Texas Rangers: Updated MLB Pipeline rankings land a trio in Top 100
By Kenneth Nash
MLB Pipeline dropped their midseason prospect rankings on Friday night and the Texas Rangers landed three in the Top 100.
MLB Pipeline has become a bit of a go-to for prospect rankings for both writers and fans alike. In their midseason re-rankings that released Friday night, Texas Rangers fans got a few surprises as their organizational Top 30 saw some drastic shuffling including new faces and some big chances for old ones.
Who Cracked the MLB Top 100?
The Rangers landed a trio in the MLB Top 100 following the rankings update, up one from the two they had preseason. Two of those three Top 100 prospects are new to the Rangers Top 30 altogether.
3B Josh Jung (#60)
The first Ranger in the Top 100 and new top prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline is 2019 8th overall pick Josh Jung. Jung, a third baseman out of Texas Tech, was drafted as one of the top college hitters available. The 21-year old has an advanced hit tool along with a big time arm from the hot corner. He’s defensively sound and even played some shortstop for the Red Raiders in the latter part of last season. He really represented a shift in draft philosophy for the Rangers straying away from guys with eye-popping individual tools and opting for a more well-rounded player.
Jung ranks as the #5 prospect in MLB.com’s Top 10 3B list and in his early taste of pro ball, he’s shown why. Jung started his pro career in Arizona playing Rookie ball where he went 10-17 in his first 4 games and posted a 1.573 OPS. That earned him a promotion to Single-A Hickory, bypassing Short-Season Spokane. He’s played 10 games for the Crawdads so far and has an impressive .341 batting average. His OPS is a less stellar .777 with only 2 doubles to his extra-base total but he’s already shown off his skills despite skipping a minor league level. MLB.com gives him a big league ETA of 2021 but there’s legitimate hype surrounding Jung who already looks like one of the better first round picks Texas has had in recent years.
C Sam Huff (#79)
Sam Huff is perhaps the Texas prospect who has skyrocketed up the organizational rankings the quickest. Before the season, Huff ranked at the end of the Rangers Top 30 but a stellar first half catapulted him into the Top 100 and the #2 prospect in the system. Starting the season in Hickory, Huff lit up Single-A hitting .333 with a 1.165 OPS. His 15 homers in 30 games was a stunning clip and earned him an MLB Futures Game appearance where he won the MVP with a 2-run homer. He was promoted to High-A Down East and while he hasn’t hit the heights he did with Hickory, his .277 and .813 OPS are still impressive.
Huff has also taken major steps forward defensively and belief is that despite his massive 6’4″, 230 lb. frame, he can play behind the plate long-term. He’s the #7 catching prospect in the MLB now according the Pipeline and has a shot at developing into a future star in the MLB. At just 21, he’s given an ETA of 2021 but for a team that has some atrocious offensive production from their big league catchers right now so having a slugger tearing up the minors provides some hope.
RHP Hans Crouse (#83)
Crouse remained in the Top 100 after the midseason update but did fall a bit organizationally. Entering the year he sat as the top prospect in the system but because of Jung joining via draft and Huff’s breakout year, he’s fallen to third. Crouse still features some of the best stuff in the system and has been pretty good with Single-A Hickory. Through 14 starts, Crouse has thrown 62 innings and posted a 3.77 ERA. His strikeouts aren’t quite at the level you’d hope from a potential future ace, just 58 so far, but his stuff is still electric.
If all goes well, anticipate Crouse finishing the season in Single-A and making the jump to High-A next season. The Rangers aren’t going to rush his development and despite a Pipeline ETA of 2021, I wouldn’t be shocked if Crouse doesn’t make it to Arlington before 2022.
Other Rankings Notables and Fresh Faces
3B/1B Sherten Apostel (#10, previously #22)
RHP Ronny Henriquez (#18, previously NR)
RHP Yerry Rodriguez (#20, previously NR)
C Randy Florentino (#22, previously NR)
RHP Ricky Vanasco (#23, previously NR)
RHP Emmanuel Clase (#27, previously NR)
RHP Joe Barlow (#30, previously NR)
OF Bubba Thompson (#8, previously #5)
SS Anderson Tejeda (#11, previously #4)
RHP Jonathan Hernandez (#12, previously #8)
SS Chris Seise (#19, previously #12)
OF Julio Pablo Martinez (#24, previously #2)
LHP Taylor Hearn (#25, previously #11)
RHP Owen White (#26, previously #13)
SS Eli White (#28, previously #16)
Fresh Faces to the Organization
3B Davis Wendzel (#9; 41st pick, 2019 draft)
2B Nick Solak (#13; trade w/ TB)
SS Maximo Acosta (#14; international FA)
RHP Ryan Garcia (#21; 50th pick, 2019 draft)
RHP Ian Gibaut (#29; trade w/ TB)
Clearly there was plenty of re-shuffling in the Texas Rangers organization early this season and depending on the trade deadline, there could be even more changes.
Additional Note: International free agent, OF Bayron Lora, has agreed a deal with the Rangers but has not officially signed. Because of that, he was not in the updated rankings. Expect Lora to fall somewhere in the Top 10 when he does ink a deal with the Rangers.