The Texas Rangers boast one of the better farm systems in all of baseball.
Now it isn’t what it was a year or two ago, but is still ranked No. 13 overall by ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription required). The main reason for the drop is the collective age of talent. Many of the prospects still are a few years away from being ready for the big leagues.
But there still is a great deal of talent throughout the organization. Two of the players on this list also are in Law’s Top 100 Prospects list (subscription required).
Here are the top 10 Rangers prospects heading into spring training.
Who do you think belongs on the list?
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked.
Here is the link to Baseball America’s Best Tools page that will be used throughout the slideshow.
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Starting out in the No. 10 spot is right-hander Luke Jackson.
The 22-year-old has improved since his debut season with the Hickory Crawdads in 2011. Last year, he had an ERA of 2.04 while posting an 11-4 record between Myrtle Beach and Frisco. He struck out 134 batters and gave up just 29 earned runs over 128 innings.
Jackson still has command issues to work out, averaging at least four walks per nine innings since being drafted. He missed a lot more bats last season, giving up 38 fewer hits (92) than he allowed in 2012 (130). That allowed his WHIP to dip to a solid 1.180.
With C.J. Edwards and Neil Ramirez gone, and the disappointment of Cody Buckel, Jackson has become one of the top starters in the system. If he can perform in Frisco this year the way he did in Myrtle Beach last year, his big league arrival will come very soon.
The New York native had a good year in his first full season at Class A Beloit in 2013. In 129 games, he hit .282 with 14 homers and 89 RBI while posting a .354 OBP.
He has good speed to go with his power, too. Bostick had eight triples and 25 doubles do go along with 25 stolen bases.
It will be interesting to see where he ends up in the system this season. Odor is getting an invite to spring training but most likely won’t be on the Opening Day roster. Bostick still needs to work on contact after striking out 122 times last season.
Either way, adding Bostick to the organization was huge for the club, especially after the Matt Garza trade depleted it.
Alex Gonzalez made 14 starts at Low-A Spokane after being drafted in the first round last year by the Rangers.
Gonzalez struck out 35 and gave up 18 earned runs. He did not record a win and threw just 42.2 innings, which isn’t bad since he is transition from starting just once a week at Oral Roberts University.
Baseball America ranks Gonzalez has having the best slider and control in the system. He likes to pound the zone, but his willingness to do so resulted in a rate of 9.5 hits per nine innings. But the development of his changeup should decrease that number in 2014.
Gonzalez’s college experience is something that will help catapult him to the big leagues. He could be in the Rangers’ rotation in the next year or two.
Nick Williams was a part of the Hickory Crawdads team last season that also included Lewis Brinson and Joey Gallo, whom also grace this list.
He is an outfielder with good speed on the base paths and power in his bat. He only stole eight bases in 95 games for Hickory last year but hit .293 with 17 homers, 19 doubles and 12 triples.
Plate discipline is a big issue for the former second round pick. Williams struck out 110 times and walked just 15 times. He had a strikeout percentage of 27.2 per FanGraphs. Even with the low walk rate, he was still able to manage a .337 OBP.
His ability to hit for average and extra bases is something that will help him advance through the system.
Nobody hit more homers in the minors than Joey Gallo did.
Gallo hit a total of 40 home runs in 2013 which accounted for nearly half of his total hits. His batting average was .251 with 23 doubles and 88 RBI. He also finished with an OPS of .961, No. 10 among minor leaguers who played at least 100 games.
His strikeout total is alarming at 172 in 111 games. And although Baseball America says he has the strongest infield arm among Texas prospects, he had a .923 fielding percentage.
He is a free swinger with raw power that can't be ignored. That power is something that will keep him in the system. The Rangers might be willing to wait longer after Chris Davis' outburst last season.
Once he cuts back on the strikeouts, he could be the Rangers designated hitter in a few years.
Baseball America ranks Lewis Brinson as the Rangers most athletic and best defensive outfielder prospect in the system.
A first-round pick of the Rangers in 2012, Brinson has good speed and power. Last season, he stole 24 bases and hit 21 homers for Hickory. However, he hit a dismal .237 and struck out 191 times.
Yes, that’s 1-9-1. Only two players struck out more than he did.
He is still just 19 years old and plays great defense. He committed nine errors in 120 games but also had the same number of assists and his speed allows him to cover a lot of ground in center field. According to MLB.com, Brinson has the chance to be an above-average all-around player.
The strikeout number is obviously alarming. It will be interesting to see how much he can cut it down with his second full season.
Luis Sardinas is just waiting for a phone call at this point in his career.
He is stuck behind Elvis Andrus, as well as Jurickson Profar as one of the top shortstops in the organization. He has proven to be good defensively and hit for average.
The 20-year-old has posted a .288 average or better in both of his long seasons the past two years. He stole 32 bases both years and does a good job of putting the ball in play. Baseball America has Sardinas as the best defensive infielder of the Rangers prospects.
Obviously, having Andrus at short and Profar at second complicates things. He still may be a year or two away from making the big leagues, but if Profar turns out to be as talented as everyone thought he was as the No. 1 prospect in baseball, it could be even longer.
Or he could end up in a different uniform come July.
Michael Choice got a small stint in the big leagues with Oakland last season, playing in nine games.
As previously mentioned, he came over to Texas in the Gentry trade. He has good power and can also hit for average, which was why the club got him.
Choice’s home run totals were 30 in 2011, 10 in 2012 and 14 last season. He hit at least .285 and had an OBP of at least .356 during that span. He does strikeout a bit but does have some discipline at the plate, earning 69 walks in 2013.
Now that Shin-Soo Choo is with the Rangers, it’s safe to say that Choice will play every day at Triple-A Round Rock. But he could be the first choice to fill in if someone hits the disabled list.
Jorge Alfaro has been a Ranger since age 17 and is the one of the two Rangers ranked in Law’s Top 100.
He is ranked higher than Rougned Odor at No. 44 but isn’t quite the hitter that the second baseman is. Alfaro had a .265 average with 18 home runs and 61 RBI during three leagues last year. In those 113 games, he struck out 122 times and had just 32 walks.
According to Law, Alfaro has a great arm behind the plate and raw power. He threw out 31 percent of base stealers last year and had a .985 fielding percentage in 86 games. The Columbian also has shown ability to play first base, too.
Alfaro has good speed for a catcher as well, stealing 18 bases in 2013.
He still has another year or two before making it to Arlington. He received a short three-game stint in Myrtle Beach at the end of last season and could be there this season.
Rougned Odor may be the best all-around Ranger hitter in the minors and tops the list.
He is about to start his fourth year with the organization and just turned 20 years old on Feb. 3. He received an invite to spring training and will be the youngest player on the roster. He is rated No. 64 by Law in the Top 100.
Odor hit a collective .305 between High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco last season. He also combined to have 41 doubles, 11 homers and 32 doubles between the two classes. He has good plate discipline and gets on base anyway he can, including 16 hits-by-pitch.
The biggest issue for Odor is Profar, who is presumed to take over for Ian Kinsler at second base. Profar is getting a shot at his first full season in the big leagues. He will be turning 21 on Feb. 20.
The best thing for Odor would be a full season in Frisco or Round Rock. Besides an injury to the middle infield, there shouldn’t be a reason to bring him up without a full-time role.
They don’t want a Profar situation two years in a row.