Texas Rangers prospects: An oft-injured lefty looking to bounce back
Former Texas Rangers’ first rounder Cole Ragans has fallen off the prospect lists over the years, but looks to be on the mend and on the rise once again.
The Texas Rangers have a tendency to risk it all on high school talent during the MLB Draft.
2016 was no different.
In that draft, the Rangers took pitcher Alex Speas and catcher Sam Huff out of high school.
The Texas front office also opted to take high school pitcher Cole Ragans at 30th overall in 2016.
Many teams loved Ragans, a southpaw, as a mid-first round talent, but ultimately passed on him due to fears that he would honor his then-commitment to Florida State University.
Ragans, as we know, did not follow through on that commitment and chose to sign with the Texas Rangers for just over $2 million instead.
That contract ended up amounting to the exact slot value that was anticipated if Ragans were to choose the big-league trajectory, which he did.
For the Texas Rangers, they knew they were getting an athletic, deceptive lefty whose size and athleticism would help sort out some inconsistencies in his mechanics and give more life to his low-90s fastball.
Ragans is a 6’4 hurler whose fastball ranges from 90-93 mph, pairing that heater with a really good changeup and a decent curveball.
He was never going to blow hitters away with his pure stuff alone, but scouts believed his greatest comparison was to former Rangers ace Cole Hamels.
Ragans was even given the chance to be mentored by Hamels during Spring Training 2017.
Ragans immediately vaulted onto the Texas Rangers’ Top-30 prospects list that year, even landing at the number five spot at one point, but has dropped every year since.
That drop in status was precipitated mainly because of injuries.
When healthy, though, Ragans has the potential be a top of the rotation arm.
Unfortunately, back-to-back Tommy John surgeries have stunted the lefty’s development, with the first one in 2018, followed by his second in 2019.
All of that said, we shouldn’t give up on Ragans yet, Ranger fans.
The southpaw took a step towards recovery by pitching in the Fall Instructional League this off-season.
Additionally, he’s just 23-years-old with past pedigree of being a great pitcher, while having filled out his frame since his first surgery and according to Jon Daniels, having thrown the ball very well in instructs.
When healthy, Ragans has put up good numbers as well.
In 2017 at then-Single-A Spokane, he pitched to a 3.61 ERA and struck out 87 batters over 57.1 innings.
If Ragans can bring his walk rate down, the Texas Rangers have a very solid prospect that fans should be excited about (also assuming health, of course).
I expect the lanky lefty to be in the mix for a big league rotation spot around 2024.
I also project him to be a back of the rotation piece early in his career, but could see his “ace mentality” emerge, which might result in a Cole Hamels-esque pitcher blossoming in Ragans.
Only time will tell, but the Rangers have a good player who simply hasn’t had luck fall his way.