Here’s a look at one of the deeper minor league systems, the Texas Rangers. I am reviewing stats first and then interjecting comments from MLB.com : This review is reflective of data up to but not including June 5, 2015 :
Low Single A : Hickory Crawdads ( 35-18, 1st place, South Atlantic League – Northern Division)
Josh Morgan is a 19-year-old third baseman/shortstop/second baseman who thru 171 at bats has posted a solid .275 average ( .356 OBP, .712 OPS) with 11 extra base hits ( 9 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run). He is the Rangers 3rd round pick of the 2014 draft who bypassed UCLA to instead sign with the Rangers.
MLB.com : “Morgan is an offensive-minded middle infielder with a line-drive swing, a mature approach and a knack for barreling balls. Though he had just four extra-base hits in his 56-game debut, he has some surprising pop for his size and could produce double-digits home run totals as he gets older and stronger. He’s a solid runner who’s still learning how to translate his quickness into stolen bases.
Scouts who saw Morgan as an amateur were split on whether he could stay at shortstop in the long run, but he lost 10 pounds after signing and improved his range. He has the hands, arm and instincts for the position, and though he did spend more time at second base in his first taste of pro ball.”
Travis Demeritte is a 20-year-old third baseman/second baseman who was the Rangers number 1 pick in the 2013 draft. He is hitting only .241 so far in 170 at bats in his second year at Low A ball but has 18 extra base hits, ( 12 doubles, 1 triple and 5 home runs) with 10 stolen bases. He strikes out a bit with 69 k’s Note: just today Demeritte has been suspended 80 games for using a banned substance, that definitely eliminates his trade value 😳
MLB.com : “Though he batted just .211 and struck out 171 times in 2014, Demeritte has the potential to produce for both average and power. He has tremendous bat speed and shows some willingness to use the entire field and drive walks. He’ll need to tone down his aggression and learn to handle breaking pitches.
While he played shortstop in high school, most scouts thought he profiled better at third base because of his power and his just average speed. The Rangers have a backlog of hot-corner talent starting with Adrian Beltre and Joey Gallo, so they moved Demeritte to second base. He has taken to his new position and has a higher offensive ceiling than most players there.”
Luis Ortiz is an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher who has a sparkling 2.00 ERA thru 36 IP ( 8 starts, 31 k’s, 8 BB) and a 2-1 record.
MLB.com : “Ortiz has as much upside as any starter in the Texas system. He can miss bats with his 92-97 mph fastball and his low-80s slider. He also shows aptitude for using a change-up.
There’s not much projection remaining in Ortiz’ mature 6-foot-3 frame, but his present stuff is plenty good enough. There’s little effort in his high three-quarters delivery, allowing him to throw strikes with good downhill plane.”
Brett Martin is a 20-year-old right-handed pitcher who is 3-1 so far in 7 starts with a 2.50 ERA in 36 innings ( 29 k’s and 7 BB). He was the Rangers 4th round pick of the 2014 draft.
MLB.com : “Martin currently works at 89-93 mph with his fastball, though there could be a lot more velocity left in his tank because he has a fresh arm and an athletic, projectable frame. When he keeps his fastball down in the strike zone, it features cutting and tailing action.
Martin’s best present pitch is his curveball, which also could add more power as he fills out. He has a feel for a sinking change up as well. Add in a deceptive delivery and consistent strike-throwing ability, and has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.”
Ariel Jurado is a 19-year-old right-handed pitcher from Panama who is 7-0 thru 9 starts with a 2.29 ERA ( 51 IP, 43 k’s, just 6 BB, .94 WHIP). He generally is in the 90-93 range but also knows how to pitch. This system is so deep he isn’t even rated in the top 30 😳.
Likewise right-handed pitcher Colin Wiles, a 21-year-old has posted excellent numbers so far with a 1.92 ERA thru 51 innings and 8 starts (6-2, 31 k’s, 12 BB,). Wiles was a 2012 compensation A pick for the Rangers.
Other top players currently on the Crawdads roster and ranked in the top 30 list by MLB.com for the Rangers include catcher Jose Trevino, pitcher Yohander Mendez, First Baseman Ronald Guzman, outfielder Jario Beras and shortstop Michael DeLeon. They are all 20 years old or younger, DeLeon is just 18. The Crawdads roster is loaded!
High A – High Desert Mavericks ( 27-25, 3rd place, California League – South Division)
Ryan Cordell is a 23-year-old center fielder/shortstop who was a round 11 draft pick in 2013 from Libery University. He is hitting .304 (.367 OPS) thru 217 at bats with 9 home runs and 47 RBI’s (2nd in the league). He also has 11 doubles and 4 triples with an OPS of .883.
MLB.com : “Another quality athlete in a system loaded with them, Cordell has at least average tools across the board. He has more feel for hitting than most of his physically gifted counterparts, making consistent contact and using the whole field. He also can drive the ball and has the plus speed and aptitude to steal bases.
Cordell’s quickness also helps in the outfield, where he gets good reads and jumps and can play all three positions. He’s a capable center fielder who played mostly on the corners in 2014 because he was on the same teams with Lewis Brinson. Cordell opened eyes as an infielder during instructional league to the extent that Texas will try him as a shortstop this season.”
Lewis Brinson is a 21-year-old outfielder who is currently on the disabled list with a hamstring injury but is expected back shortly, he is very highly regarded though and was hitting .275 thru 69 at bats to start the season with six extra base hits and 7 RBI’s.
MLB.com : “In a farm system laden with toolsy players, Brinson is the toolsiest. The 29th overall pick in the 2012 Draft and recipient of a $1.625 million bonus, he had a 20-20 season in his first full year as a pro but also finished second in the Minors with 191 strikeouts. He was more consistent at the plate last season, though he missed time with a nagging quad injury.
Brinson has smoothed out his swing and improved his pitch recognition, and he cut his strikeout rate from 38 percent in 2013 to 25 percent in 2014. Whiffs will always come as part of the package, but he can hit for at least a decent average with plenty of power. His raw power and speed are easy plus tools, and he has the upside of a 30-30 player if he can continue to refine his hitting and basestealing skills.
Brinson is an exciting defender as well. He chases down balls from gap to gap in center field and has the strong-arm to erase baserunners who try to challenge him. His legs are a big part of his game, and the Rangers want him to focus on a strengthening and stretching program after his quad problems in 2014.”
Evan Van Hoosier is a 21-year-old outfielder/second baseman who is hitting .310 (.361 OBP) thru 142 at bats. He has 16 extra base hits.
MLB.com : “Van Hoosier has a quick right-handed bat and manipulates it well. He can drive the ball into the gaps and his plus speed makes him an asset on the bases. He manages the strike zone reasonably well and could contribute across the board offensively.”
Double A : Frisco Rough Riders ( 22-31, last place in four team Texas League South Division)
Joey Gallo was having a very good season at double A before being called up to the show recently, he is still listed as the top Rangers prospect.
Jorge Alfaro is a 21-year-old catcher and is ranked as the Rangers 2nd best prospect. He is hitting .258 ( .320 OBP) thru 178 at bats with 21 extra base hits ( 14 doubles, 2 triples and 5 home runs). He has struck out 57 times.
MLB.com : “Since signing for a $1.3 million bonus — a record for a Colombian player — in January 2010, Alfaro advanced rapidly to Double-A. He has the best combination of raw power and pure arm strength among Minor League catchers, though he’s still polishing those tools and the other aspects of his game.
Alfaro has the strength and bat speed to drive balls out of any part of any ballpark without selling out for power, yet he’s still overly aggressive at the plate. He swings and misses frequently, and he needs to do a better job of taking pitches and recognizing breaking balls. If he figures it out, he could be an average hitter with 20-plus homers per season at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Similarly, he has a cannon arm and good athleticism for a catcher but needs a lot of refinement behind the plate. He threw out just 28 percent of basestealers and committed 23 passed balls in 90 games. Though the Rangers have experimented with Alfaro at first base and in the outfield, they’re not giving up on the idea that he can become an All-Star catcher.”
Nomar Mazzaro is a 20-year-old outfielder who is the third highest rated prospect in the Rangers system. He is hitting .292 (.370 OBP) thru 185 at bats.
MLB.com : “Mazara’s $4.95 million bonus in 2011 set a since-broken record for the largest bonus ever given to an international amateur. Other teams were shocked by the Rangers’ largesse but Texas believed in his projectable frame and power potential. After posting a .692 OPS in his first full pro season in 2013, he broke out last year by hitting .271/.362/.478 and advancing to Double-A at age 19.
Mazara’s improvement resulted in part from toning down a big leg kick that had compromised his bat speed. He’s strong and generates a lot of leverage with his 6-foot-4 frame. He manages the strike zone well for a youngster, which gets him pitches he can drive and should allow him to become a solid hitter to go with his well above-average power.
Though he’s a below-average runner, Mazara gets good jumps and projects as an average defender in right field. He has the plus arm strength desired at the position and has totaled 25 assists in his two full seasons.”
The system’s fourth highest rated prospect is 21-year-old right-handed pitcher Jake Thompson. He was the 2nd round draft pick of the Tigers in the 2012 draft. At Frisco he is 5-3 thru 10 starts with a 4.10 ERA in 52 innings ( 54 k’s and 13 BB)
MLB.com : “Thompson was Detroit’s top pick in the 2012 Draft, a second-rounder out of Rockwall-Heath High (Heath, Texas). While his right-handed power made him a legitimate prospect as a first baseman, his future definitely lies on the mound. He developed quicker than expected, reaching Double-A as a 20-year-old in July — two weeks before the Tigers traded him and Corey Knebel to the Rangers for Joakim Soria.
Thompson could have three solid or better pitches when all is said and done. He usually works at 90-93 mph with good sink and tail on his fastball. When his curveball is on, it features power and depth and gives him a second plus offering. He also has nice feel for his change-up.
At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Thompson has the build to be a durable starter, and he also has possesses the stuff to pitch near the front of a rotation. His delivery can get out of sync at times, but that’s typical for a young pitcher and he should develop reasonable command down the road.”
Andrew Faulkner, a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher, Jose Leclerc, a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher and Nick Williams, a 21-year-old outfielder are also top 30 system ranked players on the Frisco roster, none at least statistically are having standout seasons thus far.
Triple A – Round Rock Express – ( 33-20, 1st place, Pacific Coast League- American Southern Division)
Anthony Runuado is a 25-year-old right-handed pitcher who was the Red Sox first round pick in the 2010 draft. He is 5-1 thru 9 starts ( 49 IP, 41 k’s, 21 BB) with a 2.74 ERA. He spent time briefly in the big leagues this season.
MLB.com : ” The Rangers couldn’t sign Ranaudo as an 11th-rounder out of high school in 2007 but finally acquired him in a January trade with the Red Sox for Robbie Ross. In between, he won the 2009 College World Series championship game for Louisiana State, signed for $2.55 million as a supplemental first-rounder in 2010 and battled intermittent elbow and groin issues. He was fully healthy in 2014, when he led the Triple-A International League in wins (14), ERA (2.61) and opponent average (.233) before making his big league debut.
With two plus pitches and a 6-foot-7 frame, Ranaudo has the look of a No. 3 starter. When he stays on top of his pitches, he leverages his 90-96 mph fastball down in the strike zone and creates good depth on a hard curveball that can reach the low 80s. His changeup has its moments but lags behind his other two offerings.
Though he has streamlined his delivery a bit, Ranaudo is still inconsistent with his control and command. He had trouble locating his fastball in his stint in Boston, missing the zone and leaving it up more than he had in the past. Some scouts think he might be better off as a two-pitch reliever who could work the late innings, but Texas will give him every chance to start.”
Catcher Tomas Telis, a 23-year-old is having a very good season hitting .327 (.368 OBP) with 15 extra base hits ( 10 doubles and 5 home runs) thru 171 at bats. He has also only struck out 16 times.
MLB.com : “A shortstop in Venezuela, Telis immediately moved behind the plate after signing for $130,000 in 2007. He overcame Tommy John surgery in 2010 and two stalled years in the mid-Minors in 2012-13 to make his big league debut last season.
Telis’ best tool is his line-drive bat, which produced a .318 average between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014. He makes consistent contact from both sides of the plate, though he doesn’t provide much in the way of home-run power or walks.
Telis has developed into an average defender behind the plate. He has decent arm strength that plays up thanks to his quick footwork and release, and he has cleaned up his receiving skills. He profiles strictly as a backup and should be ready whenever the Rangers need him again.”
Lastly right-handed pitcher Jerad Eickhoff is a 24-year-old who is 4-3 thru 8 starts at Round Rock.
MLB.com : “Strong and physical, Eickhoff has a 91-95 mph fastball that touches 97. He complements it with a hard curveball that gives him a second plus pitch at times, as well as a slider that can be a solid offering. He throws strikes and uses his 6-foot-4 frame to pitch on a downhill plane.
If Eickhoff can improve his change-up and command, he could be a workhorse No. 3 starter. If not, he could be a late-inning reliever whose pitches should feature more power in shorter stints.”
Whew! When folks say the Rangers system is loaded up they weren’t kidding! Their major league roster also contains many young players, if we deal in hopes of building up our system this is a great trade partner for sure 😳