The Texas Rangers have been one of the premier teams in baseball over the last four seasons thanks to a deep farm system. It has allowed them to plug in holes with either prospects ready to play or being able to trade those prospects who are farther away from Major League ready for immediate help. The Rangers will be sending seven players to the Arizona Fall League including the number one rated player in their system. Here is a quick look at each of them with all rankings courtesy of mlb.com.
Jorge Alfaro-The Rangers’ number one prospect is a 20-year old catcher who had nearly 200 professional at-bats before the age of 18. Alfaro, the #55 overall prospect in all of baseball, spent time at three levels in 2013 finishing up at High Class A Myrtle Beach. He enjoyed a fine offensive season with 18 home runs and 61 RBI’s with a line of .265/.346/.463 and 18 stolen bases. His work behind the plate has developed nicely as he threw out 31% of would-be base stealers after a 2012 season in which that number was only 15%. Alfaro is not expected in Texas until 2016 but the wait appears to be well worth it.
Will Lamb-This left-handed pitcher is a towering 6 foot 6 and a slender 180 pounds. Lamb was taken in the second round of the 2011 draft and has taken turns starting and relieving. He pitched in 39 games for Myrtle Beach, all of them but one out of the bullpen. Lamb went 5-3 with a 5.17 ERA in 69 2/3 innings pitched allowing 60 hits and 39 walks while striking out 62. Texas appears to be unsure as to what they want to do with Lamb long-term. His ERA is lower in the years where the majority of Lamb’s appearances as a starter.
Nick McBride-The fifth round draft pick endured a tough 2013 pitching between Myrtle Beach and Double A Frisco. He did pitch one inning at Triple A Round Rock which was equally rough. Overall, McBride was 2-12 with a 5.26 ERA in 33 games, 18 of them starts. Although his time at Frisco was particularly harsh, the righty’s appearances were all starts, perhaps an indication of where his future lies.
Brett Nicholas-This first baseman enjoyed a breakout 2013 season at Frisco. Nicholas, who was drafted as a catcher and still plays there on occasion, hit 21 home runs and drove in 91 with a line of .289/.357/.474. At age 25, Nicholas should expect to begin the 2014 season at Round Rock with a late call-up to Texas. If his future is with the Rangers, the ability to play first and catcher would make him a valuable guy off the bench who can spell the primary players at those positions.
Ryan Rua-Here is another guy that landed on Texas’s radar with a big 2013. At Single A Hickory, Rua hit 29 home runs and drove in 82 runs with a line of .251/.356/.559. Rua has played all four infield positions and some outfield over the course of his Minor League career but upon being called up to Frisco, he spent all 23 of his games at third base. Although he may start 2014 at Frisco, it is only a matter of time before he plays most of his games at Round Rock.
Matt West-He was taken in the second round of the 2007 draft as an infielder. However, the organization decided to switch him to pitching in 2011. Unfortunately, West underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2012 and did not pitch in 2013 until late in the year. Still only 24, West is still a ways from the the Majors but the Rangers think enough of his arm that he will get some extra work in the AFL.
Ryan Harvey-The 18th round pick out of Seton Hall had a pretty good 2013 at Myrtle Beach. In 42 games, all but one in relief, Harvey went 7-2 with a 3.41 ERA and eight saves. His one big issue is command as in 58 innings he walked 36 batters. Harvey will turn 23 in January and his future is definitely in the bullpen.
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