Top 20 Texas Rangers Prospects for 2010
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on February 2nd!
1) Neftali Feliz, RHP, Grade A: He's really, really, really good. Only questions going forward are what role he plays, and the standard concerns about injuries since he's a young pitcher.
2) Justin Smoak, 1B, Grade A-: I'm not too worried about what happened in Triple-A, given everything else he's done. Still expect him to become an All-Star first baseman.
3) Martin Perez, LHP, Grade A-: Could be a left-handed version of Feliz if all goes well. Expectations are lofty, but so is the talent.
4) Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Grade B+: Borderline A-. I'd make him an A-, but I still worry that the shoulder problems will recur. His ceiling is terrific and he could be number one next year if he stays healthy.
5) Wilmer Font, RHP, Grade B: Another very high ceiling arm, could be B+ or even A- with another year of development.
6) Michael Main, RHP, Grade B: The numbers don't support this, but he gets an injury mulligan due to the weird virus thing and I believe in his stuff.
7) Mitch Moreland, 1B-OF, Grade B-: I don't know how they fit him into the lineup, but I think the bat is legitimate. I like him better than most other analysts.
8) Kasey Kiker, LHP, Grade B-: A few command refinements and he could really take off. I think he's a bit underrated by some people, and yes I have seen him in person. I know reports of his velocity being down have folks spooked, but it's still in there. Read this scouting report.
9) Robbie Ross, LHP, Grade B-: Potent ground ball/strikeout combination. Another breakout candidate.
10) Danny Gutierrez, RHP, Grade C+: I really like this guy as a pitcher, but worry that he won't stay healthy. Off-field makeup problems seem pretty bad, too.
11) Engel Beltre, OF, Grade C+: Terrific tools but at some point he has to start living up to all the hype. I respect his youth and potential but remain skeptical that he'll live up to it, and as a result I won't put him in the top ten.
12) Guillermo Moscoso, RHP, Grade C+: I like this guy a lot, and he's ready to help now. Another underrated talent.
13) Max Ramirez, C, Grade C+: Grade gets knocked back some due to defense and durability concerns but I still think he'll hit enough to help someone.
14) Miguel Velazquez, OF, Grade C+: There are makeup concerns here but he's got the tools and he performed well in the Northwest League. Need higher level data and another year of makeup stability.
15) Omar Poveda, RHP, Grade C+: Looks like an inning-eater type. Worried about low strikeout rate.
16) Blake Beavan, RHP, Grade C+ Another low strikeout guy, throws strikes, still very young.
17) Carlos Pimentel, RHP, Grade C+: Another guy who seems underrated to me, could take another step forward in '10.
18) Robbie Erlin, LHP, Grade C+: Intriguing high school arm from '09 draft, but need to see more from higher levels.
19) Tommy Mendonca, 3B, Grade C+: Enormous power. . .but can he control the strike zone against better pitching?
20) Vince DiFazio, C, Grade C+: Very good pro debut from 2009 draft sleeper.
OTHERS (Grade C): Richard Alvarez, RHP; Mike Bianucchi, OF; Richard Bleier, LHP; Wilfredo Boscan, RHP; Andrew Doyle, RHP; Edwin Escobar, LHP; Craig Gentry, OF; Kennil Gomez, RHP; Michael Kirkman, LHP; Marcus Lemon, INF; Zack Phillips, LHP; Jurickson Profar, SS; Neil Ramirez, RHP; Luis Sardinas, SS; Ben Snyder, LHP; Pedro Strop, RHP; Tomas Telis, C; Matt Thompson, RHP, Braden Tullis, RHP; Joe Wieland, RHP.
Several of the Grade Cs have the potential to be much higher a year from now. 2009 international signees Profar and Sardinas get great reviews for their tools, but until we get some pro data for them I'm hesitant to put them on lists like this. International signees are getting more and more attention over the last couple of seasons. I applaud this trend in the press, but ranking a 16 year old accurately is very difficult, absent any objective data. If you want to give guys like Profar and Sardinas a Grade C+ and put them somewhere in the 15-20 range you can do that, but I've seen too many of these kind of players fizzle out to get any more aggressive than that. At least give me some rookie ball numbers.
Pitching is the cornerstone of this farm system. Feliz, Perez, and Scheppers all have number one starter ability and are ranked accordingly. Beyond them are a bunch of other live arms...I like Kiker a lot, Main seems a good bet for a rebound, Font is a potential B+/A- guy a year from now, and there are plenty of arms beyond them, both projectable/arm strength types and inning-eater guys.
Things are thinner on the hitting side. I still expect Justin Smoak to be an impact guy despite his problems at Oklahoma City. Mitch Moreland's bat is legitimate even if scouts still downplay his tools. Max Ramirez is more problematic...he just didn't look right this year, but he hit for power in winter ball and if the wrist is OK I think he'll rebound. Engel Beltre....yes, I know scouts love him and he's young and he's toolsy but his plate discipline remains so bad, I have doubts. He's not a top ten for me at this point given his performance.
Overall, this remains an elite farm system, with an outstanding balance of current production and long-term upside. Some of the C+/C guys could be B/B+ or even A- a year from now. Rangers fans have plenty to look forward to.