Did anybody else forget that the Texas Rangers led the AL in wins last year? Because I do…early playoff exits, right Red Sox? I feel like I’ve never been so down on a winning program. The Rangers need pitching, and they need it bad. Despite finishing 7th in runs scored in all of the MLB, they barely had a positive run differential. The third worst team ERA in the AL will do that to ya. So all this to say, the Rangers need pitching, and they need it badly. Is there any help on the way from the farm system? That’s a good question, but unfortunately there’s only Yohander Mendez ready to make an impact this season, and how much of an impact he makes is up for debate. Most of the exciting arms in the Texas system are 2-3+ years away, at least. So they’ll have to look elsewhere for reinforcements. The system has been raided in recent years by promotions, and big trades to acquire, first Cole Hamels, and then Jonathan Lucroy, among others. In fact, four of the team’s last five first round picks have been moved over the last two seasons. So yeah son, the cupboard is bare. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the worst system I’ve ranked, but it could be in the bottom ten, and it’s certainly in the bottom half of the league. Have I got you excited to read this yet? Don’t worry, as a special treat for reading this, you get my Top 100 Prospects post coming Wednesday! However, for today it’s the Texas Rangers Top Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Yohander Mendez, LHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA/A+
One of the top lefthanded pitchers in the minors, Mendez had a meteoric rise throughout minors in 2016, reaching Texas for a handful of innings. His easy repeatable mechanics, and elite changeup, make him a high floor pitching prospect. His fastball is solid, but it works mostly in the low 90’s, and plays up due to the changeup. He could stand to improve the command of his fastball if he wants to make the jump from mid-rotation type. Should make some starts with the Rangers this year, or help out of the pen. Not a superstar in the making, but a solid starter.
Leody Taveras, OF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: A-/Rk
A high upside switch hitter with a serious set of tools, even drawing Carlos Beltran comps from some scouts. He has an athletic build with projectability, leaving many to think he’ll grow into more power. He generates plus bat speed, and can barrel up a fastball with ease. He’s still learning to hit breaking pitches, so there will be some ugly swings, but his plate approach is solid. Keep in mind he’s still three years away from the majors, but if you’re in a league with the depth to wait on someone he’s a solid buy.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Ariel Jurado, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
A polish over stuff, pitchability type, he generates a ton of groundballs with his low 90’s sinking fastball. Jurado mixes in an above average changeup, and a fringe breaking ball. He’s a back of the rotation innings eater in the making, but nothing real exciting. He should see assignment to AAA out of camp with a late 2017 ETA as a possibility.
Ronald Guzman, 1B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA
A hit tool over power first base type, Guzman chased the longball in 2015 and things got a little out of whack with his swing. He made some adjustments heading into 2016, and showed more balance at the plate in AA, cutting his strikeout rate, and improving his walk rate. He’s still got more of line drive swing, best exemplified by his 24% LD rate. He also makes hard contact to all fields, hitting 7 of his 16 homers to the opposite field. Should see a nearly full season at AAA, with a late season cameo a definite.
Andy Ibanez, 2B/3B | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A-
A Cuban import with a solid resume on the island, Ibanez was the youngest member of the Cuban WBC team in 2013. He’s a bat first 2nd baseman, with not much speed, and only middle of the road pop. Many think he’s close to the majors, but is presently blocked at the MLB level by Rougned Odor. My best guess is he ends up a bench bat utility player, before being moved for a secondary piece the Rangers need at some point in the next two years.
Josh Morgan, 2B/SS/3B/C | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A+
A super utility type player that logged time at 2nd, short, 3rd, and even behind the plate. Morgan is due to see more time as a catcher in 2017, and if he is able to add that to his bag of tricks, he might be an interesting deep league Swiss arm knife in the future. He’s a plus contact hitter with on base skills, and a little bit of pop. A heavy groundball approach, and exclusively pull side power make me question some of the more favorable power projections, but 10-12 seems possible in his best years. Glove should carry him to the majors within a couple years.
Brett Martin, LHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A-
A tall, strongly built pitcher, who finally got some kinks in his mechanics ironed out in 2016. He mixes a low-mid 90’s fastball, with curve that flashes plus when it’s on, and two below average offerings in a change, and cutter. Has been limited by injuries, so 2017 is a big year for Martin to show he can handle a decent workload.
Joe Palumbo, LHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-
Any pitcher that mixes a 52% GB rate, with a 11.4 K/9 is worth your attention, even if he did it a little old for the Low A Level. He still needs to work on his control, and he started the season in the pen before a move to the rotation. However even as a starter he maintained his mid-90’s velo on his fastball, touching 96-97. He mixes his heater with an average change, and plus curveball that sets up all his other offerings. Someone you can grab cheap in deep dynasty formats.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Anderson Tejeda, SS | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: A-/Rk
A power hitting middle infielder, that seems to get the shaft from the mainstream prospect sites. For me he’s easily the third best prospect in the system for fantasy, but he’s 18 so he’s more of a long shot with upside. I know, so why isn’t Taveras here? I like Taveras better, and think he’s a universal top 100 guy. So that’s why Leody is on the beach, and Tejeda’s a Lolita. Has had some swing and miss to his game since coming stateside, with pedestrian walk rates to go with it, but he also hit 9 homers in 223 at bats this summer. That’s pretty interesting from an 18 year old middle infielder.
Alex Speas, RHP | Age: 18 | ETA: 2021 | 2016 Level: Rk
A Georgia Prep player the Rangers scooped up in the second round, Speas has the highest upside of any arm in the system. He touches upper 90’s with regularity, and works 95-97, and he’s just a baby!! He throws a power slider that looks like a plus pitch, and a raw change. His command and control are poor, but he’s so young and raw it’s to be expected. If he can develop the change and harness his stuff, we could be talking about a front-line starter. It’s going to take years though.
Cole Ragans, LHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk
A high school pitcher from the 2016 draft I was honestly maybe a little low on. I’m still unsure how I feel about Ragans. When I watch him I’m never really impressed, but scouts throw around Cole Hamels and Jon Lester comps. So maybe I’m missing some shizz. Could have three plus pitches when he’s fully baked, starting with his low to mid 90’s fastball that touches 95-96, a developing curve, and change. His delivery is clean, and there’s some projection left in his game.
Jose Almonte, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: A-
A power profile, and an impressive A ball debut make Almonte, another in a long line of good international finds by the Rangers. He’s a favorite of my Prospect Podcast Co-Host Michael Halpern of Imaginarybrickwall.com, and his plus bat speed I’m sure is the reason. He stole 8 bases this year, but most of his run grades are average to below average. It’s possible he just has good instincts on the bases. So, I’m not sure I should label him a power/speed guy.
Kole Enright, 3B | Age: 19 | ETA: 2021 | 2016 Level: Rk
A third round pick in this past year’s draft, that took off in the Arizona Rookie League slashing .313/.378/.420. He’s a switch-hitter with a clean balance contract stroke from both sides of the plate. His 6’1 frame hints to untapped power potential, which most agree will be at worst, average at peak. One worth keeping an eye on long term.
Yeyson Yrizarri, SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2021 | 2016 Level: A-
A very raw middle infield prospect that showed some speed, with a little pop at Low A Hickory this year. He has absolutely zero approach at the moment and can swing wildly, there’s some questions about him sticking at short, but there is upside. That’s why he’s here, upside, but I’d stay away unless you’re in a 30 team and looking for a lotto ticket.
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