Scouts kept saying two things about the Rangers system: this is a deep group with prospects at every level and the Soria trade was a total steal. I know you guys would like to know where I’d guess Texas falls in terms of system strength and if Gallo is as good as some other elite power prospect, but I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve done my due diligence on each team. Here’s the primer for this series and here’s a disclaimer about how none of us really know anything, perfect to read before I attempt to tell you everything about the Rangers farm system.
Most of what you need to know is at those two links, but I should add that the risk ratings are relative to their position, so average (3) risk for a pitcher is riskier than average risk (3) for a hitter, due injury/attrition being more common. I’d also take a 60 Future Value hitter over a 60 FV pitcher for the same reasons. Also, risk encompasses a dozen different things and I mention the important components of it for each player in the report. The upside line for hitters is the realistic best-case scenario (in general, a notch better than the projected tools) and the Future Value encompasses this upside along with the risk rating for one overall rating number.
Below I’ve included a quick ranking of the growth assets Texas has in the majors that aren’t eligible for the list and Dave Cameron shares some general thoughts on the organization. Scroll further down to see Carson Cistulli’s fringe prospect favorite. The next team up in the series, working from the bottom of the standings on up, is the Colorado Rockies.
Organizational Overview by Dave Cameron
The Rangers were supposed to be 2014 contenders, but a disastrous season has them at a crossroads. While the team’s stars remain highly valuable, the cast of mediocre role players and lack of high-level organizational depth were exposed when injuries struck. While the Rangers aren’t going to start rebuilding after one bad season, the roster needs a lot of work this offseason, and they’re going to be forced to hope that a lot of under-performers and/or injured players make triumphant returns next year. A bounce back season is possible, but this team also needs some significant help, and might have to turn to the farm system to find some.
50+ FV Prospects
1. Joey Gallo, RF
Current Level/Age: AA/20.8, 6’5/205, L/R
Drafted: 39th overall (sandwich round) in 2012 out of Nevada HS by TEX for $2.25 million bonus
Hit: 30/45, Game Power: 60/70, Raw Power: 80/80, Speed: 40/40, Field: 45/50, Throw: 70/70
Scouting Report: Gallo became famous to mainstream baseball fans for his power display in this summer’s Futures Game, where he showed off legit top-of-the-scale 80 raw power. Scouts I talked to say what they see day-to-day from Gallo in BP is more of a 70, which is more in line with what they think he could produce in the big leagues (70 game power translates to 30-35 homers annually).
Gallo slipped a bit in the draft out of high school and wasn’t a household name until this year because he’s big, his swing can get long and he’s had big contact issues his whole career. Gallo’s long limbs and selectively aggressive approach lead to big strikeout numbers, but he draws his share of walks. Scouts think he’ll be able to make enough contact to be a big league regular due to his ability to make adjustments and his coachability.
Gallo has cleaned up his approach a bit this season and is continuing to hit for power in games in AA at age 20. He isn’t a conventional premium athlete, but to still be playing third base in AA at his size with a huge arm and historic raw power shows you what kind of rare baseball talent he is.
Gallo plays third base now and has plenty of arm for the position, but his lack of foot speed and big frame make him a fringy defender and scouts say he’s clearly thinking too much. Multiple sources described how they’ve seen Gallo make all the necessary plays and do well under pressure, but double clutch and send a ball sailing wide on routine plays when he has time. Gallo could still be a third baseman, but most believe he’ll fit in right field best long-term and until Adrian Beltre leaves (under contract for 2015 with a 2016 vesting option that should trigger), there isn’t a spot for him at third base for him anyway.
Summation: Everything depends on how much contact he can make, as that is the key to the power showing up in games, because the speed/defense is never going to be much. 80 power guys almost always carve out some sort of role in the big leagues, particularly with good stats at the upper levels at a young age, but odds are it’s going to more of a solid everyday type than a star. The three outcomes from similar prospects in recent memory range from Dallas McPherson to Russell Branyan to Adam Dunn, with most scouts putting Gallo between Branyan and Dunn. One scout suggested Mark Reynolds, while physically different, might be the best comp for Gallo’s big league production.
Upside: .260/.350/.500 (30-35 HR), fringy 3B or solid RF
FV/Risk: 60, High (4 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2014: AA, 2015: AAA/MLB, 2016: MLB
2. Alex Gonzalez, RHP
Current Level/Age: AA/22.6, 6’2/195, R/R
Drafted: 23rd overall (1st round) in 2013 out of Oral Roberts by TEX for $2.215 million bonus
Fastball: 60/65, Slider: 55/60, Curveball: 45/50, Changeup: 45/50+, Command: 40/50
Scouting Report: Gonzalez went from 3rd-4th round prospect entering his draft year at Oral Roberts to a legit 1st rounder by mid-season, with some buzz he could sneak into the top 10 on a discounted deal. His heavy sinker has led to solid performances in the minors thus far, and his stuff has ticked up a notch this season.
Gonzalez now sits 92-95, hitting 97 mph often and can spot and manipulate the pitch to sink, run or cut at 94 mph deep into starts. His plus mid-80’s slider is still the primary weapon and his changeup and fourth option curveball both flash average to slightly above at times. His command isn’t bad and should be average as well, giving Gonzalez #3 starter upside, but scouts complain that with his firm changeup, almost every pitch he throws is over 85 mph and often in the strike zone.
Summation: Throwing a three hard, big-league caliber pitches in the strike zone too often isn’t a bad primary issue to have. If Gonzalez can learn to mix up his approach a bit to include more chase pitches and curveballs, he could be ready for the big leagues as early as late 2015.
FV/Role/Risk: 60, #3 Starter, Medium (3 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2014: AA, 2015: AAA/MLB, 2016: MLB
3. Jake Thompson, RHP
Current Level/Age: AA/20.6, 6’4/235, R/R
Drafted: 91st overall (2nd round) in 2012 out of TX high school by DET for $531,800 bonus
Fastball: 60/60, Slider: 55/60, Changeup: 45/50, Command: 40/45+
Scouting Report: Thompson slipped to the 2nd round out of high school because his stuff was mostly average, but would tick up at times. That was the book on him earlier this year at High-A Lakeland for Detroit, when he’d start games at 90-92, hitting 93-95 at times and then dip to 88-91 later in the game with a solid average three-pitch mix. In the Florida State League All-Star Game, Thompson sat 93-96 in a one-inning appearance and his slider was at least a 60, though it was a higher effort delivery he didn’t use when starting.
Thompson was dealt to the Rangers mid-season in the Joakim Soria trade and scouts that saw him in the Texas League have been reporting he’s 92-96 with a 60 slider that is sometimes a 70 in short stints. There’s an average change and impact stuff as a starter, but there’s also some effort to the delivery, so the fit may be in the bullpen. Given that Thompson appears to be the rare example (like Joba Chamberlain or Jonathan Papelbon) where the stuff ticks up a lot in relief, he may be best suited as a closer, but Texas would be foolish to not see if Thompson can be a 200 inning mid-rotation workhorse.
Summation: The Rangers are pleasantly surprised with the enhanced stuff Thompson started showing essentially right when they traded for him and they want to develop him as a starter. He’s on the fast track as a starter and if Texas gets back into the pennant race next season, it would be hard to not work him into the big leagues in short stints in 2015 before trying as a starter in 2016.
FV/Role/Risk: 55, #3/4 Starter or Closer, Medium (3 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2014: AA, 2015: AAA/MLB, 2016: MLB
4. Jorge Alfaro, C
Current Level/Age: AA/21.2, 6’2/185, R/R
Signed: International Free Agent, signed for $1.3 million out of Colombia on 1/19/10
Hit: 20/45, Game Power: 45/55, Raw Power: 65/65, Speed: 45/45+, Field: 40/50+, Throw: 70/70
Scouting Report: Alfaro is another guy like Gallo in that he has big flashy tools that most fans normally associate with big league stars, but problems making contact that could hold it all back. While Gallo has taken a big step forward this year, Alfaro is making more steady progress, slowly tightening up his zone and finding the right amount of aggression at the plate.
His plus raw power may never fully play at the big league level, but since he can stick behind the plate, it won’t have to. Alfaro has the tools to be an above average defender and his plus-plus arm is a huge weapon, but he still needs some work on the finer points of catching, as his arm strength allows him to get away with stuff in the minors that he won’t be able to do in the majors.
Summation: Since the catching and hitting both still need some work, the Rangers should be cautious in promoting Alfaro, but the tools are here for an above average regular with the flashy tools fans love.
Upside: .260/.335/.460 (20 HR), solid defender with big arm
FV/Risk: 55, High (4 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2014: AA, 2015: AA/AAA, 2016: AAA/MLB, 2017: MLB
5. Nomar Mazara, RF
Current Level/Age: AA/19.3, 6’4/195, L/L
Signed: International Free Agent, signed for $4.95 million out of Dominican Republic on 7/2/11
Hit: 20/50+, Game Power: 50/65, Raw Power: 65/65, Speed: 40/40, Field: 45/45+, Throw: 60/60
Scouting Report: Mazara’s all-time record-smashing bonus in the last year before international bonus pools opened some eyes, both for the amount and the player. Some pointed to a hitchy swing with timing issues and that was still a concern after last year’s decent full-season debut at age 18 where Mazara hit .236 with 131 Ks in Low-A. This year, the 19-year-old Mazara made the necessary adjustments, getting his foot down faster which unlocked his bat speed and strength while giving him more time to make a decision on the pitch.
He has a classic right field profile with a plus arm and plus raw power and scouts now think he’ll get to all that power in games. Texas is showing a lot of confidence in him by skipping him over High-A earlier this month, promoting him from Low-A to AA at age 19. Speed and defense aren’t a big part of Mazara’s game but he’s got solid instincts and gives some effort on defense, though he can get out of the batter’s box a little slow.
Summation: The Rangers saw something in 15-year-old Mazara that other teams didn’t see and now they’re being rewarded with a fast-track power bat that may meet or even beat the big expectations brought on by his huge bonus. The projected hit tool could still go up another notch with a strong 2015.
Upside: .270/.350/.490 (25-30 HR), fringy defense & below average speed
FV/Risk: 55, Medium (3 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2014: AA, 2015: AA/AAA, 2016: AAA/MLB, 2017: MLB
6. Lewis Brinson, CF
Current Level/Age: High-A/20.3, 6’3/170, R/R
Drafted: 29th overall (1st round) in 2012 out of FL high school by TEX for $1.62 million bonus
Hit: 20/40, Game Power: 30/50, Raw Power: 60/60, Speed: 65/65, Field: 65/65, Throw: 55/55
Scouting Report: Brinson is a lanky, super-athletic center fielder than has surprising raw power. He’s an easy plus runner and fielder with some scouts hanging a 70 on both tools and some putting a 60 on his arm as well. When four of the five raw tools are 60 or higher, the upside is enormous, but unfortunately Brinson’s long limbs and high/deep hand load cause real problems making contact.
Brinson’s swing was choppy in high school and the Rangers have smoothed it out to let his athleticism shine through. He also appears to be intentionally working on lowering his hand load in BP, but it still creeps up in games. Brinson’s plate discipline has slowly increased and it’s workable now, but he’s still getting by on raw ability at this point. The Rangers are known for targeting this type of hitter, so it’s not a coincidence you’re reading the same sorts of things about Gallo, Alfaro and Brinson. Brinson has the most work to do, but his speed will help prop his numbers up more than his pure hitting ability.
Summation: There are a number of examples of lower-end everyday center fielders with this type of skillset (Drew Stubbs, Cameron Maybin, etc.), so there’s hope the necessary adjustments can be made, with a guy like Mike Cameron what you’re hoping for and Carlos Gomez as the best case scenario. The makeup and coachability are there to make adjustments, but Brinson looks like more of a year-per-level, slower mover.
Upside: .260/.325/.440 (20 HR), easy plus defense & speed
FV/Risk: 50, Very High (5 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2014: High-A, 2015: High-A/AA, 2016: AA/AAA, 2017: AAA/MLB, 2018: MLB
7. Luke Jackson, RHP
Current Level/Age: AAA/23.0, 6’2/205, R/R
Drafted: 45th overall (sandwich round) in 2010 out of FL high school by TEX for $1.54 million bonus
Fastball: 60/65, Curveball: 50/55, Slider: 45/50, Changeup: 45/50+, Command: 40/45+
Scouting Report: Jackson is easy to like, as he can run it up to 98 mph, stays healthy and has made steady progress with his delivery and command to where most scouts think he has at least a 50% chance to be a starter in the big leagues. Unfortunately, Jackson hasn’t developed that plus secondary pitch, this causes him to throw his fastball a lot, and there’s still enough command issues that a late setup role still looks like it could be where he ends up.
Jackson’s delivery has improved this season and he has some of the starter traits you look for, but he still likely needs to spend all of 2015 in the minors. One scout compared him to Tanner Scheppers as a likely reliever that shows just enough that you want to start him, but loves to throw his fastball as hard as he can and relief makes the most sense.
Summation: Next year Jackson should get a last development opportunity to see if he deserves a big league rotation spot in 2016 or he should shift that 98 mph heater to the bullpen. Scouts have noted that Jackson has needed a longer adjustment period than his prospect peers at each new minor league level, so he may make more adjustments in 2015.
FV/Role/Risk: 50, #4 Starter or Setup, Medium (3 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2014: AAA, 2015: AAA/MLB, 2016: MLB
8. Luis Ortiz, RHP
Current Level/Age: Low-A/18.9, 6’3/230, R/R
Drafted: 30th overall (1st round) in 2014 out of CA high school by TEX for $1.75 million bonus
Fastball: 55/60, Slider: 50/60, Changeup: 45/50, Command: 40/50+
Scouting Report: Ortiz shed 30 pounds over his junior year in high school, then was the most consistent prep arm on the showcase circuit last summer, hitting 95 mph and flashing a plus slider with advanced feel at nearly every event. Things went a little sideways during the spring when he went on the shelf with forearm tightness, often a precursor to elbow problems.
When Ortiz came back to the mound, he pitched 3 times in relief in four days and scouts were worried this was headed in the wrong direction. Ortiz’s stuff came back to summer levels just before the draft and one club I talked to compared him to Jose Fernandez. That may be setting expectations too high, but Ortiz would’ve gone 10-20 picks higher if he had an uneventful spring, so this could be a steal for Texas.
Summation: Unlike his prep pitching peers, Ortiz has no physical projection left and his polished stuff/command could survive at higher levels, so a challenging 2015 assignment may be what he needs to see where he stands. I gave Ortiz a 50 FV because he’s thrown less than 50 innings since his forearm scare; with a solid and healthy 2015 he could jump up this list.
FV/Role/Risk: 50, #4 Starter, Medium (3 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2014: Low-A, 2015: Low-A/High-A, 2016: High-A/AA, 2017: AA/AAA, 2018: AAA/MLB, 2019: MLB
9. Nick Williams, LF
Current Level/Age: AA/21.0, 6’3/195, L/L
Drafted: 93rd overall (2nd round) in 2012 out of TX high school by TEX for $500,000 bonus
Hit: 20/50+, Game Power: 20/50, Raw Power: 60/60, Speed: 55/55, Field: 40/45+, Throw: 45/45
Scouting Report: Williams had a lot of hype and Jason Heyward comps thrown at him as early as his sophomore year of high school, but he had a tough senior year. Williams has been a pleasant surprise since signing, cleaning up his swing and making tons of contact while being young for every level. Williams was promoted to AA this week, just before his 21st birthday (after hitting .292/.343/.493 in High-A), and he has lively tools, but scouts aren’t too bullish about his upside.
Williams has really good bat control and can square up almost anything (.296 BA in over 1000 PA), but he has such an undisciplined approach that he’s striking out nearly 30% of the time with walks rates below 5%. When you’re more talented that everyone else and pitchers are still making mistake pitches, you can get by with this approach, but past exampled show us it’s hard to change a bad approach this late in development.
Scouts have questioned Williams’ aptitude to make changes since back to high school and have routinely crushed him for lackadaisical defensive play and slow jumps out of the batter’s box. Williams’ plate discipline isn’t the only thing holding back his power from showing up in games, as his swing is geared for line drives up the middle.
When you combine his fringy defense, lack of focus, left field profile, unsustainable strikeout rates and contact-oriented approach, you suddenly have an athletic, left-handed hitting 20-year-old with great bat control and plus raw power that’s performing well and scouts aren’t that enthused.
Summation: All that said Williams still projects as a league average bat that could be at least average defensively and on the bases if he chooses to be, with the upside to become more. 50 FV makes sense here and there’s a good reason for the Rangers to promote him aggressively: to break his bad habits, he has to be challenged.
Upside: .270/.330/.440 (20 HR), average baserunning & defense
FV/Risk: 50, High (4 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2014: AA, 2015: AA/AAA, 2016: AAA/MLB, 2017: MLB
10. Travis Demeritte, 2B
Current Level/Age: Low-A/20.0, 6’0/180, R/R
Drafted: 30th overall (1st round) in 2013 out of GA high school by TEX for $1.9 million bonus
Hit: 20/50+, Game Power: 20/50+, Raw Power: 50/50+, Speed: 50/50+, Field: 45/50, Throw: 55/55
Scouting Report: Demeritte was a long-time standout in the renowned Atlanta-area East Cobb baseball program, often playing third base for their top travel team. Demeritte played shortstop for his high school team, but many scouts thought he would fit best at second base, where he had never played before. Demeritte has the tools to play the position and looks to be good enough to stick there long-term.
After drafting him, the Rangers compared Demeritte to Brandon Phillips (another Georgia prep product), though some teams doubted Demeritte had that kind of raw power. Demeritte has above average bat speed and feel to hit, but has focused more in pro ball on tapping into that raw power, evidenced by his .222 average, 24 homers and 35.3% strikeout rate. Scouts with history to his amateur days think there’s a balance to be struck and that both tools can be average or better, which would still fit nicely at the keystone.
Summation: It will be interesting to see how Demeritte adjusts next year after his 2014 season came straight out of the Dave Kingman handbook. He should head to High-A and will need to work more contact into his game.
Upside: .270/.340/.440 (15-20 HR), average defense & speed
FV/Risk: 50, High (4 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2014: High-A, 2015: AA, 2016: AAA, 2017: MLB
11. Corey Knebel, RHP
Current Level/Age: AAA/22.7, 6’3/195, R/R
Drafted: 39thoverall (sandwich round) in 2013 out of Texas by DET for $1.43 million bonus
Fastball: 65/70, Curveball: 55/65, Changeup: 40/45, Command: 40/45+
Scouting Report: Knebel drew a lot of attention in the months leading up to the 2013 Draft with two team suspensions, though scouts shrugged them off as a fiery kid being emotional (verbal fight with coach) and loyal (covering for a teammate in a drug test). He went a little higher than expected to Detroit, a team renowned for taking the hardest thrower available. Detroit shipped him to Texas earlier this year with RHP Jake Thompson in what may already be called the ill-fated Joakim Soria trade.
Knebel’s stuff is electric, with a fastball that sits 94-96 and regularly hits 98 and a curveball that regularly gets future plus grades from scouts. His delivery is funky, but it works for him, as Knebel commands his pitches better than you’d guess. His changeup and command are both below average, but his two primary pitches and deception are good enough that only slight adjustments should allow him to reach his closer upside.
Summation: It’s a higher effort, lesser command pure reliever, so we all know to temper our enthusiasm, but Knebel has already been solid in a limited big league look and should give Texas three free years (and three more affordable ones) of late-inning caliber performance.
LATE EDIT: The Rangers announced tonight that Knebel is shut down for the year with a sprained UCL that won’t require surgery. Often, these rehab situations lead to Tommy John surgery at some point in the future, but that’s the sort of thing you always know is possible with a young, hard-throwing reliever. I moved Knebel behind Demeritte and raised his risk rating after this news broke. You could argue I should move him down another spot or two, but we can’t just assume his elbow will pop because it’s a little weaker than we thought yesterday.
FV/Role/Risk: 50, Closer, High (4 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2014: AAA/MLB, 2015: MLB
Video Notes: I’ll link to videos rather than embed them below to conserve space and I’ll reference the tools that are relevant to the evaluation in these shorter reports, but click on the player’s name to visit his profile page and see the full tool grades.
Thanks to Scott Lucas, Mike Rosenberg, Christopher Blessing and DCWildcat97 for some of the videos we embedded above, along with other YouTube users for some of the linked videos below. I’d like to think by this time next year that all of the embedded/linked videos will be from me or our writers, but we’ll have to dip into the freely available bin some this time around to give you the best sense of each prospect. Be sure to check out the other videos from these guys as they’re providing a great free service for prospect fans that we’re looking to build on here.
45 FV Prospects
12. Luis Sardinas, SS Video: The 21-year old shortstop has 60 or better speed/throw/field tools and has already had a cup of coffee, but very little power and not a ton of feel to hit. Scouts are confident he can be a good utility guy along the lines of Cesar Izturis and the Rangers think he still might hit enough to be an everyday guy.
13. Ti’Quan Forbes, 3B Video: Lanky 6’3/180 infielder was 2014 2nd rounder from Mississippi HS that is a 60 runner with a 60 arm and can probably stick at third base. He still hasn’t turned 18 yet and has great feel for a swing that works for him along with power that will be at least average when he fills out.
14. Keone Kela, RHP Video: 6’1/225 righty was low-profile 12th round pick from a Washington Juco in 2012 whose velo spiked after he signed and now sits 96-98 often hitting 100 mph. The command is below average but the curveball is above average at times and he may get a taste of the big leagues next year.
15. Ronald Guzman, 1B Video: 6’5/205 Dominican lefty bat signed for $3.45 million as a 16-year-old and held his own in Low-A at age 18 last year. He repeated the level this year and it’s been a disaster of a season without a clear problem to blame it on. Scouts still see things to like and a James Loney-like upside but with more power potential.
16. Josh Morgan, SS Video: A personal favorite from last year’s draft class got $800,000 out of a SoCal high school; he’s just good enough defensively to stick at short and doesn’t have much power or a beautiful swing, but makes a ton of hard contact. He has no margin for error but has performed everywhere, including in a short taste of pro ball (.456 OBP, 23 BB, 21 K).
17. Jerad Eickhoff, RHP Video: 6’4/240 righty that was 15th rounder from Illinois Juco has forced his way into prospect status at AA with 90-94 mph heater that’s hit 97. His curveball is a 55 and he flashes average command and starter traits with a fringy changeup and slider.
18. Yeyson Yrizarri, 3B Video: Another big July 2nd signing got $1.35 million last year and has shown improvement as a 17-year-old in Rookie ball. He splits shortstop with Forbes but both likely slide to third base down the road while Yrizarri has a flashy 70 arm, a loose swing and good bat speed.
40 FV Prospects
19. Jose Almonte, RF Video: Almonte got another big July 2nd bonus ($1.8 million) and hasn’t performed well in a taste of the AZL at age 17, but has flashed good traits. While he’s tentative at times, the instincts and coachability are good, he shows some feel to hit and the 55 raw power and arm make for a nice right field profile.
20. Jairo Beras, RF Video: Beras is most known for his $4.5 million bonus and age issues that led to that huge bonus. He’s now becoming known to scouts for an aloof demeanor and drawing physical comparison to a baby deer (he’s listed at 6’5/178). Beras has easy plus power projection and arm strength with the bat speed and bat control to make those matter, but his .245/.303/.349 full season debut with 27/124 BB/K ratio shows why he’s fallen behind the younger Mazara, who’s already in AA.
21. Ryan Rua, 3B Video: Low-profile 17th rounder from 2011 went from a non-prospect to prospect for some scouts during this season, where he’s hit .293/.365/.489 at AAA. It’s a corner utility/platoon upside with a 45 bat and 55 raw power that’s fringy at third base. One scout compared him to Steve Pearce and Rua could be ready to do that next season.
22. Andrew Faulkner, LHP Video: 6’3/180 lefty is starting in AA but has a big league future as Matt Thornton-type reliever. He sits 90-94 as a starter from a ¾ arm slot that creates deception and angles throwing across his body with just enough offspeed to keep hitters of the heater.
23. Alec Asher, RHP Video: Asher had some buzz early in the season as 3rd/4th starter as he hit 96 mph with a slider that flashed plus, but the stuff has backed up a lot and now some scouts have him as only an emergency call-up type. There’s some injury history and now a flat 89-92 mph fastball has been his only average pitch for the last few months.
24. Marcos Diplan, RHP Video: 5’11/160 Dominican righty signed for $1.3 million last July 2nd and has consistently showed a 90-92 mph fastball that’s hit 95, an above average curveball, an average change and some feel to pitch. A surprisingly high proportion of Dominican big league pitchers are 6’0 or shorter (Pedro Martinez, Johnny Cueto, Bartolo Colon, etc.), Diplan already has a quick arm that produces rotation-quality stuff and hasn’t even turned 18 yet.
25. Michael De Leon, SS Video: A lower profile signing from last year’s July 2nd class ($550,000 bonus) jumped straight to full-season ball at age 17 and hasn’t been that bad at the plate thanks to advanced bat-to-ball ability. He can play shortstop well, but is an average runner with ordinary tools that many scouts think is a second baseman long-term and his lack of power pegs him as more of a utility type.
26. Jose LeClerc, RHP Video: LeClerc is a live-bodied, athletic righty with a clean arm that sits 91-95 and has hit 97 mph with an above average slider and usable curveball and changeup. The command is still below average, but the strikeout and groundball rates are both strong and he’ll be 21 next year when he heads to AA.
27. Akeem Bostick, RHP Video: 6’4/180 righty is great athlete and was 2nd rounder out of South Carolina HS in 2013. He sits 90-94 and hits 97 mph with a loose, athletic delivery and some feel for command when he’s right, but is still inconsistent. His curveball flashed above average last year after signing, but some scouts put a 40 on it this year. He’s still learning a changeup and the finer points of pitching, but all the elements are here.
Alex Claudio, LHP
Claudio made his made his major-league debut at the age of 22 years and 194 days — the 15th youngest player of the 167 to do that so far in 2014. Generally speaking, prospects who enter the majors with such youth are doing so because they’re either (a) regarded almost universally as top prospects or (b) a LOOGY. Claudio’s absence from McDaniel’s organizational list for the Rangers suggests that he doesn’t belong to the former category. And yet, even though he’s a left-handed pitcher, Claudio’s not a traditional LOOGY, either. Rather, his best pitch — or at least his most excellently strange one — is a changeup that sits in the mid- to high-60s, roughly 20 mph slower than his (rather slow) fastball. The changeup, of course, is typically utilized to neutralize opposite-handed batters. It follows, then, that if Claudio has an excellent changeup, that he’s also a candidate to neutralize platoon advantages.
In either case, here’s slow-motion footage of Claudio’s entirely slow changeup. Science indicates that, upon viewing it, one is able to travel backwards in time:
Claudio was in the mix to be mentioned with some other players that just missed the list, but he seemed more like Carson’s type of guy than mine. Yohander Mendez (Video) is a projectable 6’4 lefty that shows some feel for three pitches and got $1.5 million in the 2011 July 2nd signing spree that included Mazara, Guzman and Odor. Frank Lopez is a smaller lefty with solid average stuff and some feel while Abel De Los Santos (Video), Scott Williams, Sam Wolff, Will Lamb, Spencer Patton (Video) and Matt West (Video) all came up as different sorts of power bullpen arms at different levels. Williams is the most interesting as a 2014 draftee that started pitching for the first time weeks before the draft and has been up to 97 mph with a knockout breaking ball.
Cody Buckel (Video) is a reclamation project showing some signs of turnaround, but is still having command issues. Ryan Cordell is a big premium athlete having unexpected success with the bat while Yimmelvyn Alonzo (yes, that’s his real name) is the best position player prospect on the Rangers’ two DSL squads. Finally, C Tomas Telis (contact-oriented catch and throw guy) 2B Odubel Herrera (2B only, 50 run, good bat speed and feel to hit Video) and SS Hanser Alberto (slick defensive shortstop, no bat/power) are all upper level big league inventory with standout skills that could fill a role at some point.
Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.