Rangers Mired in Mediocrity

At one point the Rangers farm system was the envy of the major leagues. They seemed to be flowing with soon to be superstar prospects, mostly from the international arena. That did not help them win a World Series. They still remain one of seven teams that have yet to win one of these coveted events. Those soon to be superstars did not pan out. Myworld had the Rangers farm system rated number two for prospects in 2009/2010 and 2012 and consistently in the top ten from 2009 up until 2017 when they vanished from the top ten rankings. The cracks began showing after 2012. Jurickson Profar at one point was the number one prospect in baseball, but the Rangers traded him this year after getting journeyman production from him. Other names like Neftali Felix, Martin Perez, Justin Smoak, Tanner Scheppers, Derek Holland, Michael Main, Elvis Andrus, Taylor Teagarden, Yu Darvish, Michael Olt and Leonys Martin for the most part never reached their expectation. Elvis Andrus and Yu Darvish became star performers but Darvish was a Japanese star and never developed by the Rangers system. Justin Smoak broke out after he was traded.

The Rangers are now in the middle of the pack as far as prospects in their farm system. Willie Calhoun and Leodys Taveras are the only two players who made the top 100 prospect lists last year. Willie Calhoun has a top tier offensive game but has no position he can play well defensively. His best use may be as a DH. Willie Calhoun no longer qualifies as a prospect this year but seemed to regress last year with his power numbers.

Some question whether Leodys Taveras will hit. No one questions his potential gold glove defense in center. There is potential for a bat, and one that hits for power but that has yet to materialize. Last year he hit .246 with a .332 slugging percentage in High A. He will be turning 21 in September so no one can argue that he is one of the youngest players in the league, though if he gets promoted to AA he will still be young for that classification. Those high on him say he will be a 20/20 player. If he can play gold glove defense and up his average into the .270s he can still contribute.

The Rangers collected a lot of international money in an attempt to persuade Shoei Ohtani to sign. When he preferred the Angels offer the Rangers used that money to sign Cuban defector Julio Pablo Martinez, shelling out $2.8 million for his signature. Like many Cuban prospects, the tools are a bit glorified. As a teenager he had decent numbers playing in the Cuban professional leagues. In close to 300 games he hit near .300 with a .823 OPS. He was listed as an outfielder on the Cuban Premier 12 roster along with Lourdes Guriell and Alfredo Despaigne. The speed is there to play centerfield but the arm is suited more for left. If he wants to play in left his power numbers will have to increase. The Rangers hope he rises fast through their ranks after playing in Rookie ball last year.

Hans Crouse has some pretty impressive velocity. It climbs to the upper 90s and sits in the mid-90s. He has an excellent slider to complement the heat. The Rangers 2017 second round pick will have to improve his changeup if he wants to remain in a starting role. Last year he made his debut in a full season league and handled himself well (2.70 ERA) but hitters tagged him for a .273 average.

Cole Winn was the Rangers first round pick in 2018. He did not pitch last year so the only thing known about him is his results against high school level players. There is a mid-90s fastball as well as a full repertoire of pitches that include a curve, slider and change. The 2019 season will dictate how impressive those pitches really are.

Bubba Thompson was a first round pick in 2017. His best tool is his speed that allows him to steal bases (32) and cover lots of acreage in centerfield. Like Taveras, the potential is there for a power bat but the strikeouts have been a problem. There is lots of athleticism to display as evidence by being named All State quarterback in high school in Alabama and history has told us that players from Mobile can hit (Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey and Billy Williams to name three).

Anderson Tejeda had a breakout year slugging 19 homeruns. The Dominican still struggles with making contact (142 K’s in 121 games) and may lack the range to stay at shortstop. He could end up a utility player or an offensive minded second baseman. The Rangers signed him for the bargain basement price of $100,000 in 2014 and he now appears ready to break out. He should start next season in AA.

The candle is dimming for Yohander Mendez. The lefthander is not overpowering, relying more on a changeup to retire hitters. When that pitch is not on the Venezuelan is very easy to hit. Last year in AAA he was 0-7 with a 5.25 ERA. This was supposed to be his year when he made his mark in the Rangers rotation. Last year he gave up 26 homeruns, proving prone to the fly ball, not a game winner in the hitter friendly environment of Rangers park.

That is all we really have on Rangers prospects. The others stand out like white noise in an office environment. They may be pitching in the minor leagues, but they have yet to make their presence known to myworld as a prospect yet.

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