June 2, 2012; Round Rock, TX, USA; Round Rock Express pitcher Roy Oswalt (51) pitches against the Albuquerque Isotopes at the Dell Diamond. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports
The minor league system, also know as the farm system, is one of the many ways teams develop young players before they ascend to the ranks of the major leagues. I say system because each major league team has around 5 different minor league teams with which they are affiliated and today I am going to provide a general outline for the minor league teams with which the Texas Rangers are affiliated and a few details here and there about the Ranger’s farm system.
Following a major league team’s farm system can be a daunting task if you do not know where to begin so I will begin at the beginning. Minor league teams are divided into different classes for varying skill levels. Usually the rule of thumb for a certain class is the more A’s a class has, the more advanced the class is. For example: the most refined level of skill in minor league teams is usually found in the AAA class; followed by the AA class, then the High A class, and then the Low A class, and then the short season A class and so on and so forth. Most of the classes, AAA through Low A, are the generic full season April to August teams. However, there are other classes that can be as short as a month or two.
There are many casual baseball fans that scoff at the importance of having a solid minor league system, but I scoff back at those fans because they are both wrong, and probably a fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Having a good farm system is important because it produces young, talented players who take minimum salaries while keeping the team young, and also provides local baseball teams for multiple other cities usually across the country.
You might be asking: When is he going to relate this to the Rangers? My answer is right now. The Rangers have exactly 5 minor league affiliated teams, 6 if you count the Arizona rookie league. Here are some little tidbits about each of the teams should you feel compelled to check them out.
The Round Rock Express: AAA affiliate of the Texas Rangers located in Round Rock Texas just outside of Austin. AAA is usually a last stop for major leaguers on rehab assignments, talented prospects blocked by a talented player at the major league level, and players on the fringe of the 25 man roster. There probably won’t be too many high profile names in Round Rock to start off the year, besides maybe Michael Choice, but I’ll let you know when some come around.
The Frisco Rough Riders: AA affiliate of the Texas Rangers located in Frisco Texas a northern suburb of the Dallas Fort Worth area. At the AA level, most prospects start to make that final separation and for me, is the most entertaining level to watch because it really determines what prospects ultimately fulfill their potential, and which ones can’t hang with the big boys. Frisco has a slew of talented prospects slated to start this year including middle infield duo Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor (pronounced ROO g ned OH door), break out catching sensation Brett Nicholas, and hailed hurlers such as Luke Jackson and possibly Alex Chi-Chi Gonzalez.
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans: High A affiliate of the Texas Rangers located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Players in high A usually vary in age between 19-22 years old. Those in this class are often in one of their first few full seasons of professional baseball. The Pelicans this year are set to start off the year with a large crop of talented sluggers with great upside and potential for an insane amount of strikeouts and homeruns. Hopefully this group will have less strikeouts this year compared to last year. Names to watch include Joey Gallo, Jorge Alfaro, Nomar Mazara, and Nick Williams among others.
The Hickory Crawdads: Low A affiliate of the Texas Rangers located in Hickory, North Carolina. Low A is usually where players are put to experience their first taste of a full season of professional baseball. These young players are usually very raw coming in, but having a full season to play baseball helps rapidly accelerate growth in both mental and physical aspects of the game. Players to watch in Hickory include possibly Lewis Brinson, and Jairo Beras. I believe Beras would handle the challenge of full season baseball well if the Rangers are ready to set a high bar for him, which they haven’t had a fear of doing with past prospects.
Texas does have one more team: the short season Northwest League Spokane Indians, but that will be in another article some time soon. I have already loaded a great deal of information and words into this piece already and I will only use a few more. I sincerely hope you learned something new and if you have any questions about anything Rangers minor league related please comment or reach me on twitter. Only 29 more full days until opening day, I can feel baseball in the air and it feels good.