Texas Rangers Top 20 Prospects for 2013
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. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2013 Baseball Prospect Book. e are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a reasonable 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. Some end up as role players or bench guys. Many don't make it at all.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise, and some C+ prospects (especially at lower levels) 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.
This list is current as of January 15, 2013
1) Jurickson Profar, SS, Grade A: Best position prospect in baseball, with outstanding mix of on-base ability, moderate power, speed, excellent defense, superior makeup, and youth.
2) Mike Olt, 3B, Grade A-: Borderline B+. His issues with strikeouts have him right on the A-/B+ edge for me. But the power and defense stand out and will make him valuable even if he doesn't hit for average.
3) Leonys Martin, OF, Grade B: Borderline B+. I might kick him up to B+ depending on where he needs to slot on the Top 50 list. I think the Rangers are right that he will show more power in time and he should hit for average while providing strong defense.
4) Cody Buckel RHP, Grade B: He might not rank as highly on other lists, but the more I study him, the fewer reasons I find NOT to rank him this high. Strike-thrower with excellent makeup, best friends with Trevor Bauer, handled the Texas League just fine at age 20 which is not easy.
5) Justin Grimm, RHP, Grade B: Upside is higher than Buckel's, but he's also four years older and not as polished with his secondary pitches. Can develop into a number three starter with greater consistency to go with 90-94 heat.
6) Luke Jackson, RHP, Grade B: Mid-90s heat but still working on curveball and changeup consistency, performed OK in A-ball but has to improve his command. Could develop into a number two or strong number three starter
7) Martin Perez, LHP, Grade B: I find him very difficult to evaluate. The massive drop in his strikeout rate is quite worrisome. I've seen him on days when he looks like Johan Santana (93-95, killer changeup, very good curveball and slider), and I've seen him on days where it looks like he should be released (87-89, flat breaking balls, dead fish changeups right down the middle). Youth and nice delivery help sustain his status, but I really don' t know what to expect.
8) Rougned Odor, 2B, Grade B: Held his own in the South Atlantic League at age 18. Power/speed mix, strikes me as a guy who is underrated for some reason, perhaps because there are so many infielders in the system
9) Luis Sardinas, SS, Grade B-: Borderline B: Great double play combo with Odor heading for High-A in 2013. Very fast, good defensive tools, hit .291 in Low-A and stole 32 bases, but has less power than Odor and is almost a year older.
10) Jorge Alfaro, C, Grade B-: Grade A tools, Grade C- current skills. Great arm but threw out just 15% of runners. Lots of raw power, but poor contact and plate discipline (16/84 BB/K in 272 at-bats). Turns 20 in June so he is young enough to figure things out, but a perfect example of the high risk/high reward player who could become a star or a Double-A washout.
11) Joey Gallo, 3B, Grade B-: More power than Con Edison. I don't know who the power company in Dallas is, so please don't accuse me of East Coast bias. I could have said "Westar" which is the company where I live, but how many people would get that? Anyway, Gallo has 80-level power but we'll have to see how his big swing and K-issues work out at higher levels. Seems doubtful as a third baseman to me.
12) Nomar Mazara, OF, Grade B-: Bonus baby held his own in AZL at age 17. Also has strikeout issues. Star potential if he can refine it, could move 10 spots up on this list with a strong '13 showing.
13) Ronald Guzman, 1B, Grade B-: Another bonus baby, also held his own in AZL. A tick behind Mazara on this chart since he has less defensive value, hasn't fully tapped his power yet, and is six months older. Like Mazara, he could vault forward in '13.
14) Wilmer Font, RHP, Grade B-: Hard thrower made good recovery from Tommy John surgery. I've always liked him, so here he is again. Probably more reliever than starter though, at least in Texas.
15) Nick Williams, OF, Grade C+: Borderline B-: Another guy with tremendous tools, speed/power potential, but some strike zone issues. Cautious rating until we see more.
16) Lewis Brinson, OF, Grade C+: Another toolsy outfielder with loads of potential but questions about his hitting. And like the others, he could rank much higher next year if he puts his game together.
17) C.J. Edwards, RHP, Grade C+: Very high upside arm came out of nowhere to dominate short-season ball, thanks to mechanical refinement and sudden step forward with secondary pitches. Not bad for a previously obscure 48th round pick.
18) Neil Ramirez, RHP, Grade C+: Tough to get a handle on after wildly erratic season, failed in Triple-A and was spotty after going down to Double-A though sometimes effective. I have been very high on him in the past but he might do better with a change of scenery. Trade bait?
19) Hanser Alberto, SS, Grade C+: Another product of Texas emphasis on up-the-middle players, would get more attention in another system. Fast, has some pop, good glove. Hit .299/.327/.410 with 24 steals between two levels of A-ball at age 19.
20) Nick Martinez, RHP, Grade C+: Athletic former shortstop, nice sleeper prospect pointed out to me by Rangers expert Jamey Newberg. Easy to overlook due to 4.83 ERA in Low-A, but component ratios were much better, he's got a live arm, a nice delivery, and secondary stuff is improving.
OTHER GRADE C+: Jairo Beras, OF; Lisalverto Bonilla, RHP; Kellin Deglan, C; Leury Garcia, INF; Odubel Herrera, 2B; Roman Mendez, RHP; Nick Tepesch, RHP.
OTHERS: Alec Asher, RHP; Preston Beck, OF; Engel Beltre, OF; Cory Burns, RHP; Zach Cone, OF; Keone Kela, RHP; Will Lamb, LHP; Kevin Matthews, LHP; Yohander Mendez, LHP; Joe Ortiz, LHP; Victor Payano, LHP; Eduard Pinto, OF; Drew Robinson, 3B; Ryan Rodebaugh, RHP; Jake Skole, OF; Jose Valdespina, RHP; Collin Wiles, RHP; Coty Woods, RHP.
There's some churning on this list right now and it will look considerably different in nine months, but overall the Rangers still have one of the deepest farm systems in the game.
This is especially true on the hitting side. Jurickson Profar is going to be an amazing player. Mike Olt is different; I think he will have some ups and downs and his strikeouts might prove troublesome, but ultimately we are still talking about a guy with 30-homer power and Gold Glove caliber defense.
Beyond the top guys, the system is loaded with tools players, and some of them actually know how to use those tools. Leonys Martin is, at worst, a fine fourth outfielder and I think he can be a solid regular. There is a huge amount of material at shortstop and second base: Sardinas, Odor, Alberto, Leury Garcia, Odubel Herrera, . .all have intriguing skills on offense, defense, or usually both. The Rangers won't want for guys to pair with Profar, and they have a lot of trade chits to work with.
The outfield/first base group at Low-A Hickory and short-season Spokane is going to be fascinating. Mazara, Guzman, Gallo, Williams, Brinson. . .these guys all have star-caliber tools. They are just getting their careers started, and each of them has enough flaws that the grades are currently cautious (review the definitions!). Same thing with Jairo Beras and his rotating birthday. It will take some time, but the odds are good that at least one or two of them will develop the way the Rangers hope.
The pitching is not as deep as the hitting. Justin Grimm and Martin Perez are positioned to contribute in 2013. I rather like Grimm, but Perez is an enigma to me and that enigma grows every time I see him pitch. He's usually either brilliant or awful and I don't know how that's going to stabilize. Buckel and Jackson will be mid-rotation candidates by 2015, if not sooner in Buckels' case. Neither of them are sure things though, and the lack of a top-notch starting pitching prospect is the main weakness in the system. They do have interesting material continuing to filter in at the lower levels that could develop.
Overall, this is a system going through a transitional phase, but the aggregation of upside talent is still one of the best around.