Rangers farm system is best in the division

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, March 28th, 2015

joey-gallo-2-fe

By Dic Humphrey
dic.humphrey@yahoo.com

The off season trades and free agent signings are essentially complete and spring training is quickly coming to an end.  Each team’s leading minor league prospects have been identified, and prognosticators are rating the farm systems.  There is considerable disparity in the ratings.  It’s not simply a matter of how good a team’s prospects are, but also how close to reaching the Major Leagues they are as well as how deep the system is.
For the Rangers, little has changed since the end of last season with the farm system.  No big prospects were traded this off season for immediate help at the Major League level.  Pitchers Cory Knebel and Marcos Diplan were sent to Milwaukee along with shortstop Luis Sardinas to obtain Yovani Gallardo.  That’s pretty much the extent of the Rangers’ movement of better prospects this winter.
The Sporting News ranks the Rangers’ farm system second among the 30 teams trailing the Chicago Cubs.
Baseball Prospectus has the Rangers with the fourth best farm system, behind the Cubs, Twins and Dodgers.
The Bleacher Report didn’t rate the Rangers as highly – only 13th, but all three agree that the Rangers have a significant number of high ceiling prospects.
Perhaps the best known of those is Joey Gallo, the team’s number one prospect and the number one power prospect in the minor leagues.  The 6′-5” third baseman hit 42 home runs last year split evenly between the Carolina (High A) and Texas (AA) Leagues.  He was invited to the big club’s spring training and played well, appearing in 15 games with a .250 batting average, two home runs and six RBIs.  Strikeouts were a big problem for Gallo last season as he struck out in more than 40% of his at bats.  This spring, he had just eight in 32 at-bats before being reassigned to minor league camp.  He worked with Jason Giambi this winter in his home town of Las Vegas after participating in the Arizona Fall League to perhaps account for the improvement.
Other position players of note are outfielders Nomar Mazara, Nick Williams and Lewis Brinson.  Jorge Alfaro is the top catching prospect in the organization.   They are ranked on the Rangers web site as the number one (Gallo), two (Alfaro), three (Mazara), six (Brinson), and seven (Williams) prospects in the system.   All five of them finished last year at AA Frisco, and likely begin 2015 there again.  Frisco is definitely the “must see” team in the Rangers’ minor league system.
Pitching-wise, starters Jake Thompson (four), Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez (five) and Luke Jackson (eight) are the most highly regarded.  Thompson was acquired last summer from Detroit in the Joakim Soria trade.
Gonzalez pitched extremely well in Rangers spring training.  He appeared in four games, starting twice.  He was 1-0, 3.95 in 13-2/3rds innings.  His WHIP was 1.24 and his opponents’ batting average was .216.  The Rangers want to keep him in the minors at least early in the season to delay his eligibility for arbitration and free agency for an extra year;but if the Rangers’ starters falter, Gonzalez could make his Major League debut in May.
Other top prospects of note are Ryan Rua, rated ninth best in the system, who likely makes the Rangers’ opening day roster as an outfielder, and Keone Kela (16), a fire-balling right-hander that also likely makes the Rangers’ opening day roster in the bullpen.  His fastball at times touches 100, and he is a candidate to be the Rangers’ closer at some point, perhaps even this season.
Delino DeShields, Jr. is considered to be the Rangers’ number 18 prospect.  He is a rule 5 draftee from the Astros, so must either make the opening day roster or be placed on waivers in contemplation of offering him back to Houston if he clears, which is not likely.  DeShields is intriguing with his plus-plus speed.  He can play the outfield and second base.
Baseball America recently published their top 100 minor league prospects.  Five are Rangers:  Gallo at six, Thompson at 47, Alfaro at 67, Mazara at 87 and Gonzalez at 89.
The Rangers have clearly the best farm system in the division. Baseball Prospectus ranks the Astros at 12, Mariners at 23, Athletics at 27 and Angels at 28.  The prognosis for this year’s Ranger team is iffy at best; but over the longer term of three or four years, the Rangers’ future is very bright.

RANGER NOTES:
– Yovani Gallardo has officially been named as the starting pitcher for the season opening game on Monday, April 6 in Oakland.  Derek Holland is the probable starting pitcher for the home opener on Friday April 10.
– Left-hander Ross Detwiler has officially been named as the number four starter in the rotation.   With Yu Darvish out for the season, Gallardo, Holland and Colby Lewis are the first three.  Nick Martinez is a strong candidate for the fifth starter spot.  He became the first Ranger starter to complete six innings this week, as he shut out theRockies on 76 pitches.  Nick Tepesch and Anthony Ranaudo are also considerations for the rotation.
– Veteran outfielder Ryan Ludwick has been told that he will not make the team.

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