“Baseball is my stereo, and my father let me crank the noise and my mother told me to turn it down.” –-Oliver Wendell Holmes

I enjoyed writing the first installment of this ad hoc series, so I decided to bring it back this week. If you’ve been reading my spring training diary, one of the things you probably learned is that I’m very casual with my thoughts, especially as they relate to my ongoing attempts to woo the face of my diary into an emotional (and perhaps) physical relationship. I’m still working on that. The other thing you have no doubt extracted is that I’ve been living in Surprise, Arizona for the past 30 days, spending a large chunk of my time at the Texas Rangers team complex, watching the stop-motion developmental process of minor leaguers in real time live action. My scouting views haven’t been limited to just the Rangers, as I’ve seen prospects from the Reds, Indians, Mariners, A’s, Giants, Padres, Royals, Rockies, Dodgers, and White Sox, and I’m clearly lying about watching prospects in the White Sox system because that’s like watching unicorns play Laser Tag, and my notes are thick and luscious with scouting commentary on the aforementioned teams, excluding the White Sox, of course. Alas, my editors wouldn’t enjoy bi-weekly 10,000 word submissions and the bones in my fingers would relocate to more comfortable surroundings, so I’ve had to spread the notes around using different vehicles, this being one of those vehicles.

This article will focus on a few prospects in the Rangers system, as the title of the piece probably alerted you to. But I’ll drop notes on some of the other prospects I’ve been able to scout in my next diary piece, as well as another meat-and-potatoes scouting notebook before I leave Arizona. I have to write about what I see, and I’ve seen a lot of the Rangers system. It’s a deep, deep system. Here are my notes, reproduced without artistic accoutrements or manipulation.


Name: Ronald Guzman
Position: 1B
B/T: L/L
DOB: 10/20/1994
HT/WT: 6’5’’ 200 lbs.
Notes: Tremendous size, standing 6’5’’ with long arms and legs; broad shoulders; body will fill-out; could end up 6’6’’ 235+; awkward adolescent movements at times; actions at 1B are still raw, but has shown vast defensive improvement from fall instructional league to Spring; uncoordinated at times; oddly flexible on the stretch (can do splits); will be able to handle position at physical maturity; lacks speed; clocks in the ~4.6 range to first; love the bat; despite long arms, has a smooth and efficient path to the ball; quick/strong hands; doesn’t load up swing for power by dipping back shoulder/hands; generates easy bat speed; minimal stride/leg lift; quiet weight transfer; hips open cleanly and with explosion; bat plane has slight loft, but nothing extreme; excellent batting practice displays; hard contact; power to all fields; uses all fields in game action; drives through the ball; has a plan at the plate; tracks balls well from hand; stays in his approach; has leverage in swing, but can shorten up with two strikes and make contact; projects to hit for both average and power; could be 60 hit/70 power; will play 2012 season as 17 year-old; could reach full-season ball; potential 7 player; long way to go; works harder than any young prospect I’ve ever been around; first to arrive/last to leave; already speaks conversational English; very mature; future is riding on the bat; could be special.

Name: Luis Marte
Position: SS
B/T: R/R
DOB: 12/15/1993
HT/WT: 6’1’’ 175 lbs.
Notes: Lean body, with plus athleticism; physically projectable; room for upper/lower body mass/strength; fast-twitch at present; true shortstop actions; great hands; footwork is a little rushed; plays fast; plus range; arm is well above-average; doesn’t overthrow for the sake of showing arm; good mechanics and release; accurate throws; good turn at 2B; athletic with all movements in the field; backhand pickup is plus; bat shows promise; hands are quick and the bat lively; makes contact; loose/easy swing with some power projection; short load, but can generate bat speed; good hip rotation in swing; shows ability to drive balls into the gap; aggressive in game action; will chase out of the zone; has a tendency to drop his hands; fastball eyes; hit tool could be 5/6; I can see power developing late (5); plus runner, routinely clocking in the 4.2 range to 1B; good second gear; shows five-tool potential; future 6 defensive player at premium position; good bat with some pop; plus speed; tools have projection; would be an easy seven-figure talent if available on the open market; should be in shortstop rotation for Spokane in Northwest league; will play entire 2012 season as an 18-year-old.

Name: Cody Buckel
Position: RHP
DOB: 06/18/1992
HT/WT: 6’0’’ 185 lbs.
Notes: Appears a bit taller than his listed height; body is proportioned and athletic; lacks physical projection; plant and sling delivery with tons of torque; overhand slot; comes high-front side in the delivery which helps hide the ball and keep him in rhythm; delivery starts on extreme first-base side of rubber to both LH/RH; fluid mechanics; very athletic and coordinated with movements; repeatable; fastball in the 89-92 range; good angle created on fastball thanks to high release and ability to locate ball low in the zone; not much action on pitch; 50/55 pitch that will be an effective table setter for secondary arsenal; changeup is solid offering, showing some weight and a little fading action to the arm side; pitch thrown with good arm speed and good velocity separation from fastball at 82 mph; arm speed/slot consistency makes pitch a near plus offering; cutter is effective against left-handers; lacks big movement, but shifts glove-side enough to force poor contact; thrown in the 85-87 range; has look of standard fastball from release; doesn’t project as plus pitch; curveball is solid, showing a short/tight break at 76 mph, and a longer, looser break at 72 mph; pitch consistently thrown for strikes; good offering, but lacks nastiness of true out-pitch; could develop into 55/60 offering; because of size and release, has to stay on top of the ball or he will elevate and serve a flat plane offering to the hitter; competitive on the mound; not afraid to come inside; has the command profile to select spots to attack; plus intelligence on the mound; strike-thrower with solid-average arsenal and a high sequencing and situational IQ; delivery is sound; lacks high ceiling; #3/#4 profile at highest level.

Name: Robbie Ross
Position: LHP
DOB: 06/24/1989
HT/WT: 5’11’’ 185 lbs.
Notes: A little shorter than listed 5’11’’ and appears heavier than 185 lbs.; not fat, but very dense; thick upper/lower body; chest is well-built; legs are very strong; delivery is rushed but fluid and in sync; features very high-leg kick which hides ball well; lower arm-slot; stride length is consistent; repeats all actions; quick to the plate with runners on (~1.2); fastball is a bowling ball, with weight and natural cut; very difficult pitch for hitters to lift with success; velocity in the 89-93 range; can touch a little higher in bursts; stays over pitch very well; throws the pitch for strikes; solid-average-to-plus velocity and 70-grade movement (cut/sink); effective weapon against both lefties and righties at present; slider is plus offering, with more exaggerated slice than the fastball, thrown as hard as 87 mph; usually sits in the 85-86 range; late break disguises pitch from fastball; shows ability to throw pitch for strikes; can back foot to righties and throw at the hip of lefties; changeup features same natural cut as fastball; pitch can be too firm and touch the mid-80s; more movement at 81-83, but can cut into the bat path of righties; below-average offering at present; would like to see more arm-side fade on the pitch to move away from RH bat path rather than into it; hilarious kid with exuberant personality off-the-field; monster competitor and bulldog on-the-field; despite size and stuff, attacks hitters like he’s a flamethrower; closer mentality; works extremely fast and efficient; persuades weak contact; fills up the zone with strikes and forces hitters to beat him; two plus offerings and plus command profile; has been effective out of the bullpen this spring; effective against both RH/LH; could be a 6 reliever at the major league level; 5 starter with improved changeup.

Name: Alberto Triunfel
Position: SS
B/T: R/R
DOB: 02/01/1994
HT/WT: 5’11’’ 160 lbs.
Notes: Good body; athletic; strong and coordinated; nice hands on defense; very clean actions; good backhand pickup; good range at present; can execute to left/right; arm appears strong enough for all the throws; have yet to see arm unleashed; accurate across diamond; good footwork around base; plays under control; bat has some sting; good contact ability; fluid swing with quiet load and trigger; shows ability to recognize and react to pitch sequence; plays better in game action than in drills/batting practice; can stay inside game velocity; uses all fields; surprising pop; can get tall with approach and flat with swing; forgets lower body; speed is solid; good quickness and acceleration at present; 50 runner at physical maturity; profiles as 5 player; can play 2B as well; gamer with good (not great) tools and tons of motor; prospect to keep an eye on in 2012; has a chance to get middle-infield reps at short-season Spokane; would get more attention in weaker system.

“I also have extensive notes on top prospects Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Rougned Odor, Leonys Martin, and Luke Jackson, just to name a few, so if you have any questions, I’d be glad to drop a few additional thoughts on prospects in the system. All you have to do is call.” –Jimmy Caan

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Talk to us about Odor - he doesn't seem to be rated that highly (at least, by many) for a 17 year old who put up reasonable numbers in pro ball. I think KG felt he lacked potential above-average tools - would you agree?

Also interested in your thoughts on Martin.
Odor is the ultimate gamer, a player with good (not great) tools that is already able to bring those tools to the table in game action. As a prospect that is already penciled in at 2B (although he will receive some reps at SS in the minors), the burden of success is on his bat. His bat will be a plus tool, with a balanced stroke, plenty of bat speed, and a preternatural ability to put the good part of the barrel on the ball. It's all very easy for him. In the field, Odor makes all the plays, with clean actions, good range, and a strong arm. He's just a very good baseball player, and after he first signed, despite being only 17, people that saw him in backfield game action knew he was going to play in the majors. It's just a given. It's a tad easy, but I've received a few Placido Polanco comps.

Thoughts on Jordan Akins. Really good athlete, what has he developed since you've seen him last? Ceiling?
Top-shelf athlete; has the highest tool-based ceiling in the Rangers system; has improved dramatically over the last 12 months; transitioning from athlete to baseball player; makes better reads in center, although he still has a long way to go; has range for days; has a 6/7 arm, but loses control of it when he launches it; has a good glove; could be another 5/6 tool; speed is a 7; slow out of the box, but second-gear is near-elite; bat is coming along; doesn't use body is swing yet; all upper-body strength and hands; makes better contact now; isn't as aggressive; developing plan beyond "see ball, hit ball"; power potential is a 7, with batting practice displays that major leaguers stop to watch; power is working its way into game action; could be a future 7 player if everything clicks; another easy comp, but when you mention Jordan Akins to scouts/front office personnel, you are most likely going to receive a Matt Kemp comp; despite his limited success as a professional, many in the org consider Akins to be (almost) untouchable; big space between present and future, but ceiling is star.
Anything new to report on Alfaro?
Still making hard contact, showing a near 8 arm; improving behind plate; batting practice still more impressive than game action; set to start in full-season Hickory.
Are the Rangers becoming "Shortstop U"? Andrus, Profar, Marte, Triunfel. Of course, all of them won't make it(as Rangers), but it sounds like a significant strength of the system.
I'd love some new notes on Yohander Mendez [I'm on TFR, so in addition to that]. Your report on him got me really excited.
Mendez hasn't pitched this ST. I believe he will be in the DSL this season. The potential is enormous, but I can't provide detailed notes on the arsenal because I haven't seen it him pitch in person. All I have are arsenal notes from other sources.
On Guzman, is there any young bat that you've seen that you would say his power is comparable to? Sano?
Closer to a young Hosmer than Sano. His power isn't a true 8. Guzman has a chance to be a complete hitter, both with plus (to ++) hit/power tools.
I seen where Ross has been working on a knuckle curve. Any thoughts on the pitch?
I've seen him throw a few curves, and I spoke with him about the pitch. It's a decent change-of-pace pitch for him. All of his pitches have natural cut to the glove-side, so it's good to introduce a pitch with more vertical movement. He commands it well, but it's not in heavy rotation in the sequence.
I just saw Guzman for the 1st time on youtube! outstanding swing!!Listed at 17yo but he is from Central America so he's probably 19yo! Either way, Guzman is going to be a fantastic player!! short compact swing for bigger player!! bat gets through zone quickly!! VERY little head movement with NO stride!! can't wait to see him develop!!
Guzman is from the Dominican Republic. He's a legit 17.

Jason, What do you think about Luke Jackson? Is he still having control and command issues? I assume the stuff is still intact.