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Carter not only top rookie for World Series champion Rangers after Langford's quick rise to majors

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Evan Carter established himself as a top candidate for AL Rookie of the Year this season with how he burst onto the scene late in the Texas Rangers’ run to their first World Series title.

While that is still the case, Carter hasn’t even been the most talked about rookie outfielder on his own team this spring.

Wyatt Langford followed an impressive ascension through the Rangers’ minor league system last summer, after being their first-round draft pick, by hitting .365 with six homers and 20 RBIs in 21 spring training games.

Carter and Langford will both be in the starting lineup Thursday night, along with six All-Stars, when the Rangers raise a championship banner and play their season opener against the Chicago Cubs.

“Evan is ready, and he showed that last year. And we feel the same with Wyatt. We feel like he’s passed the test. He’s done the things that we’ve wanted to see and he answered the questions that we’ve had. And we think he makes us a better team and ultimately has shown he’s ready,” general manager Chris Young said. “They’re one of the best 13 major league players that we have right now on the position player side. And so we want to win games, and we feel like they give us the best chance to win.”

Langford and Carter go into the season as the top two candidates for AL Rookie of the Year, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Langford opened with a slight edge, given a 28.6% chance to win the award with Carter at 23.8%. Only two Rangers have won the award, reliever Neftali Feliz on their 2010 AL championship team and first baseman Mike Hargrove in 1974.

After Carter's call-up in September as an injury fill-in, making his big league debut 10 days after his 21st birthday, he hit .306 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 23 games to finish the regular season. The left fielder then reached base in all 17 of the Rangers' postseason games, hitting .300 with an MLB postseason record nine doubles. He also had 10 walks.

Carter still classifies as a rookie since he has only 62 at-bats and 24 days of big league service in the regular season. He had almost as many postseason at-bats (60).

The 22-year-old Langford was the fourth overall pick in the amateur draft last summer after playing in the College World Series with Florida. He then quickly rose through the Rangers' system, hitting a combined .360 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs and posting a .480 on-base percentage in 44 games spread over four different levels — from rookie ball to Triple-A. This spring, he was among the top seven league-wide in batting average, homers, RBIs.

“A calm confidence. ... He was just who he was, and dominated in spring training,” said Josh Jung, the All-Star third baseman Langford lived with in Arizona this spring. “He's a special talent.”

Since the draft began in 1965, the only position players on an opening day roster with fewer professional games played were Pete Incaviglia with the Rangers in 1986 and John Olerud with Toronto in 1990, according to MLB.com.

Bruce Bochy, whose World Series title in his debut with the Rangers was his fourth as a manager, has obviously been impressed by two rookies he will write into his opening-day lineup.

“Both of them have that quiet confidence about them, and self-assurance that they belong, but not in any kind of arrogant way,” Bochy said. “They remind me of each other how they’ve handled it.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb