The Texas Rangers have very few top prospects who could potentially wind up on the 2014 Opening Day roster.
Prospects are rated by their ceiling, as in, the greater the potential a player has, the higher their ranking. Even though one prospect may be higher on the totem pole of minor league baseball, he might be ranked lower on the prospects list than others simply based off of overall potential.
For example, Michael Choice has the most big league experience of Rosenbaum's top Rangers prospects, but he is only ranked No. 5 on the list. A player like Alex Gonzalez was just drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft, yet is ranked No. 3, per Rosenbaum. The chance of Gonzalez making the Opening Day roster is highly unlikely, as he's had minimal experience, but it can't be ruled out.
In 2010, Mike Leake of the Cincinnati Reds was days away from making the Opening Day roster after he was drafted in the first round of the 2009 MLB draft. In fact, per Matt Stamp of Examiner.com in an April 2010 article, Leake was named the fifth starter for the first week in 2010, but wasn't added to the roster until after the season started. He was also, "The first pitcher to be drafted and skip the Minor Leagues since Darren Dreifort with the Dodgers in 1994," according to Stamp.
Here's a look at the odds of Rangers prospects making the 2014 Opening Day roster.
"So you're telling me there's a chance" Odds (1 million-1)
Barring something crazy, these prospects virtually have no chance at making the Rangers' Opening Day roster. Per Rosenbaum, here's a quick look at the prospects in this category and their estimated time of arrival for the majors.
The probability of any of these prospects making it on Opening Day is extremely low. Even though Jorge Alfaro has an ETA of 2015, he must have a great 2014 minor league season to even get close to that arrival date.
In order for Alfaro to have a shot at the Opening Day roster, Geovany Soto, J.P. Arencibia, Jose Felix, Zach Zaneski, and others would have to suffer injuries. Even then, the Rangers would be more likely to sign a free-agent catcher rather than promote Alfaro prematurely.
The highest level of baseball that Alfaro has played in thus far is Class A. That's just too steep of a jump to make for Opening Day.
The Rangers' other prospects are much too young and haven't produced on a consistent basis. Their ceiling is still high, but it would be close to being the shock of the century if they made the Opening Day roster. The list of major league-ready players who the Rangers have or can sign does not include Nomar Mazara, Lewis Brinson and Nick Williams.
"Hey, it could happen" Odds (500-1)
With an extremely strong spring training and several injuries, these prospects could make the Opening Day roster for Texas. According to Rosenbaum, here's a quick look at the prospects in this category and their estimated time of arrival for the majors.
If there's one player who could catch fire in spring training and propel himself onto an Opening Day roster, it's Joey Gallo. Again, it's still highly unlikely, even if he absolutely destroys the cover off of the baseball in March, but his ability to hit the long ball could impress manager Ron Washington. That is, if his hitting is on a consistent basis. Gallo hit 38 home runs for Hickory, N.C., in the Class A South Atlantic League last year, but had a subpar batting average of .245. Still, he could impress enough in March, but that's not likely.
Rougned Odor has an ETA of 2014, but that isn't expected to come on the very first day of games. He's just a 19-year old second baseman playing behind Rangers' former No. 1 overall prospect Jurickson Profar.
Luis Sardinas is another player who falls victim to young age and playing behind a former top prospect. Elvis Andrus is the Rangers starting shortstop and is expected to start on Opening Day. However, if trade winds come crashing into Arlington before the start of the season, either Sardinas or Odor could jump to the majors, especially with strong spring training showings. But if general manager Jon Daniels does make a trade for a top player, one or two of these prospects could be involved.
Luke Jackson and Gonzalez round out this group. Jackson has an ETA of 2014, but is far behind other bullpen pitchers with much more experience. Again, Gonzalez could make the Opening Day roster, but take that with a grain of salt. He has college experience at Oral Roberts University to substitute for years in the minors, but hasn't seen enough professional hitters. Both pitchers are very unlikely to make the Opening Day roster, but it can't be ruled out.
Let's put it this way: At 200-1, the Houston Astros have a likelier chance at winning the World Series than these talented prospects do at making the Opening Day roster. Don't rule it out, but don't count on it either.
"We're really doing it" Odds (10-9)
Outfielder Michael Choice is the final top prospect left on the list and has the best odds of making the Rangers' Opening Day roster. In fact, he could making the starting lineup as a designated hitter, according to columnist Drew Davison of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram if the Rangers platoon the role:
Daniels said the plan is to go with a platoon at designated hitter, with Mitch Moreland facing right-handers and Michael Choice or another right-handed bat against lefties. A caveat to that, Daniels said, is when manager Ron Washington uses the DH slot to give regulars a "mini" break.
Besides having the opportunity to become a platoon designated hitter, Choice replaced Craig Gentry from the 2013 Rangers roster when the two players were swapped in a December trade. Choice should be the first outfielder off the bench for the Rangers.
If the Rangers don't end up making any drastic free-agent moves in the outfield after signing Shin-Soo Choo, then Choice should easily make the Opening Day roster for Texas.