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Texas Rangers Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Jun 24, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross (46) throws a pitch during the sixth inning of the game against the Colorado Rockies at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers beat the Rockies 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
Jun 24, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross (46) throws a pitch during the sixth inning of the game against the Colorado Rockies at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers beat the Rockies 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Texas Rangers Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

Continuing with our mid-season reviews of our pre-season Top 20 Prospect Lists, we are staying with the American League with a look at the Texas Rangers farm system.

Remember, this is the pre-season list. It is NOT a new list.

This list was originally published January 10th, 2012

The Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, and New York Mets are the next teams I intend to do, but the schedule may get changed depending on events in the baseball world.

1) Jurickson Profar, SS, Grade A: Hitting .284/.358/.478 with 13 homers, 47 walks, 64 strikeouts in 391 at-bats for Double-A Frisco, with 12 steals. Also an impressive defensive shortstop. Profar does it all and is the best position player prospect in baseball.

2) Martin Perez, LHP, Grade B+: 4.59 ERA with 50/39 K/BB in 86 innings for Triple-A Round Rock, 81 hits. Promoted to the majors, 4.26 ERA with a 10/8 K/BB in 19 innings, 20 hits. His talent is obvious if you watch him pitch, but he's very young, has been pushed very quickly, and has inevitable growing pains.

3) Leonys Martin, OF, Grade B: .344/.414/.547 with 15 walks, 22 strikeouts in 128 at-bats in Triple-A, but just .189/.250/.405 with three walks and nine strikeouts in 37 at-bats for the Rangers. It is still unclear to me exactly how much home run power he'll have, which will help determine where he falls on the "star/good regular/good fourth outfielder" continuum.

4) Mike Olt, 3B, Grade B: Hitting .291/.404/.582 with 27 homers, 61 walks, 95 strikeouts in 340 at-bats for Frisco. Impressive glove at third base is another positive. Only worry here is an elevated strikeout rate, but he's ready for Triple-A, if not more. I wish I had put him ahead of Martin.

5) Rougned Odor, 2B, Grade B: Hitting .271/.325/.431 with eight homers, 19 walks, 52 strikeouts, 13 steals in 325 at-bats for Low-A Hickory. Excellent glove at second base, just18 years old, bat has considerable potential as well.

6) Robbie Ross, LHP, Grade B: 1.08 ERA with 30/11 K/BB in 50 innings, 37 hits, 2.14 GO/AO in the major league bullpen. Hard to knock any of this; he's been excellent.

7) Neil Ramirez, RHP, Grade B: 7.66 ERA with 63/31 K/BB and 78 hits allowed in 74 innings for Round Rock, resulting in demotion to Double-A, where he has a 4.24 ERA with a 22/9 K/BB in 23 innings. Quite disappointing given that he performed well in Triple-A in 2011.

8) Cody Buckel, RHP, Grade B: Untouchable in High-A: 1.31 ERA with 91/25 K/BB in 76 innings, 49 hits for Myrtle Beach. More human after moving up to Double-A, with a 4.58 ERA and a 34/15 K/BB in 37 innings, 31 hits. Turned 20 in June, one of the youngest players at his level. I like the progress that he's made and stock is up.

9) Roman Mendez, RHP, Grade B: 5.34 ERA with 65/24 K/BB in 64 innings for Myrtle Beach, 68 hits. Just turned 22. Performance hasn't been special, secondary pitches to go with his mid-90s fastball are still in development stage.

10) Christian Villanueva, 3B, Grade B-: Hitting .285/.356/.421 with 10 homers, 24 walks, 83 strikeouts in 375 at-bats in High-A, nine steals. He is playing very well defensively and the bat has potential. Often gets overlooked in the Rangers system and is blocked behind Olt, but if I were trading with the Rangers I would ask about this guy.

11) Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Grade B-: 3.72 ERA with 27/4 K/BB in 29 innings for Round Rock, 30 hits, nine saves. 5.94 ERA with 15/3 K/BB in 17 major league innings, 23 hits. He's throwing strikes more readily this year. I think he will be an effective reliever if he can avoid further injury problems.

12) Justin Grimm, RHP, Grade B-: Breakthrough season: 9-3, 1.96 ERA with 84/22 K/BB in 101 innings, 81 hits split between Double-A and Triple-A. Name now showing up in trade rumors. I think he can be a mid-rotation starter or a powerful relief presence.

13) Will Lamb, LHP, Grade B-: 4.91 ERA with 54/41 K/BB in 77 innings for Low-A Hickory, 74 hits. Command has held him back, not surprising given that he wasn't a full time pitcher until this year.

14) Jacob Skole, OF, Grade B-: .185/.288/.260 with 31 walks, 72 strikeouts in 227 at-bats for Myrtle Beach. On restricted list for PED use, reportedly using an amphetamine. It sure wasn't helping him much.

15) Jorge Alfaro, C, Grade C+: Hitting .295/.355/.483 with 11 walks, 51 strikeouts in 176 at-bats for Hickory. Plate discipline has improved from appalling to below average, but he still strikes out a lot. Power potential is obvious. Has thrown out just 14% of runners, also spending time at DH and 1B. I have been skeptical about him but he's made real progress.

16) Kevin Matthews, LHP, Grade C+: 4.79 ERA with 39/41 K/BB in 41 innings for Hickory, 38 hits. Somehow he's kept his ERA below 5.00 despite walking a hitter per inning, but that either the ERA will rise or the walks will come down eventually.

17) Ronald Guzman, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .267/.317/.345 with nine walks, 29 strikeouts in 116 at-bats in the Arizona Rookie League. The Rangers spent $3,500,000 on him. At age 17 he still has lots and lots of time for the performance to start matching the tools, but it hasn't yet.

18) Nomar Mazara, OF, Grade C+: Earned $5,000,000 bonus, hitting .231/.370/.426 with 23 walks, 42 strikeouts in 108 at-bats in the Arizona Rookie League. Has more present power than Guzman and is more patient, but contact problems are serious. Also young at age 17.

19) Luke Jackson, RHP, Grade C+: 5.16 ERA with 106/48 K/BB in 99 innings split between Low-A and High-A, 101 hits. He's been better than the raw ERA implies, but hasn't pitched as well as I thought he might. No change in grade at this time.

20) Odubel Herrera, 2B, Grade C+: .279/.329/.372 with 24 walks, 81 strikeouts, 20 steals in 390 at-bats for Myrtle Beach. Overlooked due to presence of Profar and Odor in the system, but he would be a top infield prospect in some organizations. Age 20, has held his own in High-A.

21) Luis Sardinas, SS, Grade C+: .299/.354/.351 with 20 walks, 34 strikeouts, 26 steals in 268 at-bats for Hickory. Like Herrera, Sardinas is young, athletic, and has held his own in full-season ball at a young age (19 in his case), but is often overlooked in this system. Good trade bait for someone.

22) Justin Miller, RHP, Grade C+: Tommy John surgery.

23) Matt West, RHP, Grade C+: Former third baseman, hampered by huge control problems in High-A, 8.10 ERA with 8/10 K/BB in 13 innings. Yuck. He does have a 2.20 GO/AO and the arm strength to succeed, but needs to learn his craft.

24) Miguel De Los Santos, LHP, Grade C+: 5.57 ERA with 51/25 K/BB in 42 innings, 37 hits. Continues to post strong strikeout numbers while struggling with command and overall performance.

25) Barret Loux, RHP, Grade C+: 12-1, 3.76 ERA with 77/32 K/BB in 93 innings for Frisco, 86 hits. Has had a solid year overall, although not consistently dominant despite the gaudy win total.

Among players not listed, Engel Beltre continues to flash his tools in Double-A with 30 steals, but his plate discipline remains dismal. Teammate Chris McGuiness is a first baseman and already 24 but his 20 homers and reasonable plate discipline might get him noticed. Right-handers Jacob Brigham and Nick Tepesch have a chance to be interesting. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks in High-A has shown tremendous command (112/15 K/BB), while teammate Wilmer Font has some command issues but also features an excellent strikeout rate and a live arm. Shortstop Hanser Alberto is a 19-year-old Dominican who has outplayed more heralded prospects in Low-A/High-A and should be watched.

The 2012 draft was focused on high school guys, with a particular trio standing out: fleet outfielder Lewis Brinson, slugging third baseman Joey Gallo, and tool-laden outfielder Nick Williams. There were some good college picks too, particularly outfielder Preston Beck, a local guy from UT-Arlington who could be a bargain in the fifth round despite his slow start in the Northwest League.

Overall, the Rangers system has tremendous depth and the front office has a lot of material to offer while working the trade market.