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Raising Arizona 2022, Part II

A lil’ more info from the desert backfields

MLB: MAR 19 Spring Training - Brewers at Rangers Photo by Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The baseball season is nearly upon us. You know this and don’t need flowery articles to tell you. So let’s cut to the chase. The Rangers farm is good. After 4 long and glorious days on the Surprise backfields, I came away more impressed than I expected to be. Not gonna lie, it’s pretty different though. Over the last decade or so, the Texas farm has featured more than a few high risk-high reward players. You know the names and you remember the ceilings. This ain’t that farm. As we’ve discussed here and other places, this farm doesn’t have many obvious potential superstars (Texas bought a couple of those this offseason), but it’s far and away the deepest I’ve ever seen. When the whole group is assembled for Spring Training, it shows up immediately. There’s good players everywhere. All over the backfields, there are good baseball players who do lots of things well and have the distinct chance to improve and get better. Again, it’s a good farm system full of good players.

And yet, some players are much better than others. One of those players is Owen White. He’s the real deal and as much as I love Cole Winn, I’m not sure Owen isn’t the better of the two prospects. He has better raw stuff than Cole, I know that. He sat 96-98 in the 3 innings I saw last week and showed bat-missing secondaries in his SL, CB, and CH. But it’s still a FB league and that thing is electric. It jumps on hitters, routinely spinning in around 2500rpm. He works it up and hitters can’t lay off, and they can’t hit it. He’s got a neck the width of a grown man’s thigh and he competes like an dog. He’s from China Grove, NC (pop 3,563) and likes to hunt and fish and blow through opposing teams’ lineups. Very high ceiling for this kid, Barfight White. Very high.

Here he is beating Seattle’s vaunted Noelvi Marte. (who is also very, very good and could be part of a problematic Mariners squad down the road)

So I uploaded what feels like a zillion clips to my YouTube page and full disclosure: many of them are of the vast cadre of Latin American signings Texas has inked over the last few years. This group really, really stood out to me last week. There’s some good players in the group and plenty to dream on. Peep this kid, 17 year old Danyer Cueva. I like him. He can play SS and has a nice lefty swing.

Yosy Galan is gonna swing and miss, but when he swings and hits, it very well might be scorched. Young fella is well on his way to becoming a serious physical specimen of a man.

17 year-old 3B Gleider Figueroa is listed at 6’0 165lbs. He is no longer 165lbs. He’s probably closer to a rock solid 180. And he has a swing geared for power. And he can throw the ball across the diamond. (also, Cueva is in this video too and you can get an idea of his build here. He’s listed at 160, and that ain’t right either. These kids have been eating the right foods and hitting the gym)

Efrenyer Narvaez seems to know how to hit. The ball bounces off his bat. Should get a shot at full-season ball this summer as a 20 year-old catcher and his is a name to sock away.

The Bahamas’ Zion Bannister will play the coming season at age 20 and will do so in full-season ball for the first time. He’s another kid with a highly projectible body, decent baseball skills and the desire to hit the ball hard.

Speaking of projectible frames, Dustin Harris has one. He’s got legs for days and a strong upper body. He was playing LF and DH, but as you know, his best position will be “hitter”. He has mega-bat speed and hits the absolute shit outta the ball. He’s the real deal.

This dude Anderson Paulino was pumpin’ ‘em in about 98 for the Royals farmhands, but Dustin was unfazed:

If you want unheralded, Jojo Blackmon might be your man. I love the kid because he has the unteachable tool: speed. The former 2-star WR recruit (from Emmitt Smith’s Pensacola alma mater, Escambia High) turned down offers to play football for Kentucky among others after being taken in the 11th round by the Rangers. He’s raw as hell, and you can’t steal first base, but I’ll take a chance on fellas like JoJo making it to the upper levels. He was safe on this play:

Thomas Saggese sees the ball really well. He just does, and you can tell. He spoils a lot of stuff near the zone, and spits on stuff outside of it. Sometimes he swings and misses in the zone, but I don’t think he’s gonna do that as often as he grows. He is one of the few Rangers prospects who is not a physical beast and doesn’t project to be one. He’s just a really good hitter, and often, that’s enough.

If you ever wanna see something impressive, take a peek at Blaine Crim’s hitting stats on his b-ref page. Understand all this too: he’s 24 years old, he’s not fast, he’s not quick, he’s not tall, he’s not an elite first baseman or left fielder, he’s not ripped, and he’s not flashy. But I love him. He came to Frisco last season and I fell hard for his short, quick bat and his strength. He lets the ball get deep, and then he tears into it. No idea what his future holds, but I think/hope it’ll hold a big league uniform for at least a minute or two. It looks like this when Blaine hits:

I unfortunately missed a bunch of the big arms for Texas over my 4 days in Surprise, but I did catch Ryder Ryan hitting 97 with that hard, whippy SL that carried him to Tokyo with Team USA last summer. And Nick Starr was hitting the mid-90s consistently. I heard good things about a young righty named Winston Santos who apparently throws hard and has a good idea where it’s going. Didn’t get to see The Mighty Jack Leiter throw, but I did introduce myself and have the pleasure of watching him sign a few autographs, all personalized following the question, “what’s your name?” Kid’s been famous for a while and he’s savvy. There was also something endearing when Jack had to shag the foul balls for one of the AAA games. That’s a normal, backfields right-of-passage for the A-ball guys/pro rookies and I imagine it was Jack’s last time to have to do it. I heard from a couple scouts who like Mitch Bratt quite a bit too. Visa probs seem to be holding up last year’s big J-2 signing Anthony Gutierrez’s stateside arrival, but baseball folks are anxious to see him play as well. I saw a kid named Yosber Sanchez throwing 93-95 with a good CB so I’ve got his name in the back of my head for the upcoming season also.

And with that, it’s time to play ball. The Texas farm is awfully deep and I can’t wait to see who takes a big step forward in 2022.

As Always, Enjoy Baseball!

Love Ya!