Top 65 Prospects: Texas Rangers by Eric Longenhagen May 28, 2021 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Texas Rangers. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been meaningfully altered begin by telling you so. As always, I’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside of a given org than those within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, I’ve primarily focused on data from there, and the context of that data, in my opinion, reduces how meaningful it is. Lastly, in an effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both on my lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of Future Value’s merits and drawbacks, read Future Value. All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here. Top Prospects Team Lists 2021 2020 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Rangers Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Josh Jung 23.3 A 3B 2022 50 2 Justin Foscue 22.2 A+ 2B 2023 45+ 3 Cole Winn 21.5 AA SP 2023 45+ 4 Davis Wendzel 24.0 AA SS 2023 45+ 5 Steele Walker 24.8 AA CF 2022 45+ 6 Dane Dunning 26.4 MLB SP 2020 45 7 Jonah Heim 25.9 MLB C 2020 45 8 Yerry Rodriguez 23.6 AA SP 2021 45 9 Hans Crouse 22.7 AA SIRP 2022 45 10 Sam Huff 23.4 MLB C 2021 45 11 Leody Taveras 22.7 MLB CF 2021 45 12 Maximo Acosta 18.6 R SS 2025 40+ 13 Evan Carter 18.7 A CF 2025 40+ 14 Owen White 21.8 A SP 2023 40+ 15 Justin Slaten 23.7 A+ MIRP 2023 40+ 16 Ronny Henriquez 20.9 A+ SP 2023 40+ 17 Marcus Smith 20.7 A CF 2024 40+ 18 Bayron Lora 18.7 R LF 2025 40+ 19 A.J. Alexy 23.1 AA SIRP 2021 40+ 20 Dustin Harris 21.9 A 1B 2023 40+ 21 Jonathan Ornelas 21.0 A+ SS 2023 40+ 22 Ricky Vanasco 22.6 A MIRP 2022 40+ 23 Dane Acker 22.2 A SP 2024 40+ 24 Adolis García 28.2 MLB CF 2021 40+ 25 Josh Sborz 27.4 MLB SIRP 2021 40+ 26 Avery Weems 24.0 A+ MIRP 2023 40+ 27 Demarcus Evans 24.6 MLB SIRP 2021 40+ 28 Yonny Hernandez 23.1 AAA SS 2021 40 29 Tyler Phillips 23.6 AA SP 2021 40 30 Kyle Cody 26.8 MLB SIRP 2021 40 31 Luisangel Acuña 19.2 A 2B 2024 40 32 David García 21.3 A+ C 2022 40 33 Mason Englert 21.6 A SP 2024 40 34 Sherten Apostel 22.2 MLB 1B 2021 40 35 Yosy Galan 20.1 R OF 2025 40 36 Cole Ragans 23.5 A+ SP 2021 40 37 Ryan Garcia 23.3 A- SP 2023 40 38 Tekoah Roby 19.7 A SP 2025 40 39 Jake Guenther 24.0 A+ 1B 2023 40 40 Thomas Saggese 19.1 R 2B 2025 40 41 Marc Church 20.2 A SIRP 2024 40 42 Keithron Moss 19.8 A CF 2023 40 43 Alex Speas 23.2 AA SIRP 2022 40 44 Cole Uvila 27.3 AA SIRP 2022 40 45 Nic Laio 23.8 A SIRP 2023 40 46 Jeferson Tineo 17.6 R SS 2026 35+ 47 Cody Freeman 20.4 A C 2024 35+ 48 Daniel Robert 26.7 A+ SIRP 2022 35+ 49 Chris Seise 22.4 A+ SS 2022 35+ 50 Jake Latz 25.1 AA SP 2022 35+ 51 Fernery Ozuna 25.6 AA SIRP 2023 35+ 52 Kenen Irizarry 21.1 A+ 2B 2023 35+ 53 Anderson Tejeda 23.1 MLB SS 2021 35+ 54 Dylan MacLean 18.9 R SP 2025 35+ 55 Bubba Thompson 23.0 AA CF 2022 35+ 56 Yohel Pozo 24.0 AAA C 2021 35+ 57 Eli White 26.9 MLB 2B 2020 35+ 58 Pedro Gonzalez 23.6 A+ CF 2022 35+ 59 Scott Engler 24.5 AA SIRP 2022 35+ 60 Zion Bannister 19.7 R CF 2024 35+ 61 Hever Bueno 26.5 AA SIRP 2021 35+ 62 Kelvin Bautista 21.9 R SIRP 2023 35+ 63 Kelvin Gonzalez 23.4 A SIRP 2021 35+ 64 Curtis Terry 24.6 AAA 1B 2022 35+ 65 Diosbel Arias 24.9 AA 3B 2021 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 1B 2B SS 3B OF LF CF RF LHP RHP 50 FV Prospects 1. Josh Jung, 3B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Texas Tech (TEX) Age 23.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 60/60 35/50 45/45 50/55 55 Last year, I wrote that if Jung (pronounced like “young”) was going to get to all of his considerable raw power in games, he probably needed a swing change that would enable him to pull the ball more consistently, and that he’d move into the 50 FV tier once and if that occurred. Well, it did. I saw Jung a few times in college and again after he was drafted, and while he struck balls with authority, he was inside-outing everything to center or right-center field and couldn’t really get around the baseball to pull it, even during batting practice. While Jung’s strength and feel to hit enabled a high quality of contact despite this atypical style, there are just times when it’s best for hitters to turn on middle-in mistakes and park them in the left field seats or rip them down the line for a double, and I finally saw Jung start to do that in the fall of 2020. He was a .346/.452/.562 career hitter at Tech and had more walks than strikeouts during his last two years with the Red Raiders. Originally thought to be a risk to move to first base, Jung has not only allayed those concerns but also played a passable college shortstop and deserves an extended look at second base in pro ball to see if he can do it. He’s 23 and still hasn’t played above A-ball because of the pandemic, and his 2021 season got off to a delayed start because of a stress fracture in his left foot. But Jung has a long enough offensive track record to feel confident that he’ll hit enough to profile at third base, and if he can pass at second, then he’ll rocket up this list toward the top of the 50 FV tier at least. 45+ FV Prospects 2. Justin Foscue, 2B Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Mississippi State (TEX) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/50 55/55 30/50 40/40 40/45 40 Justin Foscue arrived at 2021 minor league spring training looking like a physical beast, much thicker and stronger than most of the other players. As a college prospect, he looked more like a contact-oriented second baseman who draft models liked because he performed on paper against SEC pitching and was barely 21 on draft day. Now he looks like a tank, and I saw him hit several tape measure bombs during the spring. His size does limit some of his defensive mobility but it doesn’t completely impede him, and I think Foscue will be a viable second baseman, just probably not a very good one. He’s tracking like a righty-hitting version of Dodgers Top 100 prospect Michael Busch, and he’ll similarly move onto the 100 if his surprising new physicality manifests as in-game power production this year. 3. Cole Winn, SP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Orange Lutheran HS (CA) (TEX) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 45/50 50/55 50/55 35/50 92-94 / 96 Because he had advanced command and application of a four-pitch mix, Winn was viewed as a polished cut above his high school pitching peers in the 2018 draft, arguably a prospect teams could run to for safety as if he were a college arm because of how advanced he was. He didn’t pitch the summer after he was drafted as a workload precaution, threw a little in the fall, then was uncharacteristically wild the following year, walking 39 hitters in 69 innings. Feel for his release point had evaporated and Winn spiked an awful lot of non-competitive secondary pitches in the dirt. His stuff is still good, and his repertoire is still quite robust and visually pleasing, but Winn’s stock was down due to this unexpected speed bump. He looked fantastic again this spring, sitting 94-95 while spotting four quality pitches of varying shape to their most effective locations. He can create tailing, bat-missing action on his changeup, his curveball has plus depth and bite, and his slider has enough movement to miss bats when it’s spotted. If he can hold the velocity I saw this spring into the middle of the season, then we’re talking about a Top 100 prospect. 4. Davis Wendzel, SS Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Baylor (TEX) Age 24.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 206 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/55 55/55 30/50 40/40 35/45 60 Wendzel was a draft-eligible sophomore in 2018 and had a strong offensive season, but he wasn’t drafted high enough to sign (there were body and defense-related concerns he has since worked to remedy) and had to swim upstream against draft models as a junior because he was over 22 on draft day. He also dealt with a thumb injury late during his college career that shelved him for some of his first pro summer. By the late summer and during instructs, Wendzel was not only fully healthy but clearly in peak physical condition, and he and his tawny Amish beard and mullet were instrumental in the Rangers AZL title run. Wendzel’s hands and actions might enable him to a play a passable shift-aided middle infield spot if he remains as agile as he looked late last year, which again is much different than just a few years ago when he was built more softly and playing some first base and left field. So far in 2021, he’s played shortstop and third base. There are some Justin Turner similarities aside from the hair and beard, as Wendzel’s swing is a carbon copy of Turner’s. It enables him to get the barrel on inside pitches pretty consistently. This is a well-rounded player with a shot to play every day on the left side of the infield. 5. Steele Walker, CF Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Oklahoma (CWS) Age 24.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 60/60 30/60 55/55 40/45 45 Acquired from the White Sox for Nomar Mazara, Walker spent 2019 in A-ball as a 22- and 23-year-old and slashed .284/.361/.451 in his first full pro season against pitching that was a little bit better than what he saw in the Big 12. He’s a muscular, 5-foot-11 stick of dynamite with plus raw power that I had previously doubted he would get to in games (from a home run production standpoint, anyway) because of how the swing works. He could turn on balls in, but anything away from the short-levered Walker really limited his quality of contact. Now his swing is different — he’s opened up his stance. I saw him hit an oppo bomb on a pitch out away from him this spring and a couple of scouts who I really trust loved their extended look at him early this year. Walker’s cut has big lift through the zone even though it’s a pretty compact swing. He hits the ball hard (43% of his balls in play in 2019 were hit over 95 mph according to a source) and I like his chances of making a viable amount of contact more now than I did with the old swing. There’s 30-homer power here and a chance Walker blows up now that he has the opportunity to play at an age-appropriate level. 45 FV Prospects 6. Dane Dunning, SP Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Florida (WAS) Age 26.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 40/40 55/55 40/40 50/55 40/45 60/60 90-93 / 94 Dunning was an intriguing projection arm in high school who flashed average stuff and had a good blend of size and athleticism. He took a big step forward during his freshman year at Florida, though the rest of the talent on that pitching staff pushed him to a bullpen/midweek/spot starting role for much of his career. The industry still valued him in the first round by the time he was a junior, and Washington selected him 29th overall in 2016, before trading him that winter for eventual title contributor Adam Eaton. Dunning had a very strong 2017, when his prospect value hit its pinnacle; he was viewed as a near-ready No. 4 starter and a core part of Chicago’s rebuild. Then he missed the second half of 2018 with an elbow strain and tore his UCL during 2019 spring training, which required surgery. The pandemic complicated his rehab and Dunning threw side sessions during the shutdown. He quickly became a reliable rotation piece and made a handful of starts for the playoff-bound White Sox before they included him as part of the return package for Lance Lynn. Dunning’s velocity is down a tick in 2021 with the Rangers but he’s able to command his low-90s sinker at the bottom of the zone. He most often supports that with a low-80s, two-planed slider, a pitch aided by some of the funk in Dunning’s delivery. He’s a kitchen sink righty with command of a sinker, slider, changeup, cutter, and a rare curveball. His command needs to be plus for Dunning to be effective since his raw stuff is shy of big league average, but it has been for a long time now. He’s a slam dunk No. 4/5 starter. 7. Jonah Heim, C Drafted: 4th Round, 2013 from Amherst HS (NY) (BAL) Age 25.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/50 50/50 30/30 30/30 55/55 60 Catching inventory is limited around baseball, and Heim has several underlying characteristics that might indicate he’s going to break late and become a viable everyday backstop. He has hopped around a bit: a 2013 fourth-round high school draftee from the Buffalo area, he was eventually traded from Baltimore to Tampa Bay for Steve Pearce, then to Oakland as the PTBNL for Joey Wendle, then to Texas as the main return for Elvis Andrus. From 2017 to ’19, Heim posted batting lines above the minor league average of the level at which he was playing. This is a 6-foot-4, switch-hitting catcher from a cold-weather climate, and those traits are generally considered markers for late-career development, though that is anecdotal. He’s currently splitting time with Jose Trevino, but I think Heim will eventually be a clear upgrade to Trevino on offense, and a more consistent offensive performer than Sam Huff. David García, the other catcher on Texas’ 40-man, is only 21 and still too green to factor into the big league picture at all right now. Heim receives from a traditional squat, with his glove hand working from the ground up. He’s a great framer and will show you average pop times on trials when he’s catching the ball to his glove side, and below average times when he has to reach across his body. He’s a long-term defensive fit back there and has more offensive skill than is typical at the position. 8. Yerry Rodriguez, SP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TEX) Age 23.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 198 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/55 50/55 45/50 92-96 / 98 Rodriguez was a 50 FV prospect last year despite missing the back half of 2019 with an elbow injury, the latest in a long line of Rangers pitching prospects to have one. Rodriguez amassed 167 K and 29 BB over the 136.2 innings he had thrown in two seasons leading up to that point, and did so by relying heavily on his ability to locate a quality fastball and changeup. In the fall of 2020, back on a mound and competing in a live setting for the first time in over a year, Rodriguez was once again up to 98, and sat anywhere from 92-98 during his instructs/intrasquad outings. That was enough for Texas to add him to their 40-man roster during the offseason. His arm action is still quite long even though Rodriguez is a short-armed guy, and his arm slot presents an almost sidearm look but without the same cross-bodied delivery typical of side-armers. Its approach angle and spin (both axis and rate) give it an odd combination of ride and tail that makes it pretty tough to hit, and it’s weaponized by Rodriguez’s east/west command. When Yerry was really carving up hitters in the low minors, before he first had a long injury layoff, his changeup had more arm-side movement and bat-missing tumble than when I saw him during the spring of 2021. Yerry’s arm angle makes it really hard for him to get on top of his breaking ball and I don’t love its angle, but it does move enough to miss bats and his glove-side command of it is quite good. It needs to be, because this type of breaking ball is the kind that gets crushed when it’s left in the middle of the zone. I’d really like to see a second breaking ball here, or at least a means of creating better back foot angle against lefties, though it’s a little harder to envision for a guy of this arm slot. He needs something he can work inside on lefties, either a cutter or a more traditional breaking ball with better back foot angle. Maybe that can be found by altering Rodriguez’s spot on the rubber depending on the matchup. I’ve cooled on him a bit but think Yerry is a likely backend rotation piece or could thrive in a Ryan Yarbrough style bulk relief role. 9. Hans Crouse, SIRP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Dana Hills HS (CA) (TEX) Age 22.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 60/60 45/50 40/40 94-97 / 98 The mercurial Crouse pitched through a bone spur in 2019 and still sat 92-95, about a tick below where he sat for me coming off biceps tendinitis earlier that spring, and he’s been in the 92-97 range since then. It’s the recent injury history paired with the industry’s mechanical xenophobia that fuels the relief projection here, not Crouse’s command or repertoire depth. His changeup now comfortably projects to average, while his fastball/breaking ball combination has been excellent since he was a high school underclassman. And even amid his injuries, Crouse has attacked hitters in games. On occasion, he incorporates all kinds of crafty veteran wrinkles into his delivery’s cadence. An extra shoulder wiggle, a Travoltaian gyration of the hips, the occasional quick-pitch — all sorts of things designed to take hitters by surprise. Lefties get a good look at his fastball because of Crouse’s low slot, and the velo he would theoretically gain out of the bullpen (he was up to 102 out of the bullpen in a 2017 All-Star Game) would give him the margin for error he needs to not be crushed by them. I think he’s a late-inning bullpen arm, for which his personality seems well-suited. 10. Sam Huff, C Drafted: 7th Round, 2016 from Arcadia HS (AZ) (TEX) Age 23.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 70/70 50/55 20/20 45/50 60 Huff has goofy all-fields power and will hit some titanic blasts to the opposite field. He’s also become a solid defender despite his size. At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, Huff is the biggest catcher in baseball. He receives on one knee with the bases empty but moves to a traditional crouch with two strikes and with runners on. His lateral quickness and footwork on throws to second weren’t really tested during his 2020 debut, but Huff is good at blocking balls right in front of him and has enough raw arm strength to catch. While a pair of early-2021 lower half injuries (first a hamstring strain, then knee surgery to “remove loose bodies”) may give one pause when viewed in concert with his size, Huff feels like a pretty sure bet to stay at the position. Instead, questions now surround his ability to make contact. Huff has K’d at a 30% career rate. He’s a long-levered free swinger, and struggles to lay off well-placed sliders. The bar for offense at catcher is so low that I think Huff will be able to approach or clear it solely by doing huge damage on the mistakes he sees, but his statistical track record is an awful lot like Jorge Alfaro‘s, an indication that Huff’s ability to do that will vacillate wildly. I expect he’ll eventually be in a timeshare with Heim that includes starts at 1B/DH and pinch hit opportunities. 11. Leody Taveras, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TEX) Age 22.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 50/50 30/35 70/70 70/70 60 I foolishly ascribed meaning to Taveras’ 2020 statline and moved him into the back of the 50 FV tier ahead of the Top 100’s publication. Then he flopped really hard to start 2021. His speed and center field defense are both excellent, which creates a floor of sorts, but scout opinions regarding how much Taveras will hit have varied. Though young for every level he’s been at, Taveras hasn’t performed on paper since his AZL campaign. Most pointed to this as sufficient evidence of his mediocrity, while others thought he looked bored and would flip a switch in the big leagues. I think Leody has above-average feel for contact as a left-handed hitter and that his right-handed swing is almost unusable, but his decent-looking 2020 splits reflect the opposite of that, a signal that it was a small sample mirage, a signal I ignored during the offseason. He has some table-setting qualities and has produced at about a 95 wRC+ clip throughout his pro career, which is on par with Harrison Bader and Jackie Bradley Jr., who have a power-over-hit version of this sort of defense-driven profile. And so I have a fourth outfielder grade on Taveras. 40+ FV Prospects 12. Maximo Acosta, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (TEX) Age 18.6 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 40/50 20/45 50/45 40/50 50 There’s no change here as Acosta was a late arrival to Arizona and only got under way in Extended about a week before publication. I saw his first game; he looked a little more trim but otherwise his usual self: Acosta had an impressive instructs run from a bat-to-ball standpoint and generated stronger reports among pro scouts who saw him there than the lukewarm ones amateur scouts filed from their workout looks. Acosta’s tools aren’t showcase-friendly. He has uncommon barrel control and his swing is not only suited for him to make contact at the top of the strike zone, it’s also where he does most of his damage. He’s vulnerable down and away, where he ends up cutting at balls on a decline and driving them into the ground, but lower-level pitching won’t be able to exploit that consistently. For someone still shy of 19, Acosta is pretty stocky and strong. If his build stays this way, it improves his chances of staying on the middle infield but also caps his raw power close to average. Regardless of which marginal side of average his power ends up settling on, the contact is what’s going to drive Acosta’s prospectdom, and based on fall looks, that aspect could be special. 13. Evan Carter, CF Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Elizabethton HS (TN) (TEX) Age 18.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 40/45 20/30 60/60 45/55 50 Carter was arguably my single most important minor league spring evaluation since he was drafted almost out of nowhere. At a time when everyone has a camera in their pocket and the internet exists, it’s almost impossible for an early-round prospect to be hidden in a true sense. The 2020 shutdown contributed to Carter’s obfuscation (and might again for some 2021 prospects). Many other teams knew of Carter, but did not know his prospectdom in a thorough sense; some thought he was unsignable, others were entirely unaware of him as I was. The Rangers took him 50th overall and he signed for $1.25 million. His 2020 instructs and ’21 minor league spring look were both impressive, especially from a breaking ball recognition standpoint. For a hitter who barely saw premium high school pitching as an amateur, his ability to pick out pro-quality breaking balls and lay off of them is remarkable. Pitch recognition and bat control are Carter’s two carrying traits right now. He makes great swing decisions and rarely whiffs when he decides to swing. But his bat path, explosiveness, and power are all current issues driving down his quality of contact. Carter has a sweepy bat path that generates a lot of softer groundball contact. He’s most able to do damage when he turns his wrists over to catch fastballs toward the north end of the strike zone, but more often he’s peppering the infield grass. Will relevant power come? I’m skeptical. Carter has a rectangular 6-foot-4 frame with a fair bit of surface-level projection if you just look at his measurables, but he’s built really narrowly, closer to Triston McKenzie from a body comp standpoint than to the other high-profile prep outfielders from the 2020 draft. However, this was once also true of Cody Bellinger, though Carter doesn’t have the twitch and explosion of baby Bellinger, who looked like a newborn giraffe at Area Codes. The avenues to power involve more significant physical growth than I expect and/or an impactful swing re-work. I don’t think it’s especially likely that both of those occur, so I don’t think it’s likely Carter is some sort of future superstar. Instead he looks like a table-setting center fielder. He’s a plus runner underway and has good defensive instincts, while his approach, ability to put balls in play, and speed are all catalytic qualities that fit at the top of a lineup. 14. Owen White, SP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Carson HS (NC) (TEX) Age 21.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 199 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 55/60 45/55 30/50 92-95 / 96 White made his first career start in affiliated ball nearly three years after he was drafted, then promptly went on the IL with a fractured hand. He was handled with kid gloves the summer after he was drafted, blew out the next year, had 2020 wiped away by the pandemic, then made a start and broke his hand. The good news is that it isn’t a scary arm injury and instead was a freak thing. White has looked fantastic when healthy, sitting 93-95, locating a consistently above-average curveball, and displaying nascent feel for a mid-80s changeup during my 2018 instructs look and again during 2021 spring training. He has a big, projectable frame, is an above-average on-mound athlete, and his arm action is loose and mechanically efficient. While the shutdown impacted Texas’ oversight of his rehab, White’s big league timeline was less affected by the shutdown than most minor leaguers’ since he was always going to spend most of the year rehabbing. When healthy, he had several significant components already in place (velocity, fastball movement, breaking ball quality) and White’s other traits (changeup proclivity, athleticism, and feel for location) indicate he’s poised to grow and develop into a well-rounded arm. He’s a mid-rotation pitching prospect despite the lack of on-paper track record and I felt comfortable moving White back into the 45s after seeing where his velo was this spring. The way his workload limits coming off of so much missed time interact with his 40-man timeline and early-career role arguably makes this too aggressive. 15. Justin Slaten, MIRP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from New Mexico (TEX) Age 23.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 222 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 60/70 45/50 35/45 92-96 / 97 Slaten signed for about $200,000 under slot in the third round, then proceeded to light up radar guns in the 2019 Northwest League and look like a steal almost immediately. He was sitting 92-97 there and flashed a plus, two-plane, sweeping breaking ball and tailing changeup. That slider has solidified as a plus offering if not better, and is so gross that John Waters wants to make a movie about it. Like many other arms in this system, Slaten has a violent delivery that creates injury concern and relief risk, but he could work in high leverage situations if he ends up there since he’d likely enjoy a velo spike in shorter outings. His A-ball assignment was a little tepid to start 2021 but he’s likely to wrap the year at Double-A. 16. Ronny Henriquez, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TEX) Age 20.9 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 40/45 50/60 35/55 93-96 / 97 There are always a few little toy cannon hurlers with light speed arm actions floating around and Henriquez, who spent 2018 in the DSL then skipped several levels and pitched well in full-season ball in 2019, is one of them. Despite measuring maybe — maybe — 5-foot-10 (maybe), his arm generates mid-90s velocity with grace and ease, and he goes right after hitters at the letters. He was 94-96 for me this spring. His upper-80s split/change has sinking, fading action and is aided by Henriquez’s consistent arm speed. He’ll double and triple up on the changeup. While his low-80s slurve is not of the same quality from a pure stuff standpoint, it plays fine when it’s located and I think a plus on-mound athlete like Henriquez projects for at least above-average command. I don’t think his size is a barrier to starting. He’s a fantastic athlete, his delivery is well-balanced and controlled, and one of the variables in the formula for torque (essentially, stress on the elbow) is lever length, which causes me to question conventional wisdom that bigger pitchers are more durable. If Henriquez’s breaking ball quality and/or consistency improves, then he’s a candidate to move into the top 100. If it doesn’t, then he’s still a likely impact member of a staff who I’d slot in a multi-inning relief role. 17. Marcus Smith, CF Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Pembroke Hill HS (MO) (OAK) Age 20.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 35/40 30/40 70/70 40/55 55 Smith had a great showing at 2018 Area Codes, where he looked like a slash-and-dash style hitter with sufficient speed and feel for contact to make that style of play work. He had a tweener skillset on a stocky, physical-looking frame, which perhaps meant he was less projectable. He quickly adjusted to pro pitching and had a great first summer with Oakland, then was traded to Texas as part of the return for Mike Minor. His lower half is very stiff and upright throughout his swing, and he struggles to get underneath some pitches because of it. He’s also had a litany of hamstring issues since signing. But Smith’s hands were working differently during 2021 spring training and he was better able to turn on inside pitches and pull the ball with authority than the last time I saw him. Especially now that there might suddenly be relevant game power here, there’s a path to an everyday role so long as Smith’s lower body issues don’t disrupt his ability to play center field and his new style of hitting retains most of his previous ability to make contact. 18. Bayron Lora, LF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (TEX) Age 18.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 60/70 25/60 40/30 40/50 45 There’s no change to Lora’s report as he was in a severe car accident in March and has yet to report to camp: Lora is a traditional corner outfield power bat with big present raw power and a somewhat mature build. There are some long-term questions about that build because Lora is so huge for a prospect his age and reports about his conditioning while he was an amateur were mixed, but he looked svelte during the fall of 2019, and his relative physical maturity also gives him a better chance of moving quickly through the minors. He often has clumsy in-the-box footwork but deft hitting hands. Last fall, he took several ugly-looking, unbalanced swings but still found a way to get the barrel there, and even when he miss-hits balls they’re still put in play hard because of how strong Lora is. His future depends entirely on his hit tool as it’s pretty clear the power to hit in the middle of an order is going to develop. 19. A.J. Alexy, SIRP Video Drafted: 11th Round, 2016 from Twin Valley HS (PA) (LAD) Age 23.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/60 40/45 30/35 93-97 / 99 Alexy was a piece of the Yu Darvish trade return from the Dodgers. He’s long had premium arm strength and a plus-flashing breaking ball, while strike-throwing and mechanical violence have fueled relief projection. He seems to be well past a 2019 lat strain and was sitting 96-98 when I saw him this spring. Alexy has undergone a mechanical change similar to the one Lucas Giolito made, and he now has a much shorter arm action. His fastball control was still scattershot in my look, though. The fastball, which plays at the top of the zone, pairs nicely with Alexy’s plus-flashing 76-79 mph curveball, and his changeup is a usable third pitch. He’s currently being deployed in two- and three-inning stints either as a starter or long reliever, and he projects to play that role in the big leagues. 20. Dustin Harris, 1B Drafted: 11th Round, 2019 from St. Petersburg JC (FL) (OAK) Age 21.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding 35/55 60/60 30/45 50/50 30/45 Another of the prospects who came over from Oakland in the trade for Mike Minor, Harris is a swing tweak away from breaking out and may have already made one. Harris shows plus raw power during BP and routinely puts balls out to dead center field. He’s a very well-built young man who might yet grow into more raw power as he enters his mid-20s. He also has precocious barrel control and his swing is pretty compact for a hitter with a frame as big as his. But he has struggled to lift the ball and hit for in-game power even though he has big raw, so on paper he looks like a first baseman without anything close to prototypical thump. Both the A’s and Rangers have tried Harris at third base but I think the chances he even moonlights there are pretty remote. Instead, I think he’s got a better chance of tapping into the hidden power and becoming an everyday first base prospect. 21. Jonathan Ornelas, SS Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Kellis HS (AZ) (TEX) Age 21.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 45/50 30/40 55/50 45/55 55 The Rangers wasted no time in starting to move Ornelas all over the field — shortstop, second base, third base, left field, and now some center field in 2021 — cementing the notion that his future rests in a valuable super utility role. He hit pretty well in 2019 despite skipping the Northwest League and heading right to full season ball as an 18-year-old, slashing .257/.333/.373 with a bunch of doubles. I’m still not entirely keen on Johnny O’s bat path, which I think will make it hard for him to hit for everyday power if left unaltered, but he’s an excellent rotational athlete who I think will find ways to hit the ball hard all over the field, while he plays several different positions. He needs to be more selective to realize that outcome. 22. Ricky Vanasco, MIRP Drafted: 15th Round, 2017 from Williston HS (FL) (TEX) Age 22.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops 55/60 60/70 35/40 92-96 / 98 Vanasco had a breakout in 2019 in the Northwest League, striking out 59 hitters in 39 innings. He was 90-92 during 2018 Fall Instructional League, then leapt into the 92-96 range in 2019. He’d touch as high as 98, and the pitch has plus-plus carry. The violent nature of Vanasco’s delivery led to a lot of eyeball relief projections, but pitch quality gives him high-leverage bullpen potential if that’s the case (and I think it will be). Tommy John surgery in September of 2020 put Vanasco on the shelf for all of 2021, and he won’t throw until the fall. A healthy Vanasco belongs close to Hans Crouse on the list. 23. Dane Acker, SP Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Oklahoma (OAK) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 189 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 45/50 45/50 40/45 30/45 92-97 / 99 I described Acker as an “extra pitching prospect” in my Elvis Andrus trade analysis (he was sent from Oakland to Texas) but he’s quickly become much more than that. I had him peaking at 93 before the 2020 shutdown, but he was up to 99 on the backfields this spring and never sat below 94-97 for me or scouts I spoke with who saw him. This was a loose, athletic, somewhat projectable college pitcher who commanded four fringe pitches, but is now throwing much harder. He had an odd developmental track, going from Rice to San Jacinto to Oklahoma, then barely pitching for the Sooners before the pandemic. After two starts at Down East, he was shut down with an elbow strain and it sounds like he’s going to be out for a while. He appeared to be in the midst of a breakout, which has now at least been delayed. 24. Adolis García, CF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (STL) Age 28.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/30 60/60 55/55 70/70 55/55 70 Once upon a time, García, still rookie eligible at age 28, was a 50 FV prospect and my favorite of the many Cardinals outfielders from that era, including Randy Arozarena. Then he spent an extended period of time at the upper levels and his over-aggressive approach at the plate was exposed. Even though he hit more than 50 home runs combined in 2018 and ’19, and slugged about .560 during that span, García’s peripherals were so horrendous that he still managed to post batting lines below league average because he was only reaching base at a .290 clip, and everyone in the PCL was hitting for big power at that time. During that stretch, he was passed on the org depth chart by several players, including Tyler O’Neill, Arozarena, Oscar Mercado, and Lane Thomas, and fell into the “toolsy older lottery ticket” prospect bucket. The Cardinals eventually ran out of space and time and unceremoniously DFA’d Garcia, then traded him to Texas for cash. He spent 2020 at the alt site and got a three-game shot of espresso, then was foisted into the 2021 lineup and has been on a most epic heater. He already has 16 homers (he hit his 16th literally as I was typing this sentence on Wednesday), tied for the major league lead, and has come through in huge late-game moments. I do not expect it to continue because García’s approach is still terrifying. He’s near the bottom of the league in O-swing%, and he’s in the bottom 25 of qualified hitters by Contact and Swinging Strike%. He’s been beaten by velocity at the top of the zone and I think it’s only a matter of time before opposing pitchers adjust to him, though García’s 16th bomb was a 94 mph heater at the letters so maybe he’s the one who’s going to adjust. I don’t want to throw water on the situation because García is a lot of fun and part of me wants to be vindicated for stuffing this guy on the top 100 a couple of years ago, but we see shooting star performances like this every so often and García has several of the approach-related traits that indicate it will end and that he’ll be a streaky bench outfielder deep into his 30s. 25. Josh Sborz, SIRP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Virginia (LAD) Age 27.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops 60/60 60/60 50/50 50/50 92-95 / 97 It felt as though the Dodgers had moved on from Sborz because they had several other relievers like him around, except those other relievers had more option years left. Since dealing Sborz for Jhan Zambrano, components of Sborz’s delivery are now timed differently, and his delivery has more pace. He’s also added a curveball, and his fastball has more carry now than it did while he was with the Dodgers. Amid all these changes, Sborz is also throwing harder. He looked like a solid middle relief piece for the longest time but has clearly leveled up out of nowhere. 26. Avery Weems, MIRP Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Arizona (CHW) Age 24.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 55/60 45/50 30/40 92-94 / 96 Weems had an ERA over seven during his draft year at Arizona and the White Sox still popped him in the sixth round of the 2019 draft. He carved after that, striking out 74 hitters in 60 innings, and Weems did so while sitting 89-92. He showed much more velocity during 2020 instructs and was promptly traded to Texas as part of the Lance Lynn deal, then pitched in Puerto Rico over the winter. He now sits in the 92-94 range and has been up to 96. Weems’ breaking ball has good back foot angle against righties and he’ll backdoor it for strikes, though his overall feel for pitching is on the starter/reliever line. He can also create promising arm-side action on his changeup. I’ve seen him manipulate breaking ball shape but I’m unsure if there are two distinct pitches in there. Weems’ stuff is similar to a lot of the pitchers whose stuff has lateral action that works in bulk, middle-inning relief. 27. Demarcus Evans, SIRP Video Drafted: 25th Round, 2015 from Petal HS (MS) (TEX) Age 24.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 265 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Cutter Command Sits/Tops 70/70 45/45 30/40 30/40 92-95 / 97 Evans lives almost entirely off his fastball’s carry and angle, which punishes hitters at the top of the zone. I saw him sit 94–96 mph during the spring. He can also dump in an inconsistent 12-to-6 curveball, but his feel for burying it is still poor, and it hangs in the zone too often. In an attempt to find a more impactful second pitch, Evans has added a cutter. The outing I saw during the spring was his second or third time using it, and it was understandably of mixed quality. We’re still talking about a premium fastball here, though — one that plays in a similar fashion to James Karinchak’s and Nick Anderson’s heaters. But there’s just no second plus offering to pair with it. I think it’s more likely Evans ends up in a middle relief role early on, but he’s a high-leverage lock if a secondary pitch ever materializes. 40 FV Prospects 28. Yonny Hernandez, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (TEX) Age 23.1 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/60 30/30 20/20 60/60 50/55 50 Skilled and versatile, Hernandez is a likely big league role player whose abilities can impact a game in many situations. He’s tough to strike out and has reached base at a career .390 clip because he walks a lot and has an effective slash-and-dash offensive approach. He’s also an acrobatic multi-positional infielder. He will give a big league team a good at-bat off the bench and an upgrade on the bases, and he can competently spell or sub for any of your heavy-hitting, shift-enabled infielders later in games. Hernandez has the fourth-lowest swinging strike rate in the minor leagues since 2019. I considered putting him in the 40+ tier because of this, but his bat speed and quality of contact are so clearly below average that I think it’s unlikely he turns into more than a 1 WAR sort of role-player. He has that gritty, “winning player” vibe. 29. Tyler Phillips, SP Video Drafted: 16th Round, 2015 from Bishop Eustace HS (NJ) (TEX) Age 23.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/40 40/45 50/50 55/55 55/70 92-94 / 96 Phillips fills the zone with four pitches and projects as a groundball-getting fifth starter. He has a chance to outproduce this FV grade by eating whole sleeves of innings and generating WAR that way (he’s thrown 130 innings each of the last two years there’s been a minor league season), but other than his changeup, Phillips doesn’t have a weapon that misses bats. He left his last start before publication with elbow soreness. 30. Kyle Cody, SIRP Video Drafted: 6th Round, 2016 from Kentucky (TEX) Age 26.8 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 60/60 45/50 40/40 93-96 / 98 Cody had a rocky career at Kentucky, always tantalizing scouts with stuff but struggling with health and control. The Twins made him their 2015 second rounder, but he didn’t sign and fell to the sixth round as a 2016 senior. Texas simplified his delivery in 2017, which probably contributed to a breakout year. He seemed likely to spend most of 2018 at Double-A and perhaps reach the majors in 2019, but he had elbow issues during the spring and didn’t break camp with an affiliate. His Arizona rehab was successful enough for Cody to get on a mound in games for a bit, but he felt continued discomfort and needed Tommy John. The mid-summer timing of the surgery means he missed all of 2019 aside from some autumn bullpen sessions that weren’t widely known about, probably just in case Texas decided not to 40-man him and expose him to the Rule 5. He was 94-97 in the bullpen and added to the Rangers’ roster. After making his debut in 2020, Cody (still rookie eligible) has tweaked his release point in 2021, so it’s now a little higher. It has helped his slider movement be more consistent. He looks like a solid middle-relief piece, albeit one with an injury history. 31. Luisangel Acuña, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (TEX) Age 19.2 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/50 40/45 20/40 55/55 40/45 55 Sorry card collectors: Acuña looks like a surer fit at second and third base rather than shortstop, which puts considerable pressure on his bat if he’s to be anything more than a utility infielder with a famous brother. He takes big, whole-body swings that generate more power than you’d expect for someone his size, but it’s not impact power when you look at the entirety of baseball. His size doesn’t allow for a lot of raw power projection but his style of swinging — which includes a bold move forward and a gorgeous hand path similar to his brother’s, though without anywhere near that kind of explosion — might enable him to hit for some. Unless Acuña outgrows my raw power projection, it puts pressure on him to have a premium hit tool in order to be an impact regular, and I don’t see that happening. There are orgs who have a 50 on him, though, so the hype here isn’t totally artificial, I’m just not part of the chorus singing that tune. 32. David García, C Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (TEX) Age 21.3 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 201 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 40/45 30/40 30/30 45/55 55 García went to the Northwest League as a teenager and hit .277/.351/.435 while only catching 38 games as he was still a physically immature catcher and handled with care. He was so frail early on that he struggled to handle pro-quality stuff on the backfields when he first arrived in the States. But García has now thickened to the point that he appears better able to deal with the physical grind of catching. I’m not sure he’ll retain the viable power on contact he showed in 2019 once he’s subject to a full-season’s beating behind the plate, and until that’s proven, I’m inclined to project García as a high-probability backup who has a puncher’s chance to be more than that. 33. Mason Englert, SP Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Forney HS (TX) (TEX) Age 21.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 206 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 50/55 40/50 30/50 90-93 / 95 One of the high school pitchers from the Rangers’ 2018 draft who has missed extended time due to surgery, Englert is back and has comfortably reclaimed his pre-surgery fastball velocity, sitting in the low-90s and topping out at 95. His changeup flashes plus and he has a high-spin curveball that needs to tighten up, but its spin gives it the potential to be a third weapon for Englert. He’s got a better chance to outgrow this FV tier than the others starters here, but a fifth starter role is still the most likely outcome. 34. Sherten Apostel, 1B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Curacao (PIT) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 60/60 45/50 30/30 40/45 70 Apostel was pilfered from Pittsburgh as the PTBNL in the 2018 Keone Kela trade. I had been hopeful that, despite his size, Apostel would be able to stay at third base for a good chunk of his big league career, but he has gotten very big, very fast and now has a first base-only look. He has enough power to be an everyday first baseman but the strikeouts are going to be a problem when it comes to him totally tapping into that pop. Some of the K’s are because Apostel is patient and runs deep counts, but he has swinging strike issues, too. He strikes me as a pre-arb 1B/DH type now. 35. Yosy Galan, OF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2020 from Dominican Republic (TEX) Age 20.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 70/80 25/60 50/50 30/45 50 Galan signed in October of 2020 as a 19-year-old, but he’s already a backfield legend in Arizona. He hit a ball over the Rangers’ hitting facility beyond the left field wall, a shot that the on-site TrackMan estimated at about 500 feet. Galan has a god-like physique and when he swings his front foot opens up, which lets him clear his hips and pull the ball with gigantic power for his age. He made the other players in Extended look like children in their uniforms. Other than the present raw power and future raw projection, though, there’s not a lot about Galan that’s clear right now, and he’s behind the developmental curve because of how old he was when he signed. He’s a prospect of extreme variance. 36. Cole Ragans, SP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from North Florida Christian HS (FL) (TEX) Age 23.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 40/45 60/60 40/60 91-94 / 96 Ragans was 14 months removed from Tommy John surgery when his elbow barked at him again and he needed a second. His surgery came at a time that threatened most of his 2020 season, which later became moot. His pre-surgery fastball was often in the 88-91 range; upon his return, Ragans’ had spurts in the 92-94 range, below that later in outings. Ragans’ surgical pre-TJ fastball command has not returned, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch at an affiliate since 2017, so he might just be rusty. If that returns, then Ragans is a high-probability fifth starter or bulk reliever, as lefties with really good changeups and command tend to become at least that. 37. Ryan Garcia, SP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from UCLA (TEX) Age 23.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/40 50/55 45/45 40/45 30/50 91-93 / 94 Like a lot of UCLA pitchers, Garcia had four pitches of distinct shape — a fastball, slider, changeup, and occasional curve — all just shy of average, with the slider playing a little better because of Garcia’s command. Garcia has below average velocity that his TrackMan data indicates might play up because of his spin axis and approach angle. He’s not projectable in a traditional sense and is a fringe athlete. It’s possible his Tommy John rehab (he had surgery in March of 2020 and won’t pitch until instructs this fall) presents an opportunity to coax more velocity out of his small-ish frame but I think it’s more likely Garcia is just a fifth starter. 38. Tekoah Roby, SP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from Pine Forest HS (FL) (TEX) Age 19.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 40/45 45/55 25/50 90-92 / 94 Roby is a typical high school pitching prospect who signs for just shy of $1 million. He’s well-rounded but doesn’t possess whopping stuff or special athleticism or projection. Roby (who also goes by T.K.) has a medium frame. He was up to 94 the summer before his draft, then again during 2020 instructs, then back into the 91-92 area when I saw him this spring. He flashes an above-average changeup and a fringe curveball. He has a potential out pitch in the change plus lots of present 45/45 ingredients that could grow to average via Roby’s modest but present physical projection. 39. Jake Guenther, 1B Drafted: 7th Round, 2019 from TCU (TBR) Age 24.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/55 45/45 35/40 40/40 45/45 40 Guenther has great feel for contact. The expected stats I sourced from 2019 based on minor league TrackMan data put his expected batting average well over .300, he just does not slug like a typical first baseman. Guenther has remade his body and is much leaner than when he was in college, and it looks like the Rangers are going to see if they can slide him up the defensive spectrum so his lack of power isn’t so damning. He has a pretty good shot to be a 1 WAR role-playing bat as currently constituted and could play a more significant role if he ends up with a modicum of defensive versatility. He was acquired along with Nate Lowe in the Heriberto Hernandez trade. 40. Thomas Saggese, 2B Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from Carlsbad HS (CA) (TEX) Age 19.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 30/40 20/30 45/40 40/45 50 Saggese has a very old school baseball vibe about him. No batting gloves, a simple, contact-oriented swing, capable of making routine plays all over the infield. Industry interest is growing in high school hitters with advanced feel for contact, even if the rest of their profile is underwhelming. This describes Saggese, but hitting is the most important thing in baseball and he has great natural feel for it. He’ll need to develop strength to turn more of that contact into extra-bases. 41. Marc Church, SIRP Drafted: 18th Round, 2019 from North Atlanta HS (GA) (TEX) Age 20.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 60/60 50/55 35/55 94-96 / 97 A 2019 18th-rounder out of North Atlanta High School, Church had not played an affiliated game until 2021 and I didn’t know who he was until I saw him face Padres prospects in an Extended spring training game before he was sent out. He was 95–97 mph with carry and a tough-to-hit angle at the top of the zone, and consistently located an 85-87 mph slider to enticing but unhittable glove-side locations. He dominated over two frames, the second of which was one pitch away from being an immaculate inning. Even though the slider had an average amount of movement, its velocity and Church’s command of it mean it’s going to play better than that. There is a good bit of effort to his delivery and some violence about his head and shoulders, but the consistency of his pitch locations was remarkable. This single look wasn’t enough to have a starter/reliever opinion, but Church is a 20-year-old with two impact pitches and command, so he’s definitely a prospect. 42. Keithron Moss, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas (TEX) Age 19.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 50/55 30/50 60/60 40/50 50 It’s odd for a player’s profile to do a 180 before he turns 20, but Moss has gone from a speedy, up-the-middle amateur with a Lilliputian build to a positionless, switch-hitting thumper in just a couple of years. The gap power Moss currently generates from both sides of the plate is surprising considering how physically overmatched he was when he first came stateside for 2018 instructs. Since then he’s traded contact for power and looks like a strikeouts/walks/power prospect on paper. He pairs an athletic leg kick with very simple hitting hands that he simply guides toward the ball, turning his wrists over through contact and whacking low-lying contact to all fields. Moss can still run, but his infield hands are not good. Optimistic scouts have him eventually passing at second base, while I have him projected to the outfield. 43. Alex Speas, SIRP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from McEachern HS (GA) (TEX) Age 23.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops 70/70 70/70 20/30 95-97 / 99 When Speas returned from Tommy John rehab in 2019, he was 95-99 in his first outing back, then was up to 102 in the next one before being shut down because the Rangers thought he was throwing too hard. It seemed plausible that if healthy during a normal 2020, he’d have mowed through several levels of the minors and earned a 40-man spot. Instead he had no real opportunity to do so and was passed over in the Rule 5. Up until he had yet another injury this spring, he was back in the upper-90s, 96-98 and touching 99 during my in-person looks. It took him a while to find feel for his slider (and just to throw strikes in general), but once he did that pitch was a 70-grade offering in the 85-87 mph range. Speas’ delivery is really rough and he has a spotty health track record. He’ll come up and dominate for spurts but is volatile due to command and injury issues. 44. Cole Uvila, SIRP Drafted: 40th Round, 2018 from Georgia Gwinnett College (TEX) Age 27.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 206 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 60/60 55/55 30/40 91-94 / 96 It’s rare for a 40th rounder to have seemingly imminent big league relevance at all, let alone just about a year after they were drafted, but here’s Uvila, whose funky, three-pitch mix, headlined by a curveball with elite spin and Devin Williams-style changeup, should at least enable him to be a valuable middle reliever. 45. Nic Laio, SIRP Drafted: 20th Round, 2018 from Western Michigan (TEX) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 50/60 35/45 45/50 93-94 / 95 Laio was a college starter at Western Michigan but he’s moved to the bullpen and is throwing much harder now. He’s gone from the 87-89 range in college to 93-95 now. He has a weird, low release point that helps create arm-side run on the fastball and sharp, late movement on his 80-82 mph slider, which he commands better than his fastball. If his changeup continues to develop, then maybe he’ll be able to start, but the weird look to the delivery and the fact that the velo coincided with a move to the bullpen makes me want to leave him there. 35+ FV Prospects 46. Jeferson Tineo, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (TEX) Age 17.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 145 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 20/40 20/30 60/60 50/60 55 Tineo wasn’t the Rangers’ biggest bonus baby from the 2021 class but he is my favorite. An ultra-twitchy, switch-hitting shortstop, Tineo shows uncommon barrel feel for such a small, skinny kid. He tracks pitches, works to all fields, runs well, and is a super slick defender with plus hands and actions, and enough arm to stay on the left side. He’s a great, long-term developmental shortstop prospect who is perhaps unlikely to have any kind of power due to his frame. I think the contact skills have a chance to carry him anyway. 47. Cody Freeman, C Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from Etiwanda HS (CA) (TEX) Age 20.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/50 35/40 20/30 40/30 20/45 50 Like his brother, Tyler, Freeman was a compact Cali high school middle infielder whose best, and maybe only, standout tool was his feel to hit. After just one pro season (2019), Freeman has begun a move from second base to catcher, and he’s already thickened up to deal with the rigors of that position. If he can play the position and make an above-average amount of contact, then he’ll have a 40-man spot eventually. 48. Daniel Robert, SIRP Drafted: 21th Round, 2018 from Auburn (TEX) Age 26.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops 50/50 70/70 30/45 45/45 94-95 / 96 Robert is pushing 27 and is still only in High-A as of publication, but he’s a converted outfielder who is still fairly new to pitching and already has a plus slider, one of the best ones in the whole org. He struck out 50 hitters in 35 innings in 2019 even though he only sat 89-93 that year, but this spring he’s been parked closer to 96. He’s also trying to develop a splitter. I like Robert as a late-breaking sleeper relief prospect. 49. Chris Seise, SS Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from West Orange HS (FL) (TEX) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/30 70/70 40/50 50/50 45/50 60 Seise remains intoxicating from a size and power standpoint. He fills out a uniform as well as Foscue, Galan, and just about any big leaguer you can think of. He looked capable at shortstop again this spring and hit several spring home runs to all fields. Seise maintained his power/defense foundation amid several seasons of relative inactivity. His last three seasons have ended due to shoulder surgeries (right rotator cuff in 2018, left labrum in ’19) and a global pandemic, yet he arrived to 2021 camp in incredible shape. It made his May 2021 ACL tear all the more cruel. Seise was probably going to strike out in excess of 30% of the time going forward and was a volatile prospect because of that, but he’s also an electric talent in other ways. The injuries and strikeouts combine to make him almost unacquirable at this moment. 50. Jake Latz, SP Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from Kent State (TEX) Age 25.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 55/55 40/45 45/50 89-93 / 94 Latz has had a litany of injuries and ended up getting stem cell therapy late in 2019 to try to avoid surgery. He sits in the low-90s but commands it well enough that it plays, he can really spin a breaking ball, and his changeup is usable. If healthy, he’s a viable spot-starter. 51. Fernery Ozuna, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 25.6 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 45/50 45/50 40/40 94-97 / 100 Once a little infielder in the D-backs system, Ozuna was released and moved to the mound on his own. He was sitting in the mid-90s immediately, was signed by the Rangers, and pitched just 12 innings in the 2018 DSL before he blew out and needed TJ, the second of his career. Back in 2021, Ozuna is once again showing impact velocity. He was 94-97 when I saw him this spring and has a really athletic drop-and-drive delivery. His power changeup will come in at about 90 mph and his slider, which is typically a 45-grade pitch but flashes better, is also hard. Conversion arms tend to move quickly if things work out. Ozuna has a middle relief look. 52. Kenen Irizarry, 2B Drafted: 13th Round, 2018 from Quiles HS (PR) (TEX) Age 21.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 40/40 30/35 45/45 40/45 40 Irizarry is a compact, short-levered second baseman whose stroke is so short that he’s capable of catching fastballs at the top of the zone. He has just enough pull pop to threaten the right field fence when he does. I think Irizarry has a chance to be a role-playing infielder purely based on his ability to get around on velocity. 53. Anderson Tejeda, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TEX) Age 23.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/20 60/60 35/45 60/60 50/50 60 I’ve given up on Tejeda’s chances of hitting enough to play any kind of long-term big league role. He’s a defensive fit at shortstop because of his athleticism and arm strength, and he has ultra-rare power for someone capable of playing that position, but I’d rather have someone without power who can actually put the ball in play (like Yonny Hernandez). Tejeda is an up/down injury replacement and potential change of scenery candidate. 54. Dylan MacLean, SP Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Central Catholic HS (OR) (TEX) Age 18.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 30/50 45/55 30/45 25/50 88-90 / 91 A really smooth, athletic, projectable high school lefty from Oregon whose stuff has coveted vertical action, MacLean’s fastball has gone from being in the low-80s as a high school underclassman, to the mid-80s as his draft year approached, to the 88-91 range now. It’s likely he’ll continue to throw harder as he matures based on his frame and athleticism. His curveball is still a loopy offering in the low-70s, and that also needs to get firmer if it’s going to play. He’s a developmental project with breaking ball feel. 55. Bubba Thompson, CF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from McGill-Toolin HS (AL) (TEX) Age 23.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 50/55 30/45 60/60 45/50 45 It’s possible the reps he’s lost due to injury are at least partially to blame for his struggles (Thompson lost chunks of time to the pandemic, a fractured hamate, and recovery from a wall collision), but the gap between where Thompson’s hit tool is right now and where it needs to be for his tools to play is pretty vast. He got off to a hot start at Double-A in 2021, but the visual evaluation of his bat-to-ball skills is still poor. He can really fly, he has power, and is a tough, hard-working kid who plays like he loves baseball, the sort of player who I’d like to succeed but fear will not because of the bat. 56. Yohel Pozo, C Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (TEX) Age 24.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/55 50/50 30/30 20/20 40/40 45 Pozo has some off-field warts because of a hazing incident he participated in early in his career, but on talent, he’s a backup catching prospect with a compact swing. His peripherals are Astudillo-esque. 57. Eli White, 2B Video Drafted: 11th Round, 2016 from Clemson (TEX) Age 26.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/55 45/45 30/35 60/60 50/50 50 I still have White projected as a low-end multi-positional bench piece, and he has three option years remaining. That roster flexibility combined with his fundamental competence gives him trade value. He once saw time all over the diamond but has more recently been at second base and all three outfield spots. 58. Pedro Gonzalez, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (COL) Age 23.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/30 60/60 40/50 55/50 45/50 55 Gonzalez was once a rangy shortstop prospect with Colorado who was traded to Texas for Jonathan Lucroy back in 2017. He kept growing and eventually had to move to the outfield, where after some promising seasons his feel for contact was exposed. Gonzalez’s swing-and-miss issues stem from his lever length, and the industry sees it as enough of a problem that it has passed him over during the last couple of Rule 5 drafts. He hit 23 homers and stole 14 bases at Low-A in 2019, and I’m still betting on his tools and frame to some degree, the same as Seise and Thompson except in an outfield corner rather than up the middle. 59. Scott Engler, SIRP Drafted: 16th Round, 2016 from Cowley CC (KS) (TEX) Age 24.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Splitter Command Sits/Tops 45/45 60/60 40/40 93-94 / 95 Engler worked in the 93-95 range for me this spring and he has a righteous splitter that sometimes has so much arc as it falls that I needed the high speed camera to make sure some of them weren’t curveballs. His splitter spin rates sometimes fall well below 1000 rpm; it’s a weird, plus pitch. I think he has up/down relief potential. 60. Zion Bannister, CF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Bahamas (TEX) Age 19.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 187 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 45/55 20/45 60/60 30/50 45 Bannister is a sushi raw athletic marvel who needs as many reps as the Rangers can give him to polish his feel to hit. His route to pro ball was unique. Bannister was born in the Bahamas and grew up there, then moved to Maryland and played at West Nottingham High School until 2017 when he moved to the Dominican Republic to train, before going back to the Bahamas during the summer of 2018. I’ve only ever seen him swing right-handed, including against righty pitchers, so I think his roster status as a switch-hitter is now obsolete. He’s a physically gifted developmental project. 61. Hever Bueno, SIRP Drafted: 9th Round, 2016 from Arizona State (TEX) Age 26.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 60/60 50/55 30/35 92-97 / 99 Bueno (an 80-grade pitching name) was slated to be ASU’s Friday night starter as a junior when the injury bug bit; he eventually needed TJ. His velo is way up since returning but a bird’s eye view of the profile is a wild, injury-riddled, 24-year-old reliever in A-ball. 62. Kelvin Bautista, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TEX) Age 21.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops 60/60 50/55 20/30 94-97 / 98 I stood next to Bautista near the Rangers backfield bullpens before he threw this spring and he’s about the size of Darren Sproles. But he has incredible arm speed and came out sitting 94-96 and touched some 7’s and 8’s that day, and in the following weeks when I saw him again. He’ll flash a plus breaking ball, but it’s inconsistent, as is Bautista’s overall command. He has a long arm action and brings it from a low, three-quarters slot that screams relief. He’s rather rough around the edges but has big lefty stuff. 63. Kelvin Gonzalez, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (KCR) Age 23.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/55 50/50 40/40 94-96 / 98 Gonzalez was acquired from Kansas City for international pool space back in 2018. He’s a power bullpen arm with a mid-90s fastball and two quality secondaries that both have similar downward action. I was told he won’t pitch this year due to Tommy John, but I don’t know the exact date of the surgery. 64. Curtis Terry, 1B Drafted: 13th Round, 2015 from Archer HS (GA) (TEX) Age 24.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 260 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/50 50/50 40/45 20/20 35/40 40 There are three (likely) first base-only hitters in the upper levels of this system, each of whom has a red flag. Shetern Apostel strikes out a lot. Jake Guenther doesn’t have big power. Curtis Terry, meanwhile, has some power and solid feel for contact, but neither of those tools are plus, and he’s a bit of a free swinger. He also has one of the more consistent and impressive hitting track records in all the minor leagues, and his lowest wRC+ at any level at which he’s played at least 60 games in a season is 115. As I mentioned, we’re not talking about a Chris Gittens type of thumper here, as Terry’s physical tools are more modest than that. If he has a path to a more substantial role than I have projected here (basically I think he’ll be squeezed out and end up playing in Asia), it’s via his excellent breaking ball recognition. 65. Diosbel Arias, 3B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Cuba (TEX) Age 24.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 45/45 30/40 50/50 50/55 55 2020 was going to be a big year for Arias, who likely would have gone to Double-A and either earned a 40-man spot or not based on his offensive performance, which to this point in his career has been strong. I like him as a contact-oriented infield bench piece who plays all four spots, but he’s slowed down a little bit and now fits best as a 3B/1B and shift-enabled second baseman. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Dudes Who Hit Carl Chester, OF Blaine Crim, 1B Ryan Dorow, INF Jax Biggers, LF This one is self-explanatory. All of these guys have performed fairly well throughout their pro careers to this point, but they have very high offensive bars to clear at first base or in the outfield corners. Curtis Terry was in this pod last year. Chester was the PTBNL from Tampa in the Heriberto deal. Older Relief Types John King, LHP Cody Bradford, LHP Joe Gatto, RHP Nick Snyder, RHP Jacob Lemoine, RHP King has a plus changeup and sits 90-94 from the left side. He’s had a TJ. You could easily stick him in the 35+ tier since he’s in the bigs right now. Bradford is a recent draft pick out of Baylor. He has below average stuff but good command. I like him in a multi-inning role, and maybe the velo will pick up that way. Gatto was a nice offseason story. He remade himself and got a big league deal out of it. His low-90s heater does have carry and his curveball has depth, but he remains a 20-grade control guy. Snyder has the best arm action in the org and sits 93-96 but I didn’t see a consistent secondary offering, and consider him a one-pitch guy; Lemoine, too. Younger Sleepers Yeison Morrobel, OF Danyer Cuevas, SS Destin Dotson, LHP Jose Acosta, 2B Frainyer Chavez, SS Morrobel just got $1.8 million so he’s not exactly a sleeper. He’s a projectable lefty-hitting outfielder with a stiff, but explosive swing. Cuevas is a pretty advanced Venezuelan shortstop who also signed early this year. Dotson is a physical beast with a vertical arm slot whose velocity fluctuated a lot in 2019, peaking at 95 but sitting 86-90. Acosta was acquired from the Reds for Scott Heineman. He is a really hard-working, gritty middle infielder with a crude swing, and twitchy, switch-hitting infielders have a lot of utility. I feel similarly about Chavez, who moved from Venezuela and ended up going to junior college in the States. He plays hard and is an instinctive, well-rounded player without any power. Catchers Antonio Cabello, C Matt Whatley, C Randy Florentino, C Melvin Novoa, C Jack Kruger, C Cabello looked pretty stiff this spring. He plays hard and was a once-touted prospect but the fears related to his frame and potential early physical regression are being realized. Whatley is a great defender with some pull power, a high-risk hit tool, and a long injury history. Florentino is the youngest of this group and has the most well-rounded offensive talent but he looked like he had gone way backward when I saw him this spring. Novoa has good feel for contact but is in the 40/45 range for everything else. Kruger had great contact numbers through 2018 and then fell off. Here’s hoping he catches Dane Dunning at some point and it tears some ironic hole in social media. The Yohander Méndez Path Joe Palumbo, LHP Brock Burke, LHP Both of these guys have not seen their stuff return to peak form following surgery. At one point, both of them were in the 45 FV range but have been shellacked all spring, and I don’t think they’re tradable pieces at the moment. System Overview Have you ever had a band or musical artist you liked whose style shifted pretty dramatically from one album to the next, but that shift mirrored your own changing tastes? That’s how I feel about the Rangers’ newfound approach to building their farm system during the first extended rebuilding period of the Jon Daniels era. I was once smitten with the Pedro Gonzalez, Brendon Davis, Chris Seise types, the huge-framed, projectable guys with big raw power and questionable hit tools. For a really long time, all you’d see walking around Rangers camp were guys like that. Then, in a very extreme way, the Rangers’ philosophy seemed to shift. Thomas Saggese? Out of the whole Rays system they wanted Carl Chester? Really? I’ve been in baseball since 2008 and a full-timer at FanGraphs as your friendly neighborhood prospect analyst since 2016. During that time, I’ve been classically conditioned to avoid these long-levered whiffmeisters. When I stuff Lewis Brinson near the top of the overall prospect list, or drop a 60 on Francisco Mejía and they turn out to be bad, it feels awful. My job isn’t on the line when I’m wrong, not in the same way it is for club execs. It’s mostly just my pride, and even that was enough to create a seismic shift in my thinking. And yet I still had to stop myself from sticking Yosy Galan in the 40+ tier. All of this is to say that the way the Rangers go about acquiring talent has totally changed, and I think it’s probably for the better. More teams are thinking this way, and just as pitchers with vertically-oriented stuff became harder to come by as more teams pursued them, I think more contact-driven players will be targeted in the draft league-wide. Let’s talk about 40-man pressure. First off, I think there’s real risk that Ricky Vanasco, and maybe even Seise, gets popped in the upcoming Rule 5 if they’re not added because the club assumes they’ll be safe having not played all year due to injury. Remember that lots of rehabbers were picked in last year’s Rule 5. The real crunch for this team will come in December of 2022, when the high schooler arms from the 2018 draft will need to go on (Owen White, Cole Winn, Mason Englert), as will Dustin Harris, Josh Jung, Davis Wendzel, Justin Slaten, Avery Weems, Ronny Henriquez, Jonathan Ornelas, Jake Guenther, and whichever of the teenage bats (Keithron Moss, Luisangel Acuña, Kenen Irizarry) ends up panning out. There are some natural ways to alleviate that pressure (the big league rotation is likely to experience a good bit of turnover before then, for instance) but in doing so (say, by trading Ian Kennedy before then) the Rangers are limited in who they can acquire. Basically they can only target guys with 40-man timelines beyond 2022, otherwise they’re just adding to their crunch. They should be proactively scouting the backfields right now in preparation for this.