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 , 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 Monday.
1 -- Nomar Mazara. Just won the A.L. Rookie of the Month for May, after being named the A.L. Rookie of the Month for April, and is considered the favorite for the A.L. Rookie of the Year Award. Yeah, he's doing fine...
2 -- Lewis Brinson. Not a good season with the bat for Brinson so far this season. Returning to Frisco, where he put up an 873 OPS in 28 games in 2015, Brinson has a .221/.274/.395 slash line with 31 Ks in 187 plate appearances. The defense in center field still shines, and while he's swing is reportedly out of whack right now, he's putting in the work, and he's still one of the top prospects in the system. Still, this puts the brakes on the talk about him starting 2017 in Arlington.
3 -- Joey Gallo. Gallo missed time with a groin injury, and had a weird call-up where he sat on the bench and only got one at bat for the Rangers, but when he's been on the field for Round Rock, he's been outstanding. .294/.438/.676 in 130 plate appearances, and most encouragingly, just 31 Ks against 27 walks. The 23.8% K rate is a marked improvement over last year, and gives you much more reason to believe that he can make enough contact in the majors to dominate.
4 -- Luis Ortiz. Ortiz has solidified his claim as the top pitching prospect in the organization this year. Over 7 appearances in High Desert, he struck out 28 batters against 6 walks in 27.2 IP, good for a 2.60 ERA, and other than one disaster outing where he couldn't get out of the second inning, acquitted himself extremely well in the Cal League. It earned him a promotion to AA Frisco, where he's allowed 4 runs in 11 innings, striking out 7 and walking 2. Just 20 years old, Ortiz is one of the youngest pitchers in AA, and a solid year for Frisco should see him shoot up the rankings.
T5 -- Dillon Tate. Its been up and down for Tate this year...he was terrific in his first two starts of Hickory, then landed on the d.l. with a hamstring issue. Since then, he's had issues, and over his last 4 games he's given up 18 runs in 11 IP. The stuff is there, but the results of late have been disappointing, though the calls to put him in the pen are still way premature.
T5 -- Chi Chi Gonzalez. Chi Chi had a rough spring, and has followed that up with a difficult 2016 season. 5.80 ERA in 54 IP, even in the PCL, is a problem, and with just 33 Ks in 54.1 IP, Gonzalez has continued to have difficulty missing bats. Its been a step backwards for the Rangers' 2013 first rounder.
7 -- Mike Matuella. Continuing to work his way back from Tommy John Surgery, Matuella threw batting practice earlier this week, and reportedly looked impressive. Game action is likely still a ways away, though.
8 -- Jairo Beras. Identified as someone who could be ready to break out, Beras hasn't done so, putting up a .264/.297/.486 slash line in High Desert, a very hitter-friendly environment. Beras has 44 Ks in 148 plate appearances, against just 5 walks, which is quite alarming. Beras is still just 21 (well, we think he is, anyway), but the lack of progress is alarming.
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. Since being activated, he's bounced between AAA and the major leagues, and Jeff Banister's refusal to use him (among others) with decent-sized leads because he's not one of the "trusted" bullpen pieces has been the topic of much debate. Its not been a great year for Jackson, though, who may be going down today when Shawn Tolleson is activated, and needs to show more consistency in his command.
10 -- Yohander Mendez. Arguably the breakout minor leaguer of the first two months of the season for the Rangers, the 21 year old lefty is staying on the mound and has excelled. After putting up a 2.45 ERA in 7 starts in High Desert, he was promoted with Ortiz to Frisco and has continued to do work. Overall, he has 54 Ks in 43 IP, with 14 walks and a 2.51 ERA between the two levels. As someone who is already on the 40 man roster, Mendez needed to take a step forward this year, and he definitely has.
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's struggled with the bat so far, putting up a .196/.264/.270 line in 214 plate appearances, with 61 Ks against 15 walks. The numbers are ugly, but it is his first full pro season, so patience is in order.
12 -- Andrew Faulkner. Its been a disappointing year for Faulkner, who was expected to be a key part of the Rangers bullpen, but instead ended up getting demoted in April, and didn't take advantage when he was promoted back to the bigs. 9.28 ERA in 10.2 IP in Round Rock, and a 7.94 ERA in 5.2 IP for Texas. Faulkner has 11 Ks against 9 walks in AAA, as he grapples with his command.
13 -- Andy Ibanez. The story of the Rangers' minor leaguers early on, Ibanez, a Cuban who turned 23 at the beginning of April, and who has not played organized ball in a couple of years, got off to a white-hot start to the season for Hickory. He cooled off in May, but is still sporting a .313/.407/.511 slash line, and is likely going to end up in Frisco before too terribly long.
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. Morgan's hit tool and advanced approach are his calling card, but he's struggled so far at the plate this year, putting up a .246/.326/.339 slash line.
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 .316/.367/.594 slash line in 207 plate appearances, with 46 Ks against 14 walks. Cordell has been impressive enough that he could be looking at a promotion to Round Rock in a month or so.