Frisco, Texas —— You can’t blame Jose Trevino if he were feeling something of a hangover this year.
Flash back a few months to a memorable offseason the Texas Rangers’ catcher spent in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Turn the clocks back a few more months and see Trevino raising the championship trophy in the California League after a full summer as the High Desert Mavericks’ everyday catcher in the unforgiving heat of southern California’s Mojave Desert. Flash back another year, and it was the same story in Hickory, North Carolina; flash back one more year, and Trevino came within inches of raising another trophy up in the Northwest League.
Between long summers, everyday catching duties, and postseason berths and winter leagues and prospect rankings and a significantly raised profile in the Rangers’ organization—one that even encompasses an interview or two for an upcoming tell-all book—maybe it’d be natural to think that Trevino is moving a little slowly out of the gate here in his first few weeks in Double-A with the Texas League’s Frisco RoughRiders.
But if you think that, you don’t know Jose Trevino.
“No, it’s just another year, and I’m looking forward to doing it all again,” Trevino told Baseball Census on Friday afternoon at Frisco’s Dr. Pepper Ballpark, shrugging off any talk of a letdown after so much postseason play the last few seasons. “If anything, I’m still trying to get better. You win it all, and people say, ‘well, how can you get better?’ Go pick up some little stuff. Come back and prepare the same way I did last year, and go from there.”
“This is the same thing [moving up to Double-A], it’s just another progression for me,” he added, before grinning. “I’m waiting for the scouting reports to get a little thicker, actually. I like having all the answers to the test.”
Choose your qualifier when it comes to the Texas Rangers’ top catching prospect—winner, grinder, leader, team-first guy, student of the game, etc.—but that scouting report anecdote encompasses what Jose Trevino is about: the work. You could see it last year in High Desert, a hellhole of a place that’s no longer fit for the Cal League. As everybody else angled for a ticket out of town, the catcher embraced one of the worst outposts in all of baseball and wanted to stay there, just because it made him work harder.
“I want to be here all season,” Trevino told me at one point last summer in that God-forsaken place. “I don’t want to move up unless I earn it.”
A Cal League championship, the 2016 minor league Gold Glove award at catcher, and a spot in the Arizona Fall League all collectively earned Jose Trevino his position in Frisco now. But to enjoy it? There’s a truth about a workhorse like Jose Trevino: all the success won’t satisfy, and it’s doubly tough when the stops and starts of minor injuries trip up the early season rhythm. Two minor hand injuries sustained while catching early this year landed Trevino on the bench for two weeks’ time across parts of the first two months of the season in Frisco, and the Texas Rangers’ catcher nearly tore his hair out waiting to get back on the field.
“It’s tough to start off hot, get hurt, come back after a week and start to get your rhythm back again, and then get hurt again,” he admitted. “There’s a reason that stuff keeps happening though. Maybe there’s something bigger out there for me. But it’s especially hard when they tell you that you can’t do anything. Like, if they tell you to sit out, what are you supposed to do? What can I do? It’s boring, you sit there and you’re trying to help the team as much as you can, but there’s nothing for you to do. You pretty much see if anybody needs anything, and if you have anything on one of their hitters, or a pitcher or something, you let them know.”
Trevino is fully healthy now, with the everyday rhythm of a good few weeks under his belt. Over a five-game stretch at the end of May, the catcher slugged eleven hits and raised his average as high as .276, and he’s struck out just three times in his last 69 plate appearances entering Saturday.
But after winning championships in the South Atlantic League and the California League, the last two years, Trevino is not where he wants to be yet—that’s the workhorse within him—and his only focus is the RoughRiders’ 23-30 record and current last-place standing in the Texas League.
“We all know each other, we’re still the same core, and we have to get adjusted here, but we are making steps forward,” he said about the small group of Texas Rangers prospects that have claimed rings in Hickory and High Desert and now finds themselves in last place in Frisco. “You just have to keep going. I’m not worried. I know the guys in here aren’t panicking.”
“For years we used to talk about ‘wait until we get to Double-A, wait until we get to Double-A,’ and now here we are,” he concluded, shaking his head. “And we’re going to do something about it.”
In this Jose Trevino / Texas Rangers feature: