Texas Rangers 2014 Top 15 Prospects

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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:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2013 23 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-AA TEX 127 525 453 89 112 26 2 32 91 14 2 56 115 .247 .347 .525 .872
2013 23 Hickory SALL A TEX 104 430 367 70 92 24 1 29 82 13 2 49 91 .251 .356 .559 .914
2013 23 Frisco TL AA TEX 23 95 86 19 20 2 1 3 9 1 0 7 24 .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:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff W L W-L% ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP WP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 21 Hickory SALL A TEX 12 4 .750 2.25 24 24 132.0 102 43 33 4 51 1 78 13 23 1.159 7.0 0.3 3.5 5.3 1.53
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:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP BK WP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-AA TEX 12 7 .632 2.50 27 25 1 1 151.1 117 53 42 6 45 128 7 3 9 1.070 7.0 0.4 2.7 7.6 2.84
2013 22 Myrtle Beach CARL A+ TEX 10 7 .588 2.87 22 21 0 1 119.1 106 47 38 5 38 105 7 3 7 1.207 8.0 0.4 2.9 7.9 2.76
2013 22 Frisco TL AA TEX 2 0 1.000 1.12 5 4 1 0 32.0 11 6 4 1 7 23 0 0 2 0.562 3.1 0.3 2.0 6.5 3.29
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:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2013 19 Hickory SALL A TEX 95 404 376 70 110 19 12 17 60 8 5 15 110 .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:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2013 27 Round Rock PCL AAA TEX 119 505 426 71 124 26 0 12 51 1 2 69 119 .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.

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  • Clayton Shearman

    Sorry, but this list is way off. Use fan websites like SBN and scouting websites like Baseball Prospectus/ Baseball America as a baseline for a prospect list of a team you don’t usually watch. Just a tip, not trying to sound like an ass.

    • http://www.bluejaysfromaway.com Jay Blue

      Thanks very much for your comment Clayton. We actually got our list from Lee Stitzel at Nolan Writin’. The fact is that all lists are subjective and reflect the author’s bias. If you look at lists from BA, BP, MLB.com, Minor League Ball, etc., there may be some consensus on some players but other players will be all over the place on different lists.

      We’re not pro scouts here at Grading on the Curve or at any of the other FanSided MLB sites but we do see a lot of ball and love discussing prospects and our lists are a great way to do that!

      So here’s my challenge to you, Clayton: Post your own list here in the comments with any insights of your own and we can open up the discussion and maybe make the discussion more interesting than the actual article!

  • Clayton Shearman

    I’m sorry I wasn’t smart enough to read the first couple of paragraphs, my apologies. I will, though, make a list and post it here.

  • Clayton Shearman

    1. Jorge Alfaro, Catcher, 20 yrs old.
    Guy is the most talented player in the system from a pure potential standpoint. He is play above his age right now and still has time to mature before he is forced to the big leagues. ETA is probably 2016. MLB comparison: Carlos Santana

    2. Rougie Odor, 2B, 19 yrs old.
    Odor is playing way above his age and has been for two years. Plus hit tool, average fielding, average speed, and good power for 2B. It would not surprise me all that much if Odor ended up having a better career than Jurickson Profar or Luis Sardinas. I don’t know if there is room at the MLB level for him in the next two or three years in Texas, but he will be an above average starting 2B. MLB comparison: Jose Altuve/Dustin Pedroia

    3. Luis Sardinas, SS, 20 yrs old.
    He is basically a less-polished mirror image of what Elvis Andrus looked like a
    few years ago. He is a smooth fielder, he can hit for a pretty good average and he is very fast. Like many of the top Rangers prospects, he is very young. MLB comparison: Elvis Andrus

    4. Michael Choice, OF, 24 yrs old
    I consider Choice a prospects because he is eligible for the rookie of the year
    award heading into the 2014 season. Choice is a big strong dude that can hit
    for average and power while holding his own on the base paths and in the field. Choice could split time with Mitch Moreland this year at the DH spot while Moreland sits versus LHP. MLB comparison: young Marlon Byrd

    5. Joey Gallo, CIF, 20 yrs old
    The powerful 3B had 38 homers for the full season Single-A Hickory Crawdads last year. Gallo will most likely be a 1B in the big leagues and he strikes out more than he should, but he has the best power in baseball under Double-A. He will continue to get smarter and work on his approach. But time will tell how he ends up. MLB comparison: poor-man’s Chris Davis

    6. Wilmer Font, RP, 23 yrs old
    7. Ronald Guzman, 1B, 19 yrs old
    8. Nomar Mazara, OF, 19 yrs old
    9. Luke Jackson, SP, 22 yrs old
    10. Jairo Beras, OF, 18 yrs old
    11. Chi-Chi Gonzalez, P, 21 yrs old
    12. Lewis Brinson, OF, 19 yrs old
    13. Nick Williams, OF, 19 yrs old
    14. Nick Martinez, SP, 23 yrs old
    15. Alec Asher, SP, 22 yrs old

    Joey Butler, Ryan Rua, Brett Nicholas, and Connor Sadzeck don’t have enough upside to be on this list on my opinion. Butler, Rua, and Nicholas are getting older with nowhere to go. Sadzeck is 22 at Single-A Hickory with hardly any strikeouts. Asher was 22 at High-A Mytle Beach with about a strikeout per inning and less walks.

    • Jay Blue

      You’re absolutely right about Choice. I completely forgot about the trade that sent him to Texas. In retrospect, I should have reworked the list I was provided in order to include him. I’ve been working on the list for the Oakland A’s (coming Saturday, December 28) and it made me realize that I had omitted Choice from the Rangers’ list.

  • Alex Smith

    Alex Gonzalez? Why is Guzman so high? Sorry but this list is way off

    • Jay Blue

      Differences of opinion are always expected with Top Prospect lists. How about you share your Top 15?

      • Clayton Shearman

        Hard to argue with Guzman being high on any prospect list. It wouldn’t surprise anyone in the organization if he hit .280/.335/.450 next year with 15 bombs. He was basically a HS senior playing full season A-ball last yr, where he held his own. He just needs to fill his frame with some muscle.

  • Chad Smith

    Ummm, you have Joey Butler on this list but if I remember right he’s not even with the Rangers anymore. They put him on Waivers to activate Cruz and the Cardinals picked him up…

    I had to quit reading from there because the list honest seemed pretty much off from the start…

    • http://www.bluejaysfromaway.com Jay Blue

      You’re right Chad. Thanks for the heads up. The Rangers list was provided by our friends at Nolan Writin’ but it was done earlier in the off-season (hence Michael Choice isn’t on the list). It’s a lot of work putting these lists together though and sometimes when we already have the list in hand, we don’t do as much as we should in checking to see who’s still with the team and who isn’t.

      We strive to do better but we hope to have heads-up fans like you to keep us honest!