See future Rangers on display in Frisco

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, August 30th, 2014

Joey Gallo photo

By Dic Humphrey
dic.humphrey@yahoo.com

The Rangers’ 2014 season disintegrated many moons ago, leaving area professional baseball fans in the lurch.  With the worst record in the American League close to assured and an outstanding chance for the worst record in baseball and the number one selection in next summer’s June Amateur draft, it should be clear to everyone that the window of opportunity for the Ranger teams that twice went to the World Series has closed.  The World Series won’t be played locally until a new crop of players take their place at the Major League level.
Ranger fans don’t have to wait years to see that new crop though.  Many of the players that will be key the next time the Rangers challenge for a World Series berth are already in the area.  Go north baseball fans, go north!  To Frisco.  Eight of the Rangers’ top 20 minor league prospects as rated by MLB.com are already playing for the Rough Riders, including five of the top six.  
It starts with the Rangers’ number one prospect – Joey Gallo.  Gallo is known for his prodigious power.  He started the year at high A Myrtle Beach, where he hit 21 home runs in 58 games to earn a promotion to Frisco.  21 still leads the Carolina League.  Since moving to North Texas, Gallo has hit 20 more to match the Ranger’s minor league record held by Tom Robson, later a Ranger hitting coach.  Gallo is one home run behind Corpus Christi’s Telvin Nash for the Texas League lead.
Number two prospect Jorge Alfaro joined the Rough Riders earlier this month.  He’s a catcher with a body that reminds of Ivan Rodriguez.  In his first 18 games, he hit three home runs as he shares the catching duties with Pat Cantwell and often DHs when he doesn’t catch.
Outfielder Nick Williams became a Rough Rider a little over a week ago, after hitting .293 with 13 home runs for Myrtle Beach.  He’s off to a slow start in the Texas League, hitting just .250 in his first 10 games.  He’s ranked as the Rangers’ number four prospect.
Starting pitcher Alex Gonzalez, the Rangers’ number five prospect, is mowing down Texas League hitters.  He’s 7-4 with a 2.70 ERA.  He struck out 64 batters in the first 67 innings he pitched.  He also began the year at Myrtle Beach going 5-2, 2.62 in 11 starts.  Gonzalez was drafted out of Oral Roberts University in the first round of the 2013 draft, so he’s advancing rapidly through the system.  He has a real chance to be part of the Rangers’ starting rotation at some point next season.
Jake Thompson is the number six prospect.  He came over to the Rangers in July as part of the Joakim Soria trade.  He’s a local product having played at Rockwall Heath High School.  He was drafted by the Tigers in the second round of the 2012 draft, and is one of the youngest players in the Texas League at just 20 years of age.  He’s got a 2-1 record with a 2.93 ERA in six appearances (five starts) since joining the Rough Riders.
Outfielder Nomar Mazara is the youngest player in the Texas League.  He will still be just 19 when next season begins.  He jumped two minor league levels to join Frisco earlier in August after hitting .264 with 19 home runs at low A Hickory.  He’s holding his own in AA, hitting .264 with a pair of home runs in 20 games.  He is the number 10 prospect.
Starting pitcher Alec Asher is the number 13 prospect.  He’s 10-11 with a 3.88 ERA and is striking out almost a batter per inning.  Asher has the physical presence of a Major League starting pitcher – 6′-4”, 228 at 22 years old.  He was a fourth round pick in the 2012 draft.
Reliever Keone Kela is developing rapidly.  He was a 12th round draft pick in 2011, but over the past year, his fastball velocity has zoomed.  His heater is frequently clocked in triple digits.  He was promoted from Myrtle Beach early this season, and is 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA and five saves in 35 relief appearances.  He’s rated as the number 14 prospect, and he’s a pitcher that could also set foot in Arlington next year.
There are other exciting players to watch too.  Second baseman Odubel Herrera, who got a chance in AA largely because Rougned Odor is with the Rangers, is hitting .322.  He had a 12 point lead with four games to play, so has a great chance to win the Texas League batting championship.  He also leads the team in stolen bases.
Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco provides a delightful fan experience.  It’s small enough to truthfully say, there isn’t a bad seat in the house.  Last week, the ownership of the club was transferred to a group headed by Chuck Greenberg, the same Chuck Greenberg that led the Rangers out of bankruptcy in 2010.  At the game on the day of the sale, the price of hot dogs dropped to $1.00.  Ranger fans may remember his “blue light specials”.  In the sixth inning, some ballpark items go on sale for the duration of the inning.  Greenberg is a master at ballpark promotions and will only enhance the fan experience of watching Texas League baseball in Frisco.
There aren’t many opportunities left to see the next wave of Rangers.  The regular season ends with home games on August 31 and September 1.  The playoffs begin next week with home games against the Midland Rock Hounds on Wednesday and Thursday.  Hopefully, they will continue winning to bring even more home games to Frisco.  These are exciting players with very high end possibilities when they reach the Majors.  It’s a great opportunity for Ranger fans to say, “I saw them when…..”

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