Texas Rangers 2018 Top 50 Prospects

Texas Rangers Top 50 Prospects for 2018

2017 was a bit of a disappointment for the Texas Rangers as they played below their projected record. The club was coming off of back to back AL West titles and although they weren’t the favorites to win the division entering the season, many considered them to be the frontrunners for a wild card spot.

Despite the struggles in the win/loss column last year, the Rangers have a solid core at the big league level. 2018 will be no cakewalk with the reigning World Series champs, a much improved Los Angeles Angels team, and a solid when healthy Mariners club to contend with, but the future looks bright in Arlington. They have a nice combination of young players on the big league roster and some promising prospects waiting in the pipeline.

What was just recently a depleted farm system due to trades in an attempt to acquire Major League talent is now a solid, middle of the pack system. The front office has come out and said they are going to look to improve the big league club through free agency as opposed to trading away prospects like in years past. This is good news for Rangers fans because while the system may not be the deepest, there are a handful of names at the top of the list that have the potential to have solid MLB careers.

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster





Tier 1:

1. Leody Taveras, OF
Opening Day Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Single-A
Taveras has the potential to be one of the next five tool stars in MLB. The Dominican switch-hitter has great speed that translates well both on the bases and in the field. His contact skills are already above average and he showed signs of his developing power in his first full pro season. At 6’1 170 pounds, expect Taveras to grow into even more power while maintaining his athleticism. He may start the season back in Single-A, but don’t be surprised to see him spend some time in High-A in 2018.

Tier 2:

2. Willie Calhoun, OF
Opening Day Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: MLB
Calhoun came up as a second baseman and has since made the switch to the outfield. He is projected to be the starting left fielder for the Rangers on Opening Day and he is my pick to win the American League Rookie of the Year. Acquired from the Dodgers in the trade that sent Yu Darvish to LA, Calhoun has the biggest power bat in the system. He played 128 games at Triple-A last year before making his big league debut in September. During his time in the minors, the California native mashed 31 homers and posted an OPS of .927. Calhoun has also consistently posted a good K/BB ratio for a home run hitter.

3. Cole Ragans, LHP
Opening Day Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Short Season
The Rangers took Ragans in the first round of the 2016 draft and have since been conservative with his progression in the system. While he will likely continue his path through the minors at a methodical pace, I am high on Ragans for his pure stuff. He has good movement on his low 90’s fastball and already has a plus change and breaking ball to go with it. His good mechanics and consistent approach have led many to put Cole Hamels comps on the young southpaw. Ragans struck out 87 Northwest League hitters in just 57 innings last year.

4. Hans Crouse, RHP
Opening Day Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Crosue is a lanky 6’4, but he has a rather intimidating presence on the mound. He is very confident when he climbs the hill and he is not afraid to show it. Crouse has an explosive, almost violent delivery. He has a riding fastball that is hard to square up and a plus breaking ball. The 2017 draftee isn’t always consistent with his delivery as he switches things up, but he is usually consistent with his stuff. Last season was a small sample size, but Crouse allowed just one earned run on a homer over 20 innings while striking out 30.  

Tier 3:

5. Kyle Cody, RHP
Opening Day Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: High-A
Cody has a mid 90’s fastball that he couples with two solid offerings behind it. He has a fluid delivery with no wasted movement and his 6’7 frame helps his stuff play up even more. He has the potential to rack up strikeouts and he has workhorse written all over him. Cody tossed 126 innings over two levels in 2017 and while he was exceptional at Single-A, he was even better after the jump to High-A. Cody may be on the fast track to the bigs and his floor is a solid middle of the rotation guy.

6. Bubba Thompson, OF
Opening Day Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Thompson was arguably the most elite athlete entering the 2017 draft. The Rangers took the Mobile, AL native in the first round before sending him to the Arizona League. Thompson has well above average speed and he possesses a lot of pop in his bat thanks to a quick, compact swing. While he is several years away from the bigs, Thompson has the potential to be a 20/30 guy once he makes it to the show.

7. Ronald Guzman, 1B
Opening Day Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: Triple-A
Guzman’s only plus tool will likely be his bat, but it will be a very big plus. A product of La Vega, DR, Guzman has shown the ability to hit for both contact and power and he could project to be a 25 homer guy with a decent average. His speed is below average and the lack of skills defensively virtually guarantee Guzman will spend his time in the majors as a DH. There is enough potential in the bat to store him in your dynasty leagues.  

8. Pedro Gonzalez, OF
Opening Day Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Short Season
Gonzalez and Bubba Thompson may be a good comparison. Gonzalez has a little bit more of the power that Thompson could grow into, but not quite the foot speed. Still, his speed grades out above average and an outfield with Gonzalez and Thompson is a fun one to think about. In his three professional seasons, Gonzalez has yet to see action beyond short season ball. He only played in six games in the Rangers system last year after coming over from the Rockies in the Jonathan Lucroy trade. He didn’t log a hit after the trade, but posted an .840 OPS on the season.

9. Yohander Mendez, LHP
Opening Day Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: MLB
Mendez has been a highly touted prospect in the Rangers system for some time now and after a brutal major league debut in 2016, the lefty got another shot in 2017. Many folks have dropped him in prospect rankings, but I have a lot of faith in him. I just believe his stuff is too good to not be a significant contributor in the show. He has a low 90’s fastball from the left side with a major league ready change and a good breaking pitch. He may start the season in Triple-A, but will be the first arm called up to the majors should they need him.

10. Michael Matuella, RHP
Opening Day Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: Single-A
I’ll be the first to admit, Matuella may be a high risk, high reward pitcher, but I’m leaning towards reward. The big right hander out of Duke has struggled to stay healthy over his career. He has had Tommy John followed by more elbow trouble as well as lower back issues. At the end of the day, Matuella has some of the best stuff in the system. His mid 90’s fastball has a lot of movement on it and it looks even better with some outstanding breaking pitches behind it. If there weren’t injury concerns, Matuella would be higher on this list. It is important to note that the Rangers were extremely careful with Matuella in 2017, but he stayed healthy the entire campaign.

11. Chris Seise, SS
Opening Day Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Short Season
A first round pick in 2017, Seise played at two levels last year. He raked in rookie ball where he posted an OPS of .904 in 116 at bats, but struggled after the move to short season. All signs point to him staying at shortstop over his pro career due to his plus defensive tools. He has some extreme value for our fantasy purposes as well. The Winter Garden, FL product has great raw power and plus speed to go with it. He is definitely worth a roster spot in your dynasty league.

12. Joe Palumbo, LHP
Opening Day Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: High-A
Palumbo was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from last year’s Rule 5 draft. He was assigned to High-A to start 2017, but only tossed 13.2 innings before having Tommy John. The former 30th round draft pick is still worth rostering in your dynasty league due to his repertoire and ability to miss bats. He is a little bit undersized, but has a nice fastball from the left hand side with a breaking ball that he can throw for strikes.

13. Yanio Perez, OF/1B
Opening Day Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: High-A
After a couple of professional seasons in Cuba, Perez defected and signed with the Rangers before the 2017 season. He saw time in both Single-A and High-A last year where he slugged a combined .434. He has outstanding power potential and he raked in the AFL this offseason. The right handed hitting Perez has the potential to be on equal footing with Ronald Guzman power wise, but there is no sign of the contact rate developing the same way. Unlike Guzman, Perez isn’t destined for the DH role. He has decent defensive skills and may find an outfield spot down the road. He has a high strikeout rate, but doesn’t walk near enough. He won’t be a high on base player, but the power is worth keeping an eye on.

14. Jose Trevino, C
Opening Day Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: Double-A
Trevino may be the Rangers catcher of the future and while he will certainly have a good big league career, it won’t translate much to fantasy. He is more of a defensive catcher, but there is potential for a little pop in the bat. The former Oral Roberts standout slashed just .241/.275/.323 in 2017 with nine homers, the fewest in his four year pro career. Given the position he plays, he may be worth taking a flier on in your dynasty leagues.





Tier 4:

15. Anderson Tejeda, SS/2B
Opening Day Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Single-A
Tejeda has always been young for his league and has always held his own. He strikes out more than we would like to see, but that is to be expected from a 19-year-old in Single-A. There is a lot of raw power in the bat when he does make contact. He also has enough speed to take the extra base. Tejada is a good piece to roster for a future middle infield option.

16. Ariel Jurado, RHP
Opening Day Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: Double-A
Jurado spent the entire 2017 season at Double-A and things did not go as planned. He posted a 1.43 WHIP and struck out just 95 batters in 157 innings. The right hander was much younger than his Double-A competition, but still had a few years of pro experience under his belt. Jurado has solid stuff and a high floor with the potential to be a back of the rotation arm. He may be an innings eater, but won’t post high strikeouts or low WHIP.

17. Alex Speas, RHP
Opening Day Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Short Season
The Rangers took Speas in the second round of the 2016 draft out of McEachern High School in Georgia. The 6’4 righty performed well as a reliever last year and he shows signs of being a solid bullpen arm in the future, maybe even a closer. He has a high 90’s fastball and if he can harness the command, he will be a valuable RP down the road.

18. Ronald Herrera, RHP
Opening Day Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: MLB
Herrera made his big league debut for the Yankees in 2017 before being traded to the Rangers leading up to the Rule 5 draft. The 22-year-old righty has logged over 600 minor league innings and has never spent a full season in one uniform. With that being said, he may have found a good home in Texas with a spot on the 40-man roster. The Maracay, Venezuela native has a good fastball/changeup combo and while he doesn’t blow guys away, he doesn’t give up hard contact too often. His floor is a middle reliever and his ceiling is a back of the rotation starter for a handful of years.   

19. Jonathan Hernandez, RHP
Opening Day Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: High-A
Hernandez split time between Single-A and High-A in 2017 and pitched better after he was promoted. He posted a good K/9 rate over the 2017 campaign, but the WHIP has steadily risen each year of his pro career. He has moved slowly through the system, but he is worth keeping an eye due to his plus fastball/changeup combo.

20. A.J. Alexy, RHP
Opening Day Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Single-A
Alexy was one of the prospects the Rangers got back in the Darvish trade and he didn’t miss a beat after joining their system in 2017. He dropped his ERA by 60 points after switching from the Midwest League to the South Atlantic, but the WHIP rose by 32 points. He doesn’t have a ton of experience on the mound, but already has a plus curveball.

21. Andy Ibanez, 2B
Opening Day Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: Double-A
Ibanez is a guy that I am higher on than most people. He started his first season of affiliated ball in Single-A where he slashed .324/.413/.546 over 46 games before getting a promotion to Double-A. The numbers weren’t as impressive in Frisco and they took even more of a hit in 2017. Despite the unimpressive stats at the plate, the Cuban infielder has the ability to drive balls over the field and rack up extra base hits.

22. Scott Heineman, OF
Opening Day Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: Double-A
Speaking of extra base hit machines, Heineman is just that. The University of Oregon product has made a name for himself in the Rangers system by slashing .294/.375/.468 over his first two professional seasons. Of the right hander’s 292 professional hits, 106 have gone for extra bases. While the jury is out on just how valuable of an outfielder he will be in fantasy, Heineman has enough tools that he deserves a roster spot in dynasty leagues.

23. Brett Martin, LHP
Opening Day Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: High-A
Martin has had some trouble staying healthy over his career. When he is able to take the mound he has a good fastball/breaking ball combo. There is a high floor there due to his ability to throw strikes, but that is only if he can stay healthy.

24. Ricardo Rodriguez, RHP
Opening Day Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: MLB
The 25-year-old righty out of Venezuela had three save opportunities in the show last season, but was only able to convert one of them. He got roughed up over his 13 major league innings, but his strong numbers over his minor league career give the Rangers hope that he can be a solid bullpen arm.

25. Miguel Aparicio, OF
Opening Day Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Short Season
Aparicio will turn 19 just days before the 2018 season starts and he will have a lot of eyes on him. Defense is the strongest part of the young Venezuelan’s game, but he does have enough speed to make fantasy owners take notice. He makes good contact and may develop some gap power, but there is little evidence of anything more than stolen base value.

26. Adam Choplick, LHP
Opening Day Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: High-A
Choplick is a 6’9 lefty and 100% of the focus has been on developing him as a reliever. He is a good candidate to be a solid closer if he keeps performing the way he has so far in affiliated ball. In fact, of the 93 games he has appeared in over his three year pro career, he has finished 40 of them. A couple of Tommy John surgeries is the only reason Choplick isn’t in Tier 3. However, he is worth rostering if you see your dynasty team needing relief pitching in the future.

27. Connor Sadzeck, RHP
Opening Day Age: 26
2017 Highest Level: Double-A
Sadzeck is an intimidating presence on the mound with his 6’7 240 pound frame and triple digit fastball. With that being said, he has struggled at Double-A and has been stuck there since 2015. He has a decent breaking ball, but hitters at the higher levels can catch up to the blistering fastball and he has been struggling to adjust to that. He may be a candidate for some holds in the major leagues, but not much more.

28. Scott Williams, RHP
Opening Day Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: High-A
After two consecutive seasons at High-A, the second being much more impressive than the first, the 24-year-old has established himself as a strong bullpen candidate. For fantasy purposes he isn’t extremely valuable as he is projected to be a middle relief guy, but he could rack up some strikeouts. His breaking ball is a little more established than Sadzeck’s, which helps his triple digit fastball play up more. He may be able to rack up some strikeouts with that combo. 





Tier 5:

29. Jeffrey Springs, LHP
Opening Day Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: High-A
Springs is worth keeping an eye because of his high strikeout rate, but it remains to be seen if that is legitimate or just a byproduct of him being much older than his opponents. Whether he will be a starter or reliever is still up in the air.

30. C.D. Pelham, LHP
Opening Day Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: Single-A
Pelham hasn’t posted the best numbers in his pro career, but the 6’6 lefty showed a lot of improvement in 2017. Although destined for the bullpen, the South Carolina native has a good fastball/slider combo. He converted 13 of his 16 save opportunities in Single-A last season.

31. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, 3B
Opening Day Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: Double-A
Kiner-Falefa is definitely a glove first guy, but he puts the ball in play a good bit and runs the bases well. He is extremely versatile defensively and will more than likely be eligible to roster at multiple positions should he find himself in the big leagues.

32. Hunter Cole, OF
Opening Day Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: Double-A
A product of the University of Georgia, Cole came over to the Rangers organization in the Sam Dyson trade. The outfielder typically posts around a .750 OPS and he seems to be more of a “Quad-A” type of guy.

33. Matt Whatley, C
Opening Day Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: Short Season
Whatley impressed in his first professional season after being drafted in the third round out of Oral Roberts. Regardless of how good those 2017 numbers looked, they probably aren’t sustainable. Whatley is a defense first catcher, but he may be worth stashing in dynasty leagues. His defense will progress him through the minors and who knows, maybe the bat will come along with it.

34. Josh Morgan, SS/C
Opening Day Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: High-A
There is not much offensive potential for Morgan as an infielder, but it seems as though he is making the switch to catcher where his bat will be a little bit more valuable. Still, he has a long way to go before being considered for a spot on your dynasty roster.

35. Tyler Phillips, RHP
Opening Day Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Single-A
Phillips is a 6’5 righty who may add some velocity to his fastball if he continues to grow. The Rangers have shown confidence in him despite some lackluster numbers in the minors. One positive note is that Phillips struck out 93 batters over two levels in 2017 while walking just 20.

36. David Garcia, C
Opening Day Age: 18
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Although the kid is still a teenager and 2017 was just his age 17 season, Garcia isn’t a desirable piece in fantasy. Again, things could change, but as of now it looks like Garcia will be a defense first catcher. He may be worth checking in on down the road just to see his development, but there is no need to stash him now.

37. Ryan Dease, RHP
Opening Day Age: 18
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Dease was a 2017 fourth round pick. He tossed 22 innings in his pro debut with a WHIP of just 0.91 while striking out 19 and walking two. He may be low on the list now, but should his stuff develop, he may move up a tier in next year’s list. As of now, don’t go out of your way to roster him.

38. Noah Bremer, RHP
Opening Day Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: Short Season
A top University of Washington arm, Bremer was selected by the Rangers in the sixth round of the 2017 draft. He wasn’t a starter in his debut season, but struck out 30 and walked just four over 20 innings in Short Season.

39. Carlos Tocci, OF
Opening Day Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: Triple-A
Tocci hasn’t been a force at the plate over his career, but he did post a career high .727 OPS last season against his toughest competition yet. Still, I don’t see enough offensive value to roster him.

40. Nick Gardewine, RHP
Opening Day Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: MLB
Gardewine made his big league debut in 2017 and it was a rough eight innings where he posted a 2.13 WHIP. He has one plus offering and will more than likely be a middle reliever who doesn’t pitch in high leverage situations should he find a more permanent home on a big league roster.

41. Joel Urena, LHP
Opening Day Age: 18
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
At 6’5 250 pounds, Urena is an intimidating left handed presence on the mound. He had a good pro debut in 2017, but the jury is still out on how he will handle tougher competition. With the right pitching coach, Urena may make some noise in the minors.

42. Tyree Thompson, RHP
Opening Day Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Short Season
The former 26th round pick is a tall, lanky right hander that has yet to impress in two pro seasons. He struck out less than six batters per 9 innings last year and posted a 5.04 FIP in 13 starts.

43. Eric Jenkins, OF
Opening Day Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: Single-A
Jenkins was a highly touted outfielder entering the 2015 draft, but has yet to live up to the hype. He stole a combined 79 bases over his first two seasons, but just 10 in 2017. His .553 OPS in last season’s campaign doesn’t help the fantasy value either.

44. Wes Benjamin, LHP
Opening Day Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: High-A
Despite having two elbow injuries in the past, one that required Tommy John, the University of Kansas product has tossed over 100 innings in each of the last two seasons. The lefty has a good strikeout to walk ratio, but the WHIP was a little high in 2017. It will be interesting to see how Benjamin fares against competition closer to his age as he moves up the ladder.

45. John Fasola, RHP
Opening Day Age: 26
2017 Highest Level: Triple-A
Fasola missed all of 2017 after Tommy John surgery. Before that, he had bounced all around the system in his first three pro seasons. Depending on how he comes back from the surgery, Fasola may get a shot at some time in a major league bullpen in the near future, but that is his ceiling.

46. Edgar Arredondo, RHP
Opening Day Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Single-A
Arredondo is still being developed as a starter and has struck out nearly a batter per inning over his pro career. He lost the 2014 season to Tommy John surgery, but has enough stuff to make his way to the upper levels of the minors.

47. Brady Feigl, LHP
Opening Day Age: 27
2017 Highest Level: Double-A
The Mount St. Mary’s product turned 27 this offseason, but only has 131 professional innings under his belt. Should Feigl ever find his way to a big league roster, it will be as a middle relief arm.

48. Kole Enright, 2B
Opening Day Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Short Season
There isn’t a whole lot of pop in Enright’s bat and he doesn’t hold a ton of value unless your dynasty league is very deep. His .637 OPS in 2017 is cause for concern, but it was just his age 19 season. His defense will help him move up the minor league ladder.

49. Tyreque Reed, 1B
Opening Day Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Reed is on the list solely because of his raw power. He can mash, but that will likely be the only plus aspect of his game. The 6’2 260 pound Itawamba CC product put up an impressive .350/.455/.617 line over 120 at bats in his debut season. However, he is limited in where he can play defensively and may not provide enough value at the plate to be a top DH.

50. Charles Leblanc, 3B
Opening Day Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: Single-A
A former fourth round pick out of Pitt, Leblanc makes good contact and doesn’t strike out a lot. With that being said, the corner infielder has shown little signs of developing any kind of gap power, let alone home run power. He does have good size so the power may come later.

A Few More Intriguing Players:

Clayton Blackburn, RHP
Opening Day Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: Triple-A
I felt it was important to mention Blackburn because of how close he is to the majors. He wasn’t on the list because I simply couldn’t find the right place to put him. So, instead of giving him an unfair ranking, I wanted to mention him separately. Blackburn was once a highly rated prospect in the Giants system, but has spent the last three seasons in Triple-A. While Blackburn has been a starter his entire pro career, I believe he is a candidate to get some bullpen time and maybe even some spot starts in the near future. Blackburn is a guy that can add some value to your roster very, very soon.

Jairo Beras, RHP
Opening Day Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: High-A
The “2017 Highest Level” is a little misleading in the case of Beras. Yes, he did spend the majority of the 2017 campaign in High-A, but his career looks a lot different now thanks to his time in Single-A. Rangers fans may be familiar with Beras due to his promising power potential after being signed out of the Dominican Republic. Well, things didn’t quite go as planned over the first four and a half years of his pro career, so the 6’6 righty is now trying to cut it as a pitcher. There is some potential for Beras to make an impact as a pitcher due to his near triple digit fastball and his slider, but the mechanics need to improve immensely before that happens.

Chris Martin, RHP
Opening Day Age: 31
2017 Highest Level: None
Martin is included here because he is sure to be a Rangers fan favorite. The 6’8 right hander is an Arlington native and has had a very interesting career. He was drafted by the Rockies, but was quickly sidelined with a shoulder injury that nearly ended his pitching career. He was back home in Texas and out of baseball for a while before playing some indy ball. From there he bounced around between the Red Sox, Rockies, and Yankees organizations before he spent two years in Japan as a member of the Nippon Ham Fighters. While overseas, Martin was absolutely dominant. Now, the Rangers have signed him to a two year deal in hopes that he can be a bullpen asset over the next couple of seasons.

About Jake Berry 6 Articles
I reside in Carrollton, Georgia and love everything baseball. I graduated from the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management. I have a passion for the minor leagues and have high hopes of visiting as many minor league parks as I can. I enjoy the statistical side of the game, especially sabermetrics. I am also an avid baseball card collector and fantasy baseball player.

3 Comments

  1. I am curious where Yenci Pena might slot in as I don’t see him on your list. I have him on my squad in fantasy baseball (Dynasty League). He recently signed with the Rangers after the ATL scandal.

    • On the field, I like Pena. However, I tend to stay away from young guys who have projections to end up at the hot corner, unless their bat is already ahead of where you expect a 17 year old to be. If your league is super deep, sure, just don’t expect him to stick at short in my opinion. Thanks for asking, I could definitely see why some folks would have Pena on this list!

  2. Jake,
    Do you think you may have underestimated Kiner-Falefa’s ceiling? Should I take a chance on him? I am in a dynasty league and it would require a four-year commitment. Too risky?
    Thanks,
    Jeff

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Friday January 19, 2018 - Fantasy Baseball Links - FantasyRundown.com
  2. Diving Deep: Prospects not included in our Top 50s | Prospects1500
  3. Rangers Farm and Their Injured Arms | Prospects1500

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