It’s hard to call the Texas Rangers an impressive farm system, as there doesn’t appear to be an incredibly high ceiling among any of the top names. Does that mean there isn’t any intrigue? Are there any names that we should be tracking closely? Let’s take a look:
1) Leody Taveras – Outfielder
ETA – 2021
Grade – B
Taveras was once a highly touted prospect, though the hype hasn’t matched the production. Just look at the numbers over the past few years:
- 2017 (Single-A) – .249 with 8 HR and 20 SB over 522 AB
- 2018 (High-A) – .246 with 5 HR and 19 SB over 521 AB
- 2019 (High-A/Double-A) – .279 with 5 HR and 32 SB over 519 AB
Obviously his speed is his best asset at this point, though the now 21-year old is still refining his ability (he went 32-for-45 in SB attempts). The thought is the switch-hitter will also develop more power, though the strikeout rate rose last season (20.9%). The SwStr% stayed consistent after his promotion (10.6% at Double-A), and that helps to support his average. Even if he gets to just 10-15 HR, which many expect him to, when coupled with his speed he’ll be an asset in all formats.
2) Josh Jung – Third Baseman
ETA – 2022
Grade – B-
Jung was selected eighth overall in the 2019 draft, and in his first taste of professional baseball he appeared to be approach over power (198 PA):
- Strikeout Rate – 16.2%
- Walk Rate – 9.1%
- SwStr% – 10.9%
He played at 21-years old (he turned 22 in February) and the hope is that he’ll develop power as he continues to develop. However he didn’t show it after being selected, hitting just 2 HR (though he did add 14 doubles and 1 triple), so it’ll be interesting to see if he can add that to his game. He’ll need to, regardless if he sticks at third base or not, if he wants to develop into a truly viable fantasy option.
3) Hans Crouse – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2023
Grade – C+
Crouse spent the year at Single-A and over 87.2 innings he gave us mixed results/skills. Obviously the 4.41 ERA and 1.20 WHIP were underwhelming, as were many of the “skills” we look for from a pitcher:
- Strikeouts – 7.80 K/9 (courtesy of a 12.0% SwStr%)
- Control – 1.95 BB/9
- Groundballs – 32.0%
There’s more upside in the strikeout rate, especially if he can develop his changeup (right now reports have him owning a pair of above average pitches in his fastball, which has touched 99 mph, and his slider). His delivery does bring questions about his control long-term and home runs already started to become an issue (1.23 HR/9). It’s possible that long-term he moves into the bullpen, especially if the changeup doesn’t improve, but for now they’ll continue to utilize him in the rotation and see if he can figure it out and get healthy (he had surgery for bone spurs, that hindered him throughout the season).
4) Nick Solak – Second Baseman/Third Baseman
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – C+
Solak’s ceiling isn’t particularly high, but after splitting time at Triple-A (with the Rays and Rangers) where he .289 with 27 HR over 419 AB he showed he could hold his own in the Majors. Over 135 PA he hit .293 with 5 HR, displaying a solid approach at the dish:
- SwStr% – 8.5%
- O-Swing% – 26.3%
Where he fits defensively is going to be a question, though it’s possible Solak is going to be utilized in a super utility role seeing time at 2B, 3B and in the OF. You also have to wonder if the power explosion was for real, considering his 27.6% HR/FB at Triple-A, as he hadn’t shown this type of power before (19 HR over 478 AB at Double-A in ’18). There’s value, with the potential to add double-digit stolen bases, but there are limitations.
5) Sam Huff – Catcher
ETA – 2021
Grade – C+
The power is there and unquestioned, after hitting 28 HR over 475 AB between Single-A (114 PA) and High-A (405 PA), but that came at a cost. Despite playing the year at 21-years old he posted eye-popping strikeout totals:
- Single-A – 32.5%
- High-A – 28.9%
An 18.7% SwStr% shows just how big of an issue it could be, especially as he continues to move against more advanced pitching. Considering he also doesn’t draw many walks (6.4%), it’s a home run or a strikeout. As a catcher maybe that’s enough, but it’s not a guarantee.
The Next Five:
6) Steele Walker – Outfielder (Grade – C+) – Spending time at Single-A (74 AB) and High-A (383 AB), Walker hit .284 with 10 HR and 13 SB before being traded from the White Sox to Texas in the Nomar Mazara deal. He added 36 doubles and 5 triples and the expectation is that he could ultimately emerge as a 20 HR hitter. Couple that with a solid approach (8.2% SwStr% led to a 14.8% strikeout rate) and there’s reason to believe.
7) Bayron Lora – Outfielder (Grade – C+) – There’s a chance that Lora’s stock quickly rises as the now 17-year old was considered among the best international prospects of the 2019 class in terms of power. For now he’s also shown speed, though whether or not he maintains it as he physically matures is a question. He also is likely to struggle with strikeouts, but he’s been compared to Joey Gallo and that’s going to garner attention.
8) Cole Winn – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C) – Control… Control… Control… The Rangers’ 2018 first round draft pick pitched the year at Single-A (68.2 IP) and struggled with his walk rate (5.11 BB/9), and also his ability to miss bats (10.6% SwStr%). He does have a four-pitch mix, all of which could be at least solid, though the questions do keep him as more of a mid-rotation starter. Obviously there’s still time for him to make the necessary adjustments, and if he does the upside is higher (and that’s why he was selected in the first round).
9) Joe Palumbo – Left-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C) – He split time at Double-A (53.2 IP), Triple-A (27.0 IP) and ultimately reached the Majors (16.2 IP). Along the way he showed strikeout stuff, including a 13.8% SwStr% in the minors, though a 3.90 BB/9 and 40.9% groundball rate both bring questions (and the numbers were worse during his brief time in the Majors, with a 4.32 BB/9 and 34.7% groundball rate). There’s also going to be questions about his size and if he can hold up to a starter’s workload (he’s listed at 6’1” and 168 lbs.), further clouding the issue (especially since last year’s workload represented a career high, despite being drafted back in 2013).
10) Sherten Apostel – Third Baseman (Grade – C) – There are numerous players who could’ve gotten this last spot, though Apostel won out due to his power (19 HR over 418 AB) and ability to make contact (though it was still relatively unimpressive, with a 12.2% SwStr%) as he split time between Single-A and High-A. He already doesn’t have much speed, as he currently profiles as more of a .250ish hitter with significant pop (25+ HR routinely).
Source – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: