Some great prospects are about to find a home on the Rangers. I wrote about their future at some length back on December 1 after they’d signed Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Jon Gray and Kole Calhoun. Click here if you’d like to mosey through their organizational outlook in Prospect News: Texas Rangers Wrangle a Future For Their Jung.
Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2022 | Highest level played | ETA
1. 3B Josh Jung | 24 | AAA | 2022
The puns across the years might be promising here. One of the few ways to stay young, puns. Jokes in general, really. Organizational rebuilds are one way to get old in a hurry, so I’ll bet Jung was happy to see the Rangers sign Seager and Semien, who should lengthen the lineup and take pressure off Jung to carry the club. At 6’2” 214 lbs, he’d been a hit-over-power type until 2021, when he blasted 19 HR in 78 games across two levels and slashed .326/.398/.592. If not for an early injury, he was tracking as a mid-season call-up in 2021 and should become a big league lineup cog a few weeks into the 2022 campaign. Doesn’t make much sense to spend all that coin in free agency then tinker with the timeline of your best prospect.
2. RHP Jack Leiter | 21 | NCAA | 2023
If I roll around in the memory of it, I’m still a little shocked nobody took a run at Leiter out of high school in 2019. The Yankees drafted him in the 20th round, but he was easily a first-round talent at the time. It’s obvious now of course but it was pretty plain then, too, but the Al Leiter piece and a strong commitment to Vanderbuilt kept anyone from really trying to buy him away from Vandy. I feel a little bad for thinking this way, but it might’ve netted a better pitcher if someone had brought him in then. As is, Leiter has pitched in highly competitive games against talented opponents, so his experience is not a bad thing by any means, but outs have been more important than development, and Leiter has leaned into his fastball and hasn’t needed the off-speed stuff much. Fastball command is still the most important thing, so again it’s not a bad thing that he went to college, and he made money doing it. Just a flight of fancy on my part that gives us a glance at what he has to work on and why. Could he come up in 2022 and compete? Probably. His slider and curveball both work well when he commands them. Should he? I doubt it. His changeup feel needs refinement so he can depend on it against lefties. At 6’0” 205 lbs, Leiter doesn’t fit the prototype of an innings eater, but he’s strong through his base, and his delivery is balanced and fluid. I’ll probably wind up low on Leiter compared to the field, but I’d love to have him in any league.
3. 1B Dustin Harris | 22 | A+ | 2023
The other day, I saw a fantasy-facing list that had Harris ranked 9th, so the Buy window isn’t fully closed on this guy in some corners of the Internet. Looked more like a real-life list all the way through, to be honest, but that’s pretty common. Already near the bottom of the defensive spectrum, the 6’2” 185 lb lefthanded hitter will have to mash to make it. Lucky for us, he has the swing to make it happen: a speedy-short uppercut that brings 2021 Matt Olson to mind when he turns on one. He can vary the hands to hit tough pitches, too. In 110 games across two levels in 2021, Harris slashed .327/.401/.542 with 20 HR and 25 SB, striking out just 73 times and drawing 47 walks. His 8.1%/15.6% BB/K rate in High-A is enticing, especially considering he was 1.9 years younger than his average competitor.
4. RHP Cole Winn | 22 | AAA | 2022
I can see a case for going pitcher-heavy with this list, given the wide margin for error in the club’s cavernous new ballpark, and Winn would be a good fantasy piece in any non-Colorado environment anyway. At 6’2” 190 lbs, he features fluid mechanics and a four-pitch arsenal. He controls each of his fastball, slider, curveball and changeup well enough to use them in any count, so it will be interesting to see how he deploys them as a big leaguer. Double-A proved to be little challenge for the 15th overall pick in the 2018 draft. Winn aced the level for 78 innings across 19 starts, posting a 2.31 ERA and 0.82 WHIP with a 32.8 percent strikeout rate. He was less dominant in two starts at AAA, but who cares about how a 21-year-old looks for a week and a half at AAA to end a season? Not me, really, and he snagged a 3.38 ERA for his troubles there despite a 13.9 percent walk rate. He has a decent case to be ranked ahead of Leiter, but you wouldn’t have to pay anything like that to acquire him.
5. SS Luisangel Acuña | SS | A | 2024
Ronald’s little brother played well in his first full-season assignment, slashing .266/.345/.404 with 12 HR and 44 SB in 111 games. He doesn’t have his big brother’s thunder, but his hand-eye coordination offers paths to power that aren’t strength based, and it’s not like the 5’10” 181 lb righty is a weakling. On the plus side, he’s a very tough out, fouling off good pitches to find more hittable ones. He played just about every day, batting mostly third for the Down East Wood Ducks and filling the role admirably. He does look a little like Ronald in the batter’s box, especially at the point of contact and beyond, and he does have the easy-looking opposite-field punch that helps make the elder elite.
6. OF Bubba Thompson | 23 | AA | 2022
I watched Thompson and Josh Smith lead off the season’s final game with back-to-back bunt singles. First time I’ve seen that since the Marlins with Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo. He led off all year, actually, Thompson, picking up a meaty 470 plate appearances in 104 games, all at AA. His lines are not spectacular, but they’re plenty good for a multi-sport athlete drafted out of high school playing his third full pro season at AA. Context is a slippery situation in the pandemic. I caught some Reddit flak for putting Thompson at the back of a top 100 early in 2021 as people remembered his empty 2019 when he slashed .178/.261/.312 with 5 HR and 12 SB in 57 games at High-A. I totally get how something like that could stick in your mind, but he bounced back with 16 HR, 25 SB and a .275/.325/.483 slash line along with solid to plus defense in centerfield, where he should continue to progress given his plus speed and athletic feel. It’s kind of a funny scenario in the sense that Cristian Pache is still safely inside most Top 100 lists I see, and if you give me the choice between him and Thompson today, I think I’m taking Thompson. I wouldn’t go trading for him though. That park is double tough, and he should be borderline free for those interested in rostering him.
7. 2B Ezequiel Duran | 22 | A+ | 2023
Acquired from the Yankees in the Joey Gallo deal, Duran is a twitch factory who logged 19 HR and 19 SB in 105 games in High-A this year, slashing .267/.342/.486 between the two organizations. He also went to the fall league and slashed .278/.333/.611 with another three home runs in 16 games. I’ve been into this guy’s baseball actions since the first time I saw video of him way back in 2017. He’s a stout right handed hitter at 5’11” 185 lbs who swings like he’s killing snakes, as my old man used to say. Texas didn’t get any real big names in return for Joey Gallo, but I think they did okay in adding multiple players with good potential.
8. 2B Justin Foscue | 23 | AA | 2023
Foscue laid waste to High-A pitching for 33 games, blasting 14 home runs and slashing .296/.407/.736 before moving on to Double-A and finding his first resistance as a pro. His 89 wRC+ in 26 games at the level isn’t a big red flag, nor is the 27.9 percent strikeout rate, but Foscue did find himself selling out for power at the lower levels before paying the price against better pitching, and if he struggles early in 2022, prospect people will start dropping him down their lists. Plus he has no speed to float the fantasy profile during slumps. For these reasons and because I don’t think he’ll be an elite power source in Texas, he’s more of a Sell than a Buy for me if anyone comes to your teams asking after him.
9. RHP Owen White | 22 | A | 2022
A star of this year’s Arizona Fall League, Here’s what I wrote about him in December:
“Delayed, abbreviated debuts don’t go much better than White’s. He cruised through A ball with the Down East Wood Ducks then dominated the Arizona Fall League, going 5-0 in six starts with a 1.91 ERA despite being 2.3 years younger and much less experienced than his average competitor. Most impressively, he allowed just 0.3 HR/9. Looks good, right?
Yes, Inner Voice, it looks very good.
So I told my brother to snap him up in the draft, right?
Well, no. I told him I’d probably avoid White altogether. I wouldn’t say I’m anti Fall League, but someone else might say as much if they were expecting every fall star to fly up my rankings. It’s an exhibition league, is my take. Very little opponent scouting or familiarity involved, if any, which makes it a far cry from regular season baseball.”
So that was me quoting myself talking to my brother about whether or not he should draft Owen White early in a 20-team First-Year-Player Draft this winter. Not that I don’t want him if he can be brought in on the cheap. I just think he probably needs more time and is due for a downturn in value if he struggles at all or gets hurt again. If you count the Arizona League, he’s thrown 63.2 professional innings since being drafted in 2018. He was lights out in Low-A and again in the exhibition league, and he’s a fun prospect on a team with a good opportunity awaiting him when he’s ready.
10. SS Josh H. Smith | 24 | AA | 2022
Texas has two 24-year-olds named Josh Smith on the roster. Suffice it to say they’ve got a deep system. Several names who could be included will miss the list, with C Sam Huff and OF Evan Carter being the biggest names left off the list for the likes of Josh H. Smith, another player the club acquired in the return for Gallo. This Agent Smith carried a 14.2%/15.7% BB/K rate for 30 games in AA after the trade and has generally been pretty awesome with the bat. I’ll list his on base percentages across the levels here:
A- = .450
A = .480
A+ = .414
AA = .425
So that’s pretty good, and it’s not born from passivity either as he’s hit .324, .333, .313, .294 at those stops. Perhaps I laid this out poorly. Sorry if I made this unnecessarily complicated. That’s the opposite of what Smith does in the batter’s box, where everything looks pretty simple for the left-handed hitter with a sweet swing and the hand-eye coordination to hit (or lay off) just about any pitch he’s seen to this point in his career.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.
draft’s over, i ended up with these:
1.35 e. de la cruz
47th overall: c.morris
75th overall: b.chandler (from his tools grades i was surprised he was still here almost, he wouldn’t have been if he didn’t hold out for the money he got from PIT in the 3rd, it’s possible his two way playing scared off some, i don’t know. he does make it likely my league mates aren’t following PL though, where he was a top 30 overall listed guy on their top 600 1st year player draft rankings (which are quite old by now though (june 28th))
83rd overall: k.howell (from where you had him ranked at MIL, and the guys higher than him in sept’s top 100, he could make your new top 100, was likely quite close to making the sept one)
113th overall: b.bello (from all of PL, you, and MLB.com seems he’s a solid chance of mid rotation starter)
144th overall: l.butler (good thing your OAK post had been out for almost a week when this pick came up)
175th overall: r.castro (looky looky a top 100 guy nearly at end of draft, somewhat from ETA of course)
Best day of the year! Thanks Grey, for everything you do here.
Great write up itch. I’ve got Jung and Duran, excited about what Jung can do this year and a little nervous about Duran’s playing time after the Semien and Seager signings
Thanks, Old School Brother!
That’s fair RE Duran, but he is at least athletic enough to make a late switch to outfield. Could get traded again, too. Getting moved once seems to increase a guy’s chances of getting dealt again.
Looking for some wisdom!
10 Team Dynasty League
6×6 with OBP/DT
6×6 with QS over wins and Holds & Saves are separate cats
I recently put Fried on the block. I have an offer on the table for A Rendon, but just received some interest elsewhere.
Id send Bellinger and Fried and get back Olson and ??
Below is the other managers roster……. If you were to move belli and Fried, what would you want back with Olsen?
Or do you prefer the Rendon deal?
Freeman 1B | ATL
Jose Altuve 2B | HOU
Justin Turner 3B | LAD
Dansby Swanson SS | ATL
Trea Turner 2B,SS | LAD
Matt Olson 1B | OAK
Michael Brantley OF | HOU
Michael Conforto OF | NYM
Brandon Lowe 2B,OF | TB
Starling Marte OF | NYM
Giancarlo Stanton OF | NYY
Alex Verdugo OF | BOS
Jose Abreu 1B | CHW
Ronald Acuna OF | ATL
Kris Bryant 1B,3B,OF | SF
Jeff McNeil 2B,OF | NYM
Diego Castillo P | SEA
Aroldis Chapman P | NYY
Edwin Diaz P | NYM
Mark Melancon P | ARI
Chris Sale P | BOS
Kyle Hendricks P | CHC
Clayton Kershaw P | LAD
Tyler Mahle P | CIN
Aaron Nola P | PHI
Carlos Rodon P | CHW
Zack Wheeler P | PHI
Feels like the wrong time to sell Bellinger and the wrong time to buy Olson, so I’d probably go with the Rendon deal and hope for a Bellinger bounceback.
a. Great write-up, love the list. Have Harris and White, hoping White pans out.
b. Saw that Bryan Acuna signed yesterday with the Twins for only 600k. What’s your interpretation of the value of the signing? Does it take away anything from his overall potential?
c. With yesterday’s signings, the following are available in my dynasty.
William Bergolla Jr
Juan Simon or Simon Juan (some uncertainty as to what his surname is, lol)
Would you sign up any of them up in my 4×4 league (RC, TB, SB, OBP X WHIP, K/9, SVH, QS)?
Walsh, SMarte, Betts, Arozarena, Biggio
Bench-Aranda, OLopez, Burger, Eguy, Villar, Tena, Fraley, Connor Joe, EPereira, Robles
MiLB Harris, JWalker, BAcuna, Kreidler, CSantana, LButler, Cowser, Wiemer
SP Musgrove, Manaoah, Cease, Roansy, Gonsolin, Houck, CMorris, Ryan, RSaurez, Kopech
RP CGreen, Hendriks, Iglesias, Kittredge, Doval, Whitlock
MiLB Canterino, Lodolo, Walston, OWhite, Eury, Logan T Allen, Jayden Murray
c. Prepping for a roto 12-team dynasty draft with shallow benches -13 hitters, 9 pitchers, 6 bench (total) and 1 IL spot and 0 MiLB slots. Who would be your top 10 that make an impact both this year and beyond?
d. Norm MacDonald quote of the day for January 16, 2022
‘Jimmy Carter has written a book of poetry. It includes his latest poem…’Ode to a country full of ungrateful stupid bastards”
e. Marx Brothers quote of the day for January 16, 2022
‘Taxes? I got an uncle who lives in Taxes?’
I spent about an hour last night watching Norm content : )
I’m blanking on my favorite joke I heard at the moment (it got very late and started running together) but I’m coming back and dropping it in here if I remember. It was so good!!
I’d like to fit Arias on there somewhere for trade value, but space is getting pretty tight on that roster. I guess Lopez or Biggio could go, but mostly because I think you could drop Lopez and get him back, and I think you could trade Biggio.
b. I don’t ding young Acuña for the dollar amount. Those are typically agreed to a long time before the big day, his family has enough money that he might’ve prioritized something along with the raw dollars, and a lot of great players have signed for less than $1 million: Tatis, Acuña, Albies, J-Ram,
First thing’s first, try to get back upper minors talent or young MLB guys. Savvy dynasty players will always been open to flipping teens for players who can help, so you should only get teenagers with established value that you might be able to flip back into young big leaguers.
Which is I suppose how we got here: you’re seeking a source to adequately measure market value of teenage prospects, and it doesn’t really exist. If it did, it would have to change a lot more frequently than MLB rankings to keep up with the leaps players in this age group can make. You can bounce around among Prospects Live and Rotowire and Fantrax to get a decent idea of a guy’s market value, but even that isn’t really going to do the trick because everyone’s got their own lenses into the market.
Man I should’ve listened to my first sentence and just started an article! I’ve still got thoughts percolating here!
Amazing, thanks for taking the time! And I’ll look forward to the article ;)
I’m also looking forward to your next composite list and FYPD stuff, so you’re forgiven for not writing it.
I hear you on aiming for upper minors talent and young big leaguers. I find I can do that with my best players, but unless I’m offering an elite piece, it’s a lot easier to swing volume deals that bring back teenagers and draft picks. So I’m playing both strategies at once and also tanking for the 2023 draft.
Anyway, I guess my dream setup is to have a system that assigns dollars values based on prospect rank, and scaled to an auction calculator, so I can say for example: prospect rank 64 is worth $X and prospect 127 is worth $Y and draft pick 12 is worth $Z. Obviously far from an exact science but it would be a handy tool.
Cheers Itch! Fantastic team series, congrats on reaching the finish line.
FWIW, I understand exactly what you’re saying and what Itch is saying about proximity prospects and young mlb’ers.
I started my train wreck rebuild in August 2019. 18-team league. Moved everyone but Flaherty and Woodruff for prospects. Traded for picks. Grabbed all the non-teen high-end prospects I could.
In august 2022 I sent a guy in your current position Kelenic, O.Cruz, N.Gonzalez, Miranda, J.Lowe, R.Contreras, and a 1st round pick for Devers and Correa. Some guys jumped on him for dealing Devers, but he got a boatload of high upside prospects with good mlb proximity. We were both happy. I’ve since reacquired Miranda.
In 2019 I shipped Bryant for Brujan and Robles. In spring 2020 I sent Freeman for JRod and C. Seager. In 2020 I sent N. Cruz for a fypd pick that became A. Vaughn. Spring 2021 I moved Sonny Gray and Karinchak for D. May and Kirilloff.
It took 2 years to completely rebuild my roster. In another year I should compete for the title with a young team that can dominate for a half decade or more.
JRod was the only A-ball guy I acquired by trade, and I never drafted a high schooler.
I hope that helps even a little.
It does! Thanks. I just acquired a mountain of A-ballers for Verdugo and Schwindel, but those are hardly pieces I’m crying about losing.
This team is a dumpster fire so I only have 3 or 4 legitimate players to dangle for established prospects, but I’ll make it a point to aim for double and triple-A returns. It’s near impossible to acquire former prospects already in the majors.
I also plan to have several 1st round picks in 2023, which is meant to be a great draft class.
Sounds like strong build! Nicely played! Thanks for sharing!
Wow I beat Ante here? That doesn’t happen often.
Old Dad sayings “I was so confused I didn’t know if I was on foot or on horseback!” The rest of my sayings are best not repeated in mixed company.
Josh Smith … Bat sounds great how about the glove?
Evan Carter… Is there enough Thump in his bat to be relative in fantasy?
Anyone in the international signing class we should keep a close eye on?
First!! : )
Smith is a solid defender who looks like he’ll produce strong metrics with good positioning because he’s a good-hands guy.
Carter is a slap and dash type at the moment, but it takes time to learn how to open up and attack the pitch in front of the plate, and he’s quite a bit younger than his average competitor thus far. He’s definitely in the camp that waits until a pitch is deep in its trajectory to decide if he’s swinging, and that can be very effective in the lower minors where control is spotty. And that’s the issue: he’ll have to change his approach to a fairly distant part of the aggression spectrum to access his power in game. It’s there in the body at 6’4″ 190 lbs, but timing the rotation and selecting the pitches you can drive is incredibly hard. Yes, is probably the long-term answer to your question, but he’s got a ways to go.
Not fun or even feasible to give the real answer to the signing class question, which is yes, you should keep an eye on everybody. Cristhian Vaquero got the big money and will likely have the most short-term resale value along with Arias. I like Ryan Reckley in San Francisco quite a bit and think, in general, track the guys in orgs with success on the development front over guys who get big bonuses, wherever you might have to choose between paths.
Thanks for the tip Itch!