Texas Rangers' Top 10 Prospects Rankings, Spring Forecasts
The Texas Rangers once again feature a top-ranked farm system thanks to an assemblage of nearly big league-ready and teenage talent—both positional and on the mound.
Their top prospects began to arrive ahead of schedule last season, as top prospect Jurickson Profar, third baseman Mike Olt and southpaw Martin Perez each made their major league debuts last summer. But beyond their three top prospects, it could be several years until their next big wave of talent reaches the upper echelons of their system.
The Rangers have made a killing in the international free-agent market in recent years, as six of the organization’s top 10 prospects are the result of excellent scouting in Latin America. Furthermore, the team has been especially aggressive in the draft in recent seasons, targeting high-risk, high-upside talent rather than potentially surefire major leaguers.
And after failing to make a significant acquisition via trade this offseason, the Rangers’ loaded prospect pool could still allow them to trade for big league talent at some point during the 2013 season.
10. Rougned Odor, 2B
DOB: 2/3/1994 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 5’11”, 170 lbs
Drafted/Signed: Jan. 2011 (Venezuela)
Scouting Notes: The 18-year-old possesses much more physical strength than his 5’11”, 170-pound frame suggests; youngest player in South Atlantic League demonstrated baseball skills well beyond his years; can handle shortstop but above-average range, soft hands and strong arm is a cleaner fit at second base; hard-nosed ballplayer who does everything with max intensity.
Left-handed hitter has above-average power for his size and position; drives the ball with authority to all fields; knack for hard contact; swing is compact and he demonstrates excellent hand-eye coordination; above-average speed is noticeable on both defense and basepaths.
Spring Training Forecast: Participating in his second major league camp, Odor will likely see some playing time in the early going before he’s re-assigned to minor league spring training.
2013 Outlook: Although he’s still raw in many areas, Odor should receive a healthy challenge with a promotion to High-A to open the 2013 season.
9. Joey Gallo, 3B
DOB: 11/19/1993 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 205 lbs
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Bishop Gorman HS, Nev.)
Scouting Notes: Physical specimen at 6’5”, 205 pounds; received consideration as a right-handed pitcher as well as corner infielder; prodigious, 80-grade power resulted in Rookie-level Arizona League home run record (18); quick wrists and explosive bat speed give him effortless raw power; streaky hitter whose swing can get long at times; comfortable working counts and taking walks but may always have considerable swing-and-miss to his game.
Defense needs work at the hot corner; range is slightly below average but should improve with experience and the development of better instincts; his plus arm is ideal for the position, footwork is sloppy and results in too many throwing errors; struggles to find balance between setting feet when throwing and gaining momentum toward target.
Spring Training Forecast: Gallo will participate in minor league spring training, as he needs to simplify his swing and fine-tune his defense at the hot corner.
2013 Outlook: After reaching Short-Season Spokane in his historically good professional debut last season, Gallo may open the year in extended spring training before he makes the jump to Low-A in June.
8. Luke Jackson, RHP
DOB: 8/24/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 185 lbs
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Calvary Christian HS, Fla.)
Scouting Notes: The 6’2” right-hander works shoulders and release point to consistently throw on downward plane; too much wasted movement in delivery and long arm on the backside hinders overall command; struggles to demonstrate balance throughout delivery and fails to finish pitches with consistency; tons of upside once he cleans things up and gains a better feel for delivery.
Fastball sits 93-95 mph and is thrown with weight on steep angle; can scrape 96-97 mph and holds velocity deep into starts; curveball is a hammer when he’s not spiking it or losing his release point to the arm side; changeup will be an ongoing work in progress but should represent at least a third average pitch.
Spring Training Forecast: Jackson will head to minor league spring training, as he still has a ways to go in terms of repeating his release point and delivery.
2013 Outlook: After spending the second half of the season at High-A, Jackson will likely return to the level to start the year with a chance to reach Double-A after the All-Star break.
7. Luis Sardinas, SS
DOB: 5/16/1993 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 150 lbs
Drafted/Signed: July 2009 (Venezuela)
Scouting Notes: Signed at the same time as Profar in 2009 and has clearly been overshadowed; has developed behind schedule due to various injuries but still has plenty of upside at only 19 years old; 6’1” switch-hitter has impressive overall set of tools and should have no problem remaining at shortstop; excellent defensive skill set with plus speed, range and arm, as well as quick feet and premium athleticism.
Sound, balanced swing from both sides of the plate; loose wrists yield above-average bat speed; limited power potential, but hit tool is very promising; advanced plate discipline for his age and already showcases above-average pitch recognition; excellent base-stealer who understands how to read pitchers and pick spots; true top-of-the-order talent given ability as switch-hitter and baserunner.
Spring Training Forecast: Participating in his first big league camp, the 19-year-old will have an opportunity to make an even stronger impression on the organization. However, it’s doubtful he’ll receive as much playing time as the Rangers’ more advanced middle infield prospects.
2013 Outlook: Coming off an exceptional full-season debut in 2012, the Rangers could bump him to Double-A to open the season, just as they did with Profar last season. However, it’s a safer bet that Sardinas receives an assignment to High-A.
6. Lewis Brinson, OF
DOB: 5/8/1994 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 170 lbs
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Coral Springs HS, Fla.)
Scouting Notes: Physical specimen at 6’3”, 170 pounds with electrifying athleticism; easy plus speed lends to his above-average range in center field; exhibits enough arm strength for right field if he’s ever forced to move from center; takes aggressive routes and plays the position with high intensity.
Right-handed hitter possesses plus raw power, and his speed should continue to allow him to amass loads of doubles and triples; exceptionally strong wrists and forearms create premium bat speed; ball jumps off his bat with loud contact to all fields; high strikeout total (74 strikeouts in 237 at-bats) should be attributed to lack of plate discipline rather than poor swing mechanics; like most young hitters, facing more advanced and consistent breaking balls has been somewhat problematic; hit tool should develop with utilization of a more consistent approach.
Spring Training Forecast: Brinson may be a premium athlete with a collection of loud tools, but he still has his share of kinks to work out in minor league camp.
2013 Outlook: A candidate to open the year in extended spring training for developmental reasons, Brinson is in line for a promotion to the Northwest League (Short-Season), with a chance to finish the year at Low-A.
5. Jorge Alfaro, C
DOB: 6/11/1993 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 185 lbs
Drafted/Signed: Jan. 2010 (Colombia)
Scouting Notes: Alfaro combines tons of natural ability with quickly improving baseball skills; incredibly agile and aggressive behind the plate; boasts a legit plus-plus arm that ranks among the best in the game; could benefit from streamlining more throws rather than relying on sheer arm strength; still raw and a blocker and receiver but has improved with experience; speed is above average relative to the position.
Right-handed hitter employs a hyper-aggressive approach; gets out on his front side too often, especially when chasing breaking balls; plus raw bat speed should yield easy power once he’s able to harness it; needs to work more counts and improve bat-to-ball ability; hasn’t shown a defined approach, though it should come with more experience; big-time catching prospect with loud tools and chance to be exceptional as a big leaguer.
Spring Training Forecast: Headed to minor league spring training, Alfaro will continue to refine his skill set as he attempts to narrow the gap between his present ability and ultimate potential.
2013 Outlook: Depending on his development this spring, the Rangers could remain aggressive with the 19-year-old backstop and offer him a promotion to High-A.
4. Cody Buckel, RHP
DOB: 6/18/1992 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 170 lbs
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010 (Royal HS, Calif.)
Scouting Notes: Undersized right-hander (6’1”) employs a deceptive, torque-like delivery a la Trevor Bauer and Tim Lincecum; demonstrates advanced command of his entire arsenal and is adept to inducing tons of swing-and-misses; displays an aggressive, bulldog mentality on the mound and prefers to attack hitters rather than peck at strike zone; pitched entire second half of the 2012 season as a 20-year-old at Double-A.
Uses fastball to set up entire arsenal, working both sides of the plate and showing the confidence to effectively pitch up in the zone; pitch usually sits in 90-92 mph range, though he can run it up as high as 94-95 mph on occasion; curveball is above-average offering with a nice shape and downer action; also mixes in an average slider as well as an above-average changeup with excellent fade.
Spring Training Forecast: Buckel should receive multiple looks early in the spring, as the organization gauges his proximity to the major leagues.
2013 Outlook: Despite spending the second half of the 2012 season as a 20-year-old at Double-A, there’s still no need to rush him up the ladder. And provided that he’s not traded during the season, Buckel could potentially make his big league debut later in the year.
3. Martin Perez, LHP
DOB: 4/4/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’0", 180 lbs
Drafted/Signed: July 2007 (Venezuela)
Scouting Notes: Even though the left-hander had a pretty turbulent year between Triple-A and the major leagues, it’s important to remember that he’s still only 21 years old; command has faltered over last two seasons, as his strikeout and walk ratios have trended in opposite directions; still love his repeatable mechanics and clean arm action; will need to work ahead in the count with more consistency to return to pre-2011 form.
The 6’0" left-hander’s fastball consistently sits in the low 90s, and he’s shown the ability to scrape mid-90s in the past; his curveball has lost some of the shape and effectiveness that previously made it one of the best in the minors; changeup has come a long way and grades as an easy above-average pitch thrown with deception and arm-side fade; two-seam fastball and slider are recent additions to his arsenal and should steadily improve as he gains a feel for each offering.
Spring Training Forecast: Perez enters spring training with a legitimate chance to open the 2013 season as the Rangers’ fifth starter.
2013 Outlook: After reaching the major leagues as a 21-year-old in 2012, Perez will presumably spend a majority of the season in the big league rotation. However, once Colby Lewis returns from Tommy John surgery, Perez could be relegated to the bullpen or even the Triple-A rotation.
2. Mike Olt, 3B-1B-RF
DOB: 8/27/1988 (Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 210 lbs
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Connecticut)
Scouting Notes: After posting a .977 OPS with 28 home runs in 95 games at Double-A Frisco, Olt was promoted directly to the major leagues in early August. Hampered by plantar fasciitis, Olt appeared in only 16 games with Rangers and batted .152/.250/.182.
At 6’2”, 210 pounds, Olt possesses tons of present strength; plus raw power to all fields; the right-handed hitter is adept to working deep counts; patient approach; sits on pitches; punishes mistakes; hit tool may turn out to be better than expected; ball really jumps off his bat.
Natural third base skill set; surprising athleticism for his size; should lead to extra reps at first base and in right field; above-average defensive profile; average lateral range; takes an instinctual first step; relatively smooth actions; above-average-to-plus arm strength; more than enough to remain at the position.
Spring Training Forecast: Blocked at the hot corner by Adrian Beltre, Olt should see time in right field and at first base as he attempts to make the Opening Day roster.
2013 Outlook: Even if Olt breaks camp with the Rangers, he’ll likely see a majority of playing time as a platoon option against left-handed pitching. However, after making the jump from Double-A to the major leagues last season, the 24-year-old would also benefit from a few months at Triple-A.
1. Jurickson Profar, SS-2B
DOB: 2/2/1993 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’0", 165 lbs
Drafted/Signed: July 2009 (Dominican Republic)
Scouting Notes: Profar emerged as baseball’s top prospect last season after batting .281/.368/.452 with 47 extra-base hits, 16 stolen bases and 79/66 K/BB in 126 games for Double-A Frisco. The then-19-year-old was promoted to the major leagues in early September and launched a no-doubt home run in is first big league plate appearance.
The 6’0”, 165-pound switch-hitter has wiry strength; showcases plus bat speed from both sides of the plate; short, compact swing should give him an easy above-average-to-plus hit tool; right-handed swing is more line-drive oriented; shows exciting raw power and lift from the left side; more of a leverage swing; loftier extension after contact; possesses an advanced knowledge of the strike zone that’s uncommon for players his age.
Excellent defensive middle infielder with fluid actions and a strong, accurate arm; exhibits plus range in all directions due to quick feet and tremendous instincts; moxie grades through the roof, and he’s adept to handling himself in high-pressure situations.
Spring Training Forecast: Profar will see playing time at both shortstop and second base this spring, as the organization tries to find a way to get him into the lineup.
2013 Outlook: Unfortunately, the unanimous top prospect lacks a clear path to playing time in the major leagues. So, unless there’s an injury, it seems as though Profar will open the year at Triple-A to ensure everyday playing time.