Growing up as a fan of a losing franchise such as the Rangers were, it forced me (along with many other fanatics) to latch onto other things beside the futility of the actual Major League team. Typically this involved honing in on one individual player’s statistics (Alex Rodriguez while he was here, for instance), or, perhaps a more prescient example, the club’s farm system.
In the same sense that it was easier to focus in on the success of individual Major League players, the Rangers’ farm system was so exorbitantly dry for the majority of my fan hood that there were only two or three legitimate prospects to direct my attention to. I recall moments in the infant stages of my high school years when I would get finished swimming in the hundred-plus degree California heat, use a towel to absorb the moisture off my body, and run inside in time to sit in front of the lone computer in the house and tune into MiLB.com, to listen to Thomas Diamond or John Danks or Edinson Volquez or Eric Hurley make a meaningless start in Frisco or Bakersfield. It speaks to how terrible the Texas Rangers were that I preferred to subject myself to the Minor Leagues, and it blatantly shows how pathetic I was as a kid that I’d rather follow the Rangers’ farm system than going out to do normal teenager stuff — whatever that is.
Sadly, I think, the last stage in which I was a die-hard follower of the farm system was when Chris Davis and Taylor Teagarden partook in their rapid ascensions to Arlington. They each began in Spokane, were each promoted to Advanced-A Bakersfield to be an infamous 1.000+ OPS apiece 3-4 hitter tandem. Then they made it to Frisco. And by the time 2008 reached its conclusion, they were a part of the big club. After that, the Minor Leagues became boring, mainly due to the success of the Rangers, and because the farm system grew so stacked that it seemed pointless to follow upwards of 20 prospects, rather than the usual 2 or 3.
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The Rangers now have extraordinary depth, unprecedented to any other era of the franchise. There’s Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Martin Perez, Cody Buckel, Justin Grimm, Luke Jackson, Luis Sardinas, Joey Gallo, Lewis Brinson, Ronald Guzman, Nomar Mazara, Jorge Alfaro, C.J. Edwards, Nick Williams, and half a dozen others that don’t come to mind at this exact moment.
Keith Law of ESPN.com, a person I find to be about as objective as they come, ranks the top-10 Rangers’ prospects as follows:
1. Jurickson Profar
2. Mike Olt
3. Cody Buckel
4. Martin Perez
5. Lewis Brinson
6. Nomar Mazara
7. Joey Gallo
8. Jorge Alfaro
9. Luis Sardinas
10. Luke Jackson
If I’m not mistaken, only Profar and Olt were members of his top-100 list. And for what it’s worth, Law has the Rangers’ farm system ranked #9 among 30 Major League franchises, but not for lack of depth. He defines depth a different way, (paraphrasing) “That depth is not only having a bunch of talented prospects, but that there are several key ML contributors in the upper levels.”
Right now, aside Profar, Olt and Perez, the Rangers don’t have a lot of that.
Out of Law’s top-10, only the top-4 have ever played above AA ball. The majority of the Rangers top-tier talent resides in single-A or below, so even if a few of them pan out to be as good as they are billed to, the safe assumption is that a fair number will fizzle out.
Anyway, whenever you look at these top-100 prospect lists, consider the source. The only reason I feel Keith Law is worthy of being written about is because I find him to be the best in the business, as he puts the objective truth above anything else, whether it be makeup, intangibles, name recognition, or any of that other garbage we see.