The Texas Rangers have had a changing of the guard of sorts in the farm system. Once some of the bigger names in the system — like Andy Ibanez and Eric Jenkins — are now question marks.
That being said, there are some nice prospects in this system worth noting.
Jose Trevino, C
Trevino didn’t follow up his 2016 California League breakout campaign as some hoped, but he is still one of the better catching prospects in the game.
He’s a bit older for his level, but the 24-year-old has shown he can be a defensive-minded catcher at the very least. Trevino has natural athleticism, having played third base, short stop and second base before moving behind the plate permanently for the Rangers. Last year, he led the California League, throwing out 48 percent of his runners.
Offensively, Trevino looked like the real deal, but many do in the California League. He hit .303 with 30 doubles, nine home runs and a career high .776 OPS. Those numbers came crashing back to earth in the Texas League in 2017. He slashed .241/.275/.323. He still showed the same over the fence, modest pop with seven home runs, but the doubles disappeared, only hitting 12.
Still, Trevino is “there” defensively. He has little flaws behind the plate, and his pitchers seem to trust him and throw whatever they want knowing it will stay in front of him. He should get a shot this year.
Kyle Cody, RHP
The 23-year-old righty is an intimidating presence on the rubber. Cody stands at 6-foot-7 and 243 pounds, and uses it to deceive opponents.
Last year’s sixth-rounder out of Kentucky broke out in the South Atlantic League and showed continued success in five starts in the Carolina League. Combined, Cody went 9-6 with a 2.64 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He struck out 136 in 126 innings, walking 43.
Cody’s best offering is a mid-90s fastball that comes downward at hitters pretty hard. Some reports have him nearing 100. His low-80s slider seems ready for prime time while his changeup is still a bit behind. He is an extreme ground ball pitcher, which helps strands the few runners he allows.
He seems like he has the floor of a back-end rotation guy, who at the very least can throw innings and limit runs. Once promoted to the Carolina League — after enduring a full season of work — Cody tossed six-plus innings over his last four starts. He threw more than 90 pitches each time. He has the looks of a fast track candidate if he can stay consistent.
Joe Palumbo, LHP
Palumbo gets an incomplete for 2017. He tore his UCL in April and obviously never returned. Fortunately for the Rangers, he tore it early enough that he should return for 2018.
The 23-year-old southpaw got off to a fast start in 2017, posting a 0.66 ERA and 0.59 in his three starts prior to injury. He struck out 22 and walked four in 13.2 innings, allowing just four hits.
Palumbo, a 2013 30th-rounder, took a few years to get out of Rookie ball, but since he did, he’s shown impressive stuff. He was one of the best relievers in the South Atlantic League before the Rangers shifted him into the rotation, where he again excelled. Though his fastball can hit the mid-90s, most rave about his curveball. He can use all three pitches effectively (he mixes in a changeup) and clearly knows how to strike people out.
Where Palumbo goes from here all depends on his return from injury. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rangers work him back slowly in the bullpen, but they may throw him right back in the rotation and see how much of the velocity and command is back.