The Texas Rangers farm system has been in the news quite a bit lately.
On July 2 they made Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman a combined $8.3 million on the opening day of the international signing period. To find out more about Mazara and Guzman, check out this article chronicling the Rangers international endeavours.
Now on July 7, Baseball America has ranked its top 50 midseason prospects and four Rangers prospects made the list making the Rangers the most represented team on the list. Actually there was four in the top 34—but who is counting right?
This goes to show that the Rangers farm system is working its way back to being the best farm system in the game. This is important obviously for the future, but also the present as the Rangers could swap some of their top young talent for a much needed reliever or another starter.
Names like Martin Perez and Jurickson Profar are known by many Rangers fans, but there are some other players on the farm that need to be getting more notoriety. Here's my ranking of the top-10 prospects in the Rangers organization at the midseason mark.
10. David Perez, RHP, Short-A Spokane
Perez is young and raw but with tremendous upside. He displayed this upside in the Dominican Summer League in 2010 by recording a 1.41 ERA in 14 starts while striking out 68 batters. So far for Spokane he has been forgettable with a 7.90 ERA but with a staggering 15.9 strikeouts-per-nine innings. He is still just 18 years old and is anticipated in the majors until 2014.
9. Mike Olt, 3B, High-A Myrtle Beach
As a third baseman in the Rangers system, we probably won't see Olt anytime soon as he is blocked in by Adrian Beltre. The 2010 supplemental first-round pick, Olt is known for his outstanding defense and in a small sample he has hit very effectively. In 54 games for the Pelicans, Olt smashed 10 home runs and 12 doubles while amassing a .286 batting average before breaking his collarbone. He is currently rehabbing and is not expected to Major League ready until 2013.
8. Luis Sardinas, SS, Arizona Rookie League
The Venezuelan shortstop signed with the Rangers on the same day as highly touted prospect Jurickson Profar for roughly $1.5 million. Sardinas does not get as much publicity as Profar because he has not progressed as quickly, but he is a slick-fielding infielder with a contact approach at the plate. In his debut season he batted .311 in the Arizona league. He is off to a slow start this year, but the Rookie league has just begun.
7. Neil Ramirez, RHP, Triple-A Round Rock
Ramirez has been the highest riser in the organization so far this season. Coming into 2011 the 21-year-old was assigned to High-A Myrtle Beach and pitched only one game. In that game he gave up one hit while striking out nine in a little over four innings. He was given a spot start for Triple-A Round Rock after that start and has not looked back. He has a 3.80 ERA in 15 starts for the Express with 76 strikeouts in 68 innings. Currently he is on the disabled list with arm fatigue but could be called up to the big league club later this season.
6. Engel Beltre, OF, Double-A Frisco
It seems as if Beltre has been in the organization forever, but he is only 21. Described as the most "toolsy" player in the Rangers system, he is also the one that has the greatest character concerns. Beltre was suspended last season for his role in a bench clearing brawl, and was suspended again this season for 15 games for throwing a trash can at fans. Despite these issues, his upside is still tremendous but is still adjusting to Double-A ball. He is expected in the bigs no sooner than 2012.
5. Robbie Erlin, LHP, Double-A Frisco
Erlin isn't a flamethrower like many highly touted prospects. Instead, he's a pitcher—simple as that. What he did in Myrtle Beach before being promoted is staggering—2.14 ERA while striking out 62 batters in 54 innings. Since being promoted to Frisco he has continued to produce as he adjusts to better talent. He currently holds a 4.10 ERA, an undefeated record and 44 strikeouts in 41 innings. Erlin was ranked No. 34 in Baseball America's midseason rankings and could pitch for the Rangers in 2013.
4. Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Double-A Frisco
Scheppers has some of the best stuff in the entire organization but has been riddled with injuries since his time at Fresno State. He is finally pitching again and is showing the promise that made him a top 100 talent two years straight. He profiles as a late-innings guy who could become the closer if Neftali Feliz is transitioned to a starting role. He should be called up sometime in August or September assuming he stays healthy.
3. Leonys Martin, OF, Double-A Frisco
Leonys Martin was signed for $15.5 million out of Cuba earlier this Summer and has not disappointed. Likened to players like Kenny Lofton, Jacoby Ellsbury and Juan Pierre, Martin has produced great numbers in a short amount of time. In 27 games he has a .333 batting average, four home runs, 10 stolen bases and more walks than strikeouts. An injury set him back but there is still an outside chance Martin could be called up in time for a playoff run. He was No. 25 in Baseball America's midseason rankings.
2. Jurickson Profar, SS, Low-A Hickory
The former Little League World Series star, Profar was one of the most sought after international prospects in 2009 out of Curacao. The Rangers won the sweepstakes for Profar by promising to play him as a short stop when most clubs wanted to make him a pitcher. Profar was assigned to Short-A ball playing against competition in which everyone was at least a year older--and he held his own. So far this season Profar has more walks than strikeouts an incredible feat for an 18-year-old. He has improved his power numbers and his average while being named to the Futures game to be held during the All-Star festivities. He was ranked the No. 12 overall prospect in the midseason rankings—up from No.74 at the beginning of the season. He is advancing fast but is not expected until 2013 at the earliest, but more likely 2014.
1. Martin Perez, LHP, Double-A Frisco
The pitcher likened to Johan Santana is starting to fulfill those lofty expectations. Baseball America ranked him the No. 6 overall prospect at midseason and he has been selected to join Profar in the Futures game. After an inconsistent 2010, Perez has rebounded to post a 3.19 ERA in 16 games while striking out 82 batters. His fastball has been clocked as high as 97 and possesses excellent secondary pitches. Perez is still only 20 years old but has been a top prospect for the last three seasons. He could be showcasing his talent in Arlington and around the country as early as next season.
These names are sure to be big factors in the Rangers future. Two of the top prospects from last season were big factors in the Rangers run to the World Series last season and another was traded to land Cliff Lee. Who will it be this year?