No one wants to talk about the major league team right now, including me, so instead, let’s take a look at what the hitters for the Hickory Crawdads, the Rangers’ low-A affiliate, are doing so far this season.
Rough starts for Eric Jenkins and Yeyson Yrizarri, and Ti’Quan Forbes has cooled down after a red-hot start to the season.
The most noteworthy guys here, though, are Yanio Perez, Leody Taveras and Anderson Tejeda.
Perez, a 4C guy signed by the Rangers out of Cuba last September for $1.1 million, is a big righthanded hitter who is getting his first taste of U.S. pro ball this year at Hickory, and is mashing so far. The 21 year old went 3 for 4 with a double and a home run last night, and would seem likely to be ticketed for a promotion to high-A Down East around Memorial Day or so. He’s a guy who is going to have to hit to make it to the majors, but he’s hitting so far.
Tejeda, 19, made a big splash last year with his stateside debut, impressing in both Arizona and the Northwest League, and he’s holding his own so far in full season ball. The elevated strikeout totals are troubling, but he’s getting on base and hitting for some power. He’s playing mostly shortstop so far, despite Yrizarri (considered a superior defender) being on the squad, though the consensus seems to be he will end up at second or third base long-term.
Finally there is Leody, the jewel of the Rangers’ lower minors. The 18 year old switch-hitting center fielder isn’t putting up eye-popping numbers on the surface, but a guy who wouldn’t even have been draft-eligible until this June if he were born in the States putting up a 761 OPS while handling a premium defensive position in full season ball is impressive. Mark Parker for Crawdads Beat has also raved about his approach at the plate, and in particular, his ability to make contact. His Ks have dropped of late, and over his last 14 games he has a .352/.390/.444 slash line with just 8 Ks in 59 plate appearances. I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s the top position player in the system right now.