Texas Rangers prospects is a topic I suspect we will be discussing a lot this season, given the wretched state of the major league team, and with the minor league season now a few weeks in, I think it is worth highlighting a few minor leaguers who don’t show up at the top of the prospect rankings, but who are off to hot starts and worth keeping an eye on.
Tyler Phillips, RHP, Hickory — Tyler Phillips was the Rangers’ 16th round pick in the 2015 draft out of Bishop Eustace Prep School in New Jersey, and it seems like since he was first picked, he’s been on the “keep an eye on him” lists. He struggled in Spokane in 2016, though, and then got knocked around in a short stint in Hickory in 2017 before being sent back to Spokane, so when there was talk about him looking good this spring, I’m sure there was a certain amount of “yeah, we’ve heard this before” eye-rolling. A bad first outing to the season for Hickory, where he allowed 5 runs in 3.2 IP, didn’t help things.
Phillips has been terrific since that hiccup, though, giving up 3 runs in 18 innings over his next three starts, with 19 Ks against 1 walk. Last night he pitched a 7 inning complete game for Hickory, fanning four while allowing five hits and not walking anyone, allowing a single run.
Its important to remember that Phillips was just 17 when he was drafted, so he’s younger than he seems, given his 2015 draft date — he won’t turn 21 until October. He’s big (6’5”) and projectable, and those guys often take longer to get things to click. He’s still a long ways away, but if he can stay healthy and keep developing, he could be something good.
Hunter Cole, COF, Frisco — Who? Hunter Cole is a 25 year old outfielder who was acquired by Texas as the player to be named later in the Sam Dyson trade. The Giants drafted him in the 26th round of the 2014 draft out of the University of Georgia, and since that time, he’s been a largely non-descript corner outfielder in their system, a guy who barely registered when he was announced as being the return for Dyson last October.
Cole has gotten off to a fast start, however, putting up a .344/.462/.469 slash line in his first 18 games for Frisco. Its his third time in AA, and given his age and defensive profile, he’s going to have to hit a lot to shake the organizational depth level, but he’s making some noise early on for the Roughriders.
Edgar Arredondo, RHP, Down East — Another guy you might not have heard of, Edgar Arredondo is a 20 year old righty from Mexico, signed by the Rangers from Quintana Roo as part of their 2013 J-2 class. He’s had a couple of rough outings for Down East this year, but threw a 9 inning
complete game for the Wood Ducks yesterday, striking out 12, and allowing just 1 run on 2 hits and no walks. (Ed. Note — It was not a complete game, as it went into extra innings.) For the season, he has a 3.86 ERA in 18.2 IP, but with 25 strikeouts against just 2 walks, and no home runs allowed.
Arredondo pitched full season ball for the first time in 2017, having spent 2015 in the AZL and 2016 in the DSL, and he had a respectable campaign for Hickory, putting up a 3.86 ERA in 109.2 IP, with 105 Ks against just 21 walks. Mark Parker noted last night that Arredondo took a big step forward in the second half.
Emerson Martinez, RHP, Down East — Emerson Martinez was someone who generated some enthusiasm in spring training, and has been building on that with a nice start to the season in high-A. The 23 year old Venezuelan spent the bulk of 2017 with Down East, putting up respectable numbers, and so far in 2018 he’s looking like he may be taking a step forward.
In four starts for Down East, Martinez has a 3.15 ERA in 20 IP, with 21 Ks against 5 walks and a single home run. He’s been hittable this year — he has a .397 BABIP -- but the peripherals are very encouraging.
Adam Choplick, LHP, Frisco — Adam Choplick is a fun guy to root for, in part because he has a fun last name, in part because he’s a giant (he’s listed at 6’9”, 250 lbs.), and in part because he’s a native of Denton who went to Ryan High School. Drafted in the 14th round out of OU as a senior, the 25 year old Chopclik has been used exclusively as a reliever since coming to Texas.
Choplick has thrown 9.1 IP in 7 appearances for Frisco so far this year, striking out 12 and issuing just 3 unintentional walks, putting up a 1.93 ERA. Choplick throws in the low- to mid-90s, and as big as he is, it has to look to a hitter like the ball is coming straight out of the sky on its way to the plate. As a big lefty who throws pretty hard, you have to figure he has a pretty decent chance of making the majors at some point, and his performance so far in Frisco is making that more likely.