Texas Rangers 2014 Top 15 Prospects

Jun 18, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; Myrtle Beach Pelicans pitcher Nick Martinez (22) during the fifth inning of the California League vs Carolina League All Star Game at San Jose Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers have a very strong system with some very young players who are slowly bubbling up to the surface and should be able to make an impact in the next two to three years. With some good drafting and aggressive signing of international free agents before the current cap restrictions came into place, the Rangers have put together a strong core of infield prospects that are the envy of the rest of the major leagues.

Many thanks go out to Lee Stitzel from our FanSided sister site Nolan Writin’. You’ll see Lee’s comments throughout this post in conjunction with my own.

Triple-A: Round Rock Express (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Frisco Rough Riders (Texas League)
High-A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League)
Class-A: Hickory Crawdads (South Atlantic League)
Short-Season A: Spokane Indians (Northwest League)
Complex-Rookie: AZL Rangers (Arizona League)

#15

Ryan Rua – IF
Date of Birth:
March 11, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’2″/180 lbs
Acquired: 17th round of the 2011 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
2013232 Teams2 LgsA-AATEX12752545389112262329114256115.247.347.525.872
201323HickorySALLATEX104430367709224129821324991.251.356.559.914
201323FriscoTLAATEX2395861920213910724.233.305.384.689
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: Ryan Rua has a huge power tool but is susceptible to the strikeout and, at 23, was fairly old for the Class-A South Atlantic (“Sally”) League. After 29 home runs in A-ball, he only hit three in Double-A (in 95 plate appearances) and his strikeouts spiked up four percent (with a corresponding four percent drop in his walk rate). Rua had even more trouble with some of the game’s top pitching prospects in the Arizona Fall League, despite hitting four home runs, he struck out 33.8% of the time and hit only .175. The other question is whether he’ll be able to stick as an infielder where, the word is, he needs a lot of work.

Lee says: “Rua is a power hitting, poor contact middle infielder that may not stay up the middle long term. Rua needs to work on his defense and could benefit from cutting back on his strikeouts.”

2014 Prognosis: Rua likely returns to Frisco for a full season at Double-A. He’s got the type of power that few teams will give up on and I’m sure the Rangers want to believe that he will learn a valuable lesson from his struggles in the AFL.

#14

Connor Sadzeck – RHP
Date of Birth:
October 1, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’5″/195 lbs
Acquired: 11th round of the 2011 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBIBBSOHBPWPWHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BB
201321HickorySALLATEX124.7502.252424132.0102433345117813231.1597.00.33.55.31.53
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: Sadzeck is a big righty who’s fastball sits in the low-90s but reports say that he can reach back for more velocity when he needs it. He had a very good season in Hickory last year, putting him onto the prospect map after his Age-21 season. Sadzeck gets a lot of ground balls (1.38 ground outs for every air out) and showed the ability to log a lot of innings (132) and limited walks. Judging by high numbers of hit batters (13) and wild pitches (23), my guess is that Sadzeck got a lot of early contact as his control doesn’t appear to be one of his strengths and he has a fairly low strikeout percentage at 14.4%.

Lee says: “A classic pitch to contact guy, Sadzeck is effective at limiting walks and home runs.”

2014 Prognosis: Sadzeck will move up to Myrtle Beach but he’s going to need to rein in the control sooner rather than later.

#13

Nick Martinez – RHP
Date of Birth:
August 5, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’1″/175 lbs
Acquired: 18th round of the 2011 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSGFCGIPHRERHRBBSOHBPBKWPWHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BB
2013222 Teams2 LgsA+-AATEX127.6322.50272511151.111753426451287391.0707.00.42.77.62.84
201322Myrtle BeachCARLA+TEX107.5882.87222101119.110647385381057371.2078.00.42.97.92.76
201322FriscoTLAATEX201.0001.12541032.0116417230020.5623.10.32.06.53.29
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: Martinez is relatively new to pitching, only committing to the position full-time since being drafted by the Rangers. He took major steps forward, pitching in Myrtle Beach and Frisco, dropping his overall ERA to 2.50 and his WHIP to 1.07. His improved strikeout numbers probably have a lot to do with his developing secondary offerings although, since I haven’t scouted him myself, I can’t tell you how they’re doing. He’s kind of a sleeper in the Rangers’ system but John Sickels thinks he could be at least a major league reliever.

Lee says: “Martinez has power stuff and has tuned up the strikeouts at every level he has appeared in. His numbers actually improved after his 2013 promotion to Double-A.”

2014 Prognosis: When Spring Training ends, the Rangers will have to make a decision about whether to have Martinez in Double-A or Triple-A. Judging from his success last year, Triple-A might not be too much of a stretch but the fact that he’s only been a pitcher for three seasons may result in the club putting the brakes on a little bit.

#12

Nick Williams – OF
Date of Birth:
September 8, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’3″/195 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2012 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201319HickorySALLATEX9540437670110191217608515110.293.337.543.879
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: Analysts love the package that Williams has put together of speed, power and a solid hit tool. While he’s not going to be a great fielder, scouts think that his bat will play in left field, as evidenced by his outstanding slugging in 2013 with 19 doubles, 12 triples and 17 home runs. He only stole eight bases in thirteen attempts and scouts think that he might slow down as he fills out but if that adds to the power in his bat, it can’t be too bad.

Lee says: “An extra base machine, Williams drives the ball with authority and should develop average to above average power. Williams is only 20 and the projections are exceedingly friendly following an exciting 2013 campaign. Williams is an average defender but may be limited to left field at major league level. If he develops into a major league caliber talent it will be because of his bat.”

2014 Prognosis: Williams will likely take on the Carolina League in 2014 as the Rangers try to help him cut down his strikeouts. He’s not old for the level by any stretch of the imagination and if his contact improves, he could start to move really quickly.

#11

Joey Butler – OF
Date of Birth:
March 12, 1986
Height/Weight: 6’2″/220 lbs
Acquired: 15th round of the 2008 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201327Round RockPCLAAATEX1195054267112426012511269119.291.395.437.831
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: Butler is a little bit old to be a prospect but he’s certainly on the cusp of the major leagues. Butler profiles more of a fourth outfielder type, not excelling in any one aspect of the game but providing solid contributions across the board. He has always hit in the minors, even at the highest levels, showing the ability to make hard contact even if home run totals have never been eye popping. For someone who doesn’t steal many bases (45 career minor league steals in 70 attempts) Butler has very high BABIP numbers. This is probably an indication of his ability to hit the ball hard, particularly considering that his strikeout rates have been consistently above 20% in the minors and he’s accumulated over 100 strikeouts every year that he’s been in full-season ball.

Lee says: “Arlington got a taste of Butler this summer and although it was a mere 15 plate appearances Butler did not appear overwhelmed. Depending on how the offseason goes Butler may have a chance to make the team out of spring training. Butler is neither a power hitter nor a run producer but he gets on base nicely and is adequate defensively. Undoubtedly Butler is one of the most polished Texas minor leaguers.”

2014 Prognosis: Butler could very well compete for a spot on the Rangers. He has little left to prove in the minors.

Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Brett Nicholas against the East during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

#10

Luke Jackson – RHP
Date of Birth:
August 24, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’2″/185 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (45th overall) of the 2010 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBSOHBPWPWHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BB
2013212 Teams2 LgsA+-AATEX114.7332.042523128.0923229659134391.1806.50.44.19.42.27
201321Myrtle BeachCARLA+TEX94.6922.411919101.0793027647104361.2487.00.54.29.32.21
201321FriscoTLAATEX201.0000.676427.0132201230030.9264.30.04.010.02.50
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: Jackson is still fairly young, despite reaching Double-A in 2013. He has a very good fastball and works-in-progress offspeed pitches that, if he can sharpen up the consistency and command, could be a very good starting pitcher. He has shown the ability to strike batters out at every level but walks too many for his own good (although, from his numbers, he appears to have been able to get away with it).

Lee says: “Jackson has an interesting combination of being a strikeout pitcher, which comes with reasonable amount of walks, and being hittable at times. While Jackson’s upside is tempting it is clear that his progress will depend on his ability to develop control with his pitches as he misses within the zone too often. This may bode well as the Rangers seem to like pitchers who attack the strike zone.”

2014 Prognosis: A half-season (at least) at Double-A should help him get ready for either a bullpen role or continued starting at higher levels.

#9

Nomar Mazara – OF
Date of Birth:
April 26, 1995
Height/Weight: 6’4″/195 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2011; $4.95 million signing bonus

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201318HickorySALLATEX1265064534810723213621244131.236.310.382.692
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: In his second year of professional ball, Mazara showed flashes of his potential but also struck out over 25% of the time. He shows good patience at the plate but Mazara is going to have to make more consistent contact in order to get both his batting average and OBP up into better ranges. On the power side, Mazara is showing plus-potential, hitting 37 extra-base hits in the Midwest League for a very healthy ISO of .146.

Lee says: “Mazara is essentially all arm strength and bat speed as currently constructed. The Rangers paid him handsomely and expect that he will develop power. His defense is hard to project but it seems the organization signed him for his offense, not his defense. Mazara has the chance to be an above-average hitter but he has a long way to go before we know what his true strengths and weaknesses are.”

2014 Prognosis: Despite his youth, I don’t see much getting in the way of a 2014 promotion to Myrtle Beach. He’ll be one of the youngest players in the Carolina League but will probably be able to handle it.

#8

Brett Nicholas – 1B
Date of Birth: 
July 18, 1988
Height/Weight: 6’2″/210 lbs
Acquired: 6th round of the 2010 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201324FriscoTLAATEX1365755067114625321912146123.289.357.474.831
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: I won’t write much because Lee has provided an excellent write up of Nicholas. However, I will say that Nicholas wowed a lot of people with his sweet left-handed swing and two home runs in the Arizona Fall League “Fall Stars” game, winning the MVP for that game. Unfortunately, that swing didn’t add up to much production in the rest of the AFL, hitting .230/.273/.393 in 61 at bats.

Lee says: “I doubt that I am the only one hoping that Texas can finally fill the black hole that has been first base over basically the last decade. Readers familiar with my work will be aware that I am, and have been, a Mitch Moreland proponent since day one. I had no problem dealing Justin Smoak away because I was ready to give Moreland the starting job. While I am not ready to give up on Moreland, the consensus seems to be that Jon Daniels and the front office feel first base may need an immediate solution this winter, effectively relegating Moreland to a platoon/bench player [note: Lee wrote this before the Fielder for Kinsler trade]. Long term, the solution may well be Nicholas. Nicholas was arguably the best hitter in Double-A Frisco and may well have the highest ceiling of all prospects in the Texas system. He hits for both power and average. As if that was not enough, he draws walks and should not be a liability in the field. Look for increased chatter around Nicholas as the 2014 season approaches because Nicholas is already 25 and realistically his window may be short.”

2014 Prognosis: Nicholas doesn’t have anything more to prove in Double-A and may get a chance in Triple-A Round Rock. With Fielder and Moreland in the mix, injuries are the best chance that Nicholas will have to getting his shot.

#7

Wilmer Font – RHP
Date of Birth:
May 24, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’4″/230 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of Venezuela in 2006

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGFSVIPHRERHRBBSOHBPWPWHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BB
2013232 Teams2 LgsAA-AAATEX22.5001.0442281452.02211623471481.0773.80.35.912.32.09
201323FriscoTLAATEX12.3331.4126191032.0148522445241.1883.90.66.812.71.88
201323Round RockPCLAAATEX101.0000.45169420.083101026240.9003.60.04.511.72.60
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: Font has a big arm and, judging by how the Rangers used him in 2013, it appears that the decision has been made to move him into the bullpen full time. Font has a blistering fastball that he throws in the high 90s and an average changeup and will likely work on his slider as a third pitch.

Lee says: “Fans in Arlington have already had a chance to see Font on a few occasions. Font is major league ready and could nail down a permanent spot in the major league pen very soon. Font’s stuff is more than good and could soon be added to a mostly home grown bullpen. Anyone paying attention has noticed that Texas is starting to regularly produce great young relievers and Font is another sterling example.”

2014 Prognosis: Font could stick in the majors but could also end up in Round Rock closing games out in preparation for prime time.

#6

Ronald Guzman – 1B
Date of Birth:
October 20, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’5″/205 lbs
Acquired: International free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2011; $3.5 million signing bonus

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201318HickorySALLATEX49191173174780426001127.272.325.387.712
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: Despite turning 19 after the season finished, Guzman held his own in the Sally League, showing his sweet stroke in Class-A ball. While his home run power hasn’t caught up with him yet, his huge, 6’5″ frame will likely fill out and allow him to drive the ball out of any park with ease. As a lefty, he’ll get along well with Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Lee says: “Guzman is a pure hitter. He already has a good stroke and easy power. Offensively, he may not be that far from major league ready. Defensively, he is below average across the board so he will be an average to below average firstbaseman. Because of Guzman’s high ceiling with the bat this may not be much of an issue. Guzman has the strong athletic build and fast hands of a great hitter.”

2014 Prognosis: Moving on up to Myrtle Beach seems to be in the cards for Guzman who will look to develop his power and plate control.

Jun 25, 2013; Woodbridge, VA, USA; Potomac Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (32) is thrown out at second base as Myrtle Beach Pelicans second baseman Rougned Odor (24) is able to apply the tag in the first inning at Pfitzner Stadium. Harper plays for Potomac in a rehab assignment. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

#5

Joey Gallo – 3B
Date of Birth:
November 19, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’5″/205 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (39th overall) of the 2012 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
2013192 Teams2 LgsA-RkTEX11146741186103235408815150172.251.338.623.961
201319RangersARIZRkTEX5211947402101027.368.429.8951.323
201319HickorySALLATEX1064463928296195387814148165.245.334.610.944
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: I’ve already written about Gallo’s monstrous season after he was awarded the Joe Bauman Trophy for the most home runs in minor league baseball. Gallo continues a trend that shows the Rangers drafting and signing position players with plus power. There’s going to be a log-jam in the system with so many young corner infielders like Nicholas and Guzman working their way up through the system. If Gallo can stay at third, his bat will play up even further, and could make him one of the best power-hitting third basemen in baseball.

Lee says: “Gallo possesses the type of insane power that makes everyone even casually interested in baseball drool. He led the South Atlantic League in homeruns this past year. As is always the case with power hitters, however, Gallo is susceptible to the strikeout. This will likely determine his future success. If Gallo can show he can make consistent contact he may well be a star in Texas.”

2014 Prognosis: Gallo will join several other talented players in Myrtle Beach for some High-A action next year.

#4

Jairo Beras – OF
Date of Birth:
December 25, 1995
Height/Weight: 6’5″/178 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2011; $4.5 million signing bonus

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201317RangersARIZRkTEX17706411162221510519.250.314.438.752
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: Beras had his debut delayed due to the fact that he provided some false documentation before signing (saying that he was younger than he actually was). He was suspended until July 1, 2013 but got into 17 Arizona League games this year, putting up some decent numbers. He’s very raw, but there’s a reason that the Rangers decided to let him keep his huge signing bonus.

Lee says: “Beras is all tools at this point but everything about his game is projectable. He has the potential to be an average centerfielder with a quality arm or an above average corner outfielder with a big arm. He has the build to be a power hitter and already shows high quality bat speed. Beras has the chance to jump to the top of Texas’s top prospect list.”

2014 Prognosis: The Rangers have been aggressive with their young prospects but 2014 will only be Beras’s Age-18 season. My gut tells me that he’ll start in Extended Spring Training but if he shows his stuff off well, he could be in Hickory by the end of the season.

#3

Luis Sardinas – SS
Date of Birth:
May 16, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’1″/150 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of Venezuela in 2009; $1.5 million signing bonus

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
2013202 Teams2 LgsA+-AATEX1265735188114919324632103675.288.340.347.688
201320Myrtle BeachCARLA+TEX97432383691141531312783254.298.358.360.719
201320FriscoTLAATEX2914113512354011552421.259.286.311.597
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: Sardinas has earned the attention of baseball writers, making the MLB.com Top Prospects list in 2013 at #84. The Rangers have shown that they’re not afraid to throw money at Latin American free agents and they got a very good young shortstop in Sardinas who will not have to vacate the position as he grows. If anyone’s waiting for his bat to come around and turn into a Profar-type hitter, that probably won’t happen, but with a good approach at the plate and good contact skills, Sardinas will be able to get on base and use his good base running skills.

Lee says: “Sardinas is yet another shortstop prospect for the Rangers. It may be good that Daniels thinks having too many good players is not a bad problem to have. He may well have that problem in spades in the near future. Sardinas is certainly well behind Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar but he has the potential to be a strong major league short stop. His strengths lie on the defensive side of the ball. With excellent speed and a superb arm, Sardinas is a strong defender. The speed gives Sardinas range so his defensive prowess should improve as his game is polished. Sardinas has shown he can hit from both sides of the plate and will be a slashing line drive type hitter.”

2014 Prognosis: With a taste of the Texas League in 2013 as a 20 year old and with Profar ahead of him on the depth chart, Sardinas will probably return to Frisco to start 2014.

#2

Rougned Odor – 2B
Date of Birth:
February 3, 1994
Height/Weight: 5’11″/170 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of Venezuela in 2011; $425,000 signing bonus

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
2013192 Teams2 LgsA+-AATEX13056951185156416117832103591.305.365.474.839
201319Myrtle BeachCARLA+TEX100425377651153345592782667.305.369.454.822
201319FriscoTLAATEX3014413420418261952924.306.354.530.884
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.

Analysis: Odor is yet another exciting young Latin American player who is charging through the Rangers’ system. He’s still 19 years old and has already reached Double-A Frisco showing outstanding contact ability, extra-base power and some developing plate discipline.

Lee says: “Easily the coolest name in the Texas system, Odor is another valuable middle infield prospect in a system overflowing with good middle infielders. Odor has an excellent chance to make the bigs because he can flat out hit. Odor hits for a high average and has respectable pop, particularly for his position. If Odor can stick at second base he may draw Bandon Phillips comparisons offensively although his glove has a long way to go to complete the analogy. Expect lots of doubles from Odor as his excellent hit tools pairs nicely with his above average speed. Odor is struggling defensively but if he figures that out there is no reason expect he will not be a solid major leaguer.”

2014 Prognosis: Back to Frisco for Odor. He’ll only be 20 years old so there’s no need to rush him, particularly with Profar, Andrus and Beltre entrenched in the Rangers infield. That said, Odor could certainly see some major league action at some point if injuries plague the big club.

#1

Jorge Alfaro – C
Date of Birth:
June 11, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’2″/185 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of Venezuela in 2009; $1.3 million signing bonus

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
2013203 Teams3 LgsA-Rk-A+TEX11345940472107241186118332122.265.346.463.809
201320RangersARIZRkTEX626215920282026.429.500.8101.310
201320HickorySALLATEX1044203726396221165316328111.258.338.452.790
201320Myrtle BeachCARLA+TEX313114200000025.182.308.182.490
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.


Analysis
: Alfaro tantalizes people with the kind of production and arm strength that anyone would love from a catcher. While he needs to develop other parts of his game behind the plate, Alfaro has the kind of arm that will get him out of trouble even if his mechanics aren’t the best. 2013 was the first year that he started to show some power, hitting 18 home runs combined between Rookie ball, the South Atlantic League and the Carolina League. Alfaro also showed off his tools against some of baseball’s top prospects in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .386/.438/.500 in 80 plate appearances. The one flaw in his game would be his penchanse for strikeouts, which may catch up to him in higher levels.

Lee says: “Alfaro is the kind of raw talent prospect that Texas seems to love. If Alfaro can put the proper polish on his game he has a virtually unlimited ceiling. There is not a prospect I am more excited about than Alfaro even though he is several years from being ready to play in Texas. Alfaro has a solid hit tool and the potential for massive power. His defensive tools are there with a big arm and a not hopeless ability to call a game and block balls. There seems to be no doubt that Alfaro can stay behind the plate but at this stage. His projected ceiling is high and his potential floor may be fairly high. Alfaro is a blue chip prospect and, although it is early, it is hard to say too many good things about this kid.”

2014 Prognosis: Alfaro got a taste of Myrtle Beach at the end of the 2013 season and will likely return there. While the Rangers are aggressive with their prospects, most organizations don’t like to rush catchers.