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)
Ryan Rua – IF
Date of Birth: March 11, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’2″/180 lbs
Acquired: 17th round of the 2011 draft
|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|
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.
Connor Sadzeck – RHP
Date of Birth: October 1, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’5″/195 lbs
Acquired: 11th round of the 2011 draft
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.
Nick Martinez – RHP
Date of Birth: August 5, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’1″/175 lbs
Acquired: 18th round of the 2011 draft
|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|
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.
Nick Williams – OF
Date of Birth: September 8, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’3″/195 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2012 draft
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.
Joey Butler – OF
Date of Birth: March 12, 1986
Height/Weight: 6’2″/220 lbs
Acquired: 15th round of the 2008 draft
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.