Texas Rangers fans know about highly touted pitching prospects Jack Leiter and Cole Winn. The two young righties are ranked first and third, respectively, on the organization’s top prospect list according to MLB Pipeline.
Fans are also familiar with Glenn Otto and A.J. Alexy, who each have contributed to the 2021 season.
But how much do people know about No. 12 prospect Ricky Vanasco? Probably not nearly as much as they should.
Vanasco, 22, was a 2017 draft pick by the Texas Rangers out of high school in Florida. He’s got a fastball that can reach 99 mph and all the talent in the world. In 2019, the right-hander posted a 1.81 ERA in the minors with 75 (!) strikeouts in just under 50 innings pitched.
Ricky Vanasco might have the highest upside of any prospect in the Texas Rangers organization
And then his development was halted by Tommy John surgery, and also by a lack of a minor league season, both of which occurred in 2020.
But just look at those 2019 numbers again. Can you see why the Texas Rangers might be excited about Vanasco’s expected return to action in 2022?
A two-year layoff from pitching in game action seems less than ideal for Vanasco, but if anyone has the ability to blow by those concerns (quite literally), it might be him.
Some scouts that have seen Vanasco pitch contend that he has the highest upside of any of the pitching prospects in the Rangers’ system. That’s some stout praise for a pitcher that hasn’t seen a mound in two seasons, but that also attests to his immense level of ability. The upside is tantalizing.
And it’s not like Cole Winn and Jack Leiter don’t have loads of upside themselves.
Envisioning a future rotation in Arlington of Ricky Vanasco, Winn, Leiter, Dane Dunning and perhaps Spencer Howard all of a sudden doesn’t seem as far-fetched with Vanasco’s anticipated return to action in 2022.
It would be a huge boon for the Rangers organization should Vanasco return to his 2019 form and put his injury concerns behind him. If he does, he could one day be the most exciting Texas homegrown pitcher in years.