Baseball has a very unique farm and minor league system. Every MLB team, has a Triple-A team, Double-A team, High-A team, Low-A team, Short Season team, and several Rookie teams. That’s at least seven minor league teams each one of them loaded with players trying to make their dreams come true of playing in the major leagues one day. A few of those will make it, most won’t. Some are truly considered prospects, while some are just organization players filling a roster spot, who are still incredible baseball players but will probably never sniff the majors.
What’s discussed a lot with a prospect is his ceiling. That ceiling then becomes a foregone conclusion in the mind, but when it comes to prospects reaching their ceilings, there is no such thing as a foregone conclusion. Still, the illusion of the ceiling for a prospect can be too intoxicating to withstand.
The Rangers have a packed minor league system with young and extremely talented ballplayers to dream on. In both the U.S. amateur draft and the international market, Texas has targeted high ceiling players that are toolsheds filled with raw tools, but are still in their teens and several years away from becoming big leaguers. The Rangers are looking to these teenagers hopefully to shape the future of the franchise. They are all still very young, very raw, and have a long way to go, but they are exactly the kinds of players that the Rangers are wanting to patiently groom.
Joey Gallo, 18, 3B – Gallo is currently destroying the Arizona Rookie League in his first few weeks of playing professional baseball games. After being selected with the 39th overall pick by the Rangers in the 2012 draft, and receiving the largest signing bonus of any Ranger in this year’s draft, Gallo has been beyond impressive. Through 20 games, he had 16 home runs, 31 walks, 39 RBI and a .290/.429/.740 slash line. None of that means much at this point, but it’s a testament to the advanced approach to the plate and his near elite raw power.
Rougned Odor, 18, 2B, SS – Odor has been overshadowed as a prospect by Jurickson Profar. But, here is what Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus had to say on Odor: “His overall feel and comfort in the game is outstanding, and his work ethic as it pertains to baseball can’t be questioned. His hit tool will allow him to hit for average, his approach will put him in favorable hitting conditions and allow for secondary on-base ability, his strength and bat speed will generate some pop, his speed and quickness will add another element to his game, and he will make all the necessary plays at 2B. That’s one hell of a prospect, and in the end, one hell of a major leaguer.”
Nomar Mazara, 17, RF – The Rangers signed Mazara to the a record-breaking international amateur bonus of $4.95 million in 2011. Mazara profiles as a prototype corner outfielder with huge raw power and an above-average arm. Standing 6’4”, 195-lb. as a 17-year old, Mazara’s body has plenty of time to mature and progress.
Jairo Beras, 17, RF – The most hotly-debated signing of 2012 is now a Texas Ranger. While the 17-year old won’t be able to participate in game action with the Rangers until July 2013, the Rangers feel they can be creative with his development until then. Beras was signed for $4.5 million, the 2nd-largest international amateur bonus ever paid, and with the new CBA the largest bonus we will see paid to an international amateur for some time to come. Beras was the best international prospect in 2012, and might have been a top-10 draft pick if he had been in the U.S. amateur draft.
Ronald Guzman, 17, 1B/OF – Signed for $3.5 million in the same international draft class as Mazara, so far Guzman has earned higher critical praise than Mazara. His approach is advanced, his body and power project to be well above-average, and he has great makeup and work ethic.
Jorge Alfaro, 19, C – “The Legend” Though he has perhaps taken a bit of a step backwards in 2012, partly because he’s been injured, as a prospect, Alfaro is still a very raw, toolsy shortstop-turned-catcher with the possibility for plus power and plus speed for his position. He still has work to do when it comes to learning a solid hitting approach and how to be a good receiver at catcher.
Lewis Brinson, 18, CF – The Rangers 1st pick in the 2012 draft is perhaps the furthest from being a finished product on this list. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus wrote this about Brinson: “…arguably has the highest ceiling of any high school position player in the draft, but there is fatty tuna in the finest sushi restaurants that isn’t as raw.” Brinson is lanky, and toolsy. It will be up to the Rangers development system, and Brinson to achieve his ceiling.
There isn’t a name on this list that will have a chance to contribute in the major leagues until a few years down the road. They’re just teenagers and anything could happen. The biggest factor in whether or not they ever get that opportunity will be how they respond to the development system and process. Each one of these players has the raw talent and tools to make it, but more likely only one or two will. If that’s the case, it will still have been worth it to the Rangers to have made the investment in each of these prospects. For now, they are nothing more than just kids and an illusion to hold on to.
Quoting Rangers special scouting assistant Don Welke, Coach, who’s been doing this for almost 40 years says, “I like all-or-nothing players, and think we should take all-or-nothing players at every chance we get. If even just two of them pan out, it’ll be worth it. We don’t need just bodies anymore, we need premium talent. We need high-level guys that can be stars, not just normal.”
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis, Draft Coverage, On the Farm - Prospects Tagged: | International signings, Jairo Beras, Joey Gallo, Jorge Alfaro, Lewis Brinson, MLB Draft, Nomar Mazara, Prospects, Ronald Guzman, Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers