just hurting myself when I do that kind of stuff, it's the whole team and organization.”

The 6-foot-3, 199-pound right-hander made a rehab start in July, more than two months after the injury, and returned to the Wood Ducks rotation in August. White made seven starts with Down East to close out the regular season, finishing with a 2.93 ERA over that span. He was dominant in September, hitting double-digit strikeouts in each of his last three starts and pitched into the eighth inning of the season finale.

White was able to ride that momentum into the Arizona Fall League, where his prospect stock really took off. In six starts he amassed a 1.91 ERA while striking out 29 in 28 ⅓ innings. He had never come close to facing competition of that caliber and was still named AFL Pitcher of the Year. He also retired all six batters he faced in the AFL Rising Stars game.

“Going into the Fall League and doing what he did, even though he’s had limited innings. His mindset is very competitive and he’s very poised, which is surprising for somebody who hasn’t pitched a whole lot,” Rangers assistant general manager for player development Ross Fenstermaker told “I think his true ceiling is probably No. 2 or 3 starter in the big leagues, [but] I wouldn't even want to limit him to that.”

It seemed as if he was ready to put his injury troubles behind him for most of 2022. White even made his Cactus League debut in April and didn’t miss a start in the first half of the season.

He made 11 appearances with High-A Hickory, compiling a 3.99 ERA with 81 punchouts in 58 ⅔ innings. White left the South Atlantic League on a high note before being promoted to Frisco in June. He was on the winning end of five consecutive decisions and collected 30 strikeouts in his final three starts.

White went 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in his first tour of the Texas League, and his second start with the RoughRiders showed his incredible potential. He kept Corpus Christi hitless for 5 ⅓ innings, striking out seven.

Everything seemed to be working for White until he was shut down around the All-Star break. What was initially designated as forearm fatigue happened to be the nerve issue that slowed his spring this year. Staying on the field has been White’s most difficult hurdle so far. But when Texas added him to their 40-man roster this winter, they showed confidence in his ability to make it back.

Although the nature of his injuries are not really the result of overuse, White may become a good candidate for a shift to the bullpen. The Rangers have the type of pitching depth that may make such a change necessary for White or one of their other starters, like Jack Leiter, Brock Porter and Kumar Rocker at the prospect level or Major League veterans Nathan Eovaldi and Jon Gray. That depth is a good problem to have.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for