Just two more left! In my never ending quest to make the off-season never ending, I bring you my 28th Minor League preview of the season, The Texas Rangers. A system with lots of mid-level pitching talent and scattered positional talent. Over Jon Daniels tenure the Rangers have done well in the international market, and quite a few of the players in this list came through that pipeline. Most notably my controversial number one Leody Taveras. Now, it’s true, if this post came out two months ago (when it should have LOL) Willie Calhoun would be a consensus number one. BUT, and that’s a big butt, if Willie wants to pout, sulk, and loaf I’m going to take that into consideration. I was one of your biggest fans kid. Get it together. Enough of my self righteous soapboxing. The Rangers have a decent system overall, with some players that are helping in the present (Ronald Guzman), some that are close (Willie, Yohander Mendez), and a lot of future mid-level MLB talent with some exciting bright spots in Anderson Tejeda, Pedro Gonzalez and Hans Crouse. Let’s get into it! It’s the 2018 Top Texas Rangers Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball.
1. Leody Taveras, OF | Age: 19 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .249/.312/.360, 8 HR, 50 RBI, 20 SB
One of the most exciting talents in the Minor leagues, though he’s a tough leap to take for many box score scouts. What doesn’t jump out from the box score is his combination of bat speed, athleticism, loose wrists, physical projection, and baseline hitting acumen. He’s a 19 year old switch-hitting centerfielder with a five plus tool ceiling. The floor might be more Ender Inciarte, but there’s a fantasy viable prospect for all dynasty formats in Leody. Looks improved in 2018 despite being a 19 year old at High-A Down East. ETA: 2020
2. Willie Calhoun, OF | Age: 23 | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .300/.355/.572, 31 HR, 93 RBI, 4 SB
I’m hoping this is the last time I cover Willie as a prospect. A player I first fell in love with following the Dodgers selecting him in the 4th round of the 2015 draft. Few players combine plus hitting with plus power like Calhoun. It’s even more remarkable when you consider his small, pudgy build, and lack of athleticism. Calhoun lacks a position and it’s been the biggest road block between a call up this season, much less a full time major league job. There’s been some attitude issues of late that have caught headlines, let’s hope Willie overcomes those and starts hitting again. My feeling is this is a rough patch personally and professionally for Calhoun, and he’ll get his head straight in the coming weeks. ETA: 2018
3. Julio Pablo Martinez, OF | Age: 22 | Level: RK | 2017 Stats: Did Not Play
The top international signing for the Rangers, and the biggest get on the market after Shohei Ohtani signed. Martinez was one of the top young players in Cuba the last few years contemporaries with Luis Robert and Victor Victor Mesa. He combines plus plus speed and baserunning ability with above average power and feel to hit. From what I’ve read the ceiling is A.J. Pollock. ETA: 2019
4. Bubba Thompson, OF | Age: 19 | Level: A- | 2017 Stats: .257/.317/.434, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 5 SB
One of the most impressive athletes in recent memory, Thompson was a two sport star that chose baseball. His toolsy upside has drawn comps to former Rangers farmhand Lewis Brinson (in the complimentary way). A plus plus runner, with a rifle arm, Bubba is more projection than polish at the plate. He does however have above average raw power. It’s going to take awhile with Thompson, but three years from now he might be one of the best prospects in baseball. So far this season Thompson is killing it in the Low-A Sally league slashing .279/.347/.485. ETA: 2021
5. Ronald Guzman, 1B | Age: 23 | Level: MLB | 2017 Stats: .298/.372/.434, 12 HR, 62 RBI, 4 SB
You’re watching this young monster blossom at the MLB level presently. I’ve never been as gaga for Guzman as others in the industry, but he continues to grow into more power, and has always had a good combination of contact and approach. I see an average everyday first baseman, but not a .280, 30 homer guy, more a .270, 20 homer type with some decent counting stat years. ETA: 2018
6. Hans Crouse, RHP | Age: 19 | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: 0-0, 20 IP, 0.45 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 30 Ks, 7 Bb
One of the more exciting arms from the 2017 draft class, Crouse was used in two inning stints during his pro debut, and flashed one of the nastier fastballs in the Arizona League. His slider is plus and nasty, mixing in a fringe/average changeup. His mechanics and delivery are funky, but haven’t seemed to impact his strike throwing ability. Many see an injury risk due to his style, but we should reserve judgement. Might find his way to the majors quickly if he progresses as a reliever. ETA: 2020
7. Anderson Tejeda, SS | Age: 20 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .247/.309/.411, 8 HR, 53 RBI, 10 SB
A toolsy shortstop with a ton of raw power, but also a ton of swing and miss. Tejeda is a player that has long intrigued fantasy players since he launched 8 homers with Spokane in his 2016 short season debut. So far in 2018 he has improved his walk rate, and has already surpassed his 2017 Low-A homer total of 8 with High-A Down East. His quick hands, upper cut swing, and bat speed combine to produce serious power. He’s still improving his pitch recognition, but he should always come with some strikeout drag. He has a big leg kick, and the swing is long, but the results have been there since the second half of last season. Worth an add in leagues with 200+ prospects. ETA: 2021
8. Pedro Gonzalez, OF | Age: 20 | Level: A- | 2017 Stats: .294/.364/.475, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 11 SB
A 6’5 specimen that hit a growth spurt after signing with the Rockies as a shortstop. Due to this, he’s still a lot of arms and legs, but he’s added bulk and continues to show impressive all around tools. He’s got a wide stance with a bit of a toe tap, his swing is a little long, but has nice upward angle, pointing toward more in game power. So far in his full season debut it’s been rough, Gonzalez is striking out a ton. In fact at the moment he has an even number of strikeouts and total bases. No reason to give up, but Gonzalez has a long ways to go. A project player with power = speed upside. ETA: 2021
9. Jonathan Hernandez, RHP | Age: 21 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: 5-11, 111.2, 4.03 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 110 Ks, 44 Bb
Here’s what I wrote about Hernandez a few weeks ago, “Speaking of up and coming pitching prospects… the reports from Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser regarding Rangers righty Jonathan Hernandez have me drooling. High spin-rate two-seam fastball with velo that touches 98 MPH, on a pitch that features nice run as well. He mixes a trio of secondaries in two breaking balls, and an off-speed pitch. The best of which is his slider, routinely pairing with his fastball to generate wind power. Watching tape of Hernandez this morning, and it’s obvious why his strikeout numbers have been so robust. With the spin on his two seamer, he’s able to challenge hitters up in the zone. This is something teams are searching for more and more, with increased launch angles, many hitters have mastered elevating low balls in the zone. It’s becoming increasingly important for pitchers to be able to challenge hitters up in the zone. His season stats bear this out, as they are as eye-popping as his stuff. A 1.94 ERA, .176 batting average against, and a K/9 of 12.04 set the tone. Sure he’s doing this in high-A as a 21 year old, but the stuff is there, and I’m fully buying in.” ETA: 2019
10. Cole Ragans, LHP | Age: 20 | Level: A- | 2017 Stats: 3-2, 57 IP, 3.61 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 87 Ks, 35 Bb
It was a sad day in the Crab Army clubhouse the day Cole Ragans went down. As Crab Rob’s dreams of a future ace, backed by a Cali Kusiolek co-sign, were dashed, at least for now. The young lefty mixes a low to mid 90s heater that can pop 95 with an average bender, and a plus plus changeup. Advanced feel and pitchability are the name of Ragans’ game. As he shapes and commands his stuff phenomenally well for a young pitcher. On the shelf for the season, so there’s not much else to write for the next 12 months. I guess that means I can just cut and paste this into the 2019 Preview. Right? ETA: 2021
11. Brendon Davis, SS | Age: 20 | Level: A+ | .230/.341/.379, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 3 SB
A projectable frame, above average raw power, and improving plate discipline make Davis a name to watch. So far the results haven’t translated to jump off the page numbers, but he has improved his strikeout rate dramatically in 2018. He needs to put the ball in the air more, to tap into more of his raw in games. He’s a shortstop at the moment, but many feel he’ll outgrow the position (he’s listed at 6’4 185), but his strong arm will keep him on the left side of the infield. ETA: 2021
12. Chris Seise, SS | Age: 19 | Level: A- | 2017 Stats: .284/.330/.400, 3 HR, 36 RBI, 6 SB
There’s a lot of debate regarding the long term projection on Seise’s bat. He’s broad shouldered, and fairly projectable physically, he packs as much raw power as any shortstop prospect in last year’s draft, but there’s some issues. First, he’s missing the entire 2018 season with rotator cuff surgery. Not a great way to start your first season of pro ball. Second, he’s got some timing, and swing issues. Lots of moving parts, and his hands get too far in front of his lower half. Other times, it clicks and he barrels something, but there’s a lot of growth needed. ETA: 2021
13. Yohander Mendez, LHP | Age: 23 | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: 7-8, 137.2 IP, 3.79 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 124 Ks, 43 Bb
A control lefty with a low to mid-90s fastball, a plus changeup, and two fringe-average breaking balls. Menedez has seen some time in the majors already, and has proven durable over the last few seasons. He looks like a player that could factor into the pen or rotation this year, but since his meteoric rise to Arlington in 2016, he’s kind of just been hanging in the waiting room of AA/AAA. ETA: 2018
14. Kyle Cody, RHP | Age: 23 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: 9-6, 126 IP, 2.64 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 136 Ks, 43 Bb
Hey another injured player! Been a rough pre-season/season for Rangers prospects. He injured his elbow, and was shut down in the off-season, last I heard he was starting a throwing program. However, it’s been radio silence since. What we saw last season from the former Kentucky Wildcat, was a three pitch mix lead by a plus fastball that sits 94-97. Due to his large 6’7 frame Cody his heater as some nasty downhill bite. His best secondary is a plus slider that tunnels well with his fastball, fooling hitters, and contributing to Cody’s high strikeout totals. If not for the elbow injury Cody’s rank might be half of this. ETA: 2020
15. Tyreque Reed, 1B | Age: 20 | Level: A- | 2017 Stats: .350/.455/.617, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 3 SB
A beast of a man out of a Mississippi Juco, the 20 year old Reed is a plus plus raw power hitter, who has flashed good plate discipline. Just not in 2018… He’s a fun player to dream on but there’s a serious chance he’s just a battng practice all-star. ETA: 2021
Other Names: AJ Alexy, Joe Palumbo, Miguel Aparicio, Michael Matuella, Keyber Rodriguez, Brett Martin, David Garcia
Find all of the 30 Minor League Previews, and Offseason Rankings on the Minor League Index
On Twitter as @ProspectJesus
Howdy Ralph, first year player draft with international and high school included started today. Would u go with JP Mart or Bohm? I’m on the clock now and have done very little research so if u know some international or HS player that I should be considering that’d be awesome too, thx!!
Is it time to move on from Arcia in Dynasty League? Brew didn’t do him any favors batting him 8th but he’s terrible.
Great write up Ralph!
Really excited about JPM, fingers crossed he is the real deal. I’ve heard a lot of negative noise about Tejeda, not sure why but most of the minor league writers and bearish on him.
You’re familiar with my Yohander love already, so I’ll just leave this comment with
@Old School Brother: Hahaha! I think the Tejeda thing is more a real life baseball thing. He’s aggressive at the plate, swings for the moon, and isn’t a great fielder. So the negativity is higher than it should be. He’s a very viable dynasty assets however.
Bellinger sitting again today……against a RHP. How aggressive would you be bowing low in dynasty leagues? IF someone isn’t holding tight.
@Sport: “Buying low”. Sorry for the typo.
I guess everyone has their own criteria for ranking prospects. I’d honestly have Hernandez in my top 2 or 3, but I’m only an arm chair scout that just happens to watch alot of Carolina League. I was not aware of that with Leblanc. I’ve seen him play 1b, 2b, and 3b, and he’s not making Eric Jenkins type of highlight reel catches (not sure if you saw the play of him catching that ball in foul territory), but no glaring weakness. I am anxiously awaiting to see Crouse here too. If his ETA is 2020, you’d figure he’d be at this level by now.
@Anthony: You’d have him over Willie, Leody, or Martinez? I don’t know maybe you know something I don’t. I’ve watched all of Hernandez’s starts multiple times, I’m not shooting in the dark.
Not really, he might touch Down East late this season. If he moves as a RP he’ll jump levels faster. He’s also an elite talent.
@Ralph Lifshitz: i know you’ve been doing this for awhile. The way that I look at a dynasty farm team is to try to find guys that could be future Mainstays in your lineup, and not someone who will be a streamer (low floor) at the MLB level. Honestly I think Calhoun will be the streamer. I listen to almost all of your podcast, and I totally agree with what you said at the end of your last one when you talked about leaning on hitting over pitchers in your draft. I will take the high cieling hitter almost every time, i think they’re more of a sure thing. I think that Hawking sites like mlbpipeline on the regular during the season,is the way you find your best diamond in the rough pitchers, who weren’t necessarily highly touted when the fantasy draft was happening. I think that given calhouns and Hernandez age,and what they’re doing so far this season, I think that Hernandez could legitimately be ranked ahead of him. I think there is a reason why Calhoun was called up last year and hasn’t been this year. Also only 4 HR and an avg in the .250’s is less than impressive. I’ll gamble on Hernandez upside even though he’s not even AA yet. I think it will translate. I know it sounds crazy, but I think finding guys that are doing what Hernandez is doing even at A adv, and showing promise is enticing. In the league I’m in you have to be jumping on guys like that early.
@Anthony: I had Calhoun top 20 for like a year and a half. Look what Austin Meadows is doing, I just don’t agree with writing off top hitting prospects. That would be admitting defeat on a player I’ve been pumping up for two years. Someone who has barley struggled in his pro career prior to being jerked by the organization he’s in again. While I think Willie needs to get his shit together, I’m not calling him a bust.
As for the age and level thing I don’t agree there either. Calhoun is roughly 1 1/2 older and has a total of 315 games in the upper minors. Hernandez doesn’t have one. Hernandez also has a LOB% in the 90’s and a super low BABIP. That’s not sustainable. I really like Hernandez, but feel boosting him up that much would be an overreaction to a strong start to the season.
You might be right, only time will tell.
Hernandez at 9 is a little low. Nobody can touch him in the Carolina league this year and I think it will translate to higher levels. DE Woodducks are right down the road from me and I try to make every game he pitches. He’s a special talent, and he should be called up very soon. Nothing left to prove at this level for him. Another HM for this system should be Chuck Leblanc. He is very under the radar. Hardly any prospect lists have him, but the guy can play multiple positions and hits the ball hard. Worth looking into for future iterations of the Rangers rankings. Can’t wait to see JP Martinez when he arrives, and you’re right on the money with Tejada and Tavarez.
@Anthony: Thanks! I like Hernandez a lot, but I need to see it against AA hitters. Also want to see the control and command remain. Kyle Glaser has said a ton of good things. On a real life list he would be ranked 6 or 7. I’ll still take Crouse’s upside, Guzman is at the majors and playing everyday, and in Fantasy give me the high upside kids with some raw pop. That’s where my head was at.
I actually considered LeBlanc but I’m skeptical of pull heavy college guys in A ball. He’s got a nice profile, I don’t know if you realize this but he won the ACC batting title as a sophomore, and played for the Canadian National team. Very much on my radar. How has his defense been? I’ve only seen about two dozen at bats this year.
AL only auction, 3 yr contracts, can extend up to 3 yrs for $5/ year. Starting to look towards next year.
Guys is offering his $4 Barreto. Wants my Altuve $57B, Dozier $33B, Seager 27A, Boegarts,26A and Sabathia $2A.
Obviously too much for Barreto . But, what’s the fair counter offer? What kinds of player do you think Barreto is gonna be next year?
@Mex: I don’t know how to answe this? None of the guys he’s asking on are fair. I’d tell that guy where to stick it.
@Ralph Lifshitz: thank you sir.
One more thing. Franmil Reyes worth a pick up?
I live close to Milwaukee, what do you think about Keston Huira? Stud soon? I’m loading up on his rookie cards so hopefully that works out the best one’s aren’t cheap!
Also, I know “under the radar isn’t exactly easy, but any other prospects that might be under the radar that I could take a chance on and buy some rookie cards?
Corey Ray going to ever get there? Tristan Lutz? I’m not just talking about Brewer prospects any are welcome!
@Chris: Yeah he’s got a shot to be a very good hit First second baseman. As for Ray who knows, he’s been improving. Lutz is struggling.
As for sleepers, read my articles it’s all in there.
in 12 team roto dynasty league in mid-level rankings; would you move a solid but boring pitcher like K Hendricks to a contending team for one of the following type of deals?:
1/ For Byron Buxton straight up.
2/ For Miguel Andujar and prospect W Calhoun
3/ For Sixto Sanchez straight up.
None of the above, or pls prioritize the order if you would do the deal?
@Goldirocks: Andujar and Wilie
Two national league only questions, number one is it time to pick up Kolby Allard he’s available and it’s a keeper League and number two is any chance we see Chris Shaw and San Francisco since belt is out I know Chris Shaw is on the DL but he should be back next week
@Marti Harris: I’d add Kolby, and I hope they give Shaw a freaking shot! His been mashing homers again.
Good morning Ralph! Thanks for all of your great stuff. 2 quickies……trade Austin Meadows for Leody straight up? Start Clevinger or Bundy (2 starts) this week in 10tm H2H points mixed. Have a great Sunday!
@Waterloo Indians: Hold Meadows, and start Bundy
Would you be cool with trading J.Baez+Meadows for Kris Bryant+Votto in a deep dynasty league?
@Quintero: For sure
@Quintero: I dont think thats enough to get Bryant alone
Hi Ralph. Would you start wood in coors?
Hi Ralph: would you start wood in Coors? Thx
Good morning Ralph. I thought that Andres Gimenez was going to be a nice player but not necessarily a fantasy target. Based on last year and his nice start to this season he is changing my mind. Would you share your thoughts on him? Thank you
@JP: You can read my Mets review for the scouting report, but long and the short he’s a Top 100ish talent with a great compact swing. Little power, nice hit tool, can stick at SS.
Willie has been MLB ready for a while and not been given the shot. That has to be hard mentally. Not making excuses, but he is human. I remember Honeywell going through some stuff last summer too. I hope it’s just enough to light a fire.
Has Drew Waters moved into the top 75 or anything? I have been hearing a lot of buzz on him. Would he have moved over Pache, Rooker, or Triston Lutz?
@Sport: Honeywell retweeted everyone who said he should be called up. Honey also pushed the rest of the season and won his league. Way different. I’m as big a Willie fan as there is. He’s like one my children, but loafing pisses me off. That said I hope he gets his head right.
He’s ahead of Lutz and Rooker, still behind Pache for me. There’s a more complete player lurking underneath in Pache.
Willie’s attitude certainly is not making him an organization favorite, but honestly if he were hitting for power at Round Rock they might have been forced to promote him. He has a long way to go to win the Rangers over and it would not shock me to see him moved at the trade deadline. He may just be a bad fit for them. Appears they like Gallo in left field if Guzman hits and they have a team full of utility infielders.
@Uno Mas Cerveza: Willie’s a DH
@Ralph Lifshitz: OK we will give Kelvin Herrera for him! I would take him KC. He might be too MLB ready for KC’s plans though.
Soler was going through similar stuff last year. Lack of focus in RF and not running out grounders. He has a completely different attitude and it’s obviously showing in the box as well.
@Sport: That might be a good fit.
Vladdy is hurt
Do you prefer Austin Riley or Peter Alonso in an OPS dynasty ?
@Slappy Jack: I heard it was nothing to worry about.
Riley for me.
Want to pick up Vlad, but already have Shaw at 3B and Moustakis on my bench in 12 team mixed redraft league. Would you trade either of them for Kershaw? Thanks.
@T-bone: Either or.
I hope u r correct that Willie does correct his issues n the next time u write about him he is mashing for the Rangers!
Dynasty trade offer:
I get Lamb/Bieber
I give JBell/Manaea.
Thanks for your work!
@Chud: I think he will, he’s a kid, but he needs to get his head right. His defense is bad, that’s an issue still.
I like the Bell and Manaea side.
@Ralph Lifshitz: cool. Would switching out Bieber for Kyle Gibson change the offer?
As a Phillies fan any chance Sixto makes the big club this year?