The biggest news for the Texas Rangers right now is without a doubt their new manager. Former Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward was hired yesterday to replace Jeff Bannister as the Rangers skipper.
A couple years removed from their spot in the national spotlight, the Rangers are currently in the early stages of a quasi-rebuild.
Their brand new brother to Cowboys stadium is due in 2020 and the team obviously doesn’t want to field a rebuilding team as they settle into their new digs.
Let’s pretend the Rangers don’t sign Bryce Harper and try to jettison back into baseball relevance. I think it’s a safe bet to not count on such a thing happening.
(Even though it did happen in my MLB The Show franchise.)
The Rangers farm system isn’t in a desirable spot at the moment, but there are several high-floor, low-ceiling types. This includes the promising Cuban Julio Pablo Martinez.
Similar to Leonys Martin, who the Rangers also signed out of Cuba in 2011, there is considerable hope for the outfielder Martinez. Martin never became a star, but has still managed to fulfill his defensive potential as a very good center fielder.
(And after a bacterial infection scare, we’re very glad he’s on the road to recovery and re-signed with the Indians.)
Last March, the Rangers inked Julio Pablo Martinez with a $2.8 million signing bonus.
The 22-year old is an absolutely electric baserunner. He has remarkable speed that will serve him on both sides of the ball. That casts a similar light on him as Leonys Martin had. The big question is not his intangibles, but whether he can develop into a capable big league hitter.
After five years playing in Cuba, he hit .266 between Rookie ball and Low-A Spokane in 2018, playing center nearly every day.
In 67 games, he stole 13 bases and was caught nine times. While his running totals weren’t as projected, he did hit nine home runs. His career-high in Cuba was 12, in 79 games during the 2015 season.
As expected, he was selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League and has gotten off to an extremely hot start.
Through 13 games, he’s hitting .327 with four stolen bags to two caught stealings. He has five doubles, a home run and a triple. Strikeouts are currently a bugaboo for the prospect and he has one per game in the AFL.
2019 will certainly bring the soon-to-be 23-year old to full-season ball. It’s only a matter of when, and that is expected to be when the season opens and he suits for for High-A Down East.
If he hits, his path to Double-A could be quick as the Rangers test him out at the pivotal minor league levels and try to bring back their minor league system to its former glory.