I haven’t slept since Red Dead 2 came out, so I’m probably going to confuse these Ranger prospects with actual Texas Rangers galloping around with Litchfield repeaters, shooting deer, and antagonizing passersby. There’s something about virtual cowboying that brings me joy. It’s all of the glory and none of the chafing! I’m rocking a $300 bounty in Strawberry, but we have business to take care of here and I’m willing to risk my hide for my tens of readers. We’ve reached the border of the AL West, and this Rangers system features a trio of Grade A outfield prospects inching their way closer to the bigs. After that, it gets a bit pitching heavy. So down a pint of whiskey, grab your revolver (aka PS4 controller), mount your horse (aka couch), and let’s ride through the 2019 Texas Rangers minor league preview!
1. Leody Taveras, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2020
The numbers from High-A don’t look anything spectacular, but Taveras still possesses the tools to hold this top spot in the Rangers’ system. He earns plus grades for both his hitting and speed, and there’s at least average power to round out the offensive profile. I especially like that he’s a switch hitter with a solid approach from both sides. If he grows into more power, I could see him as an eventual OF2.
2. Julio Pablo Martinez, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2020
Martinez isn’t that different from Taveras, except he hits exclusively from the left side with a bit less power and a bit more speed. He put together a 9/13 season this year – his first year with the Rangers after leaving Cuba and spending some time in independent leagues. I’m curious to see what he does in the upper levels stateside because a positive year in AA/AAA could earn him some time in the majors as soon as 2019.
3. Bubba Thompson, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2021
Thompson hit .289 with eight homers and 32 steals at Hickory in 2018, which is enough to get excited about him. He’ll probably need more time to cook than Taveras and Martinez though. Based on how the tools continue to develop, his ceiling could be either 10/30 or 20/20 – the upper levels should reveal more.
4. Cole Winn, RHP | Age: 18 | ETA: 2021
This is a pretty quick ETA for a high school arm, but there’s more polish on Winn than your typical prep hurler. The plus pitches include a fastball and curve, but it’s his feel and control that allow everything to play up. I considered bumping him into the A tier out of the gate, but we’ll have a better idea of his potential ceiling next year. So for now let’s call it a B+.
5. Hans Crouse, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2021
Crouse’s calling card is his double-plus fastball, which he pairs with a plus slider and average control. His 2018 was about as good as could be expected, with a 2.47 ERA and a 10.2 K/9 across two levels as a 19-year-old. In a system with a lot of arms, this is one of the stocks I’m most interested in, especially if the change can become a reliable third offering.
6. Anderson Tejeda, 2B/SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2020
Tejeda had a fabulous 2018 campaign – hitting .259 with 19 homers and 11 steals in High-A. I love the offensive profile for fantasy and it’s likely he’ll stay on the dirt. He’s a left-handed hitter who could contribute in all five categories if things shake out.
7. Cole Ragans, LHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2021
This lefty’s plus fastball and plus change-up make him an interesting upside play. Unfortunately he’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, so there’s not much to say about his 2018 performance. I like the strikeout potential though.
8. Taylor Hearn, LHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2019
Hearn sports a 70-grade heater from the left side. Everything else in his profile is average, so I fear there’s a trip to the bullpen in his future. He’s the Rangers’ return from the Keone Kela trade and figures to be in the mix early this year.
9. Jonathan Hernandez, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019
Hernandez has a three-pitch mix (fastball/slider/change), with the heater sitting around 93-95. He should be pitching in the majors by the end of the year, so he makes for a decent depth piece in dynasty leagues where back end starters/innings-eaters have more value.
10. Joe Palumbo, LHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2020
Palumbo is a little lefty with average stuff but who put together a decent 2018 across three levels. He’s still working his way back from TJS, so 2019 will be a big year for his development. There’s a chance he could see time in the rotation in 2019, but more than likely he’ll serve as a left-handed option in the pen.