2019 Texas Rangers minor league review: The AZL Rangers hitters.
The regular season is over for the Texas Rangers minor league clubs, so its time to take a look at the performances for each of the U.S.-based minor league teams. We are starting with the hitters for the AZL Rangers, a team won the 2019 AZL Championship and that led the AZL in runs, home runs, average, OBP, and slugging this year:
I will start with the caveat that the players on the rookie league teams are babies...they are a long way away, have a lot of hurdles to overcome, and we need to take all that into account when we talk about them.
That being said...this was an impressive group that Texas rolled out in Surprise this year.
Two of the AZL Ranger position players were so impressive they got moved to Spokane halfway through the season. Outfielder Alexander Ovalles, the player to be named later in the Cole Hamels trade, terrorized AZL pitching to the tune of a .377/.437/.623 slash line in 25 games before being promoted, while switch-hitting infielder Derwin Barreto slashed .281/.373/.484. Ovalles and Barreto are both 18, as well.
The guy who probably had the biggest breakout for the AZL Rangers was Heriberto Hernandez. Hernandez is a 19 year old righthanded hitter who has been playing catcher some, but who likely isn’t going to stay behind the plate, and whose long-term position is likely “hitter.” With a 1079 OPS and 11 home runs, Hernandez built on his 1099 OPS for the DSL Rangers 2 team in 2018, and earned a promotion to Spokane once the AZL playoffs ended. He also earned a 40+ grade from Fangraphs recently, slotting him at #25 in their rankings of the Rangers.
Randy Florentino, Keyber Rodriguez, Yenci Pena and Cody Freeman are also legitimate prospects, but the guy who I think we may be sleeping on his Keithron Moss. Just 17 (well, technically, he turned 18 two weeks ago), the Bahamian switch-hitting infielder slashed .308/.425/.442 as a professional when his American peers were either just drafted or will be drafted in 2020. He played mostly second base and third base, earned praise for his bat-to-ball ability and line drive hitting, and didn’t face a pitcher younger than him all year. Moss got an $800,000 bonus in December, 2017, so the pedigree is there, and given his skill set, it wouldn’t be shocking if the Rangers challenged him with an assignment at Hickory in 2020.