Texas Rangers prospects look to showcase their talents in their first full minor league season in 2014.
Last week I took a look at some of the top prospects who the Rangers could build around in the future, this week we look directly toward the 2014 season. The Rangers have several players who produced at a high level in 2013, and who could really turn some heads in 2014.
Every year minor leaguers hope to make a big enough impact that garners them a promotion that will one day lead to their appearance in the majors. Here are some players who could be well on their way to promotions should they produce in 2014.
Outfielder, Jairo Beras: Arizona Rookie League
For a guy who is currently ranked as the seventh-best prospect in the Rangers' minor league system, Jairo Beras' first season with the organization was a rough one. His season wasn't great on the field, mostly due to the fact that he only played in 17 games.
During his brief appearance in the minors, Beras hit .250 with a .314 on-base percentage, recording just 16 hits in 64 at-bats. Of his 16 hits, eight of them went for extra bases. The 17-year-old outfielder recorded two doubles, two triples and two homers while amassing 15 RBI.
Unfortunately for Beras, 2013 didn't get off to the most ideal start. He was suspended for the first half of the season for lying about his age, pushing his first game in the minors all the way to July 1. He then suffered a season-ending injury in late July after breaking the hamate bone in his left hand.
The fact that he's already considered a top 10 prospect in the organization says a lot about what the young outfielder could be capable of in the future. Expect Beras to start impressing scouts and coaches in 2014 as he looks to be ready for the start of next season.
Starting Pitcher, Alex Gonzalez: Single-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
The Rangers selected right-handed pitcher Alex Gonzalez with their first pick (23rd overall) in the 2013 draft this past June. He made just 14 starts in the minors last season, splitting time between the Spokane Indians and Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
He finished 2013 with an 0-4 record and a 3.80 ERA while recording 35 strikeouts in 42.2 innings pitched, good for 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Opposing hitters still managed to hit .271 off him last year, but he did manage to show improvement once being promoted to Myrtle Beach.
He's already ranked as the 11th-best prospect in Texas' minor league system, and is considered to be the third-best starter behind Cody Buckel and Luke Jackson. Like Beras, Gonzalez will also have the chance to get a full season in the minors under his belt when 2014 comes around. Look for him to vastly improve on the numbers he posted throughout his first 14 games last season.
Shortstop/Third Baseman, Travis Demeritte: Arizona Rookie League
The Rangers had two picks in the first round of the 2013 draft last season, and used their second pick of the round to acquire infielder Travis Demeritte with the 30th overall pick. Demeritte had a chance to showcase his skill set in 39 games while with the AZL Rangers, and he has been impressive to say the least.
The youngster hit .285 last season, posting 41 total hits while recording five doubles, three triples and four homers. He also drove in 20 RBI while stealing five bases in six attempts. His on-base percentage was a solid .411 as he drew 29 walks in 175 plate appearances.
Demeritte is a real threat both at the plate and on the basepaths. He managed to score 31 runs during his brief stint in the rookie league, and should only improve on his overall production. He made some noise early on in his career, hitting a three-run homer in his first career game, and will look to build on the stellar start to his career.
Shortstop, Isiah Kiner-Falefa: Arizona Rookie League
Time to take a look at a player who isn't considered to be a top prospect in Texas' minor league system. Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, like others on this list was a 2013 draft pick by Texas. Of any player who played 20 games or more for the AZL Rangers, Kiner-Falefa posted the highest batting average of them all.
Kiner-Falefa posted a .322 average and .388 on-base percentage in the 41 games he played in 2013 with the rookie league. At 5'10" he certainly doesn't possess intimidating size, but he still brings a productive bat to the plate. Of his 48 hits last season only five went for extra bases, all of which were doubles. Once he reached base however, Kiner-Falefa was a scoring threat.
The rookie shortstop swiped 12 bases in 15 attempts last season and managed to score 36 total runs, the most of any player on the AZL Rangers. He isn't a top name yet, but a few more seasons like last year's and Kiner-Falefa could find himself among the top 20 prospects in the Rangers' organization.
All stats and info courtesy of MLB.com, MiLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com and ESPN.com.
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