How have Texas Rangers’ top prospects panned out over the last decade?
By Travis Koch
Top two prospects per minor league ball: #1 Neftali Feliz and #2 Justin Smoak
Feliz panned out. Even if his dominance spanned just a few seasons, two of those seasons resulted in a World Series appearance for the Texas Rangers. The flame-throwing right-hander converted the third most saves in the AL in 2010 and the fifth most in 2011. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 2010. He was also a fly ball out away from earning the franchise its first championship.
The Rangers attempted to transition Feliz into a starting pitcher in 2012. Injuries followed and he was never the same. He jumped around from team to team over the next five years; he’s presently a member of the Seattle Mariners’ organization at the age of 31.
Smoak was supposed to be the next big bat at first base for the Rangers. He was a promising switch-hitter with pop from each side of the plate, plus he had a nice glove. After experiencing 235 at-bats with Texas in 2010, he was shipped to Seattle in a blockbuster deal that returned SP Cliff Lee.
Lee was in his prime, and although the Texas Rangers only had him for a few months, he played a major role in getting the club to the World Series that year.
Smoak didn’t do much with the Mariners; however, he’s gone on to have a nice career with the Toronto Blue Jays. He consistently hits in the middle of the Blue Jay lineup, and he’s totaled 107 home runs with them over four and a half seasons.
Top two prospects per MLB.com: #1 Jurickson Profar and #2 Martin Perez
Here are a couple of controversial Texas Rangers for you. Profar was not only the top prospect in the organization in 2011, but the #11 prospect in all of baseball. (He was the #1 prospect in MLB the following year.) Also a switch-hitter, Profar possessed impressive plate discipline, great pop for his size and a bat with high average potential. He also had an elite arm and plenty of range at shortstop.
A barrage of injuries set Profar way behind in his timeline. He debuted with the Rangers in 2012, played 85 games with them in 2013 and then missed all of 2014 and 2015 due to shoulder problems.
Texas didn’t get much out of him until last season, in which played 146 games, hit 20 home runs as well as 35 doubles, and slashed .254/.335/.458. The Rangers took advantage of his stand out season by trading him to the Oakland A’s this past December for four prospects. Profar plays frequently for Oakland, though he is not having a very good season as their second baseman.
Perez didn’t pan out either. The Rangers gave him as many chances as was reasonable, but he kept providing the same mediocre results. 2013, his first full season with the big league club, was encouraging. He went 10-6 with a 3.62 ERA over 20 starts. Though, injuries cut his 2014 and 2015 seasons short. From there, he never saw an ERA below 4.30.
In seven seasons with the Rangers, Perez contributed just three winnings seasons and never pitched more than 200 innings. He always had great velocity from the left side, but control issues and poor command of his repertoire constantly held him back.
Texas declined his option after 2018 and the Minnesota Twins signed him to a 1-year, $4 million contract. He is off to a 7-3 start with the Twins, currently holding a 4.28 ERA.
#1 Jurickson Profar and #2 Mike Olt
Olt’s 2012 season at Double-A Frisco was nothing short of tremendous, as he hit 28 home runs, drove in 82 runs and slashed .288/.398/.579. That earned him a debut with the Rangers that same year. It all went down hill from there, rather rapidly.
Misfortune transpired as Olt experienced issues with his eye. It turned out the issue was allergy related, but the third baseman was not able to overcome it. His production plummeted and the Rangers were forced to part ways with him the following year. Just like that, their #2 prospect was gone.
He played for the Cubs briefly in 2014 and 2015, but hasn’t played a major league game since. He was released by the Minnesota Twins this spring and is currently a free agent.