5 Exciting Prospects the Texas Rangers Could Promote in September
With so many good players throughout its minor league organization, Texas could give its fans a nice glimpse of the future as it promotes its exciting, young players.
There's no doubting the Rangers' talent in the minors right now, but who could be the Rangers' call-ups when teams expand to 40-man rosters? Read on to find out.
*All stats and info courtesy of MLB.com, MiLB.com, BaseballReference.com, DallasNews.com and FantasySP.com.
First Baseman Brett Nicholas, Double-A Frisco RoughRiders
There may not be a player in the Rangers' minor league system who is more deserving of a promotion to the majors than first baseman Brett Nicholas.
Nicholas has played in 122 games this season, spending the entire year with the RoughRiders. Simply put, he has been very good.
Nicholas does it all for the RoughRiders. For most of the season, he has been their Triple Crown player, leading the team in batting average (.294), homers (21) and RBI (85). He also has a decent .358 on-base percentage.
The one problem with Nicholas' game is that he strikes out too much. He has struck out 110 times this season for the RoughRiders, which is a pretty high total at any level through 122 games.
It's important to understand that most players who are promoted during September won't receive a lot of playing time, and Nicholas wouldn't be an exception to that rule. He looks to have a bright future in the majors at some point in his career, but don't expect him to be penciled into the lineup as an everyday starter should he be promoted.
Pitcher Neil Ramirez, Double-A Frisco RoughRiders
The Rangers have several successful pitchers in the minors this season, and what Neil Ramirez has done so far could lead to a September call-up.
His numbers aren't the most impressive, but the 24-year-old righty looks like another player who will continue to develop as a top prospect.
Ramirez is considered to be the 14th-best prospect in Texas' minor league system. He has gone 9-3 on the year over 21 starts and has posted a 3.84 ERA. He's held opposing hitters to a .212 batting average this season and has good command of the strike zone. He could improve on his walks a little bit, as he currently averages 3.7 walks per nine innings, but his 11.1 strikeout average over nine innings is pretty impressive.
Ramirez is currently listed on the Rangers' 40-man roster, but if there's one thing that could keep him from making it to Texas in September, it's the trade the Rangers made for Matt Garza.
When the Rangers dealt for Garza, they left one player to be named at a later time this year to complete the deal. Some reports indicate that that player could be Ramirez.
At this point, Ramirez looks to be a prime candidate to receive a call-up in September and would likely be used out of the bullpen. If anything holds him back from making the 40-man roster in a few weeks, it would likely be a trade to Chicago.
Relief Pitcher Wilmer Font, Triple-A Round Rock Express
If there is one player that who is a virtual lock to receive a September call-up, it's reliever Wilmer Font. Font already spent a brief time in the majors this season. He was called up in July and made two appearances for Texas before being sent back to the minors.
Font has arguably been the best pitcher that Texas has had in the minors this season. While with Double-A Frisco, he posted a 1.41 ERA in 21 games, striking out 45 while walking 24 and saving 10 games.
As if those numbers aren't impressive enough, he has dominated in Triple-A as well. Through 12 games with the Round Rock Express, Font has yet to allow a run, saving four games while striking out 21 batters.
He is almost guaranteed to make the roster by the time September rolls around, and with a little luck, he may even make the postseason roster at the end of the season.
Outfielder Engel Beltre, Triple-A Round Rock Express
Following the suspension of right fielder Nelson Cruz, it was thought that Engel Beltre could see a lot of playing time in the near future. Unfortunately, the Rangers claimed infielder Adam Rosales off of waivers and demoted Beltre to make room for him.
Beltre has spent little time with the Rangers this season, appearing in a total of 17 games. He has just 38 at-bats and a total of 10 hits for the season. While he's hitting .278, there just wasn't much room on the roster for Texas to keep him.
Playing time for Beltre is certainly limited at the major league level right now, but a promotion in September wouldn't be a surprise.
If he were to get called up, it is unlikely that Beltre would see many chances at the plate, but his speed would make him an effective pinch-runner. His base-stealing stats this season in the minors aren't all that impressive, but he could still replace a number of guys on base late in a game. He has been successful on just 14 of his 25 stolen base attempts this season, but when you can load your bench with talent late in the season, you might as well take advantage of it.
Look for Beltre to be wearing a major league uniform again in September.
Pitcher Luke Jackson, Double-A Frisco RoughRiders
Among the five players on this list, Luke Jackson could be a bit of a long shot for getting promoted to the Rangers in September, but he deserves a chance.
The biggest thing that Jackson could have against him is that he has spent the majority of the season with the Single-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans. During his time with the Pelicans, he posted a 9-4 record over 19 starts. He had a nice 2.41 ERA to go with 104 strikeouts and 47 walks.
His numbers with the Pelicans speak for themselves, as do his numbers with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders.
The biggest reason that Jackson could be promoted is because of his solid outings with the RoughRiders. He has appeared in just four games for the team since being promoted, starting three of those games, but he has done a very nice job over that span.
Through those four games, Jackson has yet to allow a run in 18 innings and is holding opposing hitters to a .133 average. He has 20 strikeouts and nine walks with Frisco to go with a 1-0 record—all great numbers for a guy who was just promoted.
The fact that he has elevated his game to another level since being called up gives a small reason to believe that he could find himself with the Rangers for the last month of the season. The Orioles did something very similar with pitcher Dylan Bundy last season, when Budy had almost the same amount of experience in the minors as Jackson has now.
Although Bundy is a starting pitcher, Baltimore promoted him to the majors the last month of the season and worked him out of the bullpen. I would expect something similar to happen with Jackson. He still has time to get another start or two in Double-A before we get to September.
Despite little experience in Double-A, look to see if the ninth-ranked prospect in the Rangers' minor league system gets a call to the majors shortly.
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