If you haven’t heard of the Texas RangersRougned Odor, you will soon. Consider this your advance notice on baseball’s next great second baseman.

People have saddled Odor with great expectations since he skipped rookie ball and went straight to Single-A at 17 years old. He made his MLB debut in 2014 and hit a disappointing .259. Last season, he hit only two points better.

But the belief in Texas is that in 2016, Odor will leap closer to becoming the All-Star second baseman the organization expects. Just ask Michael Young, a Rangers special assistant who played in Texas for 12 seasons, including seven All-Star campaigns.

When asked on SportsDayDFW’s Ballzy podcast about what could stop Odor this season, Young offered this:

Maybe the Zika virus? Nothing. I mean this guy is an absolutely… I think he’s just a fantastic player. I think the sky is the limit. He has every skill you could possibly ask for. You combine that with his work ethic, his mentality, his approach to the game, his aggressiveness, the obvious enthusiasm he has for the game and the sky really is the limit. I think the biggest thing — and this isn‘t a knock, this is just an experience thing — he’s a very young left-handed hitter. … I’m a huge fan of this kid, have been since day one and I expect him to really build on what he did after his recall last year.

Traditionally, a player’s third season is when he makes the biggest jump.

Young’s average went from .262 in his second full season to .306 in 2003. For the next four seasons (2004-07), Young hit at least .313.

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley, who spent the first 12 seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, saw a similar jump in his third year when he hit .291. That was 25 points up from his second season.

Generally, there is a two-year adjustment to major league pitching.

There are some, like Robinson Cano and Jose Altuve, who made an instant impact as rookies. Even in Altuve’s third full year, he saw his average jump from .283 to .341.

But at 20, Odor was younger than all of those players when he made his debut.

Young argued in the same interview with Ballzy that a young hitter just needs more time to see top-flight big league pitching.

And this spring, Odor proved he had learned through his struggles. He hit .349/.349/.698 with a team-leading four home runs to go with 11 RBI.

So far this season, Odor has struggled at the plate with only one hit in 10 at-bats, but he has still managed to score three of Texas’ 10 runs. Plus, three games isn’t a large enough sample size to judge whether he has improved.

His struggles through three games may be, in part, due to him moving throughout the lineup. With his speed, Odor is a natural top-of-the-order hitter.

Odor’s performance in the spring is a greater indication of where he is as a player.

The power he showed this spring, however, caused the Rangers to hit him fifth for a game and seventh for two more. A player doesn’t prepare the same, from a scouting standpoint, regardless of where he is hitting in the lineup.

Different spots see a different number of breaking balls.

Even as he’s struggled at the plate, though, Odor has proved to be a toolsy player. He contributes heavily on defense. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported Odor made several impressive defensive plays in the Rangers’ first three games.

Odor turned 22 on Feb. 3. Remember: He is playing in his third major league season at an age when some enter the draft.

There’s still time—plenty of it.

Loaded with talent apparent to both the Rangers and observers this spring, Odor can be expected to become baseball’s next great second baseman.

And as far as this promising, young Ranger is concerned, consider yourself introduced.


Seth Gruen is a national baseball columnist for Bleacher Report. Talk baseball with Seth by following him on Twitter @SethGruen.

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