Texas Rangers 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm ranking via Baseball America (2009)
2009 (1) | 2008 (4) | 2007 (28) | 2006 (16) | 2005 (16) | 2004 (16)
Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [85 – 75] AL West
AAA: [69 – 75] Pacific Coast League
AA: [72 – 68] Texas League
A+: [75 – 65] California League
A: [63 – 76] South Atlantic League
A(ss): [37 – 39] Northwest League
R: [25 – 31] Arizona Rookie League
The Run Down
Rounding up the Minor League Review series is the Rangers and their embarrassing amount of pitching prospects. Yes, you read that correctly. Pitching riches, my fellow Razzballers. The Rangers have 19 of their top 30 prospects from the Baseball America Handbook 2010 that are pitchers; 20 of 30 in 2009; and 27 of the 41 graded prospects by John Sickels were also pitchers. Grey went over Smoak’s potential in Friday Morning’s Round-up and here is his Scouting the Unknown. I also ran a follow-up comment in response to commentator Steve’s question, “I’m no baseball technician, which I guess is why I’m asking the question. Are you saying his swing is similar to Utley’s? To my inexpert eyes he hits a home run about as efficiently as it is possible to do so.” My response: “Because I am no scout in the visual sort of terms (I am still learning each day), here is an awesome breakdown of Smoak’s swing. (If you want to compare Smoak’s swing with Utley’s here’s a YouTube video. Then use the swing video from the first link to make comparisons. To me, that seems pretty similar and would deduce that they each have an efficient swing.)
Lastly, the player section is going to be missing Tanner Scheppers. He was just drafted this past year and doesn’t have any stats prior to this season. However, one bit of trivia to note, he was drafted from the St. Paul Saints team – the same team that Daryl Strawberry once played for a long, long, long time ago. (I am sad to say I didn’t go to any Saints games last summer.) He has plenty of health concerns and has a high ceiling. That’s about all I am going to say about him for now. The Rangers also signed two highly-touted international shortstops in Jurickson Profar and Luis Sardinas. There is a lot of hype that the Rangers believe they can be great major league shortstops, however, the majority of the major league clubs were weary of these two players. Next year, let’s return to these names and see how the 2010 season fared for these foreign players.
Players of Interest for 2010
*All prospect rankings are from Baseball America Handbook 2009 unless otherwise noted. Ages are from the 2009 season.
#10 Max Ramirez | C | 25 | AAA | 2002 Venezuela | .234/.323/.336 | 274 AB | 18 XBH | 5 HR | .102 ISO | 85:35 K:BB | .324 BABIP | 38.8 GB% | 19.4 LD% | 41.3 FB%
I am sure everyone remembers this name from the 2009-2010 offseason. If not, he was the key piece in the eventually failed trade for Mike Lowell. The talent is legit, the health of Ramirez is starting to become an annual burden, and his age is going to limit his upside sooner rather than later. He has plus-power but plays terrible defense and strikes out far too often. Although Mike Lowell was hurt, Ramirez may soon play himself out of being a valuable trade chip. He is playing at Triple-A to start this year and with Jarrod Saltalamacchia already hurt this year, this may be a chance for him to get an extended look in the majors if he hits, because his defense will never get him to the majors.
Chad Tracy | 1B | 23 | AA | 3rd rd. in 2006 | .279/.333/.488 | 535 AB | 59 XBH | 26 HR | .209 ISO | 103:46 K:BB | .303 BABIP | 35.7 GB% | 19.7 LD% | 44.6 FB%
No, this isn’t the Cubbies’ Chad Tracy. What’s even more embarrassing than being compared to that Chad Tracy, he isn’t even ranked by Baseball America or mentioned by John Sickels. One would assume that is because he isn’t worth the ink on the page, however, when you are playing exactly where your age dictates and hit 26 homers with decent plate discipline, you should get noticed. I am not sure what’s not to like, his batting average on balls in play (.303) shows that he wasn’t exactly lucky nor unlucky. He hits a fair amount of line-drives (19.7%) and displays a fair amount of power (.209 ISO [32 doubles, 1 triple and 26 homers], league average is around .150). He is currently at Triple-A to start this year and annihilating opposing pitchers (.351/.413/.719 in 57 at-bats). Yes, this is a small sample size, and yes, he has struck out ten times (and walked five). Either way, if Smoak stumbles and Chris Davis doesn’t figure things out, Tracy may get the next call. He’ll have his troubles in the majors too.
#5 Martin Perez | LHP | A/AA | 18 | 2007 Venezuela | 9.3 K/9 | 3 BB/9 | 114 2/3 IP | 2.90 ERA | 3.07 FIP | 1.30 WHIP | .4 Hr/9 | 8.7 H/9 | .340 BABIP | 48.5 GB% | 19.4 LD% | 23.9 FB%
Jaw-dropping! Simply amazing. Keith Law ranked him ahead of Smoak AND Feliz! I kept hearing his name all offseason and scoffed that there was so much hype. I told myself, just wait until you talk about the Rangers to make judgment(s). And well, my excitement is higher than Brad Evans on Adderall talking about his current fantasy baseball man crush. Perez throws a 91 to 95 mph fastball, a 1-to-7 curve that he chooses to throw 68 and 81 mph, and potential plus changeup that sits between 78 to 82 mph. He doesn’t light up the gun like Feliz, or drop a curve like Wainwright. However, he does have the potential to be the next Johan Santana according to Baseball America and John Sickels. Huge hype and, well, the talent and numbers don’t lie. He was rocked in his first two starts at Double-A last year, but looked to settle down after a rough beginning. Even with terrible luck (.340 BABIP) he thrived last year. Currently he is pitching at Double-A and if all goes well, he’ll be in Triple-A by the end of the season, if not a September call-up. If you in a long term dynasty league where you can keep everyone (or if you have a few minor league roster spots) lost out on the Chapman and Strasburg hype this year, pick this young man up. Think of a mix between Clayton Kershaw and Johan Santana.
#23 Guillermo Moscoso | RHP | 25 | 20003 Venezuela | 7.7 K/9 | 2.3 BB/9 | 112 1/3 IP | 3.12 ERA | 2.96 FIP | 1.12 WHIP | .2 Hr/9 | 7.8 H/9 | .289 BABIP | 34 GB% | 15.1 LD% | 47.1 FB%
It’s hard to follow Perez, but Moscoso has been hampered by the injury bug in years past. He looks to be an end of the rotation or long relief type pitcher with a low 90’s fastball, a serviceable changeup and a show-me breaking pitch. Nothing special here, but his age limits his ceiling. He is currently at Triple-A. Might be a nice trading chip to someone like the Royals, or depth if one of the Rangers bullpen member gets hurt.
Michael Kirkman | LHP | A+/AA | 22 | 5th rd in 2006 | 7.3 K/9 | 3.8 BB/9 | 144 2/3 IP | 3.48 ERA | 4.34 FIP | 1.36 WHIP | .6 Hr/9 | 8.5 H/9 | .300 BABIP | 43.3 GB% | 15.7 LD% | 35.3 GB%
Received in the Gerald Laird trade to Detroit in the 2008-2009 offseason, he’s often compared to Jeremy Affeldt by the Rangers brass. This isn’t awesome, but it should be worth some merit, especially since Affeldt signed a two year contract extension worth nine million dollars after pitching well in the bullpen for the Giants. Kirkman throws four solid, but not spectacular, pitches that projects him to be a solid bullpen member or a fifth starter. Having quality left-handed pitchers is always a good thing, but we need to curb any enthusiasm with this young man. He finally made it back to being a respectable pitcher after two years of struggling.
Mitch Moreland | 1B/RF | A+/AA | 23 | 17th rd in 2007 | .331/.391/.527 | 477 AB | 57 XBH | 16 HR | .196 ISO | 68:44 K:BB | .360 BABIP | 44.2 GB% | 19.9 LD% | 36 FB%
Finally getting some recognition (wasn’t ranked in 2009 by Baseball America, is their #8 ranked prospect for 2010), Moreland is being forced to the outfield with Smoak blocking his way at first base. For the short term, he can play first but is learning right field. He has above-average power, makes frequent adjustments to his game (a sign of a committed and learning player), and good leadership skills. Not the most blessed runner, his speed will hinder his defense in the outfield. His swing is described as “funky” and with “some holes,” which he needs to fix. If his scouting report is to be believed, this should be corrected sooner rather than later. With good plate-discipline and coverage (68 strikeouts to 44 walks), a strong work ethic, and the power to play a corner outfielder, there is every reason to believe that Moreland should be in the majors at some point in 2011. He is currently at Double-A to start the 2010 season.
Eric Morrison | 3B | A/A+/AA | 23 | 46th rd in 2008 | .292/.368/.558 | 353 AB | 53 XBH | 18 HR | .261 ISO | 10/5 SB/CS | 80:31 K:BB | .347 BABIP | 34.9 GB% | 20.9 LD% | 44.2 FB% | Stat are only from Single-A
He is getting the Chad Tracy treatment (see six to eight inches above). I am not as high on Morrison as I am Tracy. Morrison’s season was aided by more luck (.347 BABIP) and he was slightly older than his cohort he was playing against. There is also the high strikeout rate. The more I write about him, the less I like him. He is playing at High-A to start this year and unless he progresses to Double-A, he probably won’t make the cut for next year.
Michael Bianucci | LF | A/A+ | 23 | 8th rd in 2008 | .288/.353/.561 | 458 AB | 62 XBH | 30 HR | .273 ISO | 9/5 SB/CS | 119:38 K:BB | .333 BABIP | 33.7 GB% | 16.6 LD% | 49.7 FB%
See Morrison, except add more power and a more neutral stance on his potential. The power is what makes Bianucci standout but his strikeouts need to come down. He struggled at High-A last year, striking out 69 times in 50 games. Chris Davis anyone?
#19 Kasey Kiker | LHP | AA | 21 | 1st rd, pick 12 in 2006 | 8.6 K/9 | 4.7 BB/9 | 126 IP | 3.86 ERA | 4.00 FIP | 1.38 WHIP | .6 Hr/9 | 7.7 H/9 | .292 BABIP | 39.3 GB% | 14.9 LD% | 38.7 FB%
Possessing a 90 to 93 mph fastball, a mid 70’s curveball with bite and a 79 to 80 mph changeup, Kiker’s ceiling is a number three starter; worst case scenario – power reliever. Doesn’t sound bad, except you don’t want your first round pick being a reliever. He is currently starting games at Double-A this year, but he’ll need to keep his fastball in the nineties all year and not have it tail off into the upper eighties like he did last year if he wants to be a starter long-term.
#7 (KC) Danny Gutierrez | RHP | A+/AA | 22 | 33rd rd in 2005 | 7.8 K/9 | 1.9 BB/9 | 32 1/3 IP | 1.99 ERA | 2.87 FIP | .84 WHIP | .3 Hr/9 | 5.6 H/9 | .216 BABIP | 43 GB% | 19.8 LD% | 34.7 FB%
He’s the Milton Bradley of pitchers. Traded by the Royals because of character issues (legal issues – check (assault and disorderly conduct); pissing off management – check), Gutierrez throws a 91 to 95 mph fastball and a nasty power curve (mph – mid 70’s). He was injured for part of the season last year, but scouts believe his ceiling is Darryl Kile if all breaks right. His fastball tends to be straight, but he has impeccable control of both his offerings.
#20 Wilmer Font | RHP | A | 19 | 2006 Venezuela | 8.7 K/9 | 4.9 BB/9 | 108 1/3 IP | 3.49 ERA | 3.83 FIP | 1.40 WHIP | .3 Hr/9 | 7.7 H/9 | .299 BABIP | 37 GB% | 20.3 LD% | 34.6 FB%
Another Venezuela pipeline product that has produced Elvis Andrus, Marin Perez, Guillermo Moscoso, Max Ramirez, and Luis Sardinas (among others), Font has a fastball that he throws between 93 and 98 mph. His other offerings are works-in-progress, as are his mechanics. As the 2009 season progressed, so did Font’s offerings, work ethic, and pitching (craft, i.e. not just throwing). He’s walk rate (4.9 BB/9) is downright disgusting, his strikeout rate leaves waiting with bated breath to see how his 2010 season ends. He is currently at Single-A to start this year, but could rise quickly.