Once again the rumor mill is spinning as to where Prince Fielder will land. With rumors that Scott Boras is considering a shorter length contract that would open Fielder to look at a longer term contract in a few years the Texas Rangers are once again firmly in the hot seat in the rumor merry go round. This rumor flies in the face of what Nolan Ryan said when he said the Texas Rangers weren’t looking at Fielder. Yet why let a good rumor get in the way of learning about the first baseman in the Rangers farm system.
There can be no doubt the Prince Fielder is one of the elite first basemen in the major leagues. Fielder was drafted with the 7th overall pick in the 2002 draft. His career stats of .282/.390/.540 over 7 year and 230 Home runs are astounding numbers. Taking his 2011 numbers of .299/.415/.566 and 38 home runs are a clear indication that he is still well within his prime. Yet the assured minimum of $25 million per year will make him a costly addition. It should be a priority to wrap Yu Darvish, Josh Hamilton and Derek Holland to contracts before pushing the amount of money that Fielder will take.
Mitch Moreland is the Rangers first baseman of record right now. While he doesn’t get a lot of love from fans he is a serviceable player, and since the Rangers are trying to keep Michael Young in the field some the Moreland/Young platoon is a descent idea. Moreland joined the Rangers via the 17th round of the 2007 draft out of Armory High School. His hitting numbers are .258/.331/.427 and 16 homeruns aren’t in the same all-star range as Fielder’s. But the $426,000 salary is more palpable. Fielder can play first and of course the DH, but Moreland can do that as well as range the outfield if a need arises.
AAA Round Rock has a first baseman that most people will know more by his father. Chad Tracy was drafted by the Rangers in 3rd round of the 2006 draft out of Pepperdine University. His father is Jim Tracy current manager of the Colorado Rockies. His 2011 production in Round Rock was .259/.339/.475 in 526 at bats with 26 homeruns and 109 RBI. If Fielder does not come to the Rangers expect Tracy to have an invitation to major league spring training and compete with Moreland.
The AA Frisco RoughRiders used a group of first basemen in the 2011 season. Those that played a majority of the year at first were Mitch Hilligoss who has been released, Jared Bolden who will be discussed with the Pelicans and Jose Ruiz. Jose Ruiz is a native of Cuba who joined the Rangers after the Tampa Bay Rays declined to pick up an unusual contract that he had following his defection from Cuba. His 2011 numbers in AA were .275/.312/.449 with 12 homeruns and 54 RBI in 397 at bats. He did receive a brief promotion to Round Rock in 2011.
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans also saw the services of Jared Bolden. Bolden was drafted in the 8th round of the 2009 draft out of the Virginia Commonwealth University. The left/left 6’2” 202 pounder saw a brief promotion to the Frisco this year. His hitting numbers for 2011 were .271/.314/.418 with a scant 6 homeruns and 47 RBI in 375 at bats. These numbers were nearly identical to Ruiz.
Low A Hickory Crawdads had Andrew Clark at first base for the majority of the year. He joined the Rangers via the 13th round of the 2010 draft, this after being drafted twice before and not signing. His collegiate time was spent at the University of Louisville. He stands at 6’2” 220 and bats and throws left handed. His 2011 season was his second with the Rangers following a 2010 season in Spokane. Clark’s offensive numbers were .313/.424/.484 in 355 at bats with 12 homeruns and 60 RBI. He spent the last of the 2011 season in Myrtle Beach.
The short season A Spokane Indians employed Trever Adams at 1st base. Adams was selected in the 16th round of the 2011 draft out of the Creighton. He is 23 at 6’0” 200 pounds and bats and throws right handed. His 2011 production was .270/.335/.401 in 252 at bats with 1 home run and 36 at bats. His 2010 numbers at Creighton were .387/.467/.665 in 230 at bats. 2011 will likely see Adams in Hickory.
The rookie level Arizona Rangers had Matt Leeds at first. Leeds was drafted in the 31st round of the 2011 draft out of the College of Charleston. Leeds in a switch hitting 6’0” 200 pounder who throws right handed. His production numbers were .272/.390/.467 in 169 at bats with 5 homeruns and 30 RBI. At the end of the short season Leeds played 3 games in Frisco.
Will Fielder come to Ranger Ballpark in Arlington? Time will tell, but there are several prospects that are more than capable of the job coming up if Moreland cannot handle it.