We continue our yearly reviews of the pre-season Top 20 2013 Prospects lists with the Texas Rangers. This is a review of the pre-season list. It is not a new list! These are pre-season grades!
This list was originally published December 29, 2012 and updated on January 15, 2013.
1) Jurickson Profar, SS, Grade A: Hitting .236/.308/.343 in the majors, used at multiple positions, not ideal for his development in the short run but in the long run it could actually help him. Still an elite talent.
2) Mike Olt, 3B, Grade A-: Borderline B+. Bothered by vision problem early, hitting just .205/.310/.388 in Triple-A, still has power, defense, but strikeout rate is getting the best of him at this point. He turns 25 next month, needs a shot soon. Mentioned in trade rumors every 12 seconds.
3) Leonys Martin, OF, Grade B: Borderline B+. Hitting .278/.331/.415 with 19 steals in 83 games in the majors. Defense and speed will keep him employed long enough that he can still develop in other areas like power, patience.
4) Cody Buckel RHP, Grade B: I took a risk ranking him this high, and so far it looks like a terrible decision: 20.25 ERA with a 9/28 K/BB (not a typo) in 9 innings in Double-A before being shut down in early May. Complete collapse in all phases. Pitchers will break your heart.
5) Justin Grimm, RHP, Grade B: 6.37 ERA in 17 major league starts, 68/31 K/BB in 89 innings, 116 hits, 15 homers. Ick. Young and talented enough to improve, but I hope you didn't try to rely on him as a fantasy guy this year.
6) Luke Jackson, RHP, Grade B: 2.55 ERA with a 93/41 K/BB in 88 innings for High-A Myrtle Beach, 70 hits. Overpowering with fastball/curveball combination at his best, still sharpening command.
7) Martin Perez, LHP, Grade B: 3.32 ERA with 30/10 K/BB in 43 innings in Triple-A, 3.00 ERA with 20/10 K/BB in 36 innings in the majors. Still something of a tease, but seems to have turned a corner in turning talent into production.
8) Rougned Odor, 2B, Grade B: Hitting .305/.370/.453 with 26 steals for High-A Myrtle Beach. Impressive young prospect, just 19 years old, would get a lot more attention in other organizations but is overshadowed by Profar. Might not be for long. I'd target him in a trade if I was another club.
9) Luis Sardinas, SS, Grade B-: Borderline B: Hitting .296/.354/.359 with 25 steals for Myrtle Beach at age 20. Like Odor, he's young, fast, performing well, and is someone who could be involved in a trade.
10) Jorge Alfaro, C, Grade B-: Great throwing arm but is still raw as a receiver. Huge power but still has holes in his approach. Hitting .263/.334/.458 with 11 homers, 15 walks, 74 strikeouts in 293 plate appearances in Low-A; almost identical to last year. He's just 20, still has time to improve.
11) Joey Gallo, 3B, Grade B-: .225/.311/.540 with 26 homers, 35 walks, 135 strikeouts in 311 at-bats in Low-A. Very extreme player, enormous power and very young at age 19 but his strikeout rate is frighteningly high, a common theme on the Hickory roster. Could be a star, but high bust potential. . .like most of the Hickory roster.
12) Nomar Mazara, OF, Grade B-: Hitting .235/.318/.368 for Low-A Hickory, with 34 walks, 94 whiffs in 315 at-bats. Only 18 years old, another big upside but risky player like Alfaro and Gallo, hasn't done enough this year to resolve the issue either way yet.
13) Ronald Guzman, 1B, Grade B-: Hitting .289/.335/.401 with 10 walks, 23 strikeouts in 142 at-bats for Hickory. Not as strikeout-prone as his teammates. Like Mazara, very young at age 18, could be a star, or a role player, or nothing. Just too soon to know.
14) Wilmer Font, RHP, Grade B-: 1.27 ERA with 49/26 K/BB in 35 innings in Double-A and Triple-A, 11 saves. Still has command troubles but has found his niche in the bullpen. Has been around forever but is still just 23.
15) Nick Williams, OF, Grade C+: Borderline B-: Best producer to this point of the Hickory bunch, hitting .313/.354/.608 with 13 doubles, 10 triples, 15 homers and his tools are as good as anyone's. Impatient and strikes out a lot, but not as much as Gallo (11/69 BB/K in 265 AB). Just 19.
16) Lewis Brinson, OF, Grade C+: More Hickory upside, hitting .231/.312/.432 with 17 homers, 14 steals, 35 walks, 145 strikeouts in 333 at-bats, age 19. Terrific toolset with arm strength, speed, power potential. But like the rest of them, high risk due to contact problems.
17) C.J. Edwards, RHP, Grade C+: Remarkable story, 48th round pick becoming one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, 1.83 ERA with 122/34 K/BB in 93 innings for Hickory, only 62 hits, zero homers allowed. Stock is rising quickly.
18) Neil Ramirez, RHP, Grade C+: Involved in trade rumors, 3.68 ERA with 117/40 K/BB in 95 innings in Double-A, 69 hits. Solid season, but he was in Triple-A last year and still needs to prove himself at that level. Possible mid-rotation guy if all goes well.
19) Hanser Alberto, SS, Grade C+: Overmatched in Double-A, hitting just .215/.256/.296 in 311 at-bats for Frisco. Solid defender, at age 20 he still has a chance to improve his offense. Likely surplus in Texas and could show up in trade rumors.
20) Nick Martinez, RHP, Grade C+: 3.18 ERA with 77/33 K/BB in 96 innings in High-A, 92 hits. Decent season at age 22, possible back-end starter or a reliever in the majors eventually.
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.
The Rangers farm system is well-known for their high upside talent, their ability to reload quickly, and willingness to throw huge amounts of cash into player development, particularly on the international market.
The talent-laden roster at Hickory is one of the strongest collections of tools you'll ever see in the low minors, although almost the entire roster has problems making contact, which is not what you want to see in the Sally League. It will be really interesting to see how this plays out as the group moves up: the average age on that roster is 20.2.
The oldest of the Hickory regulars, second baseman Ryan Rua, has knocked 28 homers but lacks the tools of his teammates and is already 23. Still a very interesting player.
The rookie-level Arizona League team has a bunch of tools too, with Jairo Beras and Travis Demeritte most likely to push their way up 2014 lists.