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March 14, 2013

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Backfields Notes: Texas Rangers

by Jason Parks and Jason Cole

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After minor-league camp’s first pitcher/catcher salvo and before the legitimate backfield games commence in mid-March, teams often schedule prospect-heavy intrasquad games to put eyes on the talent and get the players back in the groove of live action. On the morning of March 10th, the Rangers occupied fields 5 and 6 on the backfields in Surprise; two lower-level minor-league squads on one field, and two upper-minors squads on the other. For a prospect lover, this was like a team-specific Futures Game, only stripped of all the fanfare and pageantry. This is a barebones scouting experience and the notes will reflect that. Jason Cole saddled up to field 5 while I took a seat behind the plate at field 6, where my radar gun almost melted onto my flesh and my phone got so hot that it decided to commit suicide when I asked it to function. Also, Jorge Alfaro hit a home rune and I giggled like a child.

Field 5:  

Royce Bolinger (OF): Intriguing 2012 college senior draft pick; legit 7 arm from outfield; at his best on the corners; may be able to handle center in a pinch, though with fringy range; good instincts in the field; righty hitter with feel for hitting; can take the ball to all fields; showed some power to pull side; took a ball to the wall in first at-bat; took 87 mph fastball slightly up and in over left field fence for no-doubt home run next time up; could make jump from short-season to High-A out of camp this spring.

Zach Cone (OF): Big-league body; lots of strength in 6’2”, 205-lb. frame; good athlete; plus defender in corners with average arm; fringy in center; quick bat; flashes plus raw power; offensive tools play down in games due to highly questionable pitch recognition; leads to unbalanced approach; can get caught on front foot against secondaries, making it difficult to square with full authority; has the talent to succeed but must make adjustments.

Jon Edwards (RHP): Reliever all the way; worked exclusively from stretch; large 6’5”, 230-lb. righty with high arm slot; can create steep downward plane with plus velocity; worked 92-94 mph early in inning before finishing at 94-96; also mixed in plus power curve at 83-84; two legit plus pitches; rigid mechanics cause issues with repeatability and command; had trouble keeping front side square to the plate.

Note: A former outfielder in the Cardinals system, the 26-year-old Edwards was signed by the Rangers and converted to the mound full-time in 2012. Over 30 minor-league innings last season, he fanned 37 batters but issued 32 walks.

Randy Henry (RHP): Standard three-quarter arm slot; creates some deception in delivery with shoulder tilt; manipulated fastball extremely well; showed ability to both cut and sink fastball at 88-91 mph, topping 92; didn’t throw anything straight; hard cutter a definite plus; mixed in three average 83-84 mph sliders with good depth; located all three very well; started part-time in 2012 but ultimate bullpen profile.

Jose Leclerc (RHP): Smallish 19-year-old righty; worked from stretch; some effort in delivery; bullpen projection; ultra-fast arm that produced plus velocity; sat at 94 and touched 95 once in one-inning burst; spun a potential plus curveball with good shape at 72-75; arm speed with curve deliberate at times; should throw the pitch harder as he develops; cut 83-84 mph change so much it had the shape of a slider in this look.

Drew Robinson (3B): Smooth line-drive stroke from left side; mature approach; disciplined hitter with a very good eye for the strike zone; frame is close to filling out; worked full count in lefty-lefty situation before taking single to the opposite field; showed smooth actions around the bag at third; solid-average arm strength; made plays to him with no difficulty; was a bit slow with first step to both sides; range may be fringy.

Luis Sardinas (SS): Listed at 6’1”, 150 lbs; weight may be slightly north of that but remains extremely thin; must get stronger in order to stay on the field for a full season; switch-hitter with promising hit tool from both sides; worked full count hitting lefty before taking slider to left field for a single; flashed total defensive package with plus range and arm at shortstop; silky smooth actions; ranged into hole to scoop grounder before making strong, accurate throw to first on the run; little power projection but mix of hit tool, glove, and 7 speed makes him an excellent prospect.

Sam Stafford (LHP): Worked two innings; first game action since undergoing labrum surgery in February 2012; looked healthy; smooth, clean delivery and arm action; good arm speed; mechanics could enable him to stick in starting role if the command allows; fastball sat 88-91 mph, topping at 92; showed improved feel for curveball (72-76) and changeup (81-83) as outing progressed; struggled to find curve for strikes; finished outing with a sharp 75 mph curve with late break down and in on a righty; rudimentary feel for the change; pitch had some sink; difficult to judge stuff this soon post-surgery but early returns are very positive.

Field 6:

Alec Asher (RHP): Big kid; well built; overhead windup; high three-quarters slot; some front-side deception in delivery; stays balanced; throws on good downhill plane; fastball was stiff at 92-94; touched 95; not a big mover, but firm and thrown around the zone; slurvy breaking ball at 79-80; money potential slider at 84-87; very sharp at 87 with some angle; 83-84 mph changeup; good arm speed; not big movement; limited burst, but excellent pitcher’s body and good stuff; could develop into mid-rotation type; worth keeping an eye on.

Nomar Mazara (OF): Intimidating figure; body is legit; 6’4’’ with a frame to project; not as noisy in the box as he once was; more controlled; confident approach; swing is very easy; hands start in good hitting position; excellent hip rotation in swing; turned on 94 mph fastball for long double to right-center gap; showed bat speed; didn’t cheat or leak; keeps head on the ball during process; runs well for size; not a burner but doesn’t clog and should find more consistency when body finds maturity; glove is okay in the outfield; below average with a chance for solid-average future; doesn’t have crazy range; arm is average; another step forward could put this kid in serious prospect company; the raw power is at least a 7; the hit tool might be better than original thought.

Joey Gallo (3B): Good body; physical and very strong; can track pitches well and understands the strike zone; swing has exaggerated plane; will always have miss; lefty-lefty, took an 89 mph fastball left over the plate into the parking lot over the right-center field fence; it might not have landed yet; upper-cut swing, but has bat speed and torque to destroy the ball; legit 8 power; best in system and possibly best in minors; has 40-HR potential; hit tool and overall approach will ultimately decide his power utility; it could be very scary.

Jorge Alfaro (catcher): Plus athlete; very strong with frame to hold more; one of the best athletes in the system; ran 4.2 to first on bad ball (broken bat); slow escape from box because of bat drag; slightly open stance at the plate; fastball eyes and crazy bat speed; looks to get extended and drive the ball; high-leverage swing; keeps weight shifted to the back and explodes into the ball; hands in very good hitting position (low); crushed a 92 mph fastball over left-center fence for home run; tremendous exit velo; jumps out on soft/spinning; power is 7; hit tool is still a question mark, but bat speed is near elite; popped 1.85 from behind the plate; arm strength is an 8; utility getting better; if he wants it, he can be a star.

Victor Payano (LHP): Lanky; tall; projectable body; comes high front-side in delivery with back shoulder dip; high slot; doesn’t get most out of height in delivery; fastball has some muscle but arrives flat; works up; mostly 90-92; touched 93; curveball has depth; very long break at 70-72 mph; can throw the pitch for strikes; not an upper-level pitch in current form; good shape, but long and soft; showed a few changeups at 80-81; some hesitation in the delivery; not much action; great size/promising arsenal; left-handed; fastball needs more life.

Alberto Triunfel (IF): Keeps hands high in load; start above shoulder and chop down on the ball; late trigger; not fluid; was behind average stuff; upright and noisy; it just didn’t look very good; was 4.5 to first on groundball to shortstop; has looked better before; not sure about offensive profile; wasn’t a fan of the setup or swing; always liked his glove; didn’t see glove/arm opportunities in intrasquad.

Connor Sadzeck (RHP): Tall; projectable body; bit of a slinger; three-quarters slot; shorter arm action; aimed the ball at times; very good arm strength; fastball was easy 90-92; throwing strikes; touched 93; has 95-98 mph on resume; slurvy breaking ball at 79-82; lacked tight rotation; slowed body down on secondary; 1.5 to the plate with runners on; hard to project current version; if velo ticks up and control holds, could be very interesting. 

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here
Jason Cole is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

33 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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abwinkel (Prague)

Thanks a lot guys. Will you be doing one for the Royals too?

Mar 14, 2013 05:12 AM
rating: 0
 
philly

I have an Alfaro question. Yesterday BA had an article about the loaded lo-A squad playing together this spring which included Alfaro. Due to injuries he only had a half season at that level, but I thought there was a good chance he'd move up to Hi-A. Is the expectation in camp that he needs to repeat lo-A?

Mar 14, 2013 06:48 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

That's a good question that I don't quite know the answer to just yet. I came into camp with a similar expectation as you - that he'd be Myrtle Beach bound. But I was casually speaking with a coach about Hickory's loaded roster, and he did drop Alfaro's name.

Mar 14, 2013 07:03 AM
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

And just thinking out loud here - perhaps the Rangers would like to see Alfaro dominate for a little bit to pick up some confidence before moving him along.

Mar 14, 2013 07:04 AM
 
JoeTetreault

Jason, is Hector Ortiz a roving instructor for the Rangers? BA reported Alfaro went to Ponce this winter primarily to improve his receiving skills while under Ortiz' tutelage. Could Ortiz's assignment presage Alfaro's?

Mar 14, 2013 09:01 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

Yes. Hector has been with the Rangers for awhile, serving a number of roles (AAA hitting coach, Low-A manager, AZL manager), and now he's the roving catching coordinator. Ortiz will be hitting all of the affiliates this season (like last year) so I don't think it'll have any bearing on where Alfaro goes.

Mar 14, 2013 09:16 AM
 
JoeTetreault

I thought he was a roving instructor. Thanks for the confirmation.

Mar 14, 2013 09:18 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

No problem!

Mar 14, 2013 09:20 AM
 
MikeyVoges

#TeamLegend

Mar 14, 2013 07:08 AM
rating: 3
 
djbrown

Ronald Guzman sighting?

Mar 14, 2013 07:23 AM
rating: 0
 
Behemoth

or Lewis Brinson?

Mar 14, 2013 07:42 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

Not sure about Brinson (I was on the older kids' game), but Guzman wasn't in the lineup. He's been here though. Starting to fill out that big frame of his.

Mar 14, 2013 09:21 AM
 
Matt Trueblood

Where do Gallo and Mazara go this year? Could they be in full-season leagues by July or August?

Mar 14, 2013 07:43 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

There's a good chance they both break camp with Hickory.

Mar 14, 2013 07:50 AM
 
hoveman

#rigid

Mar 14, 2013 07:53 AM
rating: 0
 
JoeTetreault

Jason (Parks, Cole or both), have either of you seen much of Jordan Akins on the back fields this spring?

Mar 14, 2013 09:21 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

Only seen him standing around so far. He's bigger, but not necessarily in a bad way. Just stronger.

Mar 14, 2013 09:30 AM
 
JoeTetreault

Thanks. I'm hoping a repeat turn in LoA can help him get some traction towards turning those tools into game skills.

Mar 14, 2013 09:31 AM
rating: 0
 
pjatscfy52

Have you been able to see Nick Williams or C.J. Edwards?

Mar 14, 2013 09:22 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

Both of us have in the past, but not yet this spring. Williams isn't in any of the lineups today. I think C.J. Edwards pitches tomorrow.

Mar 14, 2013 09:30 AM
 
aschauer

Gallo vs. Miguel Sano, who's got the power advantage?

Mar 14, 2013 09:34 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Gallo might have the best raw power in the minors; Sano might have a better shot at power utility.

Mar 14, 2013 09:43 AM
 
Scott44

At this stage in their development, what do your collective guts tell you about Guzman and Mazara and long-term if you could just have one who would it be?

Mar 14, 2013 09:39 AM
rating: 1
 
Deadheadbrewer

I appreciate all the effort that goes into the Top-10 prospect lists, but my draft is Saturday, and there are still three teams left. Next off-season I would love to see all the teams covered by March 1st, if possible, please.

Mar 14, 2013 13:01 PM
rating: 5
 
Behemoth

I'm going to have to agree with this. I've already done various different drafting things, and have had to use other sites for those teams that hadn't been covered by the draft time. Obviously, it's not the end of the world, but having full coverage of the quality that we get from BP would be useful.

Mar 14, 2013 14:28 PM
rating: 2
 
Scott44

+1

Mar 14, 2013 21:18 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

It takes anywhere from 20 to 40 hours to research and write each team. I try to get five to ten outside the org sources on each player profiled, and then I like to talk to the org about developmental progress of each player profiled. It's a major project and I treat it as such. I care more about putting out the best product possible than I do do about your fantasy draft.

Mar 14, 2013 21:59 PM
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

But if I can pull off every team before next March, that would be ideal for me as well. Just not sure if I can do it without skipping a few steps or cutting corners, and I'd rather take the series deep into March than sacrifice any quality for the sake of convenience. I'll make it a goal, but I don't want to promise something that I might not be able to pull off. I'll give it every effort, though.

Mar 14, 2013 22:06 PM
 
Scott44

Jason - Was not meant as a knock, from my end it was a compliment. Many of us are relying on your great work and prospect analysis. For me, it's one of the main reasons I subscribe. Keep up the great work!

Mar 15, 2013 07:22 AM
rating: 0
 
JoeTetreault

Jason, not for nothing, the work you and the prospect team have done has been exceptional. The behind the scenes effort shows and makes your inaugural effort at top tens and the top 101 appointment reading.

Would I have liked more of this delectable data sooner? Of course. Would I have loved a roundtable podcast to accompany each top ten release? Hells yes. Of course, I'd also like to find a chest of gold doubloons on my nightstand every morning, so I've learned to live in the world I am in and take what comes when it does.

Glad to see the Yankees list and I'm really enjoying the back field reports. One silly question, any plans to visit Hickory, NC for the series between Lexington and Hickory in June?

Mar 15, 2013 07:33 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Thanks. Oh yes. Hickory might be the most stacked team in the minors, at least to start the year. I need to make the trip.

Mar 15, 2013 07:38 AM
 
JoeTetreault

I've got it on my calendar and am trying to find a way to get there to see them. Good year in the Sally to be sure.

Mar 15, 2013 07:52 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

The Sally is going to be stacked. I can't wait.

Mar 15, 2013 08:02 AM
 
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