This Texas Rangers farm system is like a nice aged bottle of scotch. When you first see it you think “Sure, a glass of scotch sounds nice right now.” You pour, casually sip on it for a while, maybe inhaling the aromas once or twice, and once you’re done, the words, “Damn, that was good,” come out of your mouth. Okay, maybe that was a weird analogy, but that’s how I felt after picking apart these Rangers prospects.
At the top, there are toolsy outfielders as far as the eye can see with one of my favorite 2018 FYPD arms wedged in the middle. Pitching depth is evident early and often in these rankings with 10 of the top-18 being pitchers.
Overall System Grade: B
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: Nashville – Pacific Coast League
Double-A: Friscso – Texas League
Single-A (Advanced): Down East – Carolina League
Single-A (Full): Hickory – South Atlantic League
Short-season Single-A: Spokane – Northwest League
Rookie: Two teams in the Dominican Summer League and one team in the Arizona League
All other team top-25 prospect rankings can be found here.
Also, make sure to check out the Fantrax Dynasty Podcast on the Fantrax Podcast Network with Nathan Dokken, Van Lee, and Ron Rigney.
New Top-25 Texas Rangers Prospects
1. Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 3/21/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/A-): .266/.378/.457/.835, 10 2B, 6 3B, 9 HR, 13 SB, 14.1 BB%, 24.8 K%, 256 AB
Julio Pablo Martinez didn’t sign until the middle of Spring Training in 2018 and didn’t end up making his professional debut until June 2 in the Dominican Summer League. His first professional season went as well as you can expect from a new international import. There were some inconsistent stretches, but overall, JPM flashed enough of his intriguing skill set to make the Rangers look smart for dishing out $2.8 million to acquire his services.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) March 6, 2018
At the forefront, JPM has two plus tools with the potential for a third down the road. He’s shown an advanced feel for hitting with solid plate-coverage and discipline. The swing is fluid and looks effortless, yet the ball routinely rockets off his bat due to plus bat speed and quick wrists. This is the hitting equivalence to a pitcher that hits triple-digits with an effortless delivery. While Martinez is more hit over power at the moment, there’s enough raw power and loft in his swing to grade his power as a 45 grade longterm with a current ceiling of 50.
As good as he is at the plate, speed is the carrying tool here for Martinez. Those 13 steals and measly 59.1% success rate don’t reach out and smack you in the face, but it’s also not overly surprising for a foreign player during his first taste of professional baseball in the United States. Martinez is a plus runner and can cover a lot of ground in center field, however, that speed has been stifled by his poor pitcher reads. Even back in his Cuba days, JPM never has a high success rate stealing bases. Hopefully, now that he’s in the minors, that will improve and unlock the 30-steal threat that’s lurking deep inside him. Martinez’s offensive ceiling is somewhere in the .280/15-20 HR/30 SB range in my eyes.
2. Cole Winn, RHP, DOB: 11/25/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats: Did Not Pitch
If you wrote down all of the trademarks of a staff ace, Cole Winn would check off most of those boxes. Arsenal, command, mechanics, they’re all there and they’re all beautiful. Winn, the 15th overall pick back in June, works out of a 3/4 arm slot with a very clean and repeatable delivery. His low to mid-90’s fastball is what I like to call “easy velocity” as there’s very little effort in his delivery. Winn also gets strong arm side run on his fastball, making it very hard for right-handed hitters to barrel up when he’s locating it on the inner half of the plate.
The secondary offerings are just as impressive as Winn’s heater, with a plus hammer curve being the best of the bunch. Winn will also mix in a slider with two-plane tilt and has shown good feel for a potentially above-average fading changeup. When Winn is on and commanding his arsenal, good luck. The Rangers decided to shut him down to monitor his workload after being drafted, but once the 2019 season begins, Winn will be unleashed on minor league hitters. This might be a prep arm with zero professional experience, but I expect Winn to move rather quickly and very well could be the top dog in these rankings next winter.
3. Bubba Thompson, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 6/9/98, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A): .289/.344/.446/.790, 18 2B, 8 HR, 32 SB, 6.3 BB%, 28.7 K%, 332 AB
In a vacuum, there’s not a ton of difference between JPM, Leody Taveras, and Bubba Thompson. All three are speedy outfielders with a little bit of pop and average or better contact skills. What has been different is the stats they are pumping out. Thompson enjoyed a big season for Single-A Hickory, ending the season on a 14 HR/57 SB pace. That plus-plus speed is displayed quite frequently, both on the bases and in the outfield where Thompson has shown incredible range and a strong throwing arm. It wouldn’t shock me if he snuck in a gold glove award during his career.
Ultimately, what caused me to slot Thompson behind Martinez is his overly aggressive approach. He doesn’t have the patience that Martinez has or the discipline that Taveras shows which has led to a 6.0% walk rate and 27.2% strikeout rate since being drafted. With his clean swing, bat speed, and balanced setup at the plate, Thompson should make enough contact to post solid batting average more often than not, though, the aggressive approach caps him in the .275-.280 range in my mind and likely will cause some annoying prolonged slumps. If he can refine his approach and become more selective at the plate, Thompson very easily could wind up as a better all-around player than Taveras or Martinez as he has arguably the best speed and raw power of the trio.
4. Leody Taveras, OF, Bats: S, DOB: 9/8/98, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+): .246/.312/.332/.644, 16 2B, 7 3B, 5 HR, 19 SB, 8.8 BB%, 16.6 K%, 521 AB
You always have a few prospects in every system where the tools outweigh the production. Taveras is a perfect example of that. With tremendous athleticism and plus speed, Taveras covers a lot of ground in center field and projects as a 30-plus stolen base threat if he can improve his efficiency stealing bases (69.5% for career). Sensing a trend here? As a switch-hitter, Taveras has above-average contact skills and plate discipline from both sides and exhibits some sneaky good pop from the left side. While power will never be a big part of his game, Taveras has enough bat speed and raw power to routinely reach double-digit dingers, even if most of those are from the left side.
There’s not much of a difference when comparing his swing from either side of the plate. Taveras uses a moderate leg load and leg kick from both sides and generates plus bat speed. The one difference I see is that he drops his hands more during coil from the left side, creating a slight uppercut swing path and additional loft. That’s not a major concern as his swing is still quick and direct through the zone. Taveras is a better hitter than his career .253 average lets on.
5. Hans Crouse, RHP, DOB: 9/15/98, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A): 54.2 IP, 2.47 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 10.2 K/9, .209 AVG
The Rangers started the 2017 draft with a bang, selecting Thompson and Hans Crouse with their first two picks. Some would say that Crouse’s upside is close to Winn’s. I don’t have him quite on that level, but he’s not too far off either. However, the X-factor and reason Crouse is three spots lower is his spotty control. Crouse has two plus pitches in his mid-90’s running fastball that can tough 97-98 and a nasty low-80’s slider with strong tilt to it. Those two pitches right there could make him a dynamic late-inning bullpen arm if needed. But hopefully, that’s not the end result here. And honestly, I don’t think it will be.
Crouse has improved his control and simplified his delivery slightly, though, there’s still a lot of effort to it. He’s also flashed a fading changeup that should be a third serviceable offering for him. If he can continue to make strides with his control, Crouse has the upside of a high-K No. 2 starter. Further simplification of his delivery wouldn’t hurt either.
6. Sherten Apostel, 3B, Bats: R, DOB: 3/11/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (RK/A-): .278/.420/.460/.880, 8 2B, 8 HR, 3 SB, 18.3 BB%, 22.3 K%, 176 AB
You might be surprised to see a prospect ranked this high that was a player to be named later in a deal for a middle reliever just four short months ago. But hey, sometimes PTBNLs turn out to be something special. That very well could be the case here with Sherten Apostel. The 19-year-old Curacao native was signed back in the 2015 J2 period by the Pittsburgh Pirates and really begun to establish himself as a prospect firmly on the rise over the last two seasons. During that time, he has walked almost as many times as he’s struck out while posting back to back seasons of at least a .420 OBP and .880 OPS.
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) October 4, 2018
Apostel has sneaky athleticism in his strong 6’4 frame and moves well enough at third base. He’ll likely never be a standout defender, but as long as he can play an adequate third base, his bat will carry him to the Majors. As of now, Apostel’s plus raw power stands out over his contact skills. There’s some length in his swing due to a late, deep hand coil. Once he gets his hands moving forward, Apostel has solid bat speed with a swing path built for power. However, he’ll need to clean up his swing and take a more direct path to the ball if he wants to hit for average as well. If you can nab Apostel in your dynasty league right now, I highly recommend you do so before his price tag continues to rise.
7. Cole Ragans, LHP, DOB: 12/12/97, ETA 2021
2018 Stats: Did Not Pitch
After posting back to back 10.5+ K/9 rates in 2016 and 2017, Ragans had to go undergo Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2018 season recovering. When he’s at his best, Ragans looks like a future No. 2 starter with a clean and repeatable from a 3/4 arm slot and good extension. His fastball sits in the 90-94 range with arm side life and he’s shown a good feel for both his curveball and changeup which both have a chance at being plus offerings. The one thing holding him back has been spotty control so far in his professional career. It will be interesting to see how he fares post-surgery with his control. If he can show at least average control and command, Ragans could make a very good #2 type starter and form a rotation trio with Winn and Crouse.
8. Jonathan Hernandez, RHP, DOB: 7/6/96, ETA 2019/2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 121.1 IP, 3.63 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 9.9 K/9, .218 AVG
Man, there’s a lot of really good arsenals in this system. But do you know what else there is? A lot of control and command issues. Hernandez throws both a four-seam and two-seam fastball, both of which are highly effective. He’s added velocity to the four-seamer and now sits in the mid-90’s and can add a tick or two when needed. Mixed in with the two fastballs are a biting slider and average changeup with some fade when he’s throwing it well. But like I said, command has been a problem so far and limits his upside to that of a mid-rotation starter, albeit, one with plenty of strikeouts. If a move to the bullpen is needed, that fastball/slider mix would be deadly.
9. Jonathan Ornelas, INF, Bats: R, DOB: 5/6/00, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (RK): .302/.389/.459/.848, 10 2B, 3 HR, 15 SB, 12.3 BB%, 20.2 K%, 172 AB
A third-round pick this past June, Ornelas is one of those prospects that often gets undervalued due to not having any plus tools. While that may be true, Ornelas does a lot of things well offensive and has the upside of a bat-first infielder down the road. To become that, Ornelas will need to clean up his swing a little bit. There’s a lot of pre-pitch movement and Ornelas tends to rotate his hips early and get his bat head out in front. Don’t get me wrong, the bat speed is downright sexy and creates plenty of hard contact, but those mechanics cause Ornelas to pull most pitches, as evident by his 54.1% pull rate. Furthermore, only 15.8% of his batted balls went to the opposite field.
You can have all the bat speed you want, but that type of approach is going to get exposed 10 times out of 10. With his above-average raw power and speed, I can easily see Ornelas developing into a 20/20 threat. However, the hit tool is capped at a 40 until he adjusts his swing and figures out that it’s not a crime to hit a ball to the opposite field.
10. Anderson Tejeda, SS, Bats: L, DOB: 5/1/98, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+): .259/.331/.439/.770, 17 2B, 19 HR, 11 SB, 9.4 BB%, 27.2 K%, 467 AB
Ever since signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, Tejeda has flashed the skills that make him the shortstop of the future in Texas in my opinion. He doesn’t have the greatest range in the world, but his footwork is solid and he makes the plays needed. He can also make up for mistakes with a strong throwing arm. Offensively, there’s plenty of bat speed and natural loft to his left-handed swing, but the swing itself needs some work. Tejeda uses a major leg kick and has a tendency to drop his hand quite a bit when starting his swing. If he can clean up the swing, Tejeda could hit for both power and average at the highest level.
11. Taylor Hearn, LHP, DOB: 8/30/94, ETA 2019/2020
2018 Stats (AA): 129.0 IP, 3.49 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 9.8 K/9, .216 AVG
Now in his third organization in three years, Hearn came over along with Apostel in the Keone Kela deal mid-season. Two of the top-10 in these rankings were acquired for a middle-reliever. No disrespect to Mr. Kela, but damn that’s a good return haul. As it stands now, Hearn has two plus pitches and a ton of work to do. He sits in the mid to upper-90’s with his fastball and has a really good feel for his plus fading changeup. But outside of that, his command comes and goes and there’s no legit breaking balls to speak of. Hearn will need to show that he can develop at least an average slider if he wants to fulfill his potential as a high strikeout mid-rotation southpaw.
12. Brock Burke, LHP, DOB: 8/4/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 137.1 IP, 3.08 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 10.4 K/9, .236 AVG
Acquired from the Rays in the three-team Jurickson Profar deal, Burke is another mid-rotation or better arm to add to the stable. Burke works mostly in the low 90’s with plenty of life and can get up into the 95-96 range at times. Offsetting the heater is a tight slider and serviceable changeup, both of which sit in the low to mid-80’s. The slider is the more advanced of the two and projects as an above-average to plus pitch. Burke’s entire arsenal plays up due to his deceptive high 3/4 delivery and downward plane generated from it. If he can continue to limit the free passes, there’s a good chance Burke reaches his potential as a No. 3 starter.
13. Chris Seise, SS, Bats: R, DOB: 1/6/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats: Did Not Play
Rotator cuff surgery? That’s a funny way of saying Tommy John surgery. Bucking the trend, Seise needed to undergo rotator cuff surgery which caused him to miss the entire 2018 season. This type of injury/surgery has been known to negatively affect a hitter’s power upon return. Luckily, Seise doesn’t need to rely on his power to become a productive starting Major League shortstop. Seise’s (say that five times fast) most notable tool is his plus speed that has allowed him to develop into a strong defensive shortstop. The big stolen base numbers haven’t shown up yet, but there’s 25-plus steal upside in those legs.
At the plate, Seise doesn’t walk much, but will put the ball in play and utilize his speed. It’s always hard to project how one’s power will return after rotator cuff surgery, but Seiss was projected to have double-digit pop before the injury. We’ll see if that returns. If not, he still has the upside of a speedy Major League shortstop with above-average defensive skills.
14. Tyler Phillips, RHP, DOB: 10/27/97, ETA 2020/2021
2018 Stats (A/A+): 133.0 IP, 2.64 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 1.1 BB/9, 8.6 K/9, .235 AVG
Honestly, Phillips might be the safest pitcher in the system outside of Winn. See that beautiful walk rate? Of course you do. For his career, Phillips sits at a stellar 1.7 BB/9. That plus control has helped him get the most out of his three-pitch mix consisting of a low-90’s fastball, curveball, and changeup. All three pitches are average to plus, which paired with his solid control, give Phillips a high floor and the upside of a No. 3 or 4 starter.
15. Joe Palumbo, LHP, DOB: 10/26/94, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/A+/AA): 45.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 11.7 K/9, .206 AVG
If Palumbo could manage to stay on the field for more than five seconds, he’d be a borderline top-10 option on this list. Palumbo works in the low-90’s with a riding fastball and might have the best curveball in the entire system. His changeup isn’t quite as advanced, but he’s shown enough feel for it to consider it an average third offering. There’s No. 3 starter upside here and plenty of strikeout projection. Palumbo just needs to stay on the field long enough to make it happen.
16. Owen White, RHP, DOB: 8/9/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats: Did Not Pitch
Fast forward one year and the name Owen White very well could be well inside the top-10 of these rankings. With a clean and repeatable delivery, White works from a 3/4 arm slot and gets good extension from his delivery, creating a downhill plane on his running low to mid-90’s fastball. If you watch the video below, you’ll see that armside run. White also mixes in two breaking balls and a fading changeup, all of which grade as above-average or better. If you want to go strictly off of upside, I’d take White over every pitcher on this list outside of Winn and Crouse. Dynasty leaguers take notice.
— Prep Baseball Report (@prepbaseball) June 5, 2018
17. Pedro Gonzalez, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 10/27/97, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A): .234/.296/.421/.717, 17 2B, 12 HR, 9 SB, 7.5 BB%, 29.6 K%, 337 AB
“If only he made more consistent contact.”
That’s a phrase I’ve thought to myself countless times when watching Pedro Gonzalez play. The upside is there for him to become a 20/20 threat, but he doesn’t make enough contact and needs some serious work on his pitch selection. Gonzalez also can get a little long with his swing, though he can make up for it sometimes with quick wrists and solid bat speed once he gets moving forward. If he can shorten his swing a little bit, perhaps the contact skills will come around a little bit. The plus raw power and above-average speed will always create plenty of intrigue in dynasty leagues, but until he develops better contact skills, that’s all they’ll be.
18. A.J. Alexy, RHP, DOB: 4/21/98, ETA 2020/2021
2018 Stats (A): 108.0 IP, 3.58 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9, 11.5 K/9, .229 AVG
I’ve gone back and forth on where I think Alexy ends up. He has a solid arsenal, headlined by a plus fastball/curveball combination, but has struggled mightily with his command and hasn’t shown a consistent changeup. Ultimately, I believe he ends up in the bullpen if he doesn’t begin making strides with his command. if that is the case, there’s closer upside here.
19. Eli White, SS/2B/3B, Bats: R, DOB: 6/26/94, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (AA): .306/.388/.450/.838, 30 2B, 8 3B, 9 HR, 18 SB, 10.7 BB%, 20.1 K%, 504 AB
Some in the industry see White as a future utility type due to his versatility and lack of a true defensive home. Me? I see him as a Major League regular. Maybe that doesn’t happen at one specific defensive position, but White’s versatility and feel for hitting will keep him in the lineup more often than not. White has a clean right-handed swing with solid bat speed and some natural loft. There’s not a ton of power here, but enough to get into the 10-15 homer range more often than not. Add in above-average speed good enough for 20-plus steals and a solid batting average, and you have a sneaky good fantasy value play. Think of a Marwin Gonzalez type with less power and more speed.
20. Diosbel Arias, 3B/2B/SS, Bats: R, DOB: 7/21/96, ETA 2020/2021
2018 Stats (A-): 366/.451/.491/.942, 15 2B, 3 HR, 5 SB, 12.5 BB%, 14.8 K%, 224 AB
Part of the Rangers 2017 J2 crop, Arias signed for $700K and has torn up the low minors ever since. Numbers in the lower levels always need to be taken with a grain of salt, but with Arias, there’s more than just smoke here. Arias has strong contact skills and plate coverage with budding power. He’s a below average runner and will likely remain at third full time because of it, but his bat should allow him to become an average or better offensive performer for the position.
21. Mason Englert, RHP, DOB: 11/1/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats: Did Not Pitch
It’s become common for the Rangers to sit their prep arm draft picks for the rest of the 2018 season to limit their workload. Englert, their 4th round pick, is no exception to that. After a dominant senior season, Englert emerged as an early-round selection and signed for above slot value. His arsenal consists of a low-90’s fastball with run and sink and three offspeed pitches that all project as average or better, with his slider having flashed plus. Another mid-rotation upside arm in a system jam-packed with them.
22. Tyreque Reed, 1B, Bats: R, DOB: 6/6/97, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A): .267/.343/.503/.846, 27 2B, 18 HR, 1 SB, 8.3 BB%, 26.5 K%, 344 AB
Reed does one thing incredibly well and that’s hit for power. The gaudy home run totals haven’t wuite been there yet, but Reed’s swing is built for a ton of power, but unfortunately, there’s plenty of swing and miss to go along with it. Reed also is a well below-average runner and is likely tickets for DH duties longterm. So, needless to say, Reed will need to say, Reed will need his bat to carry him to a full-time Major League gig. Personally, I think he hits enough to unlock that 30-plus home run power and become an every day DH within the next few years.
23. Kyle Cody, RHP, DOB: 8/9/94, ETA
2018 Stats (RK): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
A big 6’7 right-hander, Cody was looking to build off a strong 2017 showing when he needed to go under the knife for, you guessed it, Tommy John surgery. Is this the cool thing to do now? Have elbow ligament reconstruction surgery? Kids these days, I’m telling you. Assuming Cody returns to form, we’re looking at yet another No. 3 or 4 type starter with a three-pitch mix and decent command over his arsenal. Cody’s size and extension in his delivery creates a good downhill plane on his low to mid-90’s cheese and a tight slider gives him potentially two plus offerings.
24. Jayce Easley, 2B/SS, Bats: S, DOB: 8/2/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (RK): .287/.389/.325/.714, 6 2B, 0 HR, 22 SB, 14.5 BB%, 22.0 K%, 157 AB
Hailing from the same high school as the mighty Nolan Gorman, Easley is the exact polar opposite of his former teammate. Drafted in the 5th round this past June, Easley has a very small 5’8 frame and no power to speak of. He’s displayed above-average contact skills, but doesn’t drive the ball at all and only recorded six extra-base hits (all doubles) in his first 42 professional games. But let’s forget about the power, or lack thereof. Easley is a speedster and could swipe 40-plus bags if he continues to hit enough to get a starting gig down the road. With his strong plate discipline, a slot near the top of the order could be in the cards as well.
25. Frainyer Chavez, SS, Bats: S, DOB: 5/24/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (RK): .306/.378/.405/.782, 7 2B, 2 HR, 23 SB, 9.7 BB%, 18.9 K%, 173 AB
The Ranges dove into the JUCO ranks for the 22nd round pick in the 2018 amateur draft and might have found themselves a gem. A Venezuelan native, Chavez shows a good feel for hitting from both sides of the plate with plus bat speed. There’s not much loft to his swing, but power will likely never be a big part of his game anyways. What Chavez can do is put the ball in play and utilize his plus speed.
Other Team Prospect Reports
All other team top-25 prospect rankings can be found here.
Photo/Video Credit: Jory Dyvig (Main Article Image), Ben Badler, Josh Norris, Prep Baseball Report.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
Fantrax is one of the fastest growing fantasy sites of 2018. With multi-team trades, designated commissioner/league managers, and drag/drop easy click methods, Fantrax is sure to excite the serious fantasy sports fan – sign up now for a free year at Fantrax.com.