On Sunday evening the Texas Rangers promoted right-handed pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx to the major league roster. He is an unusual rookie at age 32, but let’s take a look at the long-time minor league vet and see what he offers.
Bibens-Dirkx was drafted by the Seattle Mariners out of the University of Portland, a 16th round pick back in 2006. Initially a relief pitcher, he was dogged by injuries and control problems and was released in 2008. After a brief sojourn in the independent Golden Baseball League he signed with the Chicago Cubs as a free agent and was converted to a starting pitcher, advancing quickly to Triple-A in 2010. He foundered there, then began a minor league free agent drift that saw him pitching in the Washington Nationals, Colorado Rockies, and Toronto Blue Jays systems the next few years.
By 2016 he was pitching for Somerset in the independent Atlantic League, performing well enough to earn another trial in affiliated ball, this time with the Texas Rangers. He posted a 4.34 ERA in 85 innings for Triple-A Round Rock last year with a 62/25 K/BB, then was performing very well in ‘17 with a 3.04 ERA, 20/7 K/BB in 23.2 innings.
Bibens-Dirkx is listed at 6-1, 210, born April 29, 1985. He doesn’t have blazing velocity, his fastball generally at 90-92, but he’s not afraid to bust right-handed hitters inside with it. He also has a slider/cutter and a change-up. His command isn’t exceptional but he doesn’t walk the ballpark. He also deserves credit for perseverance. Overall it is a sixth starter/long relief profile.