At the conclusion of the 2007 minor league season, Derek Holland, Wilfredo Boscan, Martin Perez, Jose Vallejo, and Mitch Moreland had one thing in common – they were not considered to be among the Rangers’ Top 30 Prospects. Had you bought stock in any of these guys before the 2008 season by predicting their emergence, you would be rolling in the riches afforded to those who see and follow prospects before they become household names.
With the 2008 minor league season drawing to a close, a similarly talented collection of Rangers players are likely to be left off of the Top30 lists of most, if not all of the Rangers minor league experts. Below is my list of ten under-the-radar minor league players who are likely to emerge as compelling prospects in 2009.
(1) Joe Wieland – 18 yo RHP drafted in the 4th round combined a 90 MPH fastball, above average curve, and change to fashion a 1.44 ERA, 8.5K/9IP, 1.6 BB/9IP, and 0.92 WHIP in 43.2 innings in the AZ Rookie League. Weiland was 3rd in ERA and 2nd in WHIP among pitchers with at least 40 IP in the AZL. The K/BB ratio over 5 and .200 BAA suggest that he could make the jump to Clinton next year and join Boscan, NeRa, Perez, and Pimental in a remarkable starting rotation.
(2) Clark Murphy – 18 yo 5th round draft pick played 25 games in the AZ Rookie league and hit 358/435/526/962. Had he qualified, Murphy would have had the fourth highest OPS in the AZL. A promotion to Spokane in 2008 will reveal whether the Rangers have added another slugger to the system.
(3) Tomas Telis – As a catcher in the DSL, Telis hit 299/374/380/754. Assuming he moves stateside in 2009, he will take his first hacks in the US as a 17 year old. Depending on how things work out with Max Ramirez, Taylor Teagarden, and Christian Santana, Telis could become the Rangers #1 rated catching prospect in 2009.
(4) Juan Grullon – 18 yo LHP pitched 48 innings in the DSL with a 2.44 ERA, 12.6 K/9IP, 4.7BB/9IP, 202 BAA, and 1.29 WHIP. Assuming he can improve his control, Grullon could become the next in an impressive line of LA pitchers in the Rangers system.
(5) Tim Murphy – 21 yo LHP might make a Top30 list or two prior to the 2009 season based on his outstanding introduction to professional baseball (47.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, 9.7K/9IP, 3.4BB/9IP, 173 BAA, and 1.0 WHIP). Assuming he starts 2009 in the Bakersfield rotation, he could move quickly through the system.
(6) Anyenil Mendoza – 18 yo RHP pitched 38.2 innings in the DSL with a 2.33 ERA, 10 K/9IP, 2.8BB/9IP, 238 BAA, and 1.24 WHIP. An almost 1.5 GO/FO ratio combined with the high K-rate and low walk rate suggest that Mendoza is cut from the same cloth as Wilfredo Boscan.
(7) Mike Bianucci – 22 yo 8th round draft pick from Auburn hit 316/386/535/921 in 31 games in Spokane. Based on his age, Bianucci should be in the Bakersfield outfield next year where his numbers could be off-the-charts. Assuming Smoak, Moreland, Smith, Beltre, and Bianucci start the year in Bakersfield, the Blaze could average 10 runs per game before promotions take their toll.
(8) Tim Smith – 2007 draftee with excellent combination of speed and power played 120 games in Clinton this year where he posted a 300/359/451/810 batting line to go along with 21 stolen bases. His 810 OPS in 2008 is third among qualifying hitters in the MWL and is consistent with the 779 OPS he posted in Spokane in 2007.
(9) Carlos Pimental – 18 yo RHP is the forgotten man in the Spokane rotation despite a 3.52 ERA in 61.1 innings. Pimental’s peripherals include 7K/9IP, 4BB/9IP, 203 BAA, and 1.24 WHIP. If he can push his K-rate back up to where it was in the rookie league in 2007 (12+K/9IP), and improve his control, Pimental could emerge as a Top10 pitcher in the Rangers system.
(10) Kyle O’Campo – 19 yo RHP got his first professional experience in 2008 after signing late as a 2007 draftee. In the AZ rookie league, O’Campo pitched 53 innings and produced a 3.29 ERA with 9.7 K/9IP, 3.3 BB/9IP, 249 BAA, and 1.27 WHIP. O’Campo finished fourth in strike outs in the AZL. O’Campo will likely join Robbie Ross as the anchors of the 2009 Spokane rotation.