This past offseason, we did our semi-annual community prospect rankings, voting on the top 30 prospects in the Rangers system. With no major league game yesterday and no major league game today, it seems like a decent time to check in on our top 30 and see how they've started the season.
We will look at 1-15 today, and 16-30 tomorrow.
1 -- Nomar Mazara. You may have heard mention of him this season. Put up a .500/.538/.750 line in 3 games for Round Rock, then got promoted to the majors when Shin-Soo Choo landed on the d.l. Has a .444/.452/.593 line in 31 major league plate appearances so far, and is impressing folks.
2 -- Lewis Brinson. Started the season at AA Frisco, rather than AAA Round Rock, and is hitting .286/.350/.429 in 40 plate appearances for Frisco, with 2 steals in 4 attemps.
3 -- Joey Gallo. Is playing third base every day in AAA Round Rock, thus making him the subject of speculation that the Rangers must be planning on trading him now that Adrian Beltre is extended, despite the fact that the Rangers have made clear they want him to not worry about playing a bunch of positions right now and focus instead on the adjustments he's making at the plate. Gallo is hitting .333/.432/.778 in 44 plate appearances at AAA, with 7 walks and 10 Ks. If Gallo strikes out once every four-and-a-half plate appearances in the majors, he'll be an All Star, regardless of his position.
4 -- Luis Ortiz. Lulu garnered attention from fans for his build when he pitched in the Futures Game against the Cubs prospects during spring training, but the stuff that has generated excitement is still there. In 5 IP for high-A High Desert, Ortiz has 5 Ks, 0 walks, 1 HR allowed, 5 hits and 3 runs.
T5 -- Dillon Tate. Tate, the #4 overall pick in the 2015 draft, has impressed so far in low-A Hickory. In 10.2 IP over 2 starts, Tate has 16 Ks, has walked just 1 batter (though he has hit 2), and has allowed just a single unearned run on 9 hits. The reports on his changeup -- the pitch that will likely determine whether he can be a potential #2/#3 starter, a backend rotation member, or a bullpen piece -- have been positive, and he's been throwing in the mid- to upper-90s. Low-A is a conservative assignment for a high first round college pick in his first full pro season, but Tate's lack of starting experience, and the mess that is the team's high-A situation, makes it the logical assignment. It wouldn't be shocking if Tate ends up jumping straight to Frisco if he shows out for a couple of months in the Sally League.
T5 -- Chi Chi Gonzalez. Chi Chi had a rough spring, as he entered camp as the favorite to win the 5th starter job, but continued to struggle with velocity separation, and was optioned to AAA earlier than expected. He has an 8.00 ERA in 9 IP (two starts) for Round Rock, with 4 Ks, 5 walks, and 13 hits allowed.
7 -- Mike Matuella. Continuing to work his way back from Tommy John Surgery. Matuella is not expected to pitch in game action until this summer.
8 -- Jairo Beras. Identified as someone who could be ready to break out, Beras has a .286/.310/.536 line, with 4 doubles and a home run, in 29 plate appearances for High Desert. He also has 8 Ks against just 1 walk, and has missed the past few games with an unknown minor ailment.
9 -- Luke Jackson. Came to camp heavier than I think the team was hoping for, and then had back issues that landed him on the disabled list. Has made three appearances for Round Rock, striking out 6 batters, walking 3, and allowing 3 runs (including a home run) in 2.2 IP.
10 -- Yohander Mendez. This is a big season for the 21 year old lefty, who has struggled to stay healthy and who was added to the 40 man roster this winter. He's performed in his two appearances for High Desert so far, going 8 IP, striking out 13, walking 3, and allowing 4 runs on 7 hits (including one home run).
11 -- Eric Jenkins. Jenkins, the Rangers' 2nd round pick last year, generated a bunch of positive buzz at spring training with his performances on the back fields. Assigned to low-A Hickory, he got off to a slow start, going 2 for 23 to start the year, but has gone 6 for 17 in his last four games, and has an overall .200.238/.300 line with 4 steals in 5 attempts. A bunch of Ks (16 in 42 plate appearances), but that's not unexpected.
12 -- Andrew Faulkner. Faulkner finished the 2015 season in the majors, had what was described by many as the best camp of any Ranger pitcher, and earned a job on the Opening Day roster. He struggled to carry that over to the regular season, though, and after allowing 3 home runs and 3 walks to the first 21 batters he faced this year, Faulkner was demoted this past weekend to AAA Round Rock.
13 -- Andy Ibanez. The story of the Rangers' minor leaguers so far this season, Ibanez, a Cuban who just turned 23, and who has not played organized ball in a couple of years, has been tearing up the Sally League, going .439/.489/.732 in 45 plate appearances. The second baseman is old for low-A ball, but he's also been out of baseball and the Rangers likely wanted to be conservative in his assignment while he shook off the rust. If Ibanez continues to perform well (and the only knock on him is 5 CSs in 7 attempts so far), he'll likely get jumped up to AA Frisco, with Travis Demeritte manning second base at High Desert.
14 -- Josh Morgan. The Rangers took a look at the infielder behind the plate this spring, and opted to hold off on a full-blown conversion to catching for now, so Morgan is playing third base and shortstop for High Desert. He's gotten off to a slow start at the plate, with a .194/.310/.222 slash line, although he does have 6 walks in 42 PAs.
15 -- Ryan Cordell. Cordell struggled after being promoted to Frisco last year, but has been terrific in his return to AA this year, putting up a .333/.400/.639 slash line in 40 plate appearances, with 3 walks and 12 Ks.
So...all in all, pretty good performances thusfar from the top 15. We shall see how the guys ranked 16-30 have done tomorrow.