I thought about how I would lead into this, the ranking of teams’ farm systems, but don’t have a good way to do it, other than say it is something that I like to tackle every year. Obviously, in the grand scheme of things my rankings aren’t going to make waves with Keith Law, John Sickels, or the staff at Baseball America. However, these rankings by any outlet are rather arbitrary in nature, and I like any of them, will try to give everybody some reasoning behind them. Scouting and prospects are a big part of the game. We can see that by how teams are clinging onto them in a lot of cases this year, instead of dealing them away for proven players. A lower ranked system doesn’t necessarily correlate to a bad team, and a highly ranked system doesn’t mean it’s a good major league team. It just gives us all a look at organizations who might get healthy in a few years, and which ones are going to have to find other means.
Anyway, this is supposed to be fun, so if you want to discuss, let’s do so…
The time has come for me to wrap up the farm system rankings with what I consider the best system in baseball. The biggest question I had to decide up until the last day between the Rangers and the Blue Jays was, am I going to include Yu Darvish in the prospect rankings? He clearly isn’t a normal rookie, but when it came down to it, the fact remains is he is technically still a prospects, so I felt I had to include him. Yes, he played professional baseball in Japan, but is the overall quality equivalent to the majors there? I’m not sure it is, and most would probably say no. I would certainly consider Yoennis Cespedes a prospect in this scenario, so why not Darvish? Anyway, without further delay, let’s dive into the Rangers top 20 prospects.
Top 20 Prospects:
1. Jurickson Profar (SS)- It’s hard to find a bad word said about Profar. He combines plus skills offensively, with plus skills defensively, and to go with it, most say that Profar goes to work with a lunch pail mentality every day and works to get better. The thing that stands out to me is as a 18 year old in low A ball, Profar walked more than he struck out. The best SS prospect in the game.
2. Yu Darvish (SP)- Darvish is good. I don’t know if he is over 100 million good, but you have to like what you see. He is only 25 years old, and has a great pitchers frame with good athleticism. Darvish owns a veritable kitchen sink of pitches, that include a slider, curve, 2 different fastballs, and splitter. He is regarded as being above average with all of them, and is able to command them as well.
3. Martin Perez (SP)- It seems Perez gets forgotten about when talking about the elite pitching prospects in the game. I’m not sure why. Perez owns 3 above average pitches from the left side, a fastball, curve and change up. He is still only 20 years old, as he has been pushed hard, and has some minor sharpening and consistency things to work on.
4. Rougned Odor (SS)- We very well could be talking about Odor as being the best SS prospect in baseball as soon as Profar graduates to the bigs. He does everything well, and at the age of 17, showed he could play with the big boys. Will have to work on patience, but doesn’t strike out a lot. Has good speed, a good arm, and has good instincts for a kid his age.
5. Leonys Martin (OF)- The Rangers signed Martin out of Cuba, and he could land on the big club to start 2012. Martin pairs good hand-eye coordination, with good bat speed to line the ball up the gaps with authority. Defensively, Martin should be above average in CF with his speed and good arm.
6. Neil Ramirez (SP)- Ramirez is a big right-handed pitcher that made tremendous strides last season. His 3 pitch mix could all end up as plus in the end, owning a mid 90’s fastball, a curve, and an fast improving change up. He’s been bit by the injury bug a little, and needs to show consistent command.
7. Mike Olt (3B)- Olt has impressive strength, and projects as a guy that is going to mash the ball annually at 25+ homers a year. He struggles at times in making contact, and has a pretty high K rate, so he won’t be an average hitter, but he does generate walks. Defensively, he has all the skills necessary, including a good arm to be above average at 3B. Sabremetric player.
8. Robert Ross (SP)- His arm isn’t as impressive as some in the system, but he works in the low 90’s area, has a quality starter that should be above average, and has a solid change. Ross mixes well with a deceptive delivery and throws strikes. I don’t think his performance is a fluke.
9. Christian Villanueva (3B)- There’s not much here to dislike. Villanueva hits for power, runs very well, and performs defensively about as good as anyone in their system. The only knock I see here is he could be a little more patient and strike out less, but he was just 20 years old in low A ball last year.
10. Roman Mendez (SP)- Mendez seemed to develop before everyone’s eyes in 2011. He owns two above average pitches with his fastball and curve, and his change improved as well. Command has been an issue in the past, but he improved there, though it still isn’t ideal.
11. Cody Buckel (SP)- I have him a little lower and here is why. His frame doesn’t really lend itself to much more projection if any. He is kind of what he is. And that is pretty good though. A quality fastball, curve, and change. High floor, and should be a #4.
12. Luis Sardinas (SS)- Sardinas basically needs to eat some cheeseburgers. He is skinny, but his skills are tremendous. He looks like a plus hitter, with above average speed, and a guy that can easily stick at SS defensively. Could develop some pop as he matures physically. Needs to stay healthy.
13. Matthew West (RP)- West is new to pitching, but he has the best combo of pitches for relievers in the system in a mid to upper 90’s fastball and a wipeout slider. Should move quickly and eventually close in the major leagues.
14. Justin Grimm (SP)- Grimm has the makings of a mid-rotation innings eater. Armed with a low 90’s fastball that can get a little higher at times, he improved his breaking ball and change enough in 2011 to stick as a starter. If he doesn’t he can fall back and be a high leverage reliever.
15. Will Lamb (SP)- Lamb has plus stuff for a lefty. He owns a low to mid 90’s fastball, an above average slider that generates swings and misses and a change up that needs some work. If the change becomes average, Lamb could move up this list. Split time in college between mound and the bat.
16. Luke Jackson (SP)- Jackson is the owner of a blazing fastball, a chance for a plus breaking ball, and needs to work on his change up. The arm is outstanding, and the command leaves something to be desired at this point, but a lot of scouts see a potential top of the rotation guy.
17. Jorge Alfaro (C)- Yeah, I got him a lot lower than most. His results don’t match the scouting reputation. He clearly has a lot of power in that young bat, and appears to have good tools, but his plate discipline is really bad right now. He will need to improve it, but has plenty of time.
18. Leury Garcia (SS)- I like Leury. He can hit for average, though he doesn’t have much if any power. He will need to get more patient at the dish, and that should help his stolen base totals, as he has well above average speed. Defensively he makes too many errors, and skill wise should be better than that.
19. Jacob Skole (OF)- Skole strikes out way too much at this point for the type of hitter he is. But it comes from trouble with breaking balls, and not a lack of patience. He does walk some, and has solid tools across the board. If he cuts down the strikeouts, and let’s the gap power work, he could be a valuable asset.
20. Kevin Matthews (SP)- Matthews is a smallish left hander that the Rangers drafted in the 1st round in 2011. They’ve had success with these guys, and Matthews had a pretty good showing to start. Fastball gets into the low 90’s, and he pairs that with a slider and change.
21. Tanner Scheppers (RP)- Scheppers has late inning ability if he can stay healthy. Mid to upper 90’s heat with a sometimes nasty breaking ball.
22. David Perez (SP)- Frankly, it’s disgusting that I’m ranking a guy with Perez’ kind of stuff here, but he can’t hit the broad side of a barn with it right now. Big time potential, but big time bust potential as well.
23. Tomas Telis (C/DH)- How about a 20 year old switch hitter in low A ball that has a potential plus hit tool, some pop in his bat, and is a decent athlete. His hand eye coordination is excellent, but could use some patience at the dish.
24. Miguel De Los Santos (SP)- This guy’s K rate is disgustingly good. He does it mostly with a low 90’s fastball, and an excellent change up from the left side. Delivery is a little rough, and therefore so is his command.
25. Jordan Akins (OF)- Akins is a tool shed who is working on becoming a baseball player. Tremendous power/speed potential here.
26. Luis Marte (SS)- Guess what? Another SS in this system that is loaded with them. Marte has above average speed, can hit for average, and has a frame where you can see some power develop.
27. Barret Loux (SP)- He does have solid stuff across the board. I always worry about shoulder injuries though.
28. Odubel Herrera (2B)- Herrera is a 2B with a good hit tool, above average speed, and someone that has the skills to be a good defender.
29/30. Ronald Guzman and Nomar Mazara (OF)- Don’t get mad Rangers fans. I did this just to show everyone how stacked this system is. There are so many guys here, I don’t have to put these guys in their top 20 to make the system look good. They belong in the teens, and both have immense upside, with Guzman being the more polished player at this point.
Just Missed The List: I gave you 30 already. Okay, more. Nicholas Tepesch (SP), Justin Miller (RP), Luis Mendez (SS), Drew Robinson (SS), Victor Payano (SP), Kyle Hendricks (RP), Saquan Johnson (OF), Yefry Castillo (C), Zachary Cone (OF), Kellin Deglan (C), Johan Yan (RP), Engel Beltre (OF), Teodoro Martinez (OF), Ryan Strausborger (OF), and Nick Urbanus (SS)
Sleepers: Alejandro Selen (2B), Abel De Los Santos (SP), and Kyle Castro (SP). Selen is a IF/OF with surprising pop. De Los Santos is a promising lefty with tremendous K/BB ratios. Castro is a projectable righty.
Rebound Candidate: Beltre. Down year for the tholsy young outfielder. Could bounce back in a repeat in AA.
Verdict: Nobody does an absolute better job of finding quality middle infield prospects than Texas does. They are loaded, and their international scouting is fantastic. There is star potential all over the place in this system, there are high floor players in this system, and there is depth in areas like relief pitching that will help Texas remain a winner for a long time. With Darvish, they have a couple legit top of the rotation guys, and with guys like Luke Jackson, David Perez, and even Victor Payano, they could explode with some improvements.
I guess there is nothing I can say about this system that the ranking doesn’t already. It’s simply the best.