The Ranger’s system this season has been exciting an exciting one. It has been filled with many surprises, challenges, and twists thrown into it because of the insane season that is happening with the big league club. There have been quite a few talented prospects this season that have really stepped up their game and exceeded the expectations many put on them, including myself. These prospects today are very much in that category, especially Ryan Rua. Without further delay, prospects 6-10.
6. Lewis Brinson: Lewis Brinson what a season you are having my friend. The young 20 year old absolutely demolished South Atlantic League pitching during his 43 games in Hickory this season slashing .335/.405/.579 with an impressive 10 homers which earned him an independence day promotion to Myrtle Beach.
Congrats to @LewisBrinson on his promotion to Myrtle Beach. Williams, Garia, Brinson outfield- the place where line drives go to die.
— Tepid Participation (@TepidP) July 4, 2014
The promotion to the Pelicans came not long after returning from an injury that had sidelined him for a good portion of the season. After his return from injury Brinson was destroying baseballs and hitting homers at almost Gallo-like rates. After the promotion Brinson hit about .300 for the first week and a half but has since fallen into a bit of a rut seeing his average fall to .254. The key to Brinson’s rise of stock is not necessarily only seen in his rise in average and power numbers, but in his decreased strikeout rate. Lewis struck out last year at a staggering 38%. In Hickory this year he cut that rate to just 24% and it is almost identical through 17 games at Myrtle Beach. Brinson’s speed has always been plus as has been his arm and defense in center field. His talent gives him the potential to be a real impact player at the big league level for many years at a prime position. He still has a ways to go before he gets close to reaching that potential but his progress this year has taken a big step forward in that direction. The speed and glove aren’t going away any time soon for Brinson, the difference maker in his success will be how his bat continues to develop.
7. Nomar Mazara: Nomar Mazara started off the first two months season in a very pedestrian way hitting only .223 with only 15 extra base hits in those first two months. As soon as the calendar turned to June something happened to a struggling and almost unwatchable Hickory team: They started winning. The month of June started with an 11 game win streak. After one loss the Crawdads rattled of 9 more consecutive wins, lost two in a row and then won their last 4 June games. Mazara’s lefty power bat was a big part of this surging offense in the month of June and his bat hasn’t quite cooled off since. In June the 19 year old corner outfielder put up a line of .311/.407/.544. Nomar could not be stopped in June and his line in July isn’t shabby either .287/.398/.609. Mazara has 41 extra base hits in 101 games. 18 of those have left the yard, and 13 of those leaving the yard came in months beginning with the letter J. His average, on base, and slugging percentage are all up significantly from the previous season while he has also cut down his punch out rate dramatically. His above average defense has improved as Nomar is on pace for a significantly better fielding percentage, more outfield assists, and fewer errors than in his 2013 campaign. There is currently less than no room in the inn for Mazara in Myrtle Beach at the moment, but if Nick Williams gets the call to pack his bags and head to Frisco, you can bet Mazara is on the short list of guys next in line to make the trip north to Pelican territory.
8. Jairo Beras: Jairo Beras also drank whatever secret stuff Michael Jordan or some other great motivator gave the Crawdads in June to put them on that ferocious offensive tear. The 18 year old whose eventful signing can be read about in a superb article by the Fort Worth Star-Telagram’s Jeff Wilson here. Beras, like many other Crawdads, struggled mightily early in the season. Many thought that sending the young Beras to full season ball to start the year after just half a season under his belt might be too much for the 18 year old. His pre June numbers sure seemed to prove those doubters right. Jairo hit .176 in April without an extra base hit and only .214 in May. Suddenly the calendar flipped and Beras started hitting everything. His June line was .307/.373/.493. Jairo hit his first 3 homers in June and followed that up with 2 more in July. His batting average is down 18 points from June to July and his OBP and slugging are also significantly down from June but are nowhere near his April or May numbers. Jairo is still a kid and him even going through serious struggles at the full season level this young is a big step in his development. He is still very raw to baseball in general so this season has impressed me with his development being much further along than I expected at this point in his young career.
9. Ryan Rua: The tale of Ryan Rua is one of the most fascinating of all the young men in the Ranger’s farm system. Drafted in the 17th round of the 2011 draft by the Rangers out of Lake Erie College in Ohio, Ryan began his journey to The Show in the Arizona Rookie League. Between Arizona and Spokane, the 21 year old batted .303 with 21 extra base hits in 54 games with a 10% walk rate and a 20% whiff rate. Rua spent all of his 2012 with Spokane and put up slightly above ho hum numbers that year but enough to get the call to start 2013 in full season ball. Hickory was not ready for Rua in 2013. Rua showed the Rangers what he could do very well that year in the Sally league, hit baseballs very far.
Ryan has not stopped doing this ever since he was beating his teammate Joey Gallo in the race to be home run king as he slugged 29 dingers in 104 Hickory games before getting the call to Frisco as a 23 year old where he would be at a more appropriate level for his age. Rua only hit .251 in Hickory, about 50 points below his average in 2011 and 2012, but the power numbers seemed very shocking to those who hadn’t watched Rua consistently before. Rua started off 2014 in Frisco for 71 games where he hit an even .300 with 10 long balls to lead the team while he was there and then made the drive south down 35 to Round Rock with his teammate Luke Jackson. In his 27 games there, Ryan is hitting .265 with 5 dingers and 5 doubles. The reason I emphasize Rua’s long ball numbers is because it is a facet of the game that has been lacking from the Rangers offensive game the past two years and also chicks dig the long ball. Rua has played at least 5 games at each of these positions just this year: second base, first base, third base, and left field. He also played a handful of games at short stop back in 2011 and 2012 but don’t expect that to return any time soon. He has a career .949 fielding percentage in the minor leagues in his 4 season. That isn’t bad for a guy who gives you power from 4 different positions. Ryan Rua is not your typical top 10 prospect. He turns 25 next March and has yet to play an inning in the majors. I don’t think you will find him on many other writer’s top 10 lists maybe not even top 15, but Ryan has something the big club needs: a bat that packs a whallop. A right handed power hitter off the bench that plays multiple positions is a very valuable asset. Rua could find a place on a big league roster for quite a few years with his skillset, and the Rangers have the first opportunity to see if he has what it takes. I would be shocked if Rua didn’t get some playing time in Arlington this season when the rosters expand in September. Ryan might not have the ceiling of a Joey Gallo, but his floor sure is a heck of a lot higher.
10. Travis Demerrite: The Rangers might another teenager in Hickory that leads the Sally league in homers this year in Travis Demerrite. The 19 year old short stop at the time out of Georgia was taken 30th overall in the 2013 draft with the pick awarded to the Rangers for losing Josh Hamilton. Travis last night hit his 20th homer of the year which leads all teenagers and also the South Atlantic league. Demerrite is currently slashing .225/.325/.476. He has 13 doubles and 2 triples this year to give him 35 total extra base hits for his first full season excursion. The 34% strikeout rate is a bit frightening, but it is accompanied by an 11% walk rate. Full season ball is hard. Adjusting to the riggers of playing 6 months of baseball from 2 months is a very difficult transition. The power numbers are impressive for a guy who mostly plays second base and some third. Middle infielders don’t typically hit 20+ homers as a teenager or have as big a butt as Travis does. If he can stick at second defensively and change some of those full count strikeouts into walks he could be a solid middle infielder with more than average pop, which seems to be a rarity nowadays.
More on Lewis Brinson will be coming up next week as I have an interview set up with him for next Tuesday afternoon. Also My apologies that the new prospects acquired from Detroit have not been included and will not be as I already had my list set before I heard the news. One final note on that last front I will be in Frisco tomorrow to interview pitcher Jerad Eickhoff and will also get to watch the Frisco debut of newly acquired Jake Thompson. Have a great day and thanks for reading, part 3 will be up by next Tuesday.