Texas Rangers Top 20 Prospects for 2012
THIS LIST WAS REVISED JANUARY 10, 2012
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine of course. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2012 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders for both paper and .pdf versions. 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 in the book 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.
1) Jurickson Profar, SS, Grade A: He does everything except .300, and he might do that someday. His performance was all the more remarkable given how young he is. A truly elite talent.
2) Martin Perez, LHP, Grade B+: I think he's been pushed too quickly, but all the talent to be a number two or three starter is still there.
3) Leonys Martin, OF, Grade B: Should have a long career due to defense and speed, but I'm not confident enough in his bat to stick a "+" on his grade just yet.
4) Mike Olt, 3B, Grade B: Good power, draws walks, very strong defensive player. Main worry here is high strikeout rate but I expect he will adapt.
5) Rougned Odor, 2B, Grade B: You can make a case to rank him as high as number three. He held his own at age 17 against older pitchers in the Northwest League, quite an achievement.
6) Robert Ross, LHP, Grade B: Remained effective after promotion to Double-A, which is a very good sign. Doesn't have as high a ceiling as some other arms in the system, but also has a higher floor. Possible number three or four starter.
7) Neil Ramirez, RHP, Grade B: Held his own in Triple-A until sore shoulder issue sent him back to previously-skipped Double-A level for rehab. A breakout candidate who broke out.
8) Cody Buckel, RHP, Grade B: Can't argue with Low-A results, great feel for pitching, terrific makeup, excellent statistics. Mid-rotation projection.
9) Roman Mendez, RHP, Grade B: Seems like he deserves more attention than he gets. Owns plus stuff and showed considerably better command this year. Mid-rotation projection.
10) Christian Villanueva, 3B, Grade B-: Signee out of Mexico plays above his tools but does it very well, produces power and speed, sharp defensive skills at third base. Will have to see if plate discipline holds up.
11) Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Grade B-: Health and command remain issues, but even a small improvement would get him to the majors quickly.
12) Justin Grimm, RHP, Grade B-: Made progress with secondary pitches and command, could be mid-rotation starter or power relief arm.
13) Will Lamb, LHP, Grade B-: Clemson product making transition to the mound full-time after spending most of college in the outfield. Three potential plus pitches but needs innings to refine them.
14) Jacob Skole, OF, Grade B-: First round pick from 2010 has tools but skills are still raw, had mediocre season in Low-A. Draws walks but strikes out too much.
15) Jorge Alfaro, C, Grade C+: Scouting reports and word-of-mouth are glowing, praising offensive and defensive potential. Somehow he hit .300 with power in the Northwest League despite appalling plate discipline, and he needs a lot of polish on defense. Very young, high-ceiling, high-risk. I can't give a higher grade to a guy with a 4/54 BB/K no matter what the scouting reports say.
16) Kevin Matthews, LHP, Grade C+: Undersized lefty from 2011 draft seems similar to Robert Ross and now-traded Robert Erlin.
17) Ronald Guzman, OF, Grade C+: Another bonus baby from the Dominican, earned $3,500,000. Like Mazara, Guzman has enormous potential and his tools seem more balanced according to non-Ranger sources, but we have to wait and see.
18) Nomar Mazara, OF, Grade C+: Earned $5,000,000 bonus out of the Dominican due to his power potential. Most teams think this was too much money since his other tools are just so-so, and not everyone buys that his swing will work, but the Rangers believe. Impossible to grade properly until we get some data to see who is right.
19) Luke Jackson, RHP, Grade C+: One of my favorite high school pitchers from 2011 draft, but struggled with his command in the Sally League. Give him more time.
20) Odubel Herrera, 2B, Grade C+: Fast, makes contact, young, solid glove, but league observers worry that impatience and lack of power will hinder him at higher levels.
21) Luis Sardinas, SS, Grade C+: Got just as much press as Profar when he signed, but hampered by injuries and barely played. High ceiling with defense and speed.
22) Justin Miller, RHP, Grade C+: Sleeper relief prospect, throws in mid-90s, looked very sharp in the Texas League.
23) Matt West, RHP, Grade C+: Former third baseman converted to mound with stunning results: 35/1 K/BB with a 94 MPH fastball. Could move fast as relief option if he maintains that.
24) Miguel De Los Santos, LHP, Grade C+: Erratic, but still putting up insanely good strikeout numbers.
25) Barret Loux, RHP, Grade C+: Could rank higher but health concerns remain significant. Possible number three starter if his arm remains attached.
OTHERS: Jordan Akins, OF; Engel Beltre, OF; Jacob Brigham, RHP; Yefry Castillo, C; Zach Cone, OF; Kellin Deglan, C; Abel De Los Santos, RHP; Wilmer Font, RHP; Leury Garcia, SS; Kyle Hendricks, RHP; Mike Kirkman, LHP; Luis Marte, SS; Tommy Mendonca, 3B; David Perez, RHP; Jimmy Reyes, LHP; Tomas Telis, C; Nick Tepesch, RHP; Johan Yan, RHP.
This system speaks for itself.
You got Profar at the top, who would be getting more attention than he already does if Bryce Harper wasn't sucking up all the "look how good this guy is at age 18" oxygen. Then you have a mass of Grade B prospects who all have some questions but could, if things break right, turn into major league regulars of various flavors. Then you have a huge batch of C+ candidates, some who could be role players but others, especially the big bonus guys, who could zoom up the prospect lists in 2012 once we get more data about them.
Ranking players like Guzman and Mazara is extremely difficult, and every spot from 13 to 25 on the list is arguable. Overall, though, Rangers fans have a lot to look forward to.