The spring training showcase for the Texas Rangers top three prospects came to a close on Monday. However, all three left favorable impressions with their spring exploits, and further reinforced the hopes that a collection of stars is on the horizon.
In a move we all expected, the Texas Rangers dispatched their trio of top prospects to minor league camp on Monday. It was an inevitable event, as none of the trio of Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, and Lewis Brinson had a realistic shot at making the opening day roster, especially after the signing of Ian Desmond.
The time in big league camp was certainly productive while it lasted, as all three acquitted themselves well. Nomar Mazara may have left the most positive impression of all. Mazara opened the spring as the hottest hitter on the club and one of the hottest in Arizona. Despite cooling down somewhat towards the end of his tenure, he still departs big league camp with a .387 spring average and 8 RBI’s across 32 PAs.
I was fortunate enough to get an up close and personal look at all three of the Rangers’ young hitters in a visit to spring training last week, and it was certainly a very close competition as to who was the most impressive. Ultimately, I have to give a slight edge to Mazara, for the consistent hard contact he was able to make, heck he only struck out 4 times all spring.
Gallo and Brinson were certainly not far behind however. Gallo showed off his massive power on several occasions this spring, hitting 3 HR’s, but probably even more importantly, he showed increased plate discipline, and some progression in cutting down strikeouts. Gallo finishes the big league portion of his spring slate with a .296/.441/.630 slash line over 34 PAs with 9 strikeouts, and 6 walks.
Brinson didn’t rack up quite as many plate appearances as his two compadres, but was still able to impress in the more limited sample size. Serving mostly as a later innings replacement for the starters this spring, Brinson was able to put together a .353/.389/.529 line across 18 PAs while also impressing in the field.
Gallo and Mazara were both optioned to AAA Round Rock to start their season, and Brinson has yet to be assigned. The start to the season will be especially important for Gallo, who will have to show that he can carry over the success from this spring, and overcome the massive struggles he had at Round Rock last year. A good performance at Round Rock will go a long way towards showing that Gallo can attain a level much closer to his massive ceiling than his to his floor.
All three players are currently blocked by established veterans on the big league roster, but youth and talent are on their side, and that often means that roadblocks don’t last long. All three probably need at least a little bit more time in the minors to grow into their potential anyway. The fact that the players primarily responsible for blocking the routes of these three players are either aging, impending free agents, or both also works in their favor.
Adrian Beltre, the primary roadblock for Gallo, is in the twilight of his career, and as it stands is currently in the last year of his contract. Ian Desmond, who is currently blocking one of the outfield spots for either Mazara or Brinson is on a one year deal. Shin-Soo Choo, who is blocking one of the other outfield spots, is aging, and is someone who the Texas Rangers could look to move sometime in the near future.
As a result, it is entirely possible that all three could have permanent paths to the big leagues cleared for them come 2017. Late season cameos, or mid-season call-ups are also not out of the question. Until the trio arrives in Arlington to stay, fans can dream on the 100+ combined HR’s, and 250+ combined RBI’s potential the trio could bring to the lineup. This spring provided a taste of what the Texas Ranger’s future may hold, and oh what a good taste it was. The future of the Texas Rangers lineup appears to be in good hands, which helps give hope to the prospect of a sustained run of winning in North Texas.
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