Since taking over as the Rangers’ General Manager in October 2005, Jon Daniels has reshaped the entire player development program, both the personnel and players.
Baseball America also named the Rangers' system as the best in baseball headed into the 2009 season and second-best before 2010—the Rangers average system rank since 2008 is No. 4.4. Only the Tampa Bay Rays have had a higher average ranking over the last five seasons (No. 3.2).
Before Daniels righted the ship, the Rangers’ average system rank was No. 15 spanning the 2001 to 2005 seasons.
The organization continues to do an excellent job developing prospects and, at the same time, using them as leverage to land established, big-league talent when needed. It seems that no matter whom they deal, there are always two or three other prospects poised to breakout.
But what makes the Rangers’ farm system so successful? Well, excellent scouting, primarily. However, there’s more to it than just that.
Before diving in, here is a look at my current (but unofficial) ranking of the Rangers’ top 10 prospects:
1. Jurickson Profar, SS (19)
Baseball’s top overall prospect, Profar is exceptional at everything he does on the field and is only a few years away from becoming a star in the major leagues.
2. Mike Olt, 3B (24)
Plus power to all fields and above-average defender at the hot corner.
3. Martin Perez, LHP (21)
21-year-old has been rushed through the system, but there’s still plenty of upside and untapped potential.
4. Cody Buckel, RHP (20)
Undersized right-hander with lots of deception and command of four above-average pitches.
5. Jorge Alfaro, C (19)
Raw but athletic catcher with plus bat speed, developing power and a cannon for an arm.
6. Ronald Guzman, OF (17)
A 6’5”, left-handed outfielder with a sweet swing and potential for a plus hit tool.
7. Luis Sardinas, SS (19)
Switch-hitting, contact-oriented shortstop with the arm and actions to remain at the position.
8. Jairo Beras, OF (16)
16-year-old outfielder has a projectable 6’5” frame with plus bat speed, raw power and above-average speed.
9. Rougned Odor, 2B (18)
Left-handed hitting second baseman with a combination of sneaky power and speed.
10. Joey Gallo, 3B (18)
2012 supplemental-first-rounder set the rookie-level Arizona League home run record by blasting 18 in 43 games.
Headed into the season, Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, OF Leonys Martin and RHP Tanner Scheppers were the only prospects expected to reach the major leagues.
Even though Olt and Profar were both assigned to Double-A to begin the season, both players remained blocked at their respective positions by Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus, and were considered long-shot call-ups—especially Profar.
However, both prospects’ impressive performances forced the organization’s hand, as they promoted Olt in early August and Profar in early September. (Technically, both Olt and Profar will be considered prospects if they fail to reach 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched during the regular season.)
But the Rangers’ farm system still possesses exceptional depth at every position beyond just the big names.
For example, in addition to Profar, the organization boasts several intriguing middle-infield prospects in SS Luis Sardinas (19), 2B/SS Leury Garcia (21) and 2B Rougned Odor (18).
Since Daniels righted the ship in 2005, the Rangers have been lauded for their traditionally strong drafts. Of their current prospect pool, including those players on the team’s active roster, eight are homegrown draft picks.
Unlike other organizations, they are often willing to gamble on the more high-risk, high-reward prospects, usually those with at least two plus tools or a pitcher with excellent but unrefined pure stuff.
Each strong draft has netted such a diverse crop of projectable prospects that, year after year, the Rangers have been able to trade prospects to improve their on-field, major-league product.
For example, to solidify a struggling bullpen, the Rangers moved a pair of legitimate pitching prospects, LHP Robbie Erlin and RHP Joe Wieland, to the Padres in exchange for Mike Adams at the 2011 trade deadline.
Although the draft has produced plenty of talent for the Rangers, it’s their international scouting department that's responsible for stocking the system.
Of their current prospect pool, RHP Wilmer Font (2006), Perez (2007), Profar (2009), Sardinas (2009), Garcia (2009), Guzman (2009), Alfaro (2010), Martin (2011) Odor (2011), OF Nomar Mazara (2011) and Beras (2012) are all the result of excellent international scouting.