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Last year's Rangers list

The Top Ten

  1. 3B Joey Gallo
  2. RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez
  3. C Jorge Alfaro
  4. OF Nomar Mazara
  5. RHP Jake Thompson
  6. RHP Luis Ortiz
  7. OF Nick Williams
  8. RHP Luke Jackson
  9. OF Lewis Brinson
  10. 2B/3B Travis Demeritte

1. Joey Gallo
Position: 3B
DOB: 11/19/1993
Height/Weight: 6’5” 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Bishop Gorman HS (Las Vegas, NV)
Previous Ranking: #6 (Org), #95 (Top 101)
2014 Stats: .232/.334/.524 at Double-A Frisco (68 games), .323/.463/.735 at High-A Myrtle Beach (58 games)
The Tools: 8 raw; 7 arm; 5 potential glove

What Happened in 2014: The legend of Gallo and his Herculean power continued to grow with the Las Vegas native launching 40 home runs between two levels (good for second in the minors) and putting on a batting practice performance at the 2014 Futures Game over All-Star Weekend that overshadowed the MLB Home Run Derby held the next evening.

Strengths: Elite raw power; jaw-dropping displays both pregame and in game; huge leverage and extension through contact; showed improved ability to make in-game adjustments throughout summer; powerful trunk and core; thick, maturing body; good athlete for size; controls body; impressive bat speed; easy double-plus arm across the diamond; glove continues to improve, as does footwork at third.

Weaknesses: Big swing-and-miss; some coverage holes due to long levers; almost no ability to make in-swing adjustments due to swing path produced by heavy rotation through hips and long arms; still improving set-up on throws; hit utility could eat into giant raw; can struggle to keep on line; below-average runner.

Overall Future Potential: 7; all-star player

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate; swing-and-miss concerns persist as he works towards high minors.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There's little point in questioning Gallo's upside, as it's that of a perennial top-five option at the hot corner—even with a .250 average. The issue here is the risk, and it has significantly diminished since a year ago, clearing the way for Gallo to be one of the most exciting dynasty prospects around with his potential 40-plus homer power.

The Year Ahead: Forget watching a Gallo BP session or tracking the ball from the pitcher to contact to the far reaches beyond the outfield wall, the mere sound of Gallo making contact elicits feelings of majesty—the glorious Ninth, by Ludwig Van, angel trumpets, and devil trombones. There isn’t a player in the game that outstrips Gallo in the raw power department, and while a year ago the promise of a generational slugger was very much something to dream on, Gallo’s growth throughout the 2014 season, and particularly his demonstrated ability to begin making adjustments in game and more generally with respect to his level of competition, have pushed the profile closer to realization. He is far from out of the woods, as demonstrated by his struggles upon initial exposure to Double-A competition. But his progress, both at the plate and on the dirt, has been impressive, and he is nearing the point where even a low estimated outcome could see Gallo as a useful major-league piece. He will return to the Texas League to continue to refine his approach and adjust to more advanced arms. The safe money has Gallo splitting this season between Double- and Triple-A and reaching the majors at some point in 2016. Should Texas find itself in a position where Gallo’s unique skill set has immediate utility to assist a push at the major-league level, however, he could easily find himself taking swings in Arlington sometime in the next seven months.

Major league ETA: 2016

2. Chi Chi Gonzalez
Position: RHP
DOB: 01/15/1992
Height/Weight: 6’2” 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, Oral Roberts University (Tulsa, OK)
Previous Ranking: #3 (Org), #70 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 2.71 ERA (73 IP, 67 H, 64 K, 25 BB) at Double-A Frisco, 2.63 ERA (65 IP, 56 H, 49 K, 16 BB) at High-A Myrtle Beach
The Tools: 7 FB; 6 SL; 6 potential CH

What Happened in 2014: Gonzalez split his summer between Myrtle Beach and Frisco, flexing a potent four-pitch mix and impressive command.

Strengths: Three-way heater plays low to mid-90s with run, sink, and cut action; commands pitch very well across and outside of the zone; plus slider comes with mid-80s velocity, tilt, and solid bite; swing-and-miss offering that plays well off the fastball; can back door and back foot to oppo bats and bury to same-side sticks; has made strides with the changeup, now showing consistent 8 to 11 mph velo delta off the fastball and coming with some tumble and occasional cut; third potential plus offering; will drop an occasional early-count curve to get ahead; good balance; high floor.

Weaknesses: Command can get a little loose in the zone; still working to effectively meld changeup into sequencing; curve can get borderline gimmicky, with deliberate release; delivery with some stiffness, which can negatively affect control if timing falls too far out of whack.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2/3 starter

Realistic Role: 6; no. 3 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low; could be big-league ready by mid-2015.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The 2013 draftee has often been cast as a lower-upside starter in dynasty leagues due to the fact that he doesn't throw 100 or rack up huge strikeout numbers, but Gonzalez has the talent to be a strong SP3, even in shallower leagues, and a floor much higher than many of his peers. With a second-half debut possible, this is your last chance to get him at a reasonable price.

The Year Ahead: Gonzalez has enjoyed a rapid ascent through the Rangers system, with his fastball and slider paving the way. While the power tandem atop the arsenal does the heavy lifting, the development of a not only effective but potentially impactful changeup, as well as the chance for a useful fourth look in the form of a curve, could push the Oral Roberts product into front-end territory. He is still finding his way as he learns to more effectively incorporate his lesser secondary offerings, and if and when he is capable of wielding those weapons with the same level of comfort as his fastball and slider, he could see a rapid uptick in strike outs and nasty looks from opposing hitters. Gonzalez could find himself with a brief return to Frisco, but is ready to take on Triple-A competition if the Rangers have the room in the Round Rock rotation and are so inclined. Either way, he should debut in 2015 and he has the stuff and refinement to stick once he arrives.

Major league ETA: 2015

3. Jorge Alfaro
Position: C
DOB: 06/11/1993
Height/Weight: 6’2” 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2010, Colombia
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org), #41 (Top 101)
2014 Stats: .261/.343/.443 at Double-A Frisco (21 games), .261/.318/.440 at High-A Myrtle Beach (100 games)
The Tools: 8 arm; 6 potential power; 5 glove; 5+ run

What Happened in 2014: Alfaro earned a mid-season promotion to Double-A Frisco shortly after turning 21 and continued to showcase prime-time power and elite arm strength to go with a well-rounded skill set that carries with it potential to impact the game in all facets.

Strengths: Strong; big athleticism; moves very well for a catcher, recording home-to-first times in 4.15 to 4.30 range; double-plus raw that could manifest in game as a true plus weapon; slowly refining as a receiver and technical defender, including transfer and release and blocking; elite arm strength; improving approach at the plate leaves door open for an average hit tool at maturity.

Weaknesses: Aggregate defense below average at present; can vacillate between too loose and too stiff in the wrist; can give away strikes on the margins; transfer and release limit impact of arm strength; high-effort swing can be managed with solid off-speed; some trouble making in-game adjustments; can get overly aggressive and lock in looking fastball, exasperating swing-and-miss issues.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first division/all-star

Realistic Role: High 5; above-average regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate; reached Double-A and held his own; still carries risk associated with dual development of catcher skill set and hit-tool refinement.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Catchers who can hit .260 with 25-plus homers and a slew of RBI don't exactly grow on trees, so the excitement that has followed Alfaro around for years is warranted. There's little standing in the way for Alfaro in Texas, and despite the boom-or-bust reputation he's been saddled with, he's safer with the stick than most assume.

The Year Ahead: Alfaro continues to stand out for his premium athleticism and strength-based impact tools. Progress was made this year in incrementally improving his approach, and he continues to work to find a balance between leveraging his impact power through aggressively attacking the ball and being willing to let pitchers throw around him. Alfaro has started to identify situations wherein he is unlikely to get a ball to drive, and has been more willing to adjust his approach accordingly than in the past. That said, he is still an overly aggressive swinger and upper-level arms are going to continue to try and lead him out of the zone in playing to that aggressiveness. Alfaro continues to struggle with identifying and handling same-side spin down and away, and needs to do a better job of letting his power come naturally rather than looking to yank and drive. He’ll return to Frisco to start 2015 with a continued focus on refining his defense and tightening up his approach enough to blossom into a power/on-base bat capable of holding down a spot in the middle of a major-league order.

Major league ETA: 2016

4. Nomar Mazara
Position: RF
DOB: 04/26/1995
Height/Weight: 6’4” 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2011, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #8 (Org)
2014 Stats: .306/.381/.518 at Double-A Frisco (24 games), .264/.358/.470 at Low-A Hickory (106 games)
The Tools: 6 potential power; 6 potential hit; 6 arm; 5 potential glove

What Happened in 2014: The 19-yeear-old enjoyed a breakout year between Low-A Hickory and Double-A Frisco, tallying 22 bombs and posting a plump 90-point on-base delta over his average.

Strengths: Advanced approach; big raw power has a chance to play thanks to bat speed, barrel control, and ability to track; quick trigger; prototypical corner profile; chance for hit to play to plus; plus arm; improved actions on the grass; enough progress to project glove to fringe average or better; improved release and carry on throws; strong with more to come; very high-ceiling bat.

Weaknesses: Big issues with same-side stuff; trouble consistently covering outer half against lefties; defense below average at present; needs to improve routes; below-average runner who will slow more as the body matures.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first division/all-star

Realistic Role: High 5; above-average regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: High; significant split issues; swing and miss has potential to limit impact of bat.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Another name, another slam dunk top-50 dynasty prospect. Mazara made huge strides in 2014, making him one of the fastest risers in fantasy leagues. The potential is there for a .290-hitting outfielder with 25 homers—which would make him a pretty easy OF2 in most formats.

The Year Ahead: This was a highly impressive season for the teenage Dominican and leaves him ready to emerge as one of the top bats in the minors. Mazara possesses the bat speed and hand/eye to handle pitches across the quadrants, though he tracks much better out of righty arms. It’s a broad frame that’s already filling in and should continue to hang more “good” mass along the way, particularly in the trunk. If Mazara is able to put together a more effective approach against same-side arms, there is potential for the bat to emerge as a true plus hit/plus power package, which paired with a fringe-average glove and well above-average arm would put him comfortably in the upper tier of right fielders in the game at maturity. Mazara won’t turn 20 until April, and will benefit from an extended spin through the Texas League. Steady progress should see him in Texas by 2017, though it would surprise no one if he forces the issue with his bat much sooner than that. If he can repeat his efforts from 2014, Mazara should solidify his status as the Rangers’ right fielder of the future and a potential fixture in the middle of the lineup for years to come.

Major league ETA: 2016

5. Jake Thompson
Position: RHP
DOB: 01/31/1994
Height/Weight: 6’4” 235 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2012 draft, Rock Wall-Heath HS (Heath, TX)
Previous Ranking: #4 (Org)
2014 Stats: 3.09 ERA (46.2 IP, 38 H, 51 K, 22 BB) at Double-A Frisco/Erie, 3.14 ERA (83 IP, 75 H, 79 K, 25 BB) at High-A Lakeland
The Tools: 6 FB; 6+ potential SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2014: Thompson reached Double-A as a 20-year-old and emerged from 2014 better able to maintain his velocity through his starts and more comfortable utilizing his changeup and curve, strengthening his chances of not only sticking in a rotation long term, but thriving in that role.

Strengths: Hard and heavy heater; two-seamer shows arm-side action in the 89-92 mph velo band; can dial four-seamer up to the mid-90s; mid-80s slider comes with tilt and sharp, late bite; can throw to both sides of the plate and pitch off of offering; very high level of comfort; improved feel for low- to mid-80s changeup; solid innings jump without stuff backing up; projects to handle major-league starters workload without issue; not afraid to work inside aggressively; tough downward plane on fastball out of three-quarters slot.

Weaknesses: Lacks consistent weapon against lefties; can drop arm on slider causing pitch to ride along swing plane; still developing feel for changeup; can get too firm, losing fade; inconsistent timing; lower half can get out front causing drag; curve still plays below average; command still inconsistent and, when struggling with timing, can slip into bouts of wildness; can rely too heavily on slider.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2/3 starter

Realistic Role: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate; limited upper-minors experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: During the 2014 season, Thompson went from interesting flier to bona fide dynasty target. He has the profile of a starter capable of striking out 180-plus batters and throwing a slew of innings. The right-hander has borderline SP2 upside, but will likely top out as a solid SP3.

The Year Ahead: Thompson’s 2014 began with a two-month run during which time he held opposing hitters to a .200 average and .237 slugging while striking out just under a batter an inning. His High-A dominance earned him a mid-season promotion to Double-A Eerie at the age of 20 and just over 200 pro innings to his name. Thompson continued to dominate through his first two Double-A starts before finding himself packaged up and shipped out to the Rangers organization as part of a package traded for Joakim Soria. Thompson took the change of scenery in stride, finishing the season strongly and completing a highly successful developmental campaign. As impressive as Thompson’s fastball and slider are, he will need to more frequently and effectively tap into his changeup if he’s to continue working towards his immense potential. He’s a prime candidate to return to the Texas League to continue refining his third and fourth offerings. With concerns as to ability to maintain his velocity seemingly behind him, Thompson is looking more and more the part of a mid-rotation starter with an outside shot of producing at an even higher rate should he continue to refine the frequency with which he is able to repeat his mechanics and execute his offerings.

Major league ETA: 2016

6. Luis Ortiz
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/22/1995
Height/Weight: 6’3” 230 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2014 draft, Sanger HS (Sanger, CA)
Previous Ranking: N/A
2014 Stats: 1.29 ERA (7 IP, 4 H, 4 K, 3 BB) at Low-A Hickory, 2.02 ERA (13.1 IP, 12 H, 15 K, 3 BB) at Arizona complex level
The Tools: 6+ potential FB; 6 potential SL; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2014: Ortiz lit up the showcase circuit and was named MVP on the USA Baseball Gold Medal 18U team before coming off the board to Texas at the end of the first round of the 2014 draft and pounding complex- and rookie-league bats during his 20-inning pro debut.

Strengths: Pure power arsenal; fastball plays from the low 90s all the way up to 97 mph with regularity; slider is a future plus offering with sharp action in the low to mid-80s; slider comes with enough bite and deception to miss bats in and out of the zone; ability to lead with slider or fastball in setting up hitters; changeup shows promise with some arm speed deception and fade; big, sturdy build; repeats mechanics consistently; good competitor; advanced ability to throw strikes with regularity.

Weaknesses: Lacks projection; missed time in spring due to forearm tightness; high effort; changeup isn’t a go-to pitch yet; needs to build up confidence in offering; curve still in nascent stages; tired some towards end of season/fall.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2/3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High; yet to reach full-season ball; missed time in spring with forearm tightness.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The enigmatic prep pitcher has plenty of upside and talent to reach the SP2 level, but has a long way to go in order to get tbere—both developmentally and chronologically. It's a risk, but Ortiz would be a smart pick late in the second round of dynasty drafts.

The Year Ahead: Ortiz was one of the more electric arms in the 2014 draft class, and had he not missed three weeks in the spring with elbow issues, almost certainly would have been off the board well before the 30th pick. The former Fresno State commit has no issue maintaining velocity into the middle innings and has the physicality to shoulder a heavy pro workload. There’s always some trepidation when a young power arm is shelved with forearm tightness, but thus far Ortiz has shown no ill effects from the missed time. A full-season assignment seems likely in 2015, as his fastball/slider combo is too advanced for rookie-level competition. Assuming he’s healthy, Ortiz could move quickly through the system and projects well as a mid-rotation innings eater with a nice fallback as a late-inning power arm.

Major league ETA: 2018

7. Nick Williams
Position: LF
DOB: 09/08/1993
Height/Weight: 6’3” 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2012 draft, Ball HS (Galveston, TX)
Previous Ranking: #5 (Org), #88 (Top 101)
2014 Stats: .226/.250/.290 at Double-A Frisco (15 games), .292/.343/.491 at High-A Myrtle Beach (94 games), .308/.357/.462 at Arizona complex level (3 games)
The Tools: 6+ potential hit; 6 run; 5+ potential power

What Happened in 2014: Williams had his innate bat-to-ball skills on display through 94 games with High-A Myrtle Beach before earning a late-season promotion to Double-A at the age of 20.

Strengths: Natural feel for the barrel; tracks spin; very good bat speed; compact delivery; good plate coverage and ability to make hard contact across the hit zone, utilizing entire field; plus raw power; ability to turn on velocity and drive the other way, alike; improving strength; bat projects to impact; plus runner underway.

Weaknesses: Lacks feel; instincts in field and on bases are poor; speed plays down due to reads/jumps; overly aggressive at the plate; still formulating an approach; locked into see-ball-hit-ball mentality; propensity to give away at-bats once behind; arm plays below average.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate; limited Double-A exposure; profile heavily reliant on natural hit ability.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Just when you thought we couldn't find any more top-shelf fantasy assets on this list, here comes Williams. The risks are well known and detailed here, but Williams could end up as a near-.300 hitter with 25 home-run power if everything clicks. Of course, the odds of him turning into an OF1 are small, and the flameout risk is high, but dynasty leagues are won by the bold. Sometimes.

The Year Ahead: Williams provides an interesting juxtaposition of top-shelf feel for contact and excessive swing and miss in his game. The good news is that even a moderate tightening of his approach could lead to a huge breakout at the plate. Unfortunately, there are enough questions as to Williams’s overall feel for the game to call into question whether he will ever be able to fully leverage his preternatural ability to track baseballs out of the hand and find them with the barrel. There isn’t much value to be teased out in the field or on the bases, so everything is riding on Williams’s ability to focus his kill zone and limit the number of at-bats he gives away once falling behind. There are precious few ballplayers that come with the potential to grow into a true plus-plus hit tool, and fewer still that pair that upside with above-average power potential. The former Texas prep product checks both of those boxes and will return to Double-A Frisco in 2015 looking to tap into that potential with more regularity.

Major league ETA: 2017

8. Luke Jackson
Position: RHP
DOB: 08/24/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2” 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Calvary Christian HS (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Previous Ranking: #7 (Org)
2014 Stats: 10.35 ERA (40 IP, 56 H, 43 K, 28 BB) at Triple-A Round Rock, 3.04 ERA (83 IP, 58 H, 83 K, 24 BB) at Double-A Frisco
The Tools: 6+ FB; 6 potential CB; 5+ potential CH; 5 potential SL

What Happened in 2014: After a solid 83 innings with Double-A Frisco, Jackson jumped to Triple-A Round Rock where he immediately ran into issues both in and out of the zone, leaving evaluators still split as to whether his future lies in a rotation or at the back of a bullpen.

Strengths: Big arm; fastball can play low to mid-90s with late life, regularly topping 97 mph up in the zone; high release creates angle; can hold velo late into starts; curve is second potential plus weapon; clean and deep 12-to-6 action, flashing bite; changeup will tease with tumble; some arm-speed deception; solid job hitting uniform release with fastball; will mix in a slider with some vertical action; sturdy build; likes to challenge hitters.

Weaknesses: Struggles to maintain mechanics, leading to inconsistent execution and frequent bouts of wildness; command is very loose in the zone; fastball flattens up and can be easy to square from front to back of hit zone; can struggle to spot curve with consistency; changeup often comes too firm; slider plays below average, not pure fit for slot; can get predictable with fastball; mechanical issues can snowball with runners on as a result of speeding up to the plate and forcing lower half further out front.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-inning relief

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low; should contribute in some capacity; achieved Double-A success.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There will always be Luke Jackson Stuff Apologists in every deep league, and for good reason. However, his inconsistencies push Jackson to a frustrating SP4 level if he sticks in the rotation (though with more strikeouts than most other SP4s), and someone who is likely off the radar—barring saves—if he's a reliever.

The Year Ahead: Jackson has the raw stuff to dominate, but lacks the feel and precision to leverage that stuff into dominant production. He is most effective establishing his fastball, though inconsistencies in his secondaries can result in an overreliance on the heater, allowing hitters to sit on the pitch. Further complicating the matter is Jackson’s preference to chase the strikeout and challenge hitters in the zone, as opposed to pushing the development of the changeup and relying on the livelier low-90s rendition of the fastball, each of which could be useful tools in drawing soft contact and helping to keep pitch counts down. Jackson should get another shot at Triple-A to start 2015 and will be on the short list of arms to get a call to the big club as need arises. His fastball and curve could play well in a late-inning role should he prove incapable of finding enough consistency in his mechanics to effectively turn over upper-level lineups.

Major league ETA: 2015

9. Lewis Brinson
Position: CF
DOB: 05/08/1994
Height/Weight: 6’3” 170 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Coral Springs HS (Coral Springs, FL)
Previous Ranking: #9 (Org)
2014 Stats: .246/.307/.350 at High-A Myrtle Beach (46 games), .335/.405/.579 at Low-A Hickory (43 games)
The Tools: 6+ run; 6 power potential; 6 arm; 6 potential glove

What Happened in 2014: Brinson continued to rack up strikeouts at a troubling rate over 89 Single-A games, though he did so while showing an ability to impact the baseball with regularity and leverage his fringe double-plus speed both on the bases and out in center field.

Strengths: High upside skill set; chance for four plus or better tools with ability to provide impact in the field, at the plate, and on the bases; big raw pop with ability to get to it in game; glove can be a difference maker up the middle; solid reads with fine ability to close and finish; arm is a potential weapon; high scores for work ethic and makeup.

Weaknesses: Swing comes with noise; inconsistent barrel delivery; regular contact unlikely to be component of his game; power could play well below ceiling due to inconsistent ability to center on the barrel; athleticism outdistances feel and reads at present; speed and ability to finish anchor defensive value, but reads limit ultimate upside.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division regular

Realistic Role: High 4; fourth/fifth outfielder

Risk Factor/Injury History: High; yet to reach Double-A; swing and miss could weigh down entire profile.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Yet another prospect on this list with huge fantasy ceiling, as if Brinson could just hit .250 at the major-league level, he'd likely be a solid second outfielder in most mixed leagues. Unfortunately, the risk leaves him lingering as a great flier, instead of a great fantasy prospect for now.

The Year Ahead: Brinson draws a wide range of opinions from evaluators, ranging from future impact player to up-and-down guy without the requisite skills to regularly hold down a 25-man spot. The strikeouts are a significant concern, but perhaps more troubling are the mechanical quirks in the swing that produce those strikeouts. Brinson doesn’t provide a firm base with his lower half and that, combined with a hitchy load and inconsistent trigger and bat path, form significant barriers to regular hard contact. There is still time for Brinson to smooth out some of the rough edges, and because there’s a fair amount of juice in the bat he may not have to increase his contact rate by much in order to provide the requisite offensive production to make him an everyday contributor. He’ll provide value with his glove and legs, in any event. Brinson would likely benefit from a return to High-A to start 2015, with a focus on finding a little more mechanical consistency and balance in the box. He won’t turn 21 until the second month of the season, so the Rangers have some room to slow down Brinson’s ascent until he’s demonstrated a firm enough developmental foundation to give him the requisite tools to tackle more advanced competition.

Major league ETA: 2017

10. Travis Demeritte
Position: 2B/3B
DOB: 09/30/1994
Height/Weight: 6’0” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, Winder-Barrow HS (Winder, GA)
Previous Ranking: N/A
2013 Stats: .211/.310/.450 at Low-A Hickory (118 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential power; 6 arm; 5 present run; 5 potential glove

What Happened in 2014: In his first full season, Demeritte showcased plus raw power and big contact issues in the zone over 118 games with Low-A Hickory.

Strengths: Good strength and leverage; emerging power; bat speed plays; lots of torque through core and lower half; solid understanding of the strike zone; left-side arm; glove and lower half could play at hot corner or keystone; solid athlete; projectable build.

Weaknesses: Lots of noise in load; open stance, can fail to properly close front side through load, cutting off coverage on the outer half; swing comes with length; can be tripped up with solid spin and sequencing; average present run likely to drop a half to full grade once body reaches maturity.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division regular

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: High; big strikeout concerns; only one full season under belt.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The ETA and swing-and-miss tendencies in Demeritte's game will leave him off radars in leagues rostering fewer than 200 minor leaguers, but he will be someone to keep an eye on as Rangers' prospects seem to have an uncanny ability to take a step forward after racking up big strikeout numbers in Hickory.

The Year Ahead: Demeritte manifested more power than expected this early in his career, notching 25 round-trippers over the course of his 118 Sally League contests in 2014. The Peach State native generates good bat speed and impressive violence in his swing thanks to quick hips and a strong core, and is capable of producing hard contact across the diamond. He is more than capable of handling velocity and truly thrives on taking full advantage of mistakes left up and over the plate. Defensively, he lacks the lower-half quickness to handle shortstop at the highest level, but could grow into an average defender, perhaps more, at both second and third base. A return trip to Hickory might not be a bad idea as Demeritte works to improve his coverage on the outer half and limit his aggressiveness to the appropriate game situations. The ceiling is that of an impact bat wrapped in a solid-average defensive profile at second base, but there’s lots of work to be done in order to get him from where he is to where he needs to be.

Major league ETA: 2018

Prospects on the Rise:

1. SS Ti’Quan Forbes: One of the youngest and most projectable talents in the 2014 draft class, Forbes routinely impressed with flashes of an impact skill. At his best, Forbes is quick and loose with the bat, capable of squaring velocity across the quadrants while utilizing the entire field. The load is inconsistent and can hitchy at its worst, but the issue should subside as he continues to add strength and gain reps. The power plays below average at present, but projects well with a fair amount of maturation to come with the broad and projectable body, and it is easy to envision him growing into average or better pop in time. Defensively, Forbes shows loose actions at short with plenty of arm strength for the left side, but is likely to shift off the position as he continues to add mass to his frame. Third seems like a natural fit, but the 2014 second-rounder has enough lower-half agility to potentially handle the keystone, as well. Either way he has a chance to quickly establish himself as yet another potential impact talent in a deep Rangers system, and could fit comfortably in the top ten at this time next year.

2. SS Josh Morgan: The former UCLA commit provides a well-rounded middle-infield profile that includes an advanced feel at the plate, steady hands and footwork in the field, and solid average speed. He’s comfortable working deep into counts and maintains a steady and comfortable focus regardless of game situation. It’s a compact and efficient swing geared to line-drive production across the field and particularly adept at driving the ball up the middle and oppo. Defensively, Morgan is capable of making the outstanding play and his game is underscored by crisp and refined actions. His hands are soft to receive and quick to transfer, making him a good fit at second base should he have to transfer off short down the line. Morgan put together a strong professional debut in 2014 and will look to build on that in full-season ball this year.

3. OF Ryan Cordell: Cordell came off the board to Texas in the 11th round of the 2013 draft and has since come into his own as a prospect, putting together a strong 2014 campaign between Low-A Hickory and High-A Myrtle Beach. The Liberty product is well put together and produces hard contact out of a leveraged swing, projecting to average power or a tick above. He runs well enough to handle center field at present, and displays enough athleticism that some evaluators believe he can stick there long term, even if he loses a step at maturity. He’ll likely split time between the California and Texas League in 2015, putting him on track for a potential big-league debut as early as 2016.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2015):

1. RHP Keone Kela: Kela’s big right arm continued to chew through bats in 2014, regularly registering upper-90s velocity and kissing triple digits. He mixes in a power curve that serves as a second potential plus weapon, though he struggles at times to maintain a handle on both. It’s a classic power reliever profile that could slot into the late innings in Arlington in short order. His ability to avoid too much trouble via bases on balls will determine how quickly the Rangers trust him with higher-leverage situations. He could start the year in Triple-A Round Rock.

2. 3B Ryan Rua: Rua is a fringy corner glove with above-average pop out of a leveraged swing. He can get long through his load and trigger, hindering his ability to adjust to quality spin, but he should make enough contact to get to his power in game at the major-league level. Rua is a solid athlete who should settle in as a corner utility profile with a little bit of thump, and showed well in his brief major-league debut in 2014. He’ll enter the spring with a chance to break camp with the big club.

3. OF Delino DeShields: DeShields was plucked in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft and will get an opportunity to stick with the Rangers entering the 2015 season. While the former first-rounder gets dinged for a low-energy approach, there is hope that a change of scenery will serve as a jump start for the profile. His double-plus speed and a solid glove will play well in a reserve outfielder role, giving him a good chance to stick with Texas throughout the season, and if the Rangers can find a way to get DeShields to maintain his focus and efforts, they could wind up with a solid fourth outfielder with pinch-run utility and the upside of an everyday talent in center.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/89 or later)

  1. Jurickson Profar
  2. Rougned Odor
  3. Joey Gallo
  4. Martin Perez
  5. Chi Chi Gonzalez
  6. Jorge Alfaro
  7. Nomar Mazara
  8. Jake Thompson
  9. Luis Ortiz
  10. Nick Williams

The past season was one to forget for the Texas Rangers, as they finished last in the AL West. While the season was a lost cause, the Rangers were able to experiment with their roster in a manner beneficial for the future of the organization. There are still high-priced veterans such as Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo occupying roster spots on the club, but they have a young core of talent to infuse within their 25-man roster moving forward.

Elvis Andrus is no longer eligible for this list, but the up-the-middle talent of Jurickson Profar and Rougned Odor may be the most exciting aspect for the Rangers moving forward. While you could technically flip a coin on the order of these two—and many scouts and industry members disagree on their placement—Odor has been healthy and shown promising signs of production in his brief major-league stint. Odor has a chance to become a steady fixture in the Rangers lineup moving forward, and held a 96 OPS+ in his rookie season at the age of 20. Profar likely has the higher ceiling of the duo, although there are growing concerns about a player whom has struggled to see time on the field in the past two years. The most important factor here is to remember both players could realistically be in Double-A still, so it’s easy to see why there is excitement for the two in future seasons.

Martin Perez is the wildcard of the group, as he is rehabbing from a UCL tear and subsequent surgery he underwent last May. Perez was enjoying a fine season before going down to injury and he is just now throwing from flat ground, but should be ready for action at some point this season. A lot remains to be seen in regards to his arsenal, but Perez has potential to be a mid-rotation guy if the stuff returns back to its original form.

Overall, the Rangers system is in as good of shape as ever, with talent and depth gleaming from the mound and in the field. The Rangers may not take long to rekindle their success in the majors if a few of these players can turn their prospect status into production for the big-league club. —Tucker Blair

A Parting Thought: The Rangers continue to churn out potential impact talent, though much of that talent on the positional side comes with a fair amount of boom-or-bust to their game. This remains one of the top systems in the game, with depth and flash throughout.

Nick J. Faleris is a practicing structured finance attorney and Sports Industry team member in the Milwaukee office of Foley & Lardner LLP. The views he expresses at Baseball Prospectus are his own, and not necessarily those of the law firm.

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oakiegu007
1/28
That picture of Luke Jackson is absurd. I love it. Also, why do you guys think Gonzalez is so frequently docked by other prospectors? Is he not "sexy" enough?
huztlers
1/28
He sounds like a back of the rotation guy to me. I think he gets about the right amount of respect - safe but unspectacular in every respect.
pford68
1/28
Two plus pitches and good command sounds like far more than a BORP.
lewist
1/28
I've seen him pop up on a fair number of top 100s this offseason. I think pitching in Arlington is having a negative value on perception.
TheArtfulDodger
1/29
I think his reputation out of the draft has still stuck with him, when he was more of a "safe" option, but he's shown more in pro ball than he did in college, and we hope we reflect that difference in quality of stuff. It's also entirely possible to just have divergent opinions on the grades of the pitches. If you see him as more of a 6/5/5 guy, it changes the OFP/Realistic Role somewhat significantly.
NickFaleris
1/29
I agree with #Koko -- exactly how I would have explained it.
Behemoth
1/28
I thought that Brinson made very significant progress in reducing the strikeouts this year, but he doesn't seem to get much credit for that. Last year, he struck out 38% of the time, compared to 25% this year. Also, and possibly more importantly, he didn't strike out any more after he was promoted. Is this a case where the scouting suggests that the improvement will be unsustainable at a higher level, or is he perhaps underrated? It always seemed to me that almost the only question with Brinson was whether he would hit enough - obviously there are other things to work on, but the defence, baserunning and power are all there, and now he appears to be making progress with the hitting too.
NickFaleris
1/29
I don't know about underrated -- he's listed as the 9th best prospect in a system that is top 5 in the game or close to it. The swing still comes with holes and inconsistencies, so the upper-levels are going to pose a challenge as he more frequently runs into arms with a better ability to execute a game plan and vary sequencing. It was a good developmental year; if he does it again he's going to establish himself as a premium talent. As it is he's knocking on the door, and ranked as high as sixth on certain iterations of this list do to the built-in value in the glove and speed.
fletchgriz
1/28
What's the outlook for Ronald Guzman? Prospect-wise, not necessarily legal-wise....
TheArtfulDodger
1/29
I'm more optimistic on Guzman than Beras, though that might not be deserved. Obviously there's the off-field stuff that went on, but there wasn't much encouraging on the field this year either. He actually looked pretty good when I saw him in Spring Training, but was eaten up by Low-A pitching while repeating the league. Not a great sign. He'll only be 20 heading into next season, which will be a big one for him. He's not to be buried here, but as what Jordan Gorosh would call "a very large human" he's going to need to stay as short to the ball as he can. If he can do that the power should be able to function because he's a strong kid. Hopefully it's just a season he can learn from. Next year will tell us more.
NickFaleris
1/29
To his credit the approach wasn't terrible, but the execution left a lot to be desired. Too much soft contact even when picking out the right pitches to attack. Still tracks well and has an idea as to what he's doing, but he needs to find a comfort zone with respect to the swing. Get it right and the power and on-base are going to come naturally. But he'll never hit his stride if his timing, weight transfer and swing path are in constant flux.
jfranco77
1/28
Pour one out for the Professor who's probably trying to figure out how to get these guys to Chicago
msbirt
1/28
Wondering about Jairo Beras. How close was he to eking into the top 10? I know he's far off, but how much did the shine come off in 2014?
TheArtfulDodger
1/29
Not particularly close. He's part of a very large third tier of prospects that was discussed but no one who saw him was particularly enthused. The tools are still intact, including big raw power, but he's too long to get to it in game situations. He is a very long player in general, and he's faster than you'd think when you look at him, but his lengthy levers make it difficult for him to extend and still make contact. There's no reason to "give up" on Beras because he's still young and toolsy, but he's not someone who is going to move quickly.
NickFaleris
1/29
Part of a meaty 11-20 collection in a deep deep system. Similar to Guzman, sometimes it's just tough for big bodied teens to get a handle on their body. Shine isn't off, but it's a nice reminder that development usually isn't linear and making the jump from raw tools to in-game production is just as hard as you'd think it would be.
bloodface
1/28
I'm glad to see someone talking about Mazara's significant trouble with LHP. I'm curious as to what in his skill set allows scouts to project a plus hit tool on him, because his lefty splits aren't just poor, they're really, really bad, and they've never been good. Granted, there isn't a preponderance of LHP out there, but this still seems a nice-sized hole to work out of. Split G PA Iso HR BABIP LD% GB% OFB% K% BB% SB SB% BA OBP SLG OPS wOBA v L as L (MiLB) 164 317 .082 4 .289 16.4% 53.1% 20.9% 32.2% 9.8% - - .194 .290 .276 .566 - v R as L (MiLB) 300 990 .210 37 .328 20.2% 38.6% 32.9% 22.2% 11.7% - - .276 .364 .486 .850 -
NickFaleris
1/29
He has about 2 full seasons' worth of pro at bats under his belt, all of which came as a teenager playing against competition 2, 3, 4 years his senior. It could be that he has a long term issue with splits, or it could be he's still figuring out the lines and which pitches he can and cannot drive against same side arms. Ability to track, understanding of the strike zone, leveraged swing, emerging strength, and good bat speed all add up to a big upside bat, and his overall performance is without question admirable. I like the kid a lot, even with the present warts. Still lots of time for him to continue to log reps and refine.
gandriole
1/29
Michael De Leon appeared in AA (granted one playoff game) and the AFL as a 17 year old. Obviously the Rangers think highly of his makeup to expose him to advanced competition, and from all reports that held up, but were scouts impressed with any of his tools?
NickFaleris
1/29
Very much so. It isn't flashy, but he's quite refined for his age and is a steady producer in the field. He lacks strength at the plate, and there won't be much incentive for advanced arms to pitch to the margins until he shows he can make them pay. That has the added adverse effect of cutting into his on-base utility. Still lots of time for him to continue to add strength, and it's a big deal to be as far along as he is defensively. I don't necessarily see impact, but it certainly looks like a future major leaguer in some capacity, and an up-the-middle defender to boot.
hyprvypr
1/29
Joey Gallo, 205 lbs? I find that impossible to believe. I'm guessing he's closer to 225 or 230.
TheArtfulDodger
1/29
Height and listed weight are generally not updated by orgs so they're often out of date. That's likely his listed weight upon being drafted.
hyprvypr
1/30
Does that estimate seem about right? I saw him in person and he is a BIG dude for his age.
polishwonder
1/30
Would any of the players the Brewers got from the Rangers made the top 10?