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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

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