Since I last ranked the Rangers prospects a lot of things have happened. Joey Gallo has shown the world why we are so excited about his potential. Several top prospects have received their call to the show while others have burst out and shown themselves to be legitimate elite prospects rather than toolsy projects. Anyway without further delay here is the first third of my top prospects.
1. Joey Gallo: Joey Gallo is having the definition of a breakout season. Gallo has always had the ridiculous power from the day Texas signed him, the difference maker this season has been his patience at the plate and improved contact. Working with Jason Giambi during the off season has helped Gallo progress by leaps and bounds during the regular season. Giambi helped Gallo learn how to diagnose problems with his own swing and adjust to pitchers better from at bat to at bat. This change has led to a slash line between High A Myrtle Beach and AA Frisco of .295/.420/.663. Gallo as of right now is 1 homer behind the MiLB leader Kris Bryant who has 32, who probably should and will be called up very soon for the Cubs, and also has drawn 67 walks in his 91 games this season. This strong season has started lowering the gap between his enormous ceiling and his floor. His defense has also improved with his fielding percentage jumping up 20 points at third base from last year and his range factor per game increasing from 2.41 to 2.96.
2. Jorge Alfaro: Jorge Alfaro has one of the highest ceilings among catching prospects in the minors but is still one of the most raw among those prospects. His average, OBP, and slugging percentage are all down a few points and also his strikeout rate has increased from last season. With that said he is also on pace to hit more homers, doubles, triples, and draw ore walks than last season. Opposing baserunners have been having more success recently against him as right now his caught stealing percentage is 25% but had been above 30% for a large portion of the season. Alfaro has looked better against off speed pitches later in the season. By all accounts Jorge has vastly improved his game calling skills from his previous year in Hickory. Some think that Alfaro could be in for a promotion soon with Frisco’s catcher Tomas Telis being called up to Round Rock 4 days ago. I’m less inclined to believe that a move is imminent. Alfaro was promoted to Myrtle Beach late last year and he struggled mightily for that short time. If they promoted him now it would give him more time to adjust to the more advanced pitching at the AA level where he could be for a large portion of next season. Alfaro is an extremely interesting prospect to watch and this next year and a half will be very critical to his overall development.
3. Luke Jackson: Luke Jackson is one of the Rangers top pitching prospects but is still in the minors during this train wreck of a Rangers season because he still isn’t ready to be another mop up man for the sub par Rangers major league pitching staff. Jackson has had a good season that earned him a mid summer promotion to the Round Rock Express. This was mostly due to his increased command of his off speed pitches and more consistent use of his changeup. Jackson has said that the change has been a point of emphasis with Frisco pitching coach Jeff Andrews and that it has made the fastball he loves so dearly more effective. Despite a 6.00 ERA in 3 Round Rock starts, Jackson has not been bad. His pitch counts have forced him into early exits as he learns how much more patient AAA hitters are than Texas league hitters. Luke has only given up 13 hits in 12 innings in Round Rock but he has given up multiple extra base hits in all 3 of his starts. His strikeout numbers are still there across both teams with 9.4 Ks/9 and a lower BB/9 with 2.6. Look for improved efficiency in Round Rock for him this season and probably his first Major League start in September when those rosters expand.
4. Chi Chi Gonzalez: Alex Gonzalez has shown this year why the Rangers took him with their first pick in the 2013 draft posting a 2.55 ERA in his 8 starts in Frisco. He also gets ground outs at a crazy rate, 53% to be specific. Chi Chi has not thrown a lot of innings this year but he is making the most of the innings he is getting. His walk rate is down 1 walk per 9 innings less than last year while keeping the strikeout rate about the same. Bad luck with weakly hit grounders finding holes has been Alex’s main kryptonite in Frisco. I expect the Rangers to give Chi Chi more seasoning at the AA level and keep him here until the Texas League playoffs are over for Frisco and maybe Mr. Gonzalez could see Arlington by season’s end.
5. Nick Williams: Nick Williams can straight up hit. There isn’t another guy in the Ranger’s system that has the kind of innate ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball like Williams. Nick is hitting .318 and slugging .521 this year in Myrtle Beach this year and in my opinion is a bit undermatched at this level. Though Williams is having success at this level, he could be improving more in Frisco where he would be forced to be more patient with more advanced pitchers. His ridiculous ability to make contact with so many bad pitches allows him to get away with some swings that he probably shouldn’t be taking. This season Williams has increased the amount of walks he has taken from 15 to 16 so far this year but his patience needs to improve if he is to become a better all around hitter.