2013 Texas Rangers Top Prospects

 

System Overview: Led by the game’s top prospect, Jurickson Profar, the Rangers’ system boasts both impact talent, plenty of depth, and a few wild cards that could develop into big league regulars.

Along with Profar, corner infielder/outfielder Mike Olt should develop into a middle-of-the-order bat capable of smacking 30+ homeruns; center fielder Leonys Martin flashed four-tool potential in Triple-A last season; and one of the club’s first rounders last season, Joey Gallo, mashed 22 homeruns between rookie ball and low-A.

On the pitching side of things, right-hander Cody Buckel, one of the more underrated prospects in the game, could make his debut at some point this season; Luke Jackson flashed an elite ability to miss bats, though his command/control needs to improve; and Wilmer Font, who’s likely headed to the Rangers’ bullpen, could still develop into a good mid-rotation-type guy.

 

#1. Jurickson Profar, Age: 20, Position: SS

Baseball’s premier prospect, Profar, despite being the lone teenager in the Texas League last year, posted some impressive skills, hitting .281/.368/.452 with 26 doubles, seven triples, 14 homeruns and 16 stolen bases. His total offensive production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, was 27% better than the league average.

Defensively, he remains a bit raw, but should improve enough so he won’t have to be moved from the left side of second base.

Projection: Profar offers a premium skill set — above-average plate discipline, very strong contact skills, solid power that should develop into 30- to 35-homeruns, and a smattering of speed — at a premium position. Quite simply, his bat would play anywhere on the diamond. He already made his big league debut last season and could very well likely break camp with the team after Spring Training. He’s an absolute superstar in the making, sans injuries, of course, and should be in the neighborhood of .300/.400/.500 during his peak.

Ceiling: 7.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable

 

#2. Cody Buckel, Age: 21, Position: RHP

Buckel, the organization’s second round pick in 2010, is vastly underrated among many national pundits. After dominating the Carolina League to open the season (75.2 IP, 10.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9), the young right-hander more than held his own with Frisco, averaging nearly a punch out per inning and kept the identical walk rate. In total, he tossed 144.2 innings, struck out 159 and walked just 48. His Skill Independent ERA, or SIERA, was a sparkling 2.98 (according to MinorLeagueCentral.com).

Projection: There’s an off chance Buckel could eke out a few “ace” quality seasons during his big league career, but he’s more of a really good number two right now, something along the ceiling of Dan Haren (peak) or so. Texas’ rotation has a few questions marks right now — Alexi Ogando, Martin Perez and/or Colby Lewis — so wouldn’t be a shock to see him make his debut some point around mid-season.

Ceiling: 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

#3. Mike Olt, Age: 24, Position: 1B/3B

After dominating High-A two years ago (.267/.387/.504), Olt plied his trade with Frisco in 2012, getting better results. The corner infielder/partial outfielder hit .288/.398/.579 with gobs of power (.291 ISO), elite patience (14.5% BB-rate), and a punch out rate bordering on red flag territory (24%). His total offensive production was 68% better than the TL average.

Projection: Olt’s long been tied to trade rumors and for good reason. He’s nearly big league ready; his bat has the potential to be elite if he can stick at third, and he offers what every front office is looking for nowadays: power. I do have some reservations about his contact skills, though he has improved as he’s moved up the ladder, but he definitely could develop into a Three-True-Outcome hitter. Mitch Moreland’s the scheduled starter at first, but Olt’s definitely the superior bat, even as we speak.

Ceiling: 4.0- to 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

#4. Leonys Martin, Age: 25, Position: CF

Martin’s offensive production in the Pacific Coast League — .359/.422/.610 — was 64% better than the average, the second best mark in the league. He showed solid-average patience, above-average pop, a touch of speed, and a surprisingly strong ability to make contact.

Projection: Martin’s heading into Spring Training as the underdog to Craig Gentry for the starting center field job, though the former has a much higher ceiling. Martin really hasn’t shown any significant weakness at this point in his career. He handles lefties and righties well, hits for power, can swipe 15 to 20 bags, and is willing to take a walk. His ceiling is somewhere in the neighborhood of .280/.340/.440 with 20/20 potential.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

#5. Luke Jackson, Age: 21, Position: RHP

Nabbed with the 45th overall pick in the 2010 draft, Jackson showed an above-average to elite ability to miss bats mixed with some spotty control in both the South Atlantic and Carolina Leagues last season. The 6-foot-2 righty made 13 starts at each level with nearly matching peripherals: 10.1 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 with Hickory and 10.1 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 with Myrtle Beach.

Projection: Jackson’s dominate 2012 was masked somewhat by an unsightly 4.65 ERA, but the talent is definitely there to develop into an upper-rotation-type starter. His SIERA, 3.28, was far more indicative of his actually ability. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back in High-A for a quick refresher, but Texas has no qualms about pushing young prospects, so Double-A could be very likely. His future as a starter will solely be dependent upon his control; if not, he’s a dominant backend bullpen option.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

#6. Joey Gallo, Age: 19, Position: 3B

Gallo, who offered as much power as any amateur player in last season’s draft, didn’t disappoint during his debut. The then-18-year-old launched 22 total dingers between the Arizona Summer (18) and Northwest Leagues (4). His production was far better in the rookie league (.293/.435/.733) than with Spokane (.214/.343/.464). Combined, though, it was 68% better than the league average, tops among all minor league third baseman with 250+ plate appearances.

Projection: Gallo’s plus-power comes with, of course, with one crater-sized caveat: his ability, or lack thereof, to make contact. He struck out a mind numbing 78 times in just 260 plate appearances, or 30% of the time. Sure, he showed an elite walk rate (18.5%), but he looks like he could develop into anything from Russell Branyan to Adam Dunn. Per the usual, I’ll hold any long term projections for recent picks until after the 2013 season.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#7. Wilmer Font, Age: 23, Position: RHP

After missing the entirety of 2011 due to the all too familiar Tommy John surgery, Font rebounded nicely last season, throwing 98.1 innings (mostly in High-A), while averaging 12.2 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9. The walk rate, coincidentally enough, was the lowest mark of his entire career, unusual due to the type of control issues pitchers typically show immediately after the surgery.

Projection: Font’s been a starter through the duration of his career, but he’s penciled in as a candidate for the Rangers’ bullpen. It’s very promising that his walk rate improved last year, and there’s still hope he could develop into a good mid-rotation-type pitcher. If not, he’s going to be a dominant setup man for years to come.

Ceiling: 3.5-win (starter); 1.5-win (reliever)

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate (starter); Above-Average (reliever)

#8. Lewis Brinson, Age: 19, Position: CF

The 29th overall pick in last year’s draft, Brinson had a solid debut showing in the Arizona Summer League, hitting .283/.345/.523 with 22 doubles, seven triples, seven homeruns and 14 stolen bases. His total production was 22% better than the average.

Projection: Very similar to fellow first rounder Joey Gallo, Brinson has significant impact upside, but the question will ultimately come down to his ability to make contact. The young center fielder K’d nearly 28% of his plate appearances last year.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#9. Tanner Scheppers, Age: 26, Position: RHP

A former supplemental first round pick in the 2009 draft, Scheppers split his time between Round Rock and Texas last season. Once in the typical hard-throwing, high strikeout, high walk rate mold; the right-hander’s command drastically improved last season. He allowed just four free passes in 31 innings in Triple-A (1.2) and nine in 32.1 big league innings (2.51).

Projection: Depending upon Joakim Soria’s health, Scheppers could begin the year as the Rangers’ primary setup man. If the command issues are truly in the past, he could be a 2.0-win reliever.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

 

#10. Drew Robinson, Age: 21, Position: 3B

A fourth rounder out of Silverado High School (Las Vegas, NV) in 2010, Robinson put together the best year of his professional career in last season, hitting .273/.409/.444 with 23 doubles, four triples, 13 homeruns and 10 stolen bases. His total offensive production was 41% better than the average, the eighth best mark in the South Atlantic League.

Projection: Very underrated as a prospect, Robinson doesn’t have a true standout tool other than his ability to get on base, but his power was solid-average, maybe a touch better, with decent speed. He’s not without his red flags, however. He really struggled against left-handers (.176/.281/.235) and his K-rate is right on that border between OK and concerning.

Ceiling: 2.5- to 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

#11. Eduard Pinto, Age: 18, Position: OF

Pinto dominated the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year-old last season, hitting .396/.475/.477 with 13 doubles, one triple, and a homerun. His total offensive production was 78% better than the league average.

Projection: A lot of Pinto’s successful is driven by his ability to make a ridiculous amount of contact. He struck out 13 times in 262 plate appearances, or just 5% of the time. He also showed an above-average walk rate, a dash of speed, but very little power. He’ll be one to watch in the coming years.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#12. Rougned Odor, Age: 19, Position: 2B/SS

After a solid yet uninspiring year in Low-A two years ago (.262/.323/.352), Odor far from stunk up the place last season in A-ball, hitting .259/.313/.400 with 23 doubles, four triples, 10 homeruns and 19 stolen bases, making his offense just a tick below the league average.

Projection: A decent offensive foundation that could peak as a fringe big league regular. He shows some power, below-average walk rates, and a modicum of speed. And his numbers against fellow southpaws (.249/.307/.373) weren’t too far off his production against right-handers (.265/.321/.388).

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

#13. Leury Garcia, Age: 22, Position: 2B/SS

Garcia, who stands a diminutive 5-foot-7 and 153 pounds, put together the best season of his career in 2012, hitting .292/.337/.398 with 31 stolen bases as a 21-year-old in Double-A. His total offensive production was just 4% above the league average. His ISO last season, .106, was also the highest mark of his career.

Projection: While Garcia likely won’t develop into a regular everyday player, he has a lot of skills similar to someone like Maicer Izturis minus the average walk rate. Both are switch hitters with positional versatility, good speed, and little power.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

 

#14. Martin Perez, Age: 22, Position: LHP

Once among the top prospects in the game — Baseball America ranked him between #17 and #31 for three consecutive years — Perez’s stock really tumbled last season, despite making his big league debut. In 22 games (21 starts) in the Pacific Coast League, the left-handers K-rate, which had hovered near a punch out per inning, was just 4.9 K/9 last season. He still generated a lot of groundballs though, at 47.2%.

Projection: Probably the most difficult prospect to rank not only in the system, but perhaps in all of baseball. Perez will be just 22 this season and has a pretty strong track record, but he may not be able to withstand the rigors of pitching every fifth day. He could very well be the next Juan Cruz, a player with enormous starting potential but was never really able to put it together.

Ceiling: 2.0-win (starter); 1.0-win (reliever)

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate (starter); Moderate (reliever)

 

#15. Nomar Mazara, Age:  18, Position: OF

As a massive 17-year-old, Mazara, who’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, hit .264/.383/.448 in the Arizona Summer League last season, with 13 doubles, three triples, half of a dozen homeruns, and five stolen bases. His total offensive production was 23% better than the league average.

Projection: Mazara, who signed for a record breaking $4.95 million bonus in July 2011, flashed some impressive skills during his debut. His showed an elite eye at the plate (15.2% BB-rate), a little bit of speed, and already solid-average in-game power. The lone red flag, for now, is his massive K-rate, at 28.8%, which can largely be blamed on his struggles against fellow left-handers; in 70 PA against them, he K’d 37.1% of the time. He’ll need to improve, but he could be one to move quickly.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#16. Hanser Alberto, Age: 20, Position: 3B/SS

Alberto was on pace for a breakout season after hitting .337/.385/.463 with Hickory, but his production fell off the table once he was promoted to the Carolina League (.265/.273/.362).

Projection: It was the correct move in promoting Alberto to Myrtle Beach after his torrid start, but he was clearly overmatched in High-A. He just seemed overanxious at the plate, walking in just 0.7% of his plate appearances. Not really sure if he develops into anything more than another useful backup infielder at this point.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

Photo of Jurickson Profar Courtesy of Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE via MinorLeagueBall.com



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.