The Texas Rangers are rebuilding in large part because a once-promising young core failed to take reign and elevate the team.
We introduce the future core of the Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, and Willie Calhoun. Three homegrown talents, and the other a former #3 prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers. All four below age 25. All four under team control for seasons to come. They will join forces in 2018 to form an offensive blitz in the heart of the batting order.
Two years later, Mazara is non-tendered by the Chicago White Sox; Rougned Odor has all but forfeited his starting job at second base; Calhoun just hit .190 over 29 games; Gallo slashed .181/.301/.378 across 57 games.
All hope is not lost, however. Gallo gave us a taste of superstardom in 2019, and Calhoun impressed in his most active season to date that same year. Thus, at least two presumed core players remain a part of the Texas Rangers’ plans. Still, the actual production from the four talents compared to the expected production is vastly imbalanced.
As fans, should we be disappointed that the future core didn’t pan out, or should we have expected some version of a fallout? The reality is, it could have gone either way.
Even the most highly-regarded, stupendous prospects are fragile and precarious. Rangers fanatics don’t have to look any further than Jurickson Profar to understand that.
Profar was the organization’s top prospect and the #1 overall prospect in MLB in 2012. Unfortunately, a heap of injuries threw his career well off its axis.
Instead of representing the Texas Rangers in the next eight all-star games and leading them to their first World Series victory, Profar amounted to no more than a serviceable player for Texas over five seasons.
Then again, there are plenty of up-and-comers that do fulfill their prophecies. Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Kyle Schwarber certainly did for the Chicago Cubs. The group of once-great Cubs prospects has awarded the organization seven all-star appearances and most famously led the Lovable Losers to their first championship in 108 years in 2016.
The Texas Rangers thought they had a potential drought-ending quartet of their own in Gallo, Mazara, Odor, and Calhoun. But that was fool’s gold.
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We often view an accumulation of young, high-ceiling ballplayers through rose-colored glasses. We envision a core in which each member hits over .300, bashes 25+ home runs, and flirts with 100 RBI year after year after year. We ultimately see Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Trevor Story. If only the Rangers were so lucky.
Ironically, Arenado, nor Blackmon, nor Story were blue blood prospects. Arenado and Story reached #1 and #2 in the Colorado Rockies’ farm rankings in 2012, though the highest either climbed in MLB.com’s rankings was #27 (Arenado in 2012). According to Minor League Ball, Blackmon peaked as the #10 prospect in Colorado’s feeble system in 2011.
Comparatively, Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara stood at #1 and #2 in the Texas Rangers’ system in 2015. Gallo ranked as MLB’s 6th best prospect that year, while Mazara was not too far behind at #14. Considering Rougned Odor the straggler in this comparison, he accomplished a #4 ranking in the Texas organization and hit #96 as an MLB prospect.
Let’s make one thing clear: Gallo, Mazara, and Odor are far from busts.
Gallo is among the elite power hitters in the sport, plus he’s settled in defensively as a Gold Glove right fielder. Mazara gave the Rangers a few solid seasons; it was purely a business decision to trade him away. Evaluate Odor how you’d like, but admit that his contract is a bust, not that he’s a bust as a prospect. As for Willie Calhoun, the jury is still out as to whether he can flee “flop” territory and become a force in the big leagues.
The dream of those four players flourishing together as a core has faded, sadly. Mazara is long gone, Odor has overstayed his welcome, and Calhoun has triggered many doubters. Perhaps a new wave of prospects can join forces with Gallo to form a prosperous core. Of course, there’s no guarantee even the Texas Rangers’ best player sticks around to see the other side of the rebuild.