The No. 10 overall selection in the 2010 draft, Michael Choice probably would already be in the major leagues had he not suffered a season-ending injury in 2012.
Deployed directly to High-A Stockton in 2011 for his full-season debut, Choice showcased his monster potential by batting .285/.376/.542 with 30 home runs in 542 plate appearances.
After a sluggish start at Double-A Midland in 2012, he finally appeared to be turning the corner when an errant pitch broke his hand in July. The outfielder finished the season with a disappointing .779 OPS and 10 home runs in 402 plate appearances.
The 24-year-old moved up to Triple-A Sacramento in 2013 and enjoyed a solid bounce-back campaign in the Pacific Coast League. Playing in 132 games, Choice batted .302/.390/.445 with 14 home runs and 89 RBI in 600 plate appearances.
While he didn’t showcase the robust light-tower power that he did before the injury in 2011, Choice made noticeable improvements at the plate by employing a more consistent approach and working deeper counts. And even though he fanned 115 times in 132 games last season, the outfielder actually improved both his strikeout (19.2 percent) and walk (11.5 percent) rates.
Choice ultimately reached the major leagues as a September call-up, and he looked good despite limited playing time. Appearing in nine games over the final month of the regular season, he collected five hits and struck out six times in 19 plate appearances.
The Texas Rangers' acquisition of Choice this past offseason was a great, low-risk move, not to mention a significantly cheaper alternative to re-signing Nelson Cruz. The 24-year-old is under team control through the 2019 season and has the potential to be a source of cheap, 20-home run power from the right side for years to come.
While he can play all three outfield positions, Choice is expected to see a majority of time at both corner spots, as well as designated hitter next season, with a majority of his playing time coming against right-handed pitching.
Unless Texas signs or trades for another outfielder, it’s hard not to like Choice’s chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. While he’s sure to struggle and go in and out of slumps like any young hitter, he also has the potential to put up some big numbers in that ballpark.