Keith Law has an updated top 25 prospect ranking up, and the Rangers' Martin Perez checks in at #7 on the list, up from where he was on Law's list this offseason. Law also lists Jurickson Profar in his "others to watch" section, just on the outside of the top 25.
We've had some discussions lately about what Ranger prospects are top 10, top 25, and top 100 candidates for the prospect lists this offseason. Perez and Profar are the only two players who I think have legitimate shots at being off-season top 25 guys, with Perez probably in the top 25 on most lists, and Profar falling in the 20-40 range.
Perez's statistical profile in Frisco this season, compared to last season, is striking. Perez had a 5.96 ERA in 99 2/3 IP in 2010, compared to a 2.01 ERA in 53 2/3 IP so far in 2011. Perez's K and walk rates, however, have been almost identical...he had a 9.1 K/9 rate in 2010, versus an 8.9 K/9 rate this year, while his walk rate has dropped from 4.5/9 last year to 4.2 this year.
Where Perez has seen dramatic improvement is in his hit and home run rates. After allowing 12 homers and 117 hits in 2010, Perez has allowed just 1 homer and 42 hits in 2011. His homer rate has dropped from 1.1/9 to .2/9, and his hit rate from 10.6/9 to 7.0/9.
This would seem to dovetail with the reports that Perez's stuff and command has been more consistent this year. He's still missing bats and walking guys at the same rate, but both the stats and the scouts suggest that he's not leaving the ball over the plate so much. Law says Perez has done better at inducing weak contact, which would explain the drop in hit and homer rates from last season.
I expect that, in another month or so, we'll see Perez get a chance to show he can perform against AAA hitters, as well.
Looking at other prospects in the Rangers system...Leonys Martin has been mentioned as a potential top 25 prospect, and if he keeps posting a 1000 OPS, then he's got legitimate claim to such standing. However, his age is going to work against him...he'll be 24 on Opening Day, 2012, and the 2011 Baseball America top prospect list included just four 24 year olds and one 25 year old. There are also, as has been discussed at length, a lot of questions about his hit tool and eventual ceiling...these lists tend to be biased more in favor of young, high-ceiling talent over older players who are safer bets to succeed, but don't profile with the ceiling.
Mike Olt and Neil Ramirez are the two other players who, at this point, look like top 100 candidates. Ramirez has slowed down some at AAA, after his hot start, with batters making him throw more pitches and work harder to get through innings, but he's still impressed with his stuff and performance. Having just turned 22, Ramirez is also pitching at an advanced level for his age.
Olt, meanwhile, is continuing to mash in a pitcher-friendly park and league, posting a .296/.414/.531 line while getting good reviews for his third base defense. The one red flag in his statistical profile is his K rate -- the 43 strikeouts (against 33 walks) has to make you somewhat concerned about his ability to make consistent contact at the upper levels. Olt turns 23 at the end of the minor league season, so while he's not age-inappropriate at high A, you'd like to see him get a shot at AA before too long. What makes that more difficult is that Tommy Mendonca has played well enough at AA (putting up a .294/.337/.539 slash line) to stay at that level, without really performing at a level that would warrant a promotion. Given his 59 Ks to just 10 walks in 194 plate appearances, you have to be concerned that Mendonca would be victimized by AAA pitching right now.
Ultimately, Olt, Ramirez and Martin all seem like solid candidates after the season to slot in the 50-100 range on the post-season lists.
UPDATE -- It has been pointed out that I've omitted Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland from my potential top 100 list. They are both solid candidates for the 50-100 range, as well, if they continue to have the type of success the rest of the way they've had so far this season.