The Texas Rangers lost out on making the playoffs in 2013, losing a play-in game to the Tampa Bay Rays. Meanwhile, the Rangers farm system took on a new look as they graduated top prospects like Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez, and Leonys Martin to the major leagues, and traded away such prospects as Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, C.J. Edwards, and Leury Garcia. Still, this system is good and there will again be several players knocking on the door this season.
1. Rougned Odor, 2B 2/3/1994 H:5’11″ W:170 – The recently turned twenty year old slashed .305/.365/.474 with 11 HR & 32 SB over 511 AB between High-A and AA as a 19 year old in 2013. Odor is an aggressive hitter that makes hard contact and generates a good amount of power for someone who doesn’t look the part of a slugger. Having said that, he doesn’t project as a player to provide a lot of over the fence power in the majors, but could certainly be a gap finding doubles hitter. His plate discipline is improving and will need to continue to do so to make it as more than a utility infielder. Odor has average speed, but combines it with his instincts at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. Defensively, Odor will not move off 2B, despite the sick wealth of hitting the Rangers have in the middle infield. He’s a defender with good range and a enough arm to play the position as an above average 2B in the majors.
Our Instinct: Odor will be back at AA to start the season and at barely 20 years old in 2014. With Profar and Andrus in the majors, Odor should get a full season of AA and might spend some time at AAA. Something will have to give next season, and it’s really anyone’s guess who will be moving to a new position or new team. ETA 2015.
2. Jorge Alfaro, C 6/11/1993 H:6’2″ W:185 – The young Colombian impressed in 2013. He slashed .265/.346/.463 with 18 HR & 18 SB over 404 AB at Low-A, with a few at bats on rehab in Rookie-A and a few at bats after a promotion to High-A. With an excellent throwing arm and great strides defensively behind the plate, Alfaro is showing he can stick behind the plate and is very likely the Rangers catcher of the future.
Alfaro still has some swing and miss in his approach, but he improved his BB rate, while his K rate only slightly increased. He still has some untapped raw power and could see his HR numbers reach into the twenties. Meanwhile, he is very aggressive on the bases and could be a 20/20 threat in his prime.
Our Instinct: Alfaro is developing into one of the better catching prospects in the game and made a big jump up the prospect ranks in 2013. He should spend most of 2014 in the High-A Carolina League, possibly brushing AA. Could he be ready for the big leagues in 2015? Yes. However, there isn’t reason for the Rangers to rush him and he should get plenty of time to polish his game at each level. ETA: 2016.
3. Mike Choice, OF 11/10/1989 H:6’0″ W:215 – Choice slashed .302/.390/.445 with 14 HR and 89 RBI over 510 AB in the AAA PCL for the 2013 season. He also had 19 AB at the major league level during the season for the Oakland Athletics. The A’s then traded him to the Texas Rangers on December 3, 2013 along with infielder Chris Bostick for outfielder Craig Gentry and relief pitcher Josh Lindblom.
Choice is still considered to have a good amount of raw power, but since his breakout in 2011, hasn’t really tapped into it. He still strikes out at a fair click, but has cut it down a bit, while improving his walk totals and hitting for average. It’s remains to be seen if he can hit for a respectable average in the majors with the said strikeouts. Defensively, Choice has average speed, but ranges well and can play all 3 outfield spots.
Our Instinct: Choice may be called on to cover all 3 outfield spots with Texas. He’s going to get a good amount of AB in 2014. Some should come at the outfield spots, especially against left handed pitchers, spelling Leonys Martin. Against right handed pitchers, he should see plenty of AB at DH. He really has nothing left to prove at AAA. ETA NOW.
4. Luke Jackson, RHP 8/24/1991 H:6’2″ W:185 – Luke Jackson pitches in the mid 90′s and can brush as high as 98 to go with a curveball that flashes plus potential and an average change up. He does struggle with his control and his command more than we would like to see. But his stuff is so good, if he puts it all together he could be a special pitcher. As we’ve said before, the development of his change up is going to be crucial as well. Jackson went 11-4 with 2.04 ERA (3.17) FIP with a 134/59 K/BB ratio over 128 IP between High-A and AA. He was aided by a lucky .271 BABIP, but he has the stuff to miss a lot of bats.
Our Instinct: Jackson should return to AA Frisco to start the 2014 season and could make it to AAA before the season is over. There’s a decent chance he will get a look at the major league level later in the season. He has high end #3 upside and possibly more. Becoming a high leverage arm out of the pen can’t be ruled out either. ETA: 2015.
5. Joey Gallo, 3B 11/19/1993 H:6’5″ W:205 – Gallo slashed .251/.338/.623 with 40 HR & 15 SB over 411 AB at Low-A. It did come at a cost though. 172 strikeouts to 50 walks. With the plus plus power Gallo is certainly a high ceiling/low floor type player.
Over his 2 years in pro baseball, Gallo has bashed 62 HR and 35 Doubles and struck out 250 times over 611 AB. He invokes visions of Adam Dunn in the minors. The problem with that comp though, is that Dunn made far more contact and struck out a lot less. Gallo will need to take a big bite out of his K rate for him to have a chance to make it past AA.
Our Instinct: I can honestly say we are rooting for Gallo to put it together. It should be a lot of fun watching him launch massive shots and winning HR titles. There’s a lot of work to do before that can happen. He should pound out another 30-40 HR at High-A in 2014. ETA: 2016.
6. Nick Williams, OF 9/8/1993 H:6’3″ W:195 – The Rangers did well signing away the talented second rounder from Texas A&M in the 2012 draft. Williams slashed .293/.337/.543 with 17 HR & 8 SB over 376 AB at Low-A. The average was aided by an extremely lucky .367 BABIP. He needs to cut down on his 27.2% K rate and boost the 3.7% BB rate. Where the change needs to start is in his approach. Williams firmly believes he can hit anything, which produces a lot of swing and misses. He has the ability to recognize breaking and off speed pitches, but chooses to swing away at everything. That has to change as the pitchers at the next level are going to eat him alive. Defensively, Williams has the range to play all 3 outfield positions, but may lack the arm to play center.
Our Instinct: Williams should spend most if not all of 2014 at High-A. The Rangers are in no rush to push him, so a lot is going to depend on the adjustments he makes. There’s a lot of upside here, but there’s no reason to think we will see him in the majors for several years. ETA 2016.
7. Alex Gonzalez, RHP 1/15/1992 H:6’2″ W:195 – The 23rd overall pick from 2013 draft went 0-4 with a 3.80 ERA (3.36 FIP) and a 35/16 K/BB ratio over 42.2 IP between the Short Season NWL and the High-A Carolina league last season. Chi-Chi, as Gonzalez is better known as, has a fastball that works in the low 90, but he’s had some additional velocity at times. His slider is his lone plus pitch with high 80s velocity. He still needs to refine his off speed pitch if he’s going to remain a starter because pounding the zone with average velocity is asking to get pounded by better hitters.
Our Instinct: Gonzalez will be more of a back end rotation type with the upshot of a #3 once he’s able to come up with a more serviceable changeup. He’s a smart pitcher and can manipulate his fastball when he’s really on. He doesn’t have the premium stuff to be a front of the rotation type despite being just that in college. He should start the season at High-A in 2014. ETA 2016.
8. Travis Demeritte, SS 9/30/1994 H:6’0″ W:178 – The 30th overall pick in the 2013 draft slashed .285/.411/.444 with 4 HR and 5 SB over 144 AB in Rookie-A Arizona League last season. He joined fellow Georgia prep stars Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier as first round picks. He’s a SS by trade for now, but he projects as a future 3B. Demeritte has excellent bad speed and makes hard contact. The raw power is there and should translate from gap power to over the fence power as he adds muscle to his frame. Defensively, Demeritte has a solid glove and a good arm.
Our Instinct: Demeritte has some swing and miss to him which isn’t exactly shocking for his age. He will work on cutting down on the strikeouts in his second season. Though the Rangers could send him to the Short Season NWL, he’s ready for full season ball, and should head to the Low-A SALLY in 2014. ETA 2017.
9. Ronald Guzman, 1B 10/20/1994 H:6’5″ W:205 – Guzman slashed .272/.325/.387 with 4 HR over 173 AB at Low-A in 2013. Guzman got off to a late start to the season, sidelined until June after having surgery to his right knee to repair torn meniscus on March 15th. His season would end a month early after getting hit on the right hand by a pitch.
Guzman makes excellent contact and has a great batter’s eye. How he will handle off speed stuff as he moves up the ladder remains to be seen. He looks very comfortable at the plate, with excellent balance and has a compact stride as he brings the barrel of the bat through the zone. Guzman has plus power potential, but is slow in showing itself.
Defensively, he’s a little slow and his arm is average at best. His days as an outfielder appear to be over and can now focus on 1B exclusively.
Our Instinct: We don’t think he will have trouble hitting at the next level. It’s all going to come down to his plate discipline and getting his pitch to drive. Guzman should start the season back at Low-A and then advance to High-A during the season, though it can’t be ruled out that the Rangers push him to High-A to start the season. ETA: 2016.
10. Marcos Diplan, RHP 9/18/1996 H:5’11″ W:160 – The young Dominican is a fantastic pitching prospect. The red flag is his slight build; Diplan comes in at 5’11″ 160 pounds. But what he lacks in size, he makes up for with stuff. Diplan features 89-92 MPH fastball that has touched 94. The rest of his arsenal contains a future above-average power curveball and a future average changeup. What I love about Diplan is his ability, even at his size, to create a downhill plane for his pitches. However, he does need to work on driving more toward the plate with his front leg.
Our Instinct: Diplan will make his pro debut in 2014 and it should be in the States and possibly right up here in the NWL. If he can develop those secondary pitches, we’re looking at a pitcher with #2 upside. ETA 2018.
11. Luis Sardinas, SS 5/16/1993 H:6’1″ W:150 – Sardinas slashed .288/.340/.347 with 2 HR & 32 SB over 518 AB between High-A and AA in 2013. He slashed .354/.418/.441 in the Venezuelan Winter League. The only tool that Sardinas really lacks is power. He’s a spray hitter who can leg out a long single into a double or steal a base with his plus speed. He’s now stole 32 bases 2 years in a row.
Defensively, Sardinas has a strong arm, excellent range, and a great glove making him a plus defender. If the bat doesn’t carry him to the majors, the glove will .
Our Instinct: Sardinas could turn into a super middle infield utility player, however he can continue to hit he could become a valuable trade chip for the Rangers. Sardinas should start the season back at AA, eventually finding his way to AAA. ETA: 2015.
12. Chris Bostick, 2B 3/24/1993 H:5’11″ W:185 – Though his 2012 campaign in the New York-Penn league didn’t yield great numbers, he held his own against older competition as a 19 year old. In 2013 it would be a different story in his first taste of full season ball. He slashed .282/.354/.452 with 14 HR and 25 SB over 489 AB. He also posted a 122/51 K/BB ratio. Bostick was involved in the previously mention trade between Texas and Oakland on December 3rd, 2013.
At the plate Bostic is very balanced with a solid swing. He has some raw power about him and turned some of that gap power into over the fence power in the MWL. Bostick is very aggressive at the plate and needs to cut down on the swing and misses and work the count better. While not a burner, he has good speed and shouldn’t have any trouble stealing 20 bases per season moving up the ladder.
Defensively, Bostick has transitioned from ss to 2B, which he is more suited for with not having great arm strength.
Our Instinct: Bostick made a lot of progress in 2013. It is a bit perplexing why the Rangers traded for him as they have no shortage of players to slide in at the keystone. He should spend the season at High-A and will have to work on his pitch recognition as the pitchers in the Carolina League aren’t going to just throw him fastballs. ETA: 2016
13. Akeem Bostick, RHP 5/4/1995 H:6’5″ W:185 – The 2013 62nd overall pick went 4-1 with a 2.83 ERA (2.55 FIP) and a 33/12 K/BB ratio over 41.1 IP in his pro debut in the Arizona League. Bostick has a great pitchers frame with long arms and plenty of room to add muscle to his frame. Bostick was a 3 sport star and high school, and it took some convincing to get him to sign a baseball contract, the sport that he was the most raw at.
Bostick throws a 90-92 mph fastball that he can dial up to 95 mph at times. His secondary pitches will determine his future. Right now he has curveball with a too much loop on it and a change up that has just been introduced.
Our Instinct: Bostick looks the part of a pitcher. If all breaks well for him he could have 2 plus pitches and an average one. The average one is obviously the change up, and if that doesn’t work out for him, he still has a chance of becoming a very good relief pitcher. He should start the season in NWL, but Texas is funny about being aggressive with their placements. He could very well start the season at Low-A. ETA 2017.
14. Jose Leclerc, RHP 12/19/1993 H:6’0″ W:165 – Signed as an international free agent (Dominican Republic) in December 2010 for a reported $85,000 bonus, Leclerc went 3-4 with a 3.36 ERA (2.40 FIP) and a 77/21 K/BB ratio over 59 IP in relief at Low-A. Leclerc was much better as the season progressed, he started the season sitting in the 92-93 mph range, however finished strong in the 96 mph range. He throws a change up in the 84-87 mph range a much improved curveball that is turning into a wipe out pitch in the 74-77 mph range. He won’t need a 3rd pitch as a high leverage reliever, and he projects to have 2 plus pitches.
Our Instinct: Leclerc is going to need to refine his command as he moves up the ladder, but there’s a lot to like in the way he pitched last season after a bumpy April. He will likely start the season at High-A, but could make his way to AA before the season ends. He’s going to be fast tracked. ETA 2015.
15. Keon Kela, RHP 4/16/1993 H:6’1″ W:190 – A 12th round draft pick from Everett CC in the 2012 draft, Kela went 5-4 with a 3.46 ERA (2.48 FIP) with a 52/15 K/BB ratio over 3 levels. He throws a low 90’s fastball that can brush 95 mph to go along with an average slider that flashes plus if he can get his command ironed out.
Our Instinct: Kela is another reliever that is being fast tracked. He pitched well in the AFL and in the Venezuelan Winter League and should start the 2014 season at High-A. He should make it to AA before the season is over. ETA 2015.
16. Nick Martinez, RHP 8/5/1990 H:6’1″ W:175 – The 2011 18th rounder went 12-7 with a 2.50 ERA (3.03 FIP) with with a 128/45 K/BB ratio over 151-1 IP between High-A and AA. Martinez is a ground ball pitch who uses a 3 pitch repertoire that includes a 92-93 mph fastball, an average curveball, and an average change up.
Our Instinct: Martinez has good command of his pitches and is improving his secondary pitches. He will continue to polish his pitches at AA in 2014 and could see some time at AAA and possibly a call up before the season ends. He’s got back of the rotation upside. ETA 2015.
17. Jairo Beras, OF 12/25/1995 H:6’5″ W:178 – Despite the age scandal surrounding Beras, he was a highly regarded prospect coming from the Dominican Republic. He wasn’t allowed to play until July 1st, 2013 as punishment for false information. Beras slashed .250/.314/.438 with 2 HR over 64 AB in the AZL. Bat speed and raw power were evident, however hugely raw in all aspects of the game. While he could end up as a center fielder, his plus arm suggests that he will become a pretty good right fielder.
Our Instinct: Beras is barely 18. It would make a lot of sense for him to start the 2014 season in the NWL, however as I keep saying the Rangers tend to be aggressive in these placements and could very well push him to full season Low-A ball to start the season. ETA: 2017.
18. Alec Asher, RHP 10/4/1991 H:6’4″ W:218 – The 2012 4th rounder went 9-7 with a 2.90 ERA (3.09 FIP) with 139/40 K/BB ratio over 133.1 IP at High-A. Though his K rate fell from 2012, he still posted respectable 24.9% to go with a good 7.1% BB rate. He throws a 92-94 fastball, with an above average change up that has good deception, and a curveball that lags a bit behined the other 2 pitches.
Our Instinct: Asher should make up a good rotation at AA that includes Luke Jackson, Alex Gonzalez, and Nick Martinez. He could make it to AAA before the season is over with an outside shoot of getting a late call up to the majors. ETA 2015.
19. Lewis Brinson, OF 5/8/1994 H:6’3″ W:170 – The 2012 1st round pick slashed .237/.322/.427 with 21 HR and 24 SB. Power was a common theme on Low-A Hickory in 2013, but so was a lot of swinging and missing. Brinson was no exception as he struckout a staggering 191 times against 48 walks in 447 AB. He has all the tools. The Rangers took Brinson with their 1st pick in the 2012 draft, loving what they see as a 5-tool talent. Brinson looks the part of an outfielder with the tall and lean frame. His speed is an asset in the outfield. Defensively, he’s an above average defender who has a strong arm, runs great routes to the ball, and can play anyone of the 3 outfield positions. He put those skill on display in the fall instructional league and is most likely the best defender in the Rangers system.
At the plate Brinson has average power that could develop into above average, possibly even plus. His hit tool is still very rough. His swing and miss approach isn’t going to work at the higher levels.
Our Instinct: Brinson is another player that Rangers aggressively pushed in 2013. Some XST and time in the SS-A NWL would have done him a lot of good. Now he’s likely to exposed to tough pitchers at High-A. If he doesn’t learn some plate discipline, it’s going to be an ugly year. ETA: 2016.
20. Kelvin Vasquez, RHP 4/6/1993 H:6’4″ W:191 – Signed as an IFA in 2010 from the Dominican Republic, Vasquez went 4-4 with a 3.41 ERA (3.99 FIP) and a 91/52 K/BB ratio over 89.2 IP between SS-A and Low-A. Vasquez has a live fastball that sits in the 92-94 mph range which should see an uptick. The tall lanky kid also uses a good slider, and used his change up as an out pitch.
Our Instinct: Things came together for Vasquez in the NWL, where he used his secondary pitches to get batters out. If he doesn’t start the season at High-A, he should make the jump there before the summer is over. ETA 2016.
21. Nomar Mazara, OF 4/26/1995 H:6’4″ W:195 – The Texas Rangers shelled out big money for Mazara during the international free agent signing period in 2011. The Rangers see in Mazara a kid with a projectable body and a ton of raw power. They are really banking on that power to become elite because he doesn’t provide much else. He lacks speed and his defense isn’t very good despite a plus arm.
Mazara slashed .236/.310/.382 with 13 HR over 453 AB at Low-A. The kid flashes plus power, but swings at everything. He posted an ugly 131/44 K/BB ratio.
Our Instinct: His contact is still poor and we really hope that the Rangers to push him to High-A this season. He’s only 19 and should spend the season at Low-A. There’s a lot of work to be done here. ETA: 2017.
Players to watch :
Yeyson Yrizarri OF 4/26/1995
Cody Buckel RHP 6/18/1992
Frank Lopez LHP 2/18/1994
Ryan Rua 2B 3/11/1990
Teodoro Martinez OF 3/16/1992
Victor Payano LHP 10/17/0992
Eduard Pinto OF 10/23/1994
Wilmer Font RHP 5/24/1990
Cole Wiper RHP 6/3/1992
Alex Claudio LHP 1/31/1992
Jose Virgilio Almonte OF 9/9/1996
David Ledbetter RHP 2/13/1992
Isiah Kiner-Falefa 2B 3/23/1995
Luke Lanphere RHP 9/30/1995
Yimmelvyn Alonzo SS 3/10/1997
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