Today we continue our summer reviews of the pre-season Top 20 Prospects lists with the Texas Rangers.
This is a review of the pre-season list.
It is not a new list.
These are the pre-season grades.
1) Joey Gallo, 3B, Grade A-: Excellent in Double-A (.314/.425/.636), not too good in the PCL (.182/.297/.445), showed plenty of power in the majors but with huge contact issues (.218/.306/.448, five homers, 43 strikeouts in 87 at-bats). Homers, strikeouts. . .that’s what we expected and that’s what we’re getting.
2) Nomar Mazara, OF, Grade B+: Hitting .286/.356/.450 with 13 homers, 41 walks, 88 strikeouts in 378 at-bats in Double-A. Strong overall, cruising right along at age 20.
3) Alex "Chi-Chi" Gonzalez, RHP, Grade B+/B: 4.41 ERA with 35/24 K/BB in 63 innings in Triple-A, 3.74 ERA with 15/19 K/BB in 43 innings in the majors. He’s got to turn that K/BB around for consistent success in the majors, but I think he will do that eventually.
4) Jake Thompson, RHP, Grade B/B+: 4.47 ERA with 79/30 K/BB in 95 innings in Double-A, 100 hits. Capable of better, traded to Phillies in Cole Hamels deal, still projects as a workhorse starter.
5) Jorge Alfaro, C, Grade B/B+: Hit .253/.314/.432 in Double-A with nine walks, 62 strikeouts in 190 at-bats before getting hurt. Traded to Phillies. No real change here: impressive raw power, impressive defensive tools, skills remain rough, high upside, high risk.
6) Luis Ortiz, RHP, Grade B/B-: Excellent through 10 starts in Low-A (1.72, 44/9 in 47 innings) but went on disabled list in June with "strained flexor muscle".
7) Luke Jackson, RHP, Grade B-: 4.05 ERA with 71/30 K/BB in 60 innings in Triple-A, 53 hits. Still has some command issues but dominance ratios are very good and he looks to be a useful bullpen component.
8) Lewis Brinson, OF, Grade B-: Hit .337/.416/.628 at High-A High Desert. But that’s High Desert in the Cal League. . .is the breakout real? He moved up to Double-A last week and is continuing to hit: .360/.346/.560. Power/speed/athleticism combination is potentially special and it looks like he’s made real progress with the skills to make the tools work.
9) Nick Williams, OF, Grade B-: Hitting .307/.366/.501 with 15 homers, 33 walks, 78 strikeouts in 387 at-bats in Double-A. Traded to Phillies. Like Brinson, Williams has always had the tools and has added considerable polish over the last year.
10) Corey Knebel, RHP, Grade B-: Traded to Brewers. 3.60 ERA in 30 major league innings, 35/12 K/BB. A very competent relief pitcher who could improve further.
11) Ryan Rua, OF-INF, Grade B-/C+: Battling injuries, hitting .200/.229/.413 with three walks, 32 strikeouts in 80 at-bats in the majors. I think he’s capable of better but needs at-bats and health.
12) Delino DeShields, OF-INF, Grade C+/B-: Successful Rule 5 choice from Astros, hitting .265/.363/.387 with 18 steals, 35 walks, 58 strikeouts in 230 major league at-bats. A decent year and he can build on this.
13) Luis Sardinas, INF, Grade C+: Traded to Brewers, hitting .259/.297/.337 in Triple-A,.221/.243/.250 in 68 at-bats in the majors. Glove will keep him in the picture, may or may not develop enough with the bat to play regularly for a good team.
14) Travis Demeritte, 2B, Grade C+: Hit .241/.343/.412 with 10 steals, five homers, 25 walks, 69 strikeouts in 170 at-bats in Low-A. Suspended 80 games for using Furosemide, a banned PED.
15) Josh Morgan, INF, Grade C+: Hitting .288/.385/.362 with 45 walks, 53 strikeouts in 351 at-bats in Low-A. Playing well defensively at both shortstop and third base. Does not have strikeout issues, will have to see if he can add some power. Intriguing prospect.
16) Alec Asher, RHP, Grade C+: 4.51 ERA with 100/37 K/BB in 114 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 119 hits. Traded to Phillies, still projects as back-end inning-eater or a solid reliever.
17) Michael De Leon, SS, Grade C+: Looked like a sleeper to me, but still asleep, hitting .219/.265/.277 in 260 at-bats in Low-A. Still just 18 years old.
18) Ti’Quan Forbes, 3B, Grade C+: Hitting .238/.306/.300 with 11 walks, 36 strikeouts in 130 at-bats in the short-season Northwest League. Sample size and youth (18) must be considered, no question about the tools but the hitting obviously needs some work.
19) Ryan Cordell, OF, Grade C+: Beat up High Desert (.311/.376/.528) but has struggled with contact, pitch recognition in Double-A (.243/.304/.378, nine walks, 36 whiffs in 111 at-bats. Draws notice for power, speed, and a long swing.
20) Jairo Beras, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .294/.341/.434 with five homers, eight steals, 16 walks, 62 strikeouts in 228 at-bats in Low-A. Repeating the league but much better than last year (.242/.305/.342), 20 year old toolshed, BB/K/PA still advises caution as he moves up.
The purpose of a farm system is to develop assets for a major league team, assets which can be deployed directly or shipped off to other clubs for more proven commodities. The consistently productive Rangers system provided the necessary assets to win the trade war for Cole Hamels, though whether one pitcher (no matter how good) is enough to push the Rangers into the post season remains to be seen.
Good news: despite the Hamels trade the Rangers system retains some depth, with Nomar Mazara looking like a possibly complete hitter and Joey Gallo doing the things that Joey Gallo does. He’s with the Phillies now of course but I think Nick Williams’ breakout was real; if the early returns from Double-A are any indication, Lewis Brinson’s is as well. Demeritte’s suspension is annoying but Josh Morgan looks very interesting. Beras and Ronald Guzman are showing more life with the bat this year. DeShields has been useful. The farm system has shown the ability to keep a steady stream of talent flowing from the Latin American ranks, with Yeyson Yrizarri a key name for 2016.
Second-round 2015 outfielder Eric Jenkins adds another tool set to the mix. 12th rounder LeDarious Clark out of West Florida is showing power and speed for Spokane (.554 SLG, 19 steals) and hopes to have the success that 2014 college draftees Jose Trevino (catcher) and Luke Tendler (outfielder) have had in Low-A.
Adding more pitching would be nice. Rookie Keone Kela has been a strong big league reliever at age 22. Panamanian right-hander Ariel Jurado, age 19, has been excellent in Low-A (11-0, 2.21, 77/10 K/BB in 81 innings, 71 hits). Hickory teammate LHP Brett Martin also showed well until going on the DL recently. The 2015 draft adds hard-throwing collegians Dillon Tate and Mike Matuella, the later a steal in the third round assuming he recovers from surgery as expected.