May 9, 2014
The Situation: Former no. 1 overall prospect Jurickson Profar is out for several more weeks and Donnie Murphy just landed on the disabled list with a neck strain. Josh Wilson, the Rangers’ Opening Day second baseman, was designated for assignment. The Rangers are looking for a jolt until Profar returns.
Background: The Rangers signed “Roogie” Odor out of Venezuela for $425,000 and he immediately found success in the states, slashing .262/.323/.352 in 258 plate appearances as a 17-year-old in Low-A Spokane. The promising start jumpstarted an accelerated path to the big leagues for Odor, as he landed in Hickory (A-Ball) in 2012 and again held his own. Often in the shadow of other highly touted middle-infield Rangers prospects, Odor finally got his time to shine in 2013. Across two leagues, he hit .303 with a .369 on-base percentage and raised his slugging to .474. In fact, in 144 Double-A plate appearances, Odor slugged an eye-popping .530. After the season, he was rated the no. 1 overall player in the Texas Rangers system and second-best second baseman in the minors according to Baseball Prospectus.
The Scouting: Odor is a hitter, first and foremost. His bat-to-ball skills are well above average and he combines that with impressive bat speed and a plan at the plate. With “elite baseball instincts” Odor projects to be at least above average with the stick, with a chance for plus-plus potential. At a listed 5-foot-11 and 170 lbs., Odor has some surprising pop in his stick and can drive the ball into the gaps with ease. The over-the-fence power isn’t quite there yet, but at physical maturity it could play to league average.
On defense, Odor has the tools to handle shortstop, with an above-average glove and enough arm to make it work, but at times he can be a little wild with his actions and make it harder than it needs to be. Second base seems to be his best position going forward (he’s played there all year in Double-A). The plays will be a little easier there and he can slow the game down, and that is where he’ll be starting in Texas.
Odor plays the game with confidence and exuberance and plenty of #want, which can be a very good thing, but also can turn into a detriment to him and his team. At times, the game can slip away from him and he can be a little careless. His speed is only about league average (which is fast) but that speed plays up due to his sheer desire to succeed. Even in spring training games, the desire was palpable. As long as he shows that type of play in the majors, he will win himself a lot of fans in Texas very soon.
Immediate impact: It might not be fair to ask a 20-year-old to hold down the fort at second base for a couple weeks, but Odor has the makeup to be the right man for the job. I wouldn’t expect much power out of him, but he’s going to battle and make the pitcher work. Look for solid at-bats with good defense. He’ll likely get the majority of playing time until Profar returns, so Rangers fans can get a good look at their second baseman of the future. —Chris Rodriguez
Fantasy Impact: May marks the second month in a row the Rangers have surprisingly, aggressively called up one of their top middle infield prospects, with April showers in Luis Sardinas bringing May flowers in Odor, when it comes to potential fantasy impact. Where Sardinas has built much of his prospect reputation on the back of his defense, Odor is more of an all-around talent that can contribute immediately.
While the dust has yet to settle from the flurry of moves (Josh Wilson was DLed, Scott Baker released and Luis Sardinas recalled), it’s hard to imagine that the Rangers would give a roster spot to Odor if he wasn’t going to play every day. The only downside in terms of playing time is that it is likely going to be shortlived. Jurickson Profar is still recovering from a torn muscle in his shoulder but his 10-12 week timetable was announced in late March. We’re about halfway through that initial timetable which tentatively gives Odor six weeks of everyday playing time, or around 125 at-bats. He’s not going to contribute much beyond his batting average in OBP leagues, but something like a .275 batting average with minimal power, 4-5 stolen bases, and a smattering of runs/RBI seems reasonable.
Odor’s .279/.314/.450 slash line at Double-A might not scream “star,” but at 20 years old, it’s highly impressive production. One might balk at the idea of a 20-year old prospect skipping Triple-A and having success in the majors immediately, but as the saying goes “hitters hit.” Odor is a hitter, plain and simple. He makes hard contact which allows his power to play up, and while he’s not a burner, his speed will play and his instincts for the game will help him swipe bases. He should already be owned in dynasty leagues (if he’s not, add him no matter the size), and he’s worth a stash in any non-shallow re-draft leagues (think 14 teams and up) in case he’s lightning in a bottle. He’s a definite pickup in deep leagues/onlies even if it only is for a short time. In terms of FAAB, so much depends on league format but in AL-Only or deep re-draft he’s worth a bid of $10-12 with the idea that his value is going to be completely frontloaded, and anything beyond Profar’s return is gravy. He’s an excellent add for those owners who just lost Jason Kipnis, or as a handcuff to Profar. This is Profar’s job to lose, but Texas has enough injuries that if Odor hits, they’ll likely find a spot for him. —Craig Goldstein
Chris Rodriguez is an author of Baseball Prospectus.