U.S. Futures All-Star Tanner Scheppers f the Texas Rangers throws a pitch during the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 11 2010 in Anaheim California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Texas Rangers Top 20 Prospects for 2011
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
Top 20 Rangers Prospects for 2011
1) Jurickson Profar, SS, Grade B+: Borderline A-, grade is undecided basically. Outstanding defense, very young for his level, not sure how the hitting will develop but flashes a lot of promise and should be an average hitter at worst.
2) Martin Perez, LHP, Grade B+: I'm firm on this grade, one notch lower than last year. I know he was young for the Texas League, but still. . .it was not a good season, and I'm concerned that his stuff wasn't as consistent this year. Keep in mind a B+ still makes him a really good prospect in my view.
3) Robbie Erlin, LHP, Grade B+: Terrific feel for pitching, stats are great, scouts like him even though he's a smaller pitcher.
4) Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Grade B: Very tough to rank. Was great in relief early, stumbled in the rotation, and was horrible back in the bullpen late. This grade could go down a notch further depending on what further research reveals.
5) Mike Olt, 3B, Grade B: Fine glove at third base, should post a strong OBP, home run power still a bit of a question. Expect him to be a solid regular.
6) Engel Beltre, OF, Grade B-: Might go with a Grade B here, undecided grade. If I do that, he could move ahead of Olt and/or Scheppers. I love the tools and youth, but there is just something here that makes me wonder. . .I want to see him in Arizona before I make a final decision. Spots 4-6 are still in flux, so no whining about it please.
7) Robbie Ross, LHP, Grade B-: Love the power sinker.
8) Neil Ramirez, RHP, Grade B-: Strong in the second half, potential breakout in 2011.
9) Jake Skole, OF, Grade B-: Stats weren't great, but he was awfully young for the Northwest League.
10) Miguel De Los Santos, LHP, Grade B-: I'm a sucker for the power lefties.
11) Kellen Deglan, C, Grade B-: Glove ahead of the bat at this point.
12) Wilmer Font, RHP, Grade B-: Another grade that could change depending on winter health reports. Excellent power arm but health issues abound.
13) Michael Kirkman, LHP, Grade C+: Yet another grade that could change, in his case up to B-. Good arm from the left side, but I'm not sold on his command yet.
14) Luke Jackson, RHP, Grade C+: I love this arm from the 2010 draft; he could end up being a much higher grade once he gets some innings in.
15) Cody Buckel, RHP, Grade C+: Like Jackson, another high school arm from '10 draft that I like a lot but need to see more data from .
16) Justin Grimm, RHP, Grade C+: Type of pitcher who could be more effective against wood in pro ball than metal in college.
17) Luis Sardinas, SS, Grade C+: Not as good as Profar, but not bad at all. Lots of growth potential on both sides of the game.
18) Roman Mendez, RHP, Grade C+: Lively arm acquired from Red Sox. May or may not develop, but ceiling is high.
19) Joe Wieland, RHP, Grade C+: Another guy who could break out; was excellent in August, throws strikes.
20) Miguel Velazquez, OF, Grade C+: Might drop to Grade C. Good tools, will be patient one more year.
OTHERS: Jorge Alfaro, C; Wilfredo Boscan, RHP; Fabio Castillo, RHP; Ovispo De Los Santos, RHP; Vincent DiFazio, C; Cody Eppley, RHP; Mark Hamburger, RHP; Jared Hoying, OF; Teodoro Martinez, OF; Carlos Melo, RHP; Joseph Ortiz, LHP; Jimmy Reyes, LHP; Josh Richmond, OF; Drew Robinson, OF-INF; Pedro Strop, RHP; Matt Thompson, RHP; Christian Villanueva, 3B.
This list is not quite finished. I have several undecided grades here, and spots 4-10 could all look very different once I get the grades locked down. But I am leaving for Arizona tomorrow, need to get some sleep, and want to get this posted so you guys can see it. Feel free to make cases for players you like (or against those you don't like), but no whining please.
The Rangers system has thinned out some and some of the bigger names did not have good seasons, but I expect they can recharge quickly, especially if the names from the 2010 draft live up to their expectations.