This week I will post part one my first ever Rangers Top 50 Prospects Rankings. In this part, I will give my top 20 prospects, and then next week I’ll post the next 30.
1 SS Jurickson Profar (Highest Level MLB) – Many people rank Profar the #1 prospect in all of baseball. With his great contact bat that also has some power, along with his speed and Gold Glove potential defense, he is no question the Rangers’ #1 prospect.
2 3B Mike Olt (MLB) – Despite his high strikeout numbers (101 K’s in 415 PA’s with AA Frisco this year), he has the power and the glove to make up for that. He also has a very good eye at the plate and works a lot of walks. He is very comparable to Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn, but with a little bit higher batting average (probably in the .260-.280 range).
3 SP Martin Perez (MLB) – Despite having a few growing pains in AAA the last couple of years, he was able to turn his season around and get back on track. At the age of 21, he has already been doing a solid job in the majors since getting called up, posting a 3.78 ERA in 33.1 innings pitched. He most likely profiles as something right below an ace, but a bit better than a typical #2 starter.
4 SP Cody Buckel (AA) – Buckel really burst onto the scene this year, moving himself all the way up to the #41 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America’s mid-season prospect rankings. Despite a very good season in Hickory last year, he still wasn’t seen as a big-time prospect, but after tearing up the Carolina League hitters in High-A this year to the tune of a 1.31 ERA in 13 starts, he became highly coveted at the trade deadline. Along with Perez, Justin Grimm (#6 prospect) and Yu Darvish, the Rangers have plenty of young starting pitching talent.
5 CF Leonys Martin (MLB) – Since he was signed out of Cuba mid-2011 by the Rangers, Leonys has done very well in the Rangers minor leagues, including a .359 average with 12 homers and 42 RBIs with Triple-A Round Rock this year, but has struggled in the majors, in part due to Ron Washington’s dislike of playing anybody young, which has put Leonys’ major league reps far and few between. Martin is very speedy, plays some good defense, and is a good contact hitter. If he can raise his baseball IQ a little bit, he could be a top-tier center fielder.
6 SP Justin Grimm (MLB) – Justin is the 5th out of my top 6 prospects that has already debuted in the majors, but unlike most of the rest, his short stint in the big leagues didn’t go so well. However, he still had a very good year, posting a 2.81 ERA between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock. His future is most likely that of a #3 starter.
7 2B Rougned Odor (Lo-A) – Despite not having a fantastic year at the plate (.259 AVG), Rougned lost none of his prospect status. He showed a bit more pop this year than last, breaking double-digit homers and 25+ doubles/triples. He also played solid defensively and was able to steal 19 bases.
8 1B Ronald Guzman (Lo-A) – Guzman has incredible upside and possibly the best potential at the plate of any Rangers minor leaguer, but is very, very raw. He can play first base and the outfield, and has developed a little faster than expected since being signed out of the Dominican Republic in July 2011.
9 CF Lewis Brinson (Rookie) – The Rangers #1 pick of this year’s draft, Lewis, like Guzman, may have the highest potential of any Rangers prospect, but is also very raw. Also like Guzman, Lewis is farther along in his development than expected at this point. He hit .283 with 7 homers and 42 RBIs in 237 ABs for the AZL Rangers after signing this year.
10 3B Joey Gallo (SS A) – The Rangers second pick of the 2012 Amateur Draft (no, this was not intentional), also got off to a great start this year. He broke the Arizona League single season home run record with 18 before being promoted to Short-Season A where he hit 4 more. His skill set is very similar to Olt’s, as he will most likely hit a lot off homers, draw plenty of walks, but strike out too often as well.
11 CF Jairo Beras (None) – Jairo had plenty of problems getting into the Rangers organization after they signed him in March, as MLB investigated his age to see if he was eligible or not. After they decided that he was, they suspended him from playing with an American Rangers affiliate until July of next year. I am completely going off of what scouts say in ranking him, and all I know is that he is said to have a crazy good bat.
12 RP Wilmer Font (MLB) – Wilmer, at least to me, may be the most underrated prospect in the Rangers’ system. With his assortment of power pitches, including a fastball that touches 100, he looks to me like he’ll be a dominant bullpen pitcher for years to come, and possibly has the potential to be an All-Star closer.
13 SS Leury Garcia (AA) – With the Rangers stable of middle infielders in Andrus, Kinsler, Profar, and then Odor two levels behind Leury, Garcia probably doesn’t have a future with the Rangers as anything more than a utility guy. However, with his speed (145 stolen bases in 4 and a half pro seasons), solid contact bat (.292 AVG this year in AA), and plus defense, he definitely has starter potential.
14 C Jorge Alfaro (Lo-A) – Despite a bit of a disappointing year, as Jorge seems just as raw as he did coming into the year, Alfaro is still a top 15 prospect in my books. He’s got a lot of raw power and looks like he will continue to develop into a very good defensive catcher.
15 SP Barret Loux (AA) – The former Aggie (Gig ‘Em!) and 1st-round pick by the Diamondbacks, Loux had a fantastic season, and ended up winning the Texas League Pitcher of the Year Award with the Double-A RoughRiders. Barret went 14-1 with a 3.47 ERA in 127 IP for Frisco, and despite not having a real high ceiling, he makes up for it with a very high floor. Loux is a pretty sure thing when it comes to prospects but most likely won’t ever be anything better than a back-end of the rotation type of guy.
16 RF Nomar Mazara (ROOK) – Nomar was the other big prospect the Rangers signed out of the Dominican in 2011, and Nomar’s signing bonus set the record for the biggest in Latin American history. He may have the most raw power in the Rangers minor league system, but at 18 years old, his talent is just so raw, it is hard to get a read on how he will turn out.
17 RP Joe Ortiz (AAA) – After yet another great year in 2012, Joe has finally gotten himself into prospect status, and personally, I’m buying in. He had a 2.15 ERA for the second straight year, following up a 1.62 ERA in 2010, and should be one of the best lefty relievers in the game from 2014 on. It will be interesting to see what the Rangers do with Joe, as he is Rule-5 eligible this offseason.
18 3B Drew Robinson (Lo-A) – Drew is just yet another good Rangers third base prospect. Robinson batted .273 with Low-A Hickory this year and popped 13 home runs while driving in 67 runs. He doesn’t have the upside of either Olt or Gallo, but he also has a high floor and should turn into a very nice bench bat or a serviceable starter in the future.
19 CF Engel Beltre (AA) – In Frisco for the fourth straight year, Engel finally seemed to get his career back on track, despite having an enormously streaky season. He raised his batting average from .231 in 2011 to .261 in 2012. He also hit 12 more home runs in 2012 and raised his stolen base total by 20. He still isn’t quite the prospect he used to be, but there is hope again.
20 SP Nick Tepesch (AA) – Nick is a prospect that I really like, and his pitching style fits the Rangers ballpark (and current team), as he is a big-time ground-ball pitcher, posting a 1.77 GO/AO ratio this year between Frisco and Myrtle Beach. Look for Tepesch to have a breakout year next year and start making some major noise.
Come back next week for part two of my Top 50 Prospects.