BY: Richard W. Humphrey
MLB.com announced their top 100 minor league prospects this week, and five were Rangers. Boston led all teams with nine players in the top 100, while Houston and the Cubs each had seven. Pittsburgh had six and Minnesota joined the Rangers with five. Included in the Twins’ fivesome was outfielder Byron Buxton who was a unanimous choice as the number one prospect.
Catcher Jorge Alfaro at number 39 is the highest ranking Ranger. Second baseman Rougned Odor is next at number 59, followed by outfielder Michael Choice, who was acquired from Oakland in the trade for Craig Gentry, at 72, shortstop Luis Sardinas at 76, and third baseman Joey Gallo at number 92. Choice is the only one of the five that has appeared in a Major League game and the only one that has played at AAA.
One method of ranking the farm systems us to assign points to each player in inverse order of their ranking. I. E., the number one player gets 100 points, the number two player gets 99, and so on down the line to one point for player number 100. In that system, the Rangers ranked 14th with 167 points. The top 10 farm systems in that ranking are Houston, Boston, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Kansas City, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Baltimore, and Colorado. The Los Angeles Angels ranked dead last as they were the only team that did not place a prospect on the Top 100 list.
77 of the prospects were acquired in the first year player draft. 42 of those were first round picks and 17 more were supplemental first round picks taken between the first and second rounds. No wonder teams are valuing their draft picks so highly in consideration of signing qualifying free agents, such as Nelson Cruz, whose signing will cause a team to forfeit their first round pick in most cases.
The other 23 prospects are non-drafted free agents from eight foreign countries. The Dominican Republic leads with 12 of the 23.
As the game shifts in the post steroid era from extremely offensive to pitching rich, it is not surprising that 58 of the 100 are pitchers. Arizona’s Archie Bradley, a Tulsa native, is the highest ranked pitcher as the number five prospect. Seattle’s Taijuan Walker follows close behind at six. They are however, the only two hurlers in the top 10.
Ranger fans should not fret that the farm system is no longer among the game’s top 10. This is really a natural progression, as prospects rise and fall. A year ago, the Rangers also had five prospects on the Top 100 list. Included were the top prospect in baseball, middle infielder Jurickson Profar. Mike Olt was the Rangers’ top power hitting prospect ranked number 22 overall. Martin Perez was the Rangers’ top pitching prospect. Now a year later, Profar is set to be the Rangers’ starting second baseman, and Perez is slated to be a member of the Rangers’ rotation, perhaps even their number two starter in the pecking order after Yu Darvish. Olt however has moved in the opposite direction. He suffered through a miserable minor league season and was traded to the Cubs as part of the deal that brought Matt Garza to the Rangers. His star has fallen so drastically that he is no longer one of the Top 100 prospects.
In actuality, the Rangers’ top prospects may really be further down in the system – first baseman Ronald Guzman and outfielder Jairo Beras. Both are tremendous physical specimens that are very young. Guzman turned 19 three months ago and injuries limited him to just 173 at bats last year at low A Hickory. Beras turned 18 on Christmas Day and played just 17 professional games last summer largely because of a suspension that stemmed from problems surrounding his original signing. Both have huge potential to be All-Star caliber power hitters in the Major Leagues. The current crop of Ranger prospects may largely be young such that they will likely not be playing in Arlington soon, but make no mistake about it, there are a number of players in the system with tremendous upside potential.
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