Rougned Odor Scouting Report: Texas Ranger second baseman Rougned Odor ranked #2 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 31 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 31. I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2013. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Rougned Odor...
The Northwest League is primarily populated by college-age players who were just drafted and signed in that year's draft. Odor, at 17, was the youngest player at the start of the Northwest League season by more than six months, and only teammate Jorge Alfaro was within a year of his age. Ranger farmhands David Perez, Victor Payano, and Hanser Alberto were the #3, #4, and #5 youngest prospects in the league, and Richard Alvarez was #7. Texas isn't afraid to throw their young 'uns in the deep end.
Odor was able to hold his own against competition that was generally four years older than him, putting up a .262/.323/.352 line in 258 plate appearances, with solid defense at second base, where he spent all 54 of his games in the field. Like Jorge Alfaro, the spread in his average and OBP is misleading because he had 9 HBPs...Odor had just 13 walks in those 258 plate appearances. Unlike Alfaro, however, Odor just struck out 37 times, giving him a respectable K/BB and K/PA rate, particularly given his age and level. Baseball America had him ranked at #7 in the Northwest League in 2011, with praise coming for his above-average hitting ability and his slick defense.
At the end of 2011, I thought Odor was one of the hardest prospect in the system to rank, and there were a wide variety of opinions where he should be. BA had him at #9 (if you omit Yu Darvish), and John Sickels had Odor at #5, saying you could make an argument for Odor at #3 (which would have vaulted him ahead of Leonys Martin and Mike Olt on Sickels' list). Keith Law had Odor at #6. Meanwhile, Jamey Newberg had Odor at #11, Jason Parks at #11, and Jason Cole had him, like we did, at #23.
The Rangers sent Odor to low-A Hickory in 2012, where he was the youngest player in A ball. Odor once again put up a slash line -- .259/.313/.400 -- that wasn't that impressive, until you take into account how young he was compared to everyone else. Odor continued to show good contact skills and was solid in the field, giving him more recognition than he got the year before. Odor did not make Baseball America's Ranger top 10 list, though he was #20 on the Sally League list, generating praise for his maturity and effort. John Sickels ranked Odor #8 in the Ranger system, but Jamey Newberg ranked Odor #14, and Jason Parks and Keith Law didn't have Odor in their top 10.
Rougned was the youngest player in the high-A Carolina league (and in all of high-A, for that matter) to start 2013 (notice a trend here?), and 2013 was a breakout year for him. Odor hit .305/.369/.454 for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in 100 games, before he and teammate Luis Sardinas were promoted together to AA Frisco late in the year. Odor continued hitting in AA, putting up a .306/.354/.530 slash line in 30 games for the Roughriders.
That was enough for him to start earning recognition. Baseball America ranked him the #1 prospect in in the Rangers' system, the #4 prospect in the Texas League, and the #3 prospect in the Carolina League. Parks ranked him #1 in the Ranger system and #39 overall. Keith Law had Odor #2 in the Ranger system and #64 overall. MLB.com had Odor #2 in the system, the #2 second base prospect in baseball, and #59 overall. Rougned Odor has definitely put himself on the map.
What does 2014 hold for Rougned Odor? After getting a taste of AA ball last year, he and Sardinas will probably team up in the middle infield for the Roughriders again to start the 2014 season, with Odor, once again, likely being the youngest player in the league. If he performs in 2014 like he did in 2013, Odor could see AAA, or even the majors, before the season is up, and he'll likely be pushing for a major league job no later than 2016.
What sort of ceiling does Odor have? Slick fielder, quality hit tool, gap power, not a ton of speed but not sluggish...I've referenced Jose Vidro as a possible comp before. Vidro was 5'11", 175 lbs., okay fielder, line drive hitter who didn't strike out or walk a ton, and spent a half decade as one of the 5-10 best second basemen in baseball. Vidro was one of several offense-first second basemen who suffered precipitous early declines in the last fifteen years or so (see also Carlos Baerga and Edgardo Alfonzo), but that decline shouldn't overshadow the fact that he was a very good player for several years with the Expos.
But the other guy who just recently came to me as a possible comp is a guy who just announced his retirement -- Michael Young. Not just the tools, but the reports of off-the-chart makeup, his intensity, the desire to never take a play off brings to mind Young. There are differences in their games, but it seems like he brings to the table a lot of the things that made Young special.
If Odor turns into Young, or even Vidro, well, you'd have to say that was possibly the best $425K the Rangers have ever spent.