Some observations, thoughts and stats from the Rangers' minor league system, bulletpoint style...
- For the second year in a row, the Rangers are seeing a 20 year old third baseman emerge at Hickory to establish himself as a legit prospect. Last season's breakout low-A third baseman was Christian Villanueva, who put up a .278/.338/.465 line with plus defense at the hot corner, a performance that got him ranked #100 in Baseball America's top 100 list coming into this season. This year, it is Drew Robinson who is turning heads, putting up a .291/.421/.455 before play on Sunday. Robinson, a lefty hitter, was a 2010 4th round pick out of Silverado High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, a shortstop whose calling card coming out was his swing. Robinson had a brutal 2011 campaign with Spokane, putting up a .163/.266/.265 line, and I figured this winter he was in the non-prospect pile. Jason Cole, though, in a chat session during the offseason, set me straight, saying he looked good in spring training last year and in instructional ball, and that his Spokane performance wasn't necessarily indicative of what Robinson was capable of. Cole has been proven right thusfar, as Robinson sticks out as being a guy with a quality approach and on-base skills in an organization that has more toolsy players whose offense is a work-in-progress. Robinson certainly doesn't profile as a future star, but with a good arm and decent glove at third base, he has potential as a four-corner guy.
- Julio Borbon, who was tearing it up initially after coming off the disabled list at AAA Round Rock, is slumping again, going 0 for his last 26. I still expect him to end up getting dealt at the deadline.
- Going into Sunday's game, Mike Olt was leading the Texas League in OPS, at 1009. 20 year old Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras was second, at 947. And who was third? One-time Ranger second round draft pick Johnny Whittleman, who has a 910 OPS while playing first base for the Royals' Texas League affiliate. I was surprised to see that Whittelman is just 18 months older than Olt.
- Arizona League Extremely Small Sample Size Slash Lines: Lewis Brinson -- .294/.400/.529. Joey Gallo -- .222/.632/.556. Nomar Mazara -- .133/.316/.133. Nick Williams -- .556/.579/.778.