How have Texas Rangers’ top prospects panned out over the last decade?
By Travis Koch
#1 Yohander Mendez and #2 Andy Ibanez
Mendez topped the prospect charts at a time in which the Rangers’ farm system was relatively lean. He’s struggled in his few chances, and a suffered UCL strain this spring cost him at least half of the 2019 season.
The left-hander is just 24 years old. A lot has happened and a lot likely will happen with the Texas rotation before he is ready to return. Regardless, he should have a good shot at being a part of it next year, and maybe still this year. The Rangers aren’t going to tolerate mediocrity from him for much longer, however.
Ibanez has been a nice player in the minor leagues for quite some time now. He’s still in the Rangers’ system, currently scattering throughout the infield with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. What’s kept the 26-year-old from the big leagues? Well, he’s a skilled player, but no part of his game is spectacular. In other words, he doesn’t really have that “it” factor that’s going to persuade the organization to promote him to the show.
Also, the Texas Rangers middle infield has been firm for a long time. Elvis Andrus is the face of the team and the club clearly isn’t willing to budge on Rougned Odor, no matter how low he stoops. With the contributions of Danny Santana and Logan Forsythe, there isn’t even a way to flex Ibanez in as a utility player.
#1 Leody Taveras and #2 Willie Calhoun
The Rangers are planning their future outfield with Taveras in mind. He’s a superb athlete that is likely to take over center field by 2021. At 6’1”, 171 LBS, he’s not a home run hitter, but he can hit the gaps and turn his wheels. Taveras is tied for second in the Advanced-A Carolina League with four triples, but Texas promoted him to Double-A Frisco a few days ago.
He’s still green, but a strong finish to the 2019 season and an encouraging showing at 2020 spring training could introduce a tempting decision to the front office.
3rd time’s the charm for Calhoun. After disappointing in his first two stints with the big league squad, the 24-year-old has come into his own in 2019. He has played just 12 games with Texas this year, but he’s surely impressed, hitting .348 with a .996 OPS. He has also done a nice job manning left field.
Barring a sudden and extreme downturn, Calhoun isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
#1 Leody Taveras and #2 Julio Pablo Martinez
Julio Pablo Martinez
The 2018 Cuban signee hasn’t progressed at the pace the Texas Rangers had hoped for. Now 23, Martinez remains at Single-A, and he’s hitting just .202 with a .357 SLG. Texas is hoping the bat comes along, because he has plus speed and a plus glove. A future outfield with Taveras and Martinez would be elite.
#1 Hans Crouse and #2 Cole Winn
Rangers nation is stoked about Hans Crouse, the organization’s current top prospect. The right-handed pitcher ranks as the 63rd best prospect in Major League Baseball. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, and can reach 99 mph. Crouse’s slider is an out-pitch as well.
The Rangers have been cautious with the 20-year-old, but he hasn’t exactly been challenged in the lower levels of the minor leagues. He is with Class-A Hickory, 2-0 with a 3.10 ERA thus far in 2019. He averages over a strikeout per inning and opponents are hitting just .215 against him. Additional refining is necessary, as is expected at his age, though everything is going according to plan to this point.
Winn was taken 15th overall in the 2015 draft. He’s 19 years old, and a member of the Hickory Crawdads in 2019. Six starts thus far, he is 0-3 with a 9.35 ERA.
Not the start he was looking for; however, the Rangers are very optimistic about his ability and early maturity. Winn sports a low-to-mid 90s fastball, along with advanced breaking stuff. He has the foundation of a streamline prospect. Ideally, he and Crouse emerge as weapons in the Texas Rangers rotation by 2022.