Top 22 Prospects: Texas Rangers by Eric Longenhagen April 17, 2017 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Texas Rangers farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from my own observations. The KATOH statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of my prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. -Eric Longenhagen The KATOH projection system uses minor-league data and Baseball America prospect rankings to forecast future performance in the major leagues. For each player, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for his first six years in the major leagues. There are drawbacks to scouting the stat line, so take these projections with a grain of salt. Due to their purely objective nature, the projections here can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated. Due to sample-size concerns, only players with at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced last season have received projections. -Chris Mitchell Other Lists NL West (ARI, COL, LAD, SD, SF) AL Central (CHW, CLE, DET, KC, MIN) NL Central (CHC, CIN, PIT, MIL, StL) NL East (ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WAS) AL East (BAL, BOS, NYY, TB, TOR) AL West (HOU, LAA, SEA) Rangers Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Leodys Taveras 18 A CF 2020 55 2 Yohander Mendez 22 MLB LHP 2017 55 3 Ariel Jurado 21 AA RHP 2018 50 4 Cole Ragans 19 R LHP 2020 50 5 Ronald Guzman 22 AAA 1B 2018 45 6 Jose Trevino 24 AA C 2018 45 7 Joe Palumbo 22 A+ LHP 2020 45 8 Brett Martin 21 A+ LHP 2020 45 9 Andy Ibanez 24 AA 2B 2018 45 10 Anderson Tejeda 18 A SS 2021 45 11 Alex Speas 19 R RHP 2021 45 12 Josh Morgan 21 R INF 2020 40 13 Connor Sadzeck 25 AA RHP 2017 40 14 Michael DeLeon 20 AA SS 2019 40 15 Miguel Aparicio 18 R CF 2020 40 16 Eric Jenkins 20 A+ CF 2021 40 17 Mike Matuella 22 A- RHP 2019 40 18 Jose Leclerc 23 MLB RHP 2017 40 19 Drew Robinson 24 MLB INF 2017 40 20 Yanio Perez 21 A OF 2019 40 21 Kole Enright 19 R INF 2021 40 22 Jairo Beras 22 A+ OF 2020 40 55 FV Prospects 1. Leodys Taveras, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic Age 18 Height 6’1 Weight 170 Bat/Throw S/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/60 40/50 20/45 60/60 45/60 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Has recorded .275 career average. Scouting Report Taveras signed for $2.1 million during the 2015 July 2 period and debuted in the DSL last year but, even in a brief time there, was clearly too advanced for that level. After 11 games in the DSL he came to Arizona for rookie ball. Scouts flocked to Arizona mid-summer to get a look at Taveras ahead of the trade deadline and he was a frequently discussed name in July. He has a very mature feel to hit, especially from the left side of the plate, with low-effort plus bat speed, barrel control, and a willingness to take what pitchers give him if a situation dictates it necessary for him to make contact. He also tracks pitches well, and scouts have a future 60 or better on the bat. Taveras is also a comfortably plus runner and advanced defender in center field. While the body certainly has some projection, it’s not so much that scouts fear a move to a corner is in play, and he projects as a plus defender in center. He has a chance to make an impact with his bat, legs, and glove based on the tools already present. There are scouts who think Taveras might grow into 15-plus annual homers, too. He hit for more power this spring (including an opposite-field grand slam during an intrasquad game as a right-handed hitter) and is going to play all year in full-season ball as an 18-year-old. This is a potential star. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.9 WAR 2. Yohander Mendez, LHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Venezuela Age 22 Height 6’5 Weight 200 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 55/60 45/50 50/50 55/60 45/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Posted 113 strikeouts over 111 innings in 2016. Scouting Report Mendez was electric last spring, sitting 92-94 with a plus changeup and viable breaking ball, and looked like a potential quick mover after dealing with injuries throughout the early stages of his career. And, indeed, Mendez moved, pitching across four levels, including the big leagues, while logging a career-high 111 innings. This spring Mendez was 90-94. (He was 87-89 in his final spring start, but spring getaway outings aren’t always good indicators of stuff because players tend to coast late in the spring.) The changeup is still plus and both his slider and curveball remain in the fringe-to-average realm. Scouts project the slider to average (it’s still a relatively new tool for Mendez and made progress last year) and think the curveball will be a useful, early-count change of pace. If there are concerns about Mendez (other than his medical history), they surround his propensity to pitch up in the zone with his fastball, which doesn’t have the sort of spin rate typically associated with pitchers who successfully work up there. But Mendez is not historically homer prone and only gave up four dingers last year while pitching at High Desert, Frisco, and in the PCL, so there’s not much reason to think it will be an issue moving forward. He projects as an above average big-league starter for most scouts. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.4 WAR 50 FV Prospects 3. Ariel Jurado, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Panama Age 21 Height 6’1 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 50/50 45/50 50/55 50/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded strikeout and walk rates of 19% and 5%, respectively, at Double-A. Scouting Report Still just 21, Jurado impresses scouts with advanced sequencing and command of average stuff, which allowed Jurado to reach the upper levels of the minors last year in just his third pro season. He sits 88-94 with the fastball and manipulates its shape, adding sink at times, cutting it at others. His upper-70s slider is slurvy but has depth and Jurado can sneak it in the back door to left-handed hitters and bury it beneath the zone for swings and misses. His best secondary is his average, mid-80s changeup that, along with his slower fastballs, induces weak ground balls. It should add another half-grade with reps. None of Jurado’s pitches are especially explosive, and he’s a sturdy but maxed out 6-foot-1, so even at 21 he lacks velo projection. But he has plus command projection and is a low risk, innings-eating, ground-ball/command fourth starter for most scouts. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.3 WAR 4. Cole Ragans, LHP Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from North Florida Christian HS Age 19 Height 6’3 Weight 190 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command 55/60 45/50 50/60 40/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None. Scouting Report On draft day, prep pitchers with big velocity and a breaking ball tend to bubble toward the surface of the class. Ragans is a rare aggressive fastball/changeup high-school prospect who’s already physically mature. But Ragans was missing bats with his 88-91 mph fastball in pro ball both in the AZL and during instructional league, and doing so in the strike zone against some advanced hitters. His fastball comes in with lots of angle and has late movement, which allows the pitch to play above its pure velocity. Even if Ragans only ever pitches with a heater in the 88-91 range, maybe touching 93 or 94 on occasion, it could be an above-average or plus pitch. Ragans’ changeup has ghosting, bat-missing fade. He mimics his fastball arm speed with it and has a naturally deceptive delivery that further bolsters his cambio’s effectiveness. The changeup projects to plus and should be Ragans’ best pitch at peak. His mid-70s curveball has promising shape but lacks power right now and realistically projects to average. With the starter-level strike-throwing piece of the profile already in place (which isn’t usually true for a high-school draftee who has thrown less than eight pro innings) — plus Ragan’s big, sturdy frame and relatively low-effort delivery — he carries less risk than some of his similarly experienced peers. He projects as an above-average big-league starter. 45 FV Prospects 5. Ronald Guzman, 1B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic Age 22 Height 6’5 Weight 205 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/55 60/60 40/50 30/30 50/55 50/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Slashed .288/.348/.477 in 2016 at Double-A. Scouting Report Since signing as a 16-year-old in 2011, Guzman has been viewed as a big-framed, hit-before-power prospect with lots of physical projection. The hope was that Guzman would grow into power naturally while retaining his promising bat-to-ball skills as he aged. Now 22, Guzman’s body has begun to mature. He gained around 25 pounds over the offseason and was hitting for more power in the spring. Guzman still has an approach geared for contact, and we’ll need to see how much the added mass aids his in-game power at Frisco this summer, but scouts who saw him last year and again this spring feel better about Guzman hitting for the necessary game power to profile as an average regular at first. Signed as an outfielder, Guzman has worked hard to improve his defense at first base and he was named the org’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. He’s shockingly flexible for his size and provides infielders with huge margin for error on their throws because of how far he can stretch while holding the bag. His footwork is clunky, but his hands are fine. He’s a potential above average defender at first. Guzman is starting the year in Double-A but hit his way to Round Rock late last year and was added to the Texas 40-man in the offseason. He might debut this year, although Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo are likely first in line for corner-infield reps if someone goes down. He projects as an average everyday first baseman. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.7 WAR 6. Jose Trevino, C Drafted: 6th Round, 2014 from Oral Roberts Age 24 Height 5’10 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 45/45 30/40 30/30 50/55 55/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Slashed .303/.342/.434 in Cal League, hit only .230 in AFL. Scouting Report After playing multiple positions at Oral Roberts and during his maiden voyage in pro ball, Trevino has focused full time on catching and developed into a terrific defender. He has elite-level makeup and leadership skills that are especially impactful at catcher. He also has terrific horizontal mobility, is a fine receiver, and his quick feet allow his fringey arm to play closer to average or above. His throws are very accurate. Trevino has some bat control and is especially adept at pulling in his hands and getting the barrel on pitches located over the inner half. He has fringe to average raw power, most all of it coming to his pull side, especially in games, but he sprays solid contact to all fields. He projects as an average hitter with below-average game power — a combination which, with good defense, makes him a potential average regular behind the plate. Some scouts think the bat is a little light for that or worry about his body wearing down and losing some punch at the plate. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.3 WAR 7. Joe Palumbo, LHP Drafted: 30th Round, 2014 from St. John the Baptist (NY) Age 22 Height 6’1 Weight 150 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command 60/60 55/60 40/45 40/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 122 Ks in 96 innings at Low-A in 2016. Scouting Report Palumbo’s velocity ticked up last year and held firm even after he was moved out of the bullpen and into Hickory’s rotation. This spring he’s been 90-94 and up to 96 with a short arm action and some cross-body deception that helps his stuff play up against lefties. Palumbo can elevate the fastball and induce swings and misses up above the strike zone. He has great feel for an above-average, two-plane curveball that he locates in and around the strike zone and which projects to plus. He has some nascent feel for a below-average mid-80s changeup, but the arm action is change-friendly and Palumbo has largely pitched out of the bullpen as a pro. He didn’t need the change in high school, so it has some late projection. There’s league-average starter stuff here. Scouts just want to see Palumbo maintain his delivery deeper into games and work a bit more efficiently, and see what the stuff looks like after he’s made a dozen or so starts every fifth day. But that Palumbo, who was a 30th rounder, has ignited conversations among scouts about the possibility of a mid-rotation future is a significant development. At the very least, Palumbo looks like a potential late-inning lefty reliever. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.9 WAR 8. Brett Martin, LHP Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2014 from Walters State Age 22 Height 6’4 Weight 190 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command 50/55 50/55 40/50 40/45 40/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Compiled 70 strikeouts over 69 innings in 2016. Scouting Report Martin is huge, every bit of his listed 6-foot-4 with broad shoulders, and has a very upright delivery and vertical arm action, producing a cliff-like angle on his low-90s fastball, which he can also cut. It also produces the shape of his 12-6 curveball, which is average and flashes above, and makes it hard to identify the sinking action on his changeup, though Martin has poor feel for its release. And part of the reason Martin’s changeup feel is still raw could be because he has dealt with injuries during the last two years and missed some reps. He had a hip issue in 2015 and then missed several weeks with an elbow injury last year. His arm action is deceptive (perhaps a bit violent, though Martin’s delivery is very well paced and under control), and the changeup has some projection. He throws enough strikes to start and the repertoire should be viable multiple times through the order, even if no aspect of it is plus. Martin projects as a fourth starter with injury risk. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.5 WAR 9. Andy Ibanez, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Cuba Age 24 Height 5’10 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/55 45/45 30/40 45/45 45/50 45/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Hit .324 at Low-A, .261 at Double-A. Scouting Report Ibanez began his career with Texas last year (he signed in 2015, for $1.6 million) at Low-A. He excelled there before spending the rest of the season at Double-A and the Fall League (where, a scout speculated, he may have been sent to be showcased for a trade, with Rougie Odor firmly entrenched at the big-league level). In fall, he was a bit less productive. Ibanez creates very little hand separation and is exceptionally short to the ball (which makes him hard to strike out) but has very strong hands and good extension through contact, leading to hard, gap-to-gap contact despite virtually no load. He has had issues with breaking balls, and I had one source question his bat control, but scouts generally think he’s going to hit at an above-average clip. Whether Ibanez has enough power to profile at second base is less certain, as he clearly has doubles power and little more than that. And Ibanez is a fringe defender at second base. He has played some third base, but some scouts think his arm is a bit short for the left side of the infield. Without much positional versatility, a second baseman like Ibanez needs to hit his way to everyday duty because backup second-base-only players are largely extinct in the era of 12- and sometimes 13-man pitching staffs. The hit/power combination is enough that I think he’s someone’s fringe regular at second base, but it’s hard to see it happening with Texas. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.1 WAR 10. Anderson Tejeda, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic Age 19 Height 5’11 Weight 160 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 50/60 20/50 50/50 30/40 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Has recorded 24% K% in pro ball. Scouting Report Scouts are split as to whether or not Tejeda can stay at shortstop. He has the arm for it (plus) and the lateral quickness, but his actions need significant polish. If Tejeda hits, though, it probably isn’t going to matter where his ultimate defensive home will be, as he already has big raw power and bat speed and might still grow into more pop. He takes shameless, monstrous hacks, which lead to some ugly swings and misses. When he connects, though, the quality of the contact is good — among the best in last year’s AZL. I spoke with a scout who thought Tejeda was also the third-best prospect in the Northwest League after Kyle Lewis and Taveras. If everything comes together here, we’re talking about a viable defensive shortstop with 20-homer power. There aren’t many prospects with that kind of ceiling in all of baseball. But both the offensive and defensive ends of the skillset exist entirely in abstract projection at this point, and Tejeda is among the most volatile boom-or-bust prospects in all of baseball right now. He signed for $100,000 in 2014. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.5 WAR 11. Alex Speas, RHP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from McEachern HS (GA) Age 19 Height 6’4 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command 60/70 50/60 40/50 30/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None. Scouting Report Speas had some of the most electric arm acceleration in the 2016 draft, topping out around 99 with his fastball as an amateur and flashing a plus two-plane breaking ball. But he was a very raw strike-thrower and lasted until pick No. 63. He signed for just over $1 million and wasn’t throwing quite as hard during instructional league, topping out at 95 when I saw him in the fall. He’s been mostly 93-97 this spring and arguably possesses more velocity projection: Speas is quite thin and could add extra heat as he gets stronger. Speas’ arm acceleration lends itself to significant changeup projection, but scouts are focused on monitoring his strike-throwing ability before worrying about him developing a third pitch. (It’s a below average, upper-80s change.) He has 30 command right now and, while his arm is loose and whippy, other aspects of Speas’ delivery are very stiff. Not all scouts are convinced he’s a great athlete or are sure he’s going to develop starter’s control. There’s significant reliever risk here, although if Speas develops even 40 control, he has the stuff to pitch at the back of a bullpen. His ceiling is as high as his strike-throwing ability allows and, if everything comes together, Speas could be a front-end arm. There are just too many developmental hurdles to clear at this point to call it a likelihood. 40 FV Prospects 12. Josh Morgan, INF Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2014 from Orange Lutheran (CA) Age 21 Height 5’11 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/55 45/45 30/40 45/40 45/50 55/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Slugged .394 in Cal League last year. Scouting Report The stocky and scrappy Morgan took his compact swing to the Cal League last year and the results were, predictably, a bit of a caricature of his actual power. But Morgan has excellent contact skills and a mature approach. And while upper-level pitchers are likely going to attack him because he lacks power, he should still reach base at an above-average clip. Morgan has spent time at third base and both middle-infield spots. He’s also dabbled behind the plate at the team’s complex in Surprise — both during instructional league and again this spring. He has a catcher’s build, enough arm strength to play back there, and has the high-level makeup that player-development personnel often say is required for a conversion. He struggled to squeeze at times this spring but has some feel for receiving. But until Morgan is catching in affiliated ball regularly, I have him projected at third base. He lacks the game power to profile there everyday and is more of a bat-first utility prospect at this point. If a catcher conversion sticks, however, he could be an everyday player. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.8 WAR 13. Connor Sadzeck, RHP Drafted: 11th Round, 2011 from Howard College Age 25 Height 6’5 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 60/60 55/55 50/50 40/45 40/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Posted 52 walks in 140 innings. Scouting Report Sadzeck is now 25 and still throws hard, sitting 91-97 this spring with heavy sink. He has two good breaking balls – an upper-70s curveball and an upper-80s slider – that are both consistently average or above on stuff and can miss bats down below the zone when Sadzeck stays on top of them. His arm slot varies, however. Sadzeck also throws a firm mid-80s changeup that serves as more of ground-ball-inducing change of pace than another bat-missing tool. On stuff, Sadzeck is a viable starting pitching prospect, but scouts largely have him projected to the bullpen due to fringe command and control. The Rangers are continuing to develop him as a starter and player dev was impressed with the improved mechanical consistency Sadzeck showed early in the spring. If he develops the control to start he could be a No. 4/5 starter. Scouts who saw him this spring haven’t changed their tune, but Sadzeck was bumping 100 out of the bullpen in the 2015 AFL and might be a late-inning arm if he’s moved. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.1 WAR 14. Michael DeLeon, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic Age 20 Height 6’1 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 40/45 20/30 45/40 50/55 55/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Has recorded .298 career OBP. Scouting Report De Leon’s modest physical tools are buoyed by his polish and maturity. If one were to evaluate his physical attributes solely, De Leon would not project to shortstop. He’s a fringey runner without huge arm strength, but De Leon’s hands, actions, and a supernatural internal clock allow him not only to pass at the position but to thrive. He’s a potential above-average defender at short. Scouts project De Leon to a utility role, as he lacks the offensive ability to play every day. He has fringe bat speed and barrel feel, his swing is long from the left side, and he lacks power. He began working more at second base in 2016, but he’s the only viable shortstop on Frisco’s active roster right now and probably won’t see time there until rosters shake up later in the year. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.7 WAR 15. Miguel Aparicio, CF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela Age 18 Height 6’0 Weight 165 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/55 30/40 20/30 55/55 45/60 40/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None. Scouting Report Pro scouts here in Arizona are seeing more of Aparicio and have been impressed by his instincts in center field and mature bat-to-ball ability. His frame does have some physical projection despite uninspiring on-paper measureables and there’s a chance he grows into doubles power. If he does, or if the hit tool exceeds projection, he could be an everyday center fielder. He’s a high-priority target in this year’s AZL. 16. Eric Jenkins, CF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from West Columbus HS (NC) Age 20 Height 6’1 Weight 170 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 30/40 20/30 70/70 50/70 40/40 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Owns .231 career average. Scouting Report When Jenkins arrived in pro ball, he was a burner with incredible range in center field but very little feel for baseball and an immature, but projectable, build. The bat looked too heavy for him to control, but scouts liked the body and athleticism, and thought Jenkins would grow into enough strength to become a viable hitter. In the 16 months since Jenkins’ pro debut in the AZL, he has indeed gotten stronger, improved his bat speed, and can now physically compete with his peers. His bat control is still very undercooked and a chief cause of his issues with swing and miss, though he has improved his feel for the strike zone. Jenkins didn’t break camp with an affiliate due to a hamstring injury — which is of note for a prospect whose skillset is founded in his legs — but it’s Jenkins’ first injury as a pro. If he ever starts hitting, he has everyday-center-fielder upside. If not, he projects as a bench outfielder, largely because he has a chance to be a black-hole defender in center field. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.1 WAR 17. Mike Matuella, RHP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2015 from Duke Age 23 Height 6’6 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 60/60 55/60 55/60 40/50 40/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None. Scouting Report Matuella’s pro debut in Surprise was packed with far more scouts than are typically seen at a single extended-spring-training game, and Matuella was scintillating. He was 93-96 with a plus-flashing curveball (though he didn’t always throw the curve with conviction) and looked every bit of the pitcher teams were considering atop the 2015 draft before he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John ahead of the draft. But Matuella’s elbow barked at him again in his first start at an affiliate, and he was shut down for the rest of the season. He has front-end upside if he can stay healthy, with a chance for three plus pitches — the fastball, curveball, and slider — and an average changeup. But Matuella, who was diagnosed with spondylosis in college, never threw more than 58 innings in a single season at Duke and has largely been unable to stay on the field for going on four years now. He carries extreme risk but has huge upside if he can somehow stay healthy. Matuella was 93-97 in an extended-spring start last Friday. 18. Jose Leclerc, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2010 from Dominican Republic Age 23 Height 6’0 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Splitter Command 60/60 45/45 60/60 45/45 40/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 15:13 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 15 big-league innings in 2016. Scouting Report On the surface, Leclerc looks like a pretty standard middle-relief prospect with a mid-90s fastball and bat-missing slider, but what Leclerc is actually throwing is a freak-show changeup with tilting action that looks like a slider on your television. It’s plus and misses bats. He also has a normal, low-90s changeup (below average) and an average curveball. Leclerc throws hard, but his fastball is flat and he might be homer prone, though he goes entire appearances without throwing his fastball. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.2 WAR 19. Drew Robinson, INF Drafted: 4th Round, 2010 from Silverado HS (NV) Age 25 Height 6’1 Weight 200 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/40 55/55 40/45 55/55 50/50 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 54 extra-base hits in PCL last year. Scouting Report Drafted as an unpolished athlete in the 2010 fourth round, Robinson immediately began seeing time all over the diamond and has gradually improved at each position. While he’s mostly stopped playing shortstop, Robinson saw time at all other positions (except catcher) in 2016 and even got some reps in center field, a position he continued to hone in Venezuela over the winter. He runs well enough that he can pass there in case of emergency, but he’s best at third and in right field, where his arm is an asset. Robinson has some swing-and-miss issues but also sneaky raw power that he generates with a flick of the wrist. He made the big club out of spring training (and was just sent down) and should have a long career as a big-league utility man. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.4 WAR 20. Yanio Perez, OF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba Age 21 Height 6’2 Weight 205 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 55/55 40/50 40/40 40/45 50/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None. Scouting Report Perez played first, second, and third base — and the outfield — as a teenager in Cuba and intrigued international scouts during workouts with above-average raw power in BP and above-average straight-line speed. He looked huge this spring and, while he’s listed at 205, I think he’s closer to 230 and is a 40 runner underway at best. He profiles defensively at the outfield corners and first base, which is going to put a lot of pressure on the bat. Perez hasn’t played in games since 2014, and his hitter’s timing was surprisingly good this spring, but scouts aren’t sure if the bat is going to play at the positions to which they feel comfortable projecting him. 21. Kole Enright, INF Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from West Orange (FL) Age 19 Height 6’2 Weight 185 Bat/Throw S/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/55 40/50 20/40 50/45 40/45 50/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Hit .366 in August. Scouting Report After struggling initially in the AZL after signing, Enright (an overslot third-round pick) got hot in August and hit .366 over the final month of the season. Scouts who saw him in pro ball think he’s going to hit, noting that his left-handed swing is geared for line drives while his right-handed cut might produce more power. He spent time all over the infield last summer but doesn’t project to shortstop, instead fitting comfortably at second base and perhaps passably at third, the latter in question due to middling arm strength. Enright has a chance to hit his way to everyday duty and, if the bat should lack enough punch for regularity, he could also be a versatile bat-first utility type. Scouts have questioned Enright’s conditioning in the past and Coastal Carolina rescinded his scholarship offer the summer before his senior year. Enright looked bigger this spring, but a scout noted it was “good weight” and added that he liked how Enright interacted with coaches during work in the batting cage. 22. Jairo Beras, OF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic Age 22 Height 6’5 Weight 178 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/30 60/70 30/50 50/45 40/45 80/80 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Slugged .511 in Cal League last year, .432 career mark. Scouting Report Beras continues to be plagued by the extreme swing-and-miss issues typically associated with athletes of his build. He’s a wiry 6-foot-6 with long levers and a long swing, and the issue is compounded by Beras’s aggressive approach. He has plus-plus raw power projection and elite arm strength, and this is as extreme a traditional right-field profile as there is in the minors right now. Beras is still just 22 (right?) and has time to improve his contact rate. Hitters this size often don’t figure things out until their mid-20s, if they do at all, but scouts are discouraged by the little progress Beras has made to this point, and he has largely looked like the same guy for the last two seasons and again this spring. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.2 WAR Mahalanobis Comps for 40+ FV Prospects Rank Prospect Most Noteworthy Comp 1 Leodys Taveras Richard Hidalgo 2 Yohander Mendez Jon Lester 3 Ariel Jurado Freddy Garcia 5 Ronald Guzman Steve Cox 6 Jose Trevino Mike Redmond 7 Joe Palumbo Chuck James 8 Brett Martin Esteban Loaiza 9 Andy Ibanez Daniel Garcia 10 Anderson Tejeda Michael Young 12 Josh Morgan David Bell 13 Connor Sadzeck Chad Qualls 14 Michael DeLeon Alex Cora 16 Eric Jenkins Elijah Dukes 18 Jose Leclerc Bobby Jones 19 Drew Robinson Sean Berry 22 Jairo Beras Franklin Gutierrez ***** Other Prospects of Note (In Order of Preference) Yeyson Yrizarri, INF, 1.9 KATOH+ WAR – Scouts are still largely projecting Yrizarri as a shortstop despite the fact that his body has thickened considerably since he signed. He’s an explosive quick-twitch athlete with elite arm strength and solid actions, so even as he loses prototypical shortstop range, he has a chance to stay there. Some scouts have him projected in a utility role, not because they think he’ll have to move but because they don’t think he’ll hit enough to play every day. Yrizarri has good bat speed, has significantly improved his footwork in the box since signing, and has solid hand-eye coordination, but he almost literally swings at everything. He walked nine times last year and severely limits his own ability to reach base beyond what is acceptable even at short. Jonathan Hernandez, RHP, 0.4 KATOH+ – Hernandez was one of the more polished pitchers in the 2015 AZL, locating a solid-average three-pitch mix (91-93 with the fastball, fringey slider, average change) to both sides of the plate while appearing somewhat physically projectable. He looked like a potential back-end starter and perhaps a prospect who could move fairly quickly. In 2016, his command backed up and scouts noted he struggled to time aspects of his delivery last year, his arm coming through a bit late at times. He’s repeating Hickory this season and still projects as a back-end starter, but it’s important that the command returns because the stuff isn’t hellacious enough to carry Hernandez if it doesn’t. David Garcia, C – Garcia ranked 15th on my 2016 July 2 board as a physically immature but promising catch-and-throw prospect whose value was largely grounded in his defensive abilities. He’s still just 17 (he turned 17 in February) and struggled to compete with his peers last fall during instructional league and again this spring. Scouts had him popping around 2.2 in Surprise, noting the length of his arm stroke and not a lack of arm strength as the culprit. Scouts lauded his defensive polish as an amateur and those skills are still extant; he just needs to get stronger. While unlikely ever to do anything significant with the bat, Garcia is still an interesting young catching prospects. He may be a multi-year complex-level prospect who doesn’t kick out to an affiliate until late in 2019. Mike Hauschild, RHP, 2.6 KATOH+ – The club’s Rule 5 pick from Houston, Hauschild sits in the low-90s with varied sink and cut. He works consistently to his arm side with his fastball, has a sweepy mid-80s slider, and diving low-80s changeup, the latter two of which are fringe to average. Hauschild throws strikes and has above-average command and projects as a swing man, sixth-starter type. Scott Heineman, OF, 0.8 KATOH+ – Heineman broke out as a 23-year-old in the Cal League last year, leading to skepticism regarding the validity of that output. He came to the Fall League, was patient here, and showed some bat speed and an ability to punish mistakes up in the zone. Scouts thought he struggled with balls in the bottom of the strike zone, though, and generally have a tweener/fifth-outfielder grade on him right now. Brett Nicholas, C/1B, 0.8 KATOH+ – A passable receiver with fringe arm strength, Nicholas is competent enough to catch, can play some first base, and has some power. He’s solid Triple-A depth as a catcher who can also provide some defensive versatility. He is currently on the DL. Kobie Taylor, OF – Taylor is raw (as is expected for a prep bat from the northeast) and missed time last year with a thumb injury, but he has a good baseball body, some bat speed, and runs well. He was an interesting buy-low flier late in last year’s draft. Clayton Cook, RHP – Cook was drafted in 2008 by Cleveland and lost two years to shoulder surgery after reaching Double-A. He got on a weighted-ball program with Driveline (introduced to Cook by Casey Weathers) and went from throwing 88 in indy ball to touching 97 this spring with an above-average curveball. He’s pitching in relief at Frisco. Cook is a native Texan. Kyle Cody, RHP, 0.5 KATOH+ – Cody was a possible first-round pick entering his junior year at Kentucky but struggled to throw strikes and ultimately didn’t sign with the Twins who drafted him in round two, hoping to return for his senior year and improve his stock. In 2016, he fell to the sixth round, where he was scooped up by Texas. He’s 93-97 with the fastball and has a power, low-80s breaking ball, but it’s arguably 30 control right now and he needs to improve his strike-throwing just to profile in the bullpen. Tyler Ferguson, RHP – A big, strong-bodied righty from Vanderbilt, Ferguson has had strike-throwing issues but sits 93-96 with sink and an above-average slider. Jose (Gonzalez) Cardona, OF, 1.6 KATOH+ – Cardona doesn’t have big tools, but he has good-breaking ball recognition and a very minimalist approach at the plate that allows him to make lots of contact. Cardona isn’t a burner, and scouts are split as to whether or not they like him in center field. If he can play there, he has a pretty solid bench-outfield future ahead of him. If not, he’ll need to do a bit more with the bat than scouts are currently projecting. Tyree Thompson, RHP – A 26th rounder in last year’s draft, Thompson’s velocity was up this spring, topping out around 93. He has a good delivery and frame. Tyler Phillips, RHP, 2.5 KATOH+ – A 16th rounder out of a New Jersey high school in 2015, Phillips had a rough year at Spokane but was 92-94 with sink this spring and has an average slider. Pedro Payano, RHP, 1.2 KATOH+ – A big-bodied righty with an upper-80s fastball, Payano has a funky high-three-quarters delivery that takes hitters some time to adjust to. He also has a trick-pitch changeup that has similar diminishing returns as hitters see more of it. Payano also has two fringey breaking balls and fringe command, projecting as an up-and-down arm who can make an effective spot start based largely on deception. Ti’Quan Forbes, 3B, 0.5 KATOH+ – Forbes was a second-round pick in 2014 and quickly grew off of shortstop. His levers and swing are long, causing contact issues, but he’s continued to fill out and has added power. His approach at the plate is too aggressive but I’m still on the power projection here, enough to keep him on the list. He’s repeating the Sally League this season and doesn’t turn 21 until August. James Dykstra, RHP – Acquired over the winter from the White Sox for cash, Dykstra was 93-96 with movement this spring, though his control and secondaries are below average. Jose Almonte, OF – A 20-year-old Dominican outfielder with plus raw power projection and arm strength, Almonte also a very aggressive approach and swing-and-miss issues that scouts largely think will prove insurmountable. Reid Anderson, RHP – One of two pitchers drafted out of Millersville last year, Anderson’s velo spiked this spring and he was topping out at 96, sitting 93-95. Cistulli’s Guy Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV. Juremi Profar, 3B?, 3.5 KATOH+ A brief inspection of Profar at bat or in the field reveals a sort of nascent corpulence which, while not currently prohibitive, inspires little confidence for what the future might bring. The body isn’t what one might characterize as “projectable” — and that lack of projectability, combined with Profar’s merely modest athleticism, places barriers between him and a playable profile. Profar can hit, though. In 1,350 plate appearances as a professional — all of them recorded while playing at two or three years younger than his league’s average age — Profar has produced just an 11.0% strikeout rate, exhibiting some emergent power, as well. As a third baseman, that’s excellent. As a corner outfielder, it’s merely fine. And as a first baseman, it’s probably insufficient. He’s begun the 2017 campaign (as just a 21-year-old) by playing both second and third for Double-A Frisco. That’s promising. ***** System Overview Despite losing several prospects in the Cole Hamels trade and via the pseudo-graduations of Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar, Texas still has impressive depth, largely because of the club’s international program. The thread to follow here, though, is the one tethered to the relatively unassuming names in the honorable-mention section — the pitchers who, as scouts have noted, are throwing harder this spring than they have in the past. The Rangers bullpen is struggling and, as velocity makes up a more significant piece of the reliever’s skill pie, it’s potentially meaningful in an immediate way if the club can join the growing number of clubs able to consistently improve their pitcher’s velocity. Clayton Cook is one to watch at the upper levels. Texas should add two prospects to the top-third of this list in the first round of June’s draft, as the club has two late-first-round picks (one of which comes from losing Ian Desmond to Colorado via free agency). Scouts in Arizona seem to agree that they nailed last year’s selection of Cole Ragans.