No. 1 Jurickson Profar, Shortstop
126 G, .281/.368/.452, 135 H, 26 2B, 7 3B, 14 HR, 62 RBI, 66 BB, 79 K, 16 SB (Double-A)
9 G, .176/.176/.471, 3 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 K (majors)
Profar's all-around game has made him the top prospect in baseball entering the 2013 season. He plays the game much smarter than someone so young should be able to. His mature approach has helped his natural skills play up as he's climbed the ladder, allowing him to make his big league debut last season as a 19-year-old.
In his writeup on Profar, Matt Eddy of Baseball America (subscribers only) paraphrased a Rangers instructor as saying, "Profar may not have the most power, the most speed or the strongest arm on the field, but typically he's the best player out there."
Profar is a player who can do it all. He has such a great feel for the strike zone and pitch recognition that he will draw walks. His bat speed and plate coverage are outstanding, so he will hit for average. And he has a lot more power than you would expect from a 165-pound player.
Defensively, Profar has a plus arm at shortstop. His footwork and instincts are terrific. He has tremendous range to make even the most difficult plays look routine.
Even though he stole 16 bases, he is not a burner down the line. He makes up for what speed he doesn't have by being an incredibly smart baserunner. Profar is the total package, and he will be a consistent MVP candidate at his peak.
No. 2 Mike Olt, Third Base
95 G, .288/.398/.579, 102 H, 17 2B, 1 3B, 28 HR, 82 RBI, 61 BB, 101 K, 4 SB (Double-A)
16 G, .152/.250/.182, 5 H, 1 2B, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 13 K, 1 SB (Majors)
Even though the Rangers brought Olt up late in the season, they didn't appear to have a plan for him. At least Ron Washington didn't, because he spent a lot more time on the bench than on the field.
Granted, he was battling a heel injury that hurt his production. But don't bring a major prospect up just to sit him.
When he is playing, Olt is one of the top third base prospects in the game. His best tool is plus power, but he is also a terrific defender at third base thanks to a plus arm and being very nimble at the hot corner.
He does have a long swing and will strikeout a lot, preventing him from hitting for a high average. His patience at the plate does allow him to take walks, though he needs to get better at reading breaking pitches.
No. 3 Martin Perez, Starting Pitcher
Age: 21 (will turn 22 on April 4)
22 G (21 starts), 7-6, 4.25 ERA, 127.0 IP, 122 H, 70 R (60 ER), 10 HR, 56 BB, 69 K (Triple-A)
12 G (6 starts), 1-4, 5.45 ERA, 38.0 IP, 47 H, 26 R (23 ER), 3 HR, 15 BB, 25 K (Majors)
Perez looked like he would be one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball not that long ago, when he posted a 2.90 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 114 innings as an 18-year-old who finished the season in Double-A.
Unfortunately, as often happens with prospects, Perez's development not only stalled at that moment, but he regressed in certain areas. His command within the zone has never been the same since that breakout season, leading to a lot of inflated ERAs and poor strikeout-to-walk ratios.
The stuff is still there, though, as Perez can throw a fastball in the mid 90s and has a potentially plus changeup that gives him a knockout weapon when he can command it. Also, his delivery is very smooth and fluid, as he uses his lower half very well.
His curveball is still a work-in progress, though it does still project to be an average pitch. He needs that weapon to come along if he wants to pitch near the top of a rotation.
While his stock is down, it is important to remember that Perez will play this season at 22 years old. There is still time for everything to click, even if he doesn't become the ace it looked like he was destined to be heading into 2010.
No. 4 Cody Buckel, Starting Pitcher
13 G (13 starts), 5-3, 1.31 ERA, 75.2 IP, 49 H, 12 R (11 ER), 2 HR, 25 BB, 91 K (High-A)
13 G (10 starts), 5-5, 3.78 ERA, 69.0 IP, 56 H, 31 R (29 ER), 7 HR, 23 BB, 68 K (Double-A)
Unlike Perez, who has the raw package that you can dream of, Buckel is the kind of pitcher whose ceiling and stuff won't make you take notice. But he mixes a good arsenal of pitches well and has the command to perform better than the stuff would suggest.
Even though he is 6'1", Buckel doesn't always stay on top of his fastball and pound it into the zone, leading to a lot of fly balls. However, he backs the fastball up with an above-average curveball and cutter combination, as well as a changeup that can be an average pitch.
Buckel's ceiling is that of a No. 3 starter, though his ability to command all of his pitches could make him a little better than that at his peak.
No. 5 Luke Jackson, Starting Pitcher
13 G (13 starts), 5-5, 4.92 ERA, 64 IP, 63 H, 37 R (35 ER), 4 HR, 33 BB, 72 K (High-A)
13 G (13 starts), 5-2, 4.39 ERA, 65.2 IP, 67 H, 35 R (32 ER), 2 HR, 32 BB, 74 K (Double-A)
Jackson is developing slowly. The stuff looks good, but the results and inconsistent command hold his ceiling down right now.
On the mound, he has a plus fastball that he knows how to get on top of and keep down in the zone. He also throws a hard curveball that is still a work in progress, though it projects to be at least an average offering.
Command and developing his changeup are the two biggest things that Jackson has to work on this season. If he can find even average command, he should turn into a No. 3 starter with a strong chance to become more if the changeup comes along.
A lot of ifs, but the ceiling is there for Jackson to be a very good starter.