Baseball America has their top 10 prospect list out for the Arizona Complex League, and the Texas Rangers have an impressive representation in the list, with three of their prospects showing up. Fifteen major league teams have at least one ACL squad, so the Rangers having three out of the ten top prospects is an accomplishment.
Gleider Figuereo is the highest ranked Rangers prospect, at #6. The lefthanded hitting third baseman, who only turned 18 in late June, slashed .280/.363/.616 in 35 games for the Surprise Squad, and earned a promotion to Down East once ACL play finished for the year.
Next up is Yeison Morrobel, who is eighth on the BA list. Morrobel was the team’s big signing ($1.8M signing bonus) in the J-2 class that would have begun on July 2, 2020, but was pushed back to January 15, 2021, due to the pandemic. Morrobel, who turns 19 in December, slashed .329/.405/.487 in 41 games while playing all three outfield positions. Like Figuereo, he has moved to Down East to finish the year now that complex league play has finished.
Finally, Anthony Gutierrez came in at #10 in the BA ACL rankings. Gutierrez was only signed in January, 2022, nabbing a $1.97M bonus, and is still just 17 years old. The righthanded hitting native of Venezuela put up a .352/.408/.539 slash line in 23 games in the Dominican Summer League before being brought stateside — something that is rarely done with a Latin American signee in his first season. Gutierrez slashed .259/.299/.407 in 22 games in the ACL, and while he got time at all three outfield positions, he predominantly played center field, a position that he is seen as being able to likely stay at long term.
Finally, while he didn’t make the list, I have to think that if there was an “Others Receiving Votes” category Danyer Cueva would have been listed. The lefty-swinging infielder, who just turned 18 in May, slashed .330/.376/.483 in 44 games while primarily playing shortstop. What probably kept him behind his three teammates was his contact rate — he drew just 10 walks in 189 plate appearances while striking out 40 times. Nonetheless, Cueva is still a very nice prospect, and, like Figuereo and Morrobel, is finishing up the season with Down East.
One thing that jumps out at me in reading the scouting reports on these guys, and that I think is worth mentioning, is how much different the skill sets are from years prior. Five to ten years ago, the write-ups on the Rangers’ top complex league prospects usually described loud tools and huge upside in the Rangers’ teenage prospects, while cautioning that there was a lot of swing and miss and plate discipline issues that needed to be addressed. Now, the recurring theme you see is strong bat-to-ball skills, often paired with praise for a player’s advanced approach for his age or quality strike zone judgment.
It is indicative of the wholesale changes made when the Rangers did their overhaul of the way they evaluated amateur and minor league hitters. The emphasis now is on guys with good bat-to-ball skills who can make loud contact and can control the strike zone, which is why we have seen guys like Josh Jung, Justin Foscue and Davis Wendzel drafted with first round picks, and players like Ezequiel Duran, Josh Smith and Trevor Hauver targeted in trades. That’s not to say that they are ignoring upside — Gutierrez is described, for example, as a potential All Star — but they are looking, with their premium picks, J-2 signings and minor league trade acquisitions, for players with strong hit tools, rather than guys with lots of tools that they hope to teach how to hit.