Baseball America has their updated midseason organizational talent rankings out, and the Texas Rangers check in at #10 overall, between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees. Coincidentally, MLB Pipeline also has the Rangers at #10.
In a way, this is a somewhat impressive showing, given that the Rangers have shifted into legitimate contender mode, including being an aggressive buyer this summer. The Rangers dealt Luisangel Acuna, Thomas Saggese and T.K. Roby at the deadline, as well as having Josh Jung, who was a top 100 guy coming into the season, graduate from prospect eligibility.
That said, one can also argue that, even with those moves, its a disappointment that the Rangers’ farm system isn’t better overall right now. Acuna was the only blue chip prospect the Rangers traded this summer. And the Rangers lucked into not just the #4 pick in the 2023 draft, due to the new lottery system for assigning top draft picks, they got a top 10-15 prospect in Wyatt Langford at #4. In addition, Sebastian Walcott’s breakout has placed him on top 100 lists less than a year after the Rangers signed him.
What has been holding the Rangers’ system back is stagnation, or regression, in 2023 from some highly regarded prospects, particularly on the pitching side. Jack Leiter has struggled again, to the point he is now on the developmental list while the Rangers work with him on his mechanics. Kumar Rocker was off to a great start for Hickory, and even cracked MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospect list...on the same day it was announced he would need Tommy John surgery. Cole Winn has continued to be a cypher. Owen White has had, not a bad year, but an up-and-down season.
Some well-regarded hitting prospects also haven’t taken off like we had hoped. Aaron Zavala was sidelined early on after surgery this fall, and since returning to action hasn’t hit, slashing .197/.354/.295 for Frisco with an ugly 113 Ks in 308 PAs. Yeison Morrobel was okay at low-A Down East before undergoing season-ending surgery, but didn’t have the sort of breakout we were hoping for. Similarly, Anthony Gutierrez has been fine in his full-season debut for Down East, but hasn’t taken that big step forward that was seen as a possibility.
As always, it is important to remember that progress isn’t always linear. Plenty of pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery. Leiter isn’t a lost cause. Teenagers holding their own in full season ball is an accomplishment in and of itself, and as we are seeing with Abi Ortiz this year, a rough intro to full season ball can be followed up by a big year that sees your stock jump.
The Rangers farm is still good. Its just a bit frustrating to look at things right now and feel like it should be better.