Results tagged ‘ Texas Rangers ’
By Brendon Desrochers
We’re barely a week into the season, but let’s take a brief look at which prospects (those ranked in MLB.com club top-20s) are leading statistical categories (through games of Thursday, April 11):
Total Bases, Home Runs, RBIs and Slugging: Mike Zunino (SEA) with 27, 4, 17 and 1.038
Albuquerque’s Scott Van Slyke is the Minors’ leader in total bases with 32 and slugging at 1.143 (and the venerable Mike Hessman leads with five homers), but Zunino, the Mariners’ No. 3 prospect and No. 23 overall, is off to a strong start with three doubles a triple and the four home runs in six games (and he is the Minors overall leader with those 17 RBIs). As noted in the first Fantasy Focus, the Florida product and 2012 Golden Spikes Award winner may not be long for the Minors. His bat may be ready already.
Batting Average and On-base Percentage: Byron Buxton (MIN) at .500 and .565
Van Slyke also leads the Minors in average at .570, but the precocious Buxton, MLB.com’s No. 19 overall prospect, is 10-for-20 with a double, triple, two home runs and two stolen bases in five games. His three walks give him the edge in OBP at .565 (Billy Burns of Potomac leads the Minors among all players at .640). Like Zunino, Buxton too was featured in the first Fantasy Focus, and though the second overall pick from the 2012 Draft won’t turn 20 until December, the potential five-tool center fielder already has Twins fans drooling.
Runs Scored: Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) with 10
His 51s teammate Josh Satin and Tacoma’s Alex Liddi have 11, but it’s still been a strong start for the Minors’ top catching prospect. He’s drawn seven walks and reached base six times via base hit, which has given him the chance to score those 10 runs. With the way John Buck has been hitting for the Mets, though, d’Arnaud may be in Vegas for a few months longer.
Doubles: Maikel Franco (PHI) with 5
Eleven Minor Leaguers share the doubles lead with five, but Clearwater’s Maikel Franco is the only one of the 11 to rank in his organization’s top 20 prospects. The 20-year-old Dominican third baseman is rated 11th in the Phillies organization, and he’s had four doubles in his last three games (plus two homers and seven RBIs in his last two games). Perhaps this is the year that the raw pop Franco’s always showcased in batting practice will consistently make appearances in live action.
Hits: Xavier Avery (BAL) with 13
Avery is three hits behind High Desert’s Kevin Rivers plus Satin and Van Slyke overall, but his start is impressive nonetheless. He has four doubles and two steals to go with the 13 hits and .351 average for Double-A Bowie. The 23-year-old outfielder got into 32 games with the postseason-bound Orioles last year but still qualifies as a prospect and ranks seventh on the Orioles’ list. Avery continues to strike out a bit too much for a player without much power — he has 10 in 37 at-bats — but at least the Atlanta native has shown a consistent ability to draw walks, even earning a free pass in 10.3 percent of 107 plate appearances in Baltimore.
Profar, as we know, is the complete package as a prospect. Despite starting just 6-for-24 with a double, his eight walks show a mature approach and respect from PCL pitchers and managers. How and where Profar becomes a Ranger for good — especially with the big deal Texas just handed Elvis Andrus — is one of the season’s intriguing subplots.
Grossman came to the Astros from Pittsburgh when Wandy Rodriguez was sent north. The outfielder is known almost entirely for his patience. He became the first player since Nick Swisher to have 100 walks and 100 runs scored in a Minor League season when he achieved the feat with Bradenton in 2011. He has more power and less speed than Reggie Willits, but he profiles similarly to the Angels’ fourth outfielder of years past.
Strikeouts: Jared Mitchell (CWS) with 15
Mitchell is another patient hitter, but he hasn’t been able to battle out of deep counts this season as his 5-for-34 (.147) performance and strikeout total indicate. He does have five walks and three steals this season, but Mitchell’s .213 average in 155 at-bats for Charlotte between this season and last is poor. Though it’s early in this season, at age 24, time is running out for Mitchell to live up to his 2009 first-round billing.
Stolen Bases: Cory Spangenberg (SD) with 9
Another first-round pick (No. 10 overall in 2011), the second baseman has enjoyed his time with Lake Elsinore of the California League, batting .323 and stealing those nine bases without being caught. He has three more than you-know-who and has shown he’s completely recovered from the concussions he suffered last season. His speed will play at any level, and his doubles power could work in PETCO Park, even post-reconfiguration.
Here is Profar at Class A Short-Season Spokane (2010), Class A Hickory (2011) and Double-A Frisco (2012) in advance of potentially his first assignment to Triple-A Round Rock, where would begin but perhaps not stay too long this month. Click on any picture to begin a slideshow. For all past editions of Prospect Uniformed, head here.
Thinking back on the mid-December trade that brought baseball’s No. 6 prospect (catcher Travis d’Arnaud) to a pairing with baseball’s No. 8 prospect (right-hander Zack Wheeler) got me writing. Below I project the 10 best sets of batterymates throughout the Minors this coming season. You’ll see that the hurler-catcher duos cover nine different leagues.
An advisory: Each player’s name, once clicked, will take you to his bio/statistics page. His organizational ranking as a prospect is the “No.” in parentheses. If you have questions about a particular player, ask away in the comment section and I promise to answer. Also let me know if you agree/disagree with the rankings and present your arguments.
- Mets — Triple-A Buffalo (INT): Travis d’Arnaud (No. 1 in system) and RHP Zack Wheeler (No. 2)
- Braves – Triple-A Gwinnett (INT): Chrisitan Bethancourt (No. 2) and RHP Julio Teheran (No. 1)
- Mariners — Triple-A Tacoma (PCL): Mike Zunino (No. 3) and RHP Taijuan Walker (No. 1)
- Phillies: Triple-A Lehigh Valley (INT): Tommy Joseph (No. 3) and RHPs Ethan Martin (No. 2)
- Red Sox: Class A Advanced Salem (CAR) Blake Swihart (No. 9) and LHP Henry Owens (No. 5)
- Padres: Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore (CAL): Austin Hedges (No. 5) and RHP Matt Wisler (No. 8)
- Rockies: Class A Advanced Modesto (CAL): Will Swanner (No. 8) and LHP Tyler Anderson (No. 6)
- Rangers: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach (CAR): Jorge Alfaro (No. 5) and RHP Luke Jackson (No. 13)
- Pirates: Triple-A Indianapolis (INT): Tony Sanchez (No. 16) and RHP Gerrit Cole (No. 1). This omission was pointed out by a thoughtful reader on Twitter.
- Yankees — Double-A Trenton (EAS): Gary Sanchez (No. 1) and RHP Jose A. Ramirez (No. 13)
- Phillies (2): Triple-A Lehigh Valley (INT): Sebastian Valle (No. 8) and RHP Jonathan Pettibone (No. 4)
- Mets (2) Class A Savannah (SAL): Kevin Plawecki (No. 17) and RHP Luis Mateo (No. 9)
- D-backs: Class A Short-Season Missoula (PIO): Stryker Trahan (No. 11) and RHP Ben Eckels (UR)
- Pirates (2): Class A Short-Season Jamestown (NYP): Wyatt Mathisen (No. 10) and RHP Tyler Glasnow (No. 19)
- Brewers: Class A Short-Season Helena (PIO): Clint Coulter (No. 10) and RHP Damien Magnifico (No. 20)
Interview Outtakes: Rangers Slugging Prospect Mike Olt Answers Five Questions About Playing The Hot Corner
MiLB.com will soon publish the fourth part of my nine-part series on top-ranked prospects who are also top-rated defenders. The piece focuses on Rangers slugger Mike Olt (bio, stats here), the second-ranked third base prospect in all of baseball. In terms of interview extras — answers that didn’t make it into the story but are significant nonetheless — see below. Enjoy.
On his adjustment from college to pros defensively in 2010: “It took me a while in [Class A Short-Season] Spokane to get the feel of a wood bat every day. You deal with hot summer days and the ball coming off aluminum bats [in college], and your first reaction is different with a wood bat. Once I got adjusted to that, same deal. The [Rangers] wanted to make sure everything was correct form-wise and they liked what they saw.”
On his strengths as a third baseman in 2013: “What I take pride in is I’ve gotten a lot better at [fielding] slow rollers and in-between [hops], hard-hit balls with short hops — those are plays that came easy, but I worked a lot to get better at.”
On what he needs to improve at third: “Cutting down my path to the ball, trying to cut some distance. Sometimes I can get a little bit lazy and sit back on a ball instead of really attacking it, so that’s something I always have to keep working on. That just comes with my instincts of reading the ball off the bat.”
On watching incumbent Adrian Beltre play the position in 2012 and this spring: “He makes everything look easy. He makes tough, tough plays look easy. He does it everyday. He’s very consistent, and that’s what makes him a good baseball player. He’s very controlled. He doesn’t try to hurry throws. Everything he does is smooth, and that’s something I have tried to incorporate, because when I got up to [Texas], things kind of got rushed a little bit, so now it’s really just slowing the game.”
On learning other positions with Beltre blocking him: “Last year, my main focus was third base because that’s where I knew I was going. I knew I was going to [Double-A] Frisco, playing third base. Now this year, my focus is working on my weaknesses [at first base and right field]. I’m going to continue to work at third base, but I’m definitely going to put more effort into learning other positions and being more versatile. I would love to play third base full-time, but I’ll be ready for whatever happens.”
Twenty Top 100 Prospects and Their Chances of Making Opening Day Rosters at The Start of SpringTraining
Today is Friday, Feb. 15. In baseball terms, it is the “voluntary date on which all non-World Baseball Classic position players may be invited to Spring Training.” But most Major Leaguers, from the veterans to rookies, are already in camp. It is the rooks, or would-be rooks, that we focus on here and now. Turns out that 20 members of MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects have at least a reasonable shot of cracking their first Opening Day roster. They are below. Let me know in the comment section what you think of my assessment regarding which ballplayers might/might not make their respective clubs.
A links advisory: Click on the bolded team name for the MLB depth chart; click on the player name for his bio and MiLB stats; and the number in parentheses listed after the player name is his overall ranking in our Top 100 list.
- Questions worth asking: Can Profar unseat veteran Elvis Andrus at shortstop, or do the Rangers shift him to another position (2B, CF) in order to get his dynamic talents into the Majors immediately? Still 19, doesn’t he need a full season at Triple-A to polish his tools? Speaking of positional changes, where does Olt play? He’s a very good third baseman, but isn’t Adrian Beltre, who is signed for three more years, outstanding on the hot corner? Can Olt slug his way into the starting right field spot, or should he join Profar at Triple-A Round Rock? Does Perez finally put it together in Texas’ fifth rotation slot? Can he hold off vet righty Colby Lewis to make his first April rotation?
- Chances worth guessing: Profar (50%), Olt (50%) and Perez (75%)
- Questions: At 20 and with just 23 Minor League starts under his belt, is Bundy ready? He could probably hold his own right now, sure, but would getting beat up early on hurt him down the road? How much better does he have to be than the Matusz-Arrieta-Britton types to convince Baltimore to hand him the No. 5 starter role?
- Chances: 25%
- Questions: With Matt Joyce stationed in left field and Desmond Jennings in center, why not start out with Myers in right? Does Tampa Bay want to delay initializing his arbitration clock, or would Andrew Friedman and Co. rather go with the proven Ben Zobrist out there? With perhaps the deepest starting rotation in baseball, do Odorizzi and Archer have much of a shot? Would a trade of ace David Price make sense, given the unbelievable depth in able arms? Will Odorizzi and Archer foster the Minors’ best 1-2 punch at Triple-A Durham?
- Chances: Myers (50%), Odorizzi (25%) and Archer (25%)
Interview Outtakes: Rangers SS Luis Sardinas on Hitting off the Orioles’ Eduardo Rodriguez, Other Stuff
This morning, MiLB.com published my Prospect Q&A with Rangers prospect Luis Sardinas (@thesardisardi), who ranked 84th on our Top 100 Prospects list. The piece (linked here) focuses on Sardinas’ abilities, comparisons to Texas shortstops Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar as well as his Venezuelan heritage. Below are outtakes from the interview, quotes that did not fit into said story. Enjoy.
Thanks to Sardinas’ agency, Beverly Hills Sports Council for translating the interview from Spanish to English.
Me: Did you enter this offseason with personal goals – things you wanted to accomplish, and have you been able to make progress on them?
Sardinas: My goal for the offseason was to take care of my body, get stronger and improve my speed.
Me: Were you the fastest player on Class A Hickory’s club in 2012? Ever lose a race?
Sardinas: I probably was, I think so. Not really [many races]. With my injury history, I try to be careful and not be goofing around.
Me: Looking at the numbers, it’s clear you had a great 2012 in the Sally League. What was the key to your success in the batter’s box?
Sardinas: Always being positive, not paying attention to my numbers and taking it day by day.
Me: You have hit consistently in your three Minor League seasons — have you had to make any adjustments as a hitter in the Minors? If so, what adjustments?
Sardinas: We make adjustments every day, but I just try to put the ball in play and be more consistent.
Me: What is the secret to being a good base-stealer?
Sardinas: Looking for a good pitch count and reading the pitcher’s mechanics.
Me: What was the Arizona Fall League experience like? Does your success — you posed an .830 OPS there — give you even more confidence entering Spring Training?
Sardinas: It was a great experience. It was a blessing. It gives me a lot of confidence going into Spring Training because I learned to play the game the right away and I got to watch the way older players approach their business.
Me: What coach or teammate has been helpful to you in your development, and what did they help you with most?
Sardinas: I’m very close with Yohander Mendez. He’s a younger player in the organization who I love like a little brother and he motivates me a lot. Humberto Miranda and Josue Perez on the coaching staff have helped me a lot too with my on the field development.
Me: Who is the toughest pitcher you have faced in the Minor Leagues, and how did you fare against him?
Sardinas: Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles. He’s hard to square up, but I was 2-for-6 against him. [He throws] 94 mph with movement from the left side and [has] some good secondary pitches. He’s a very underrated player. He’s hard to square up.
Me: Who is the best player you have played against in the Minor Leagues, and why?
Sardinas: Gregory Polanco – just looking at him you can tell the guy is a beast.
Me: What is something that you would like your fans to know about you?
Sardinas: I have a little brother who’s six years old ,and he’s better than me. His name is Alejandro Sardinas.
Me: Aside from baseball, what is your passion? Is there something else you love to do? If so, could you tell us about how you got into it, and why you enjoy it?
Sardinas: I play a lot of golf. My dad plays a lot too,and I got into it in Arizona. It helps me clear my head and relax. [I haven't played] with my teammates yet, but I did play a tournament in Venezuela and came [in] second. My other passion is my family. I love being with them.
Prospect Q&A: Rangers Right-hander, First-rounder Luke Jackson on Getting to 200 Pounds and 200 Innings, Other Stuff
Is there a harder, longer process than developing a strong-armed teenager into a Major League starting pitcher? I don’t know, but Luke Jackson (@YaBoy77) has a better idea than most of us. The 21-year-old right-hander was the 45th overall pick in the 2010 Draft, going straight from his Florida high school to Texas. He is now the Rangers’ No. 13 prospect. (That is MLB.com’s ranking, while Baseball America says Jackson is the Rangers’ sixth-best farmhand.) His high strikeout totals and ability to miss bats merits such standing.
I spoke with Jackson over the phone this afternoon, and we hit on a variety of topics. Read the interview below. (Last time MiLB.com checked in with Jackson it was to interview him on camera about his unusual mitt for batting practice fielding. Not long before that, MiLB.com colleague @AshMarshallMLB asked Jackson about his near no-no on May 21.)
Me: Are you throwing yet? What is your workout routine?
Jackson: We have a pretty sick throwing program Texas gives us, so we’re already in those bullpen flat-grounds and been long-tossing a lot, really getting ready for the offseason. I work out a place down here called Bommarito Performance facility, and we get everything done there. It’s pretty tight.
Me: How have you adjusted to the Rangers’ throw-early-and-often program?
Jackson: I actually love it. My first full offseason was last year after my first season, so I threw pretty heavily and made it out 100 percent healthy. I’m pretty happy about it. I’ve been sticking to it ever since.
Me: What’s part of your workouts?
Jackson: I set a goal to gain a lot more weight. I’m skinny, trying to put some pounds on. It’s been going alright. I’m trying to strengthen my legs and my core. Target weight is around 205, but I’m like 193, 194, so I got a ways to go.
Me: Why would you like to add so much weight?
Jackson: I feel like it gives me more stamina, more durability. Especially as a guy who throws a little bit harder, it’s good to have a little more weight behind it as opposed to torque-ing my body every time.
Welcome to a new series on the blog. We’re calling this one, “Prospect Flashback.” It’s very simple: At least once a week you will be treated to an archived photo of a Minor League prospect-turned-Major League stud. Leave your feedback in the comment section.
Player: Josh Hamilton (MiLB career stats)
Date: July 6, 2006
Caption: Hamilton, a 1999 draft pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays plays in his first full game for the New York-Penn League Hudson Valley Reneagades. He has been out of baseball for years due to injuries and substance abuse. Here he breaks his cracked bat after hitting a pop-fly.
Photographer: Joy R. Absalon/MiLB.com