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State of the Farm: A Texas Rangers Special

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It’s international prospects galore down in Texas

F1 Grand Prix of USA - Previews Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

This week on State of the Farm, we’ll be taking a look at the Texas Rangers organization.

The Rangers have had one of the better systems in baseball for awhile now, but a hailstorm of trades, promotions, and injuries have set the system back a few steps. The depth is still there, but it no longer includes the premiere names that have headlined top prospect lists for awhile now (Jurickson Profar, Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, etc...).

Here are some of the more intriguing guys left in the system:

Pitchers

Yohander Mendez, LHP – 22-year-old lefty who the Rangers snagged out of Venezuela back in 2011. Mendez’s arsenal is fairly fastball-changeup reliant, but he’s extremely effective with both pitches, keeping hitters off balance and limiting hard contact frequently. His so-so curveball has his current ceiling limited to a mid-rotation piece, but Mendez is still young enough and large-framed enough to believe his ceiling isn’t done rising. Played across four levels in 2016, posting a 2.78 FIP in High-A, 2.93 FIP in Double-A, 3.95 FIP in Triple-A, and a 5.05 FIP/9.03 xFIP in a very brief stint with the Rangers.

Cole Ragans, LHP – The Rangers gave Ragans a little over $2 million to choose Texas over Florida State University after selecting him with the 30th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. Ragans was limited to just 7.2 innings in his pro debut, fanning nine and walking six during that time. Arsenal features a fastball, curveball, and changeup that all have the potential to be plus pitches. Another young, big-framed lefty who has the makings of a mid-rotation starter.

Ariel Jurado, RHP – Jurado doesn’t have the size or stellar projections of Ragans or Mendez, but he figures to be a valuable backend starter in a MLB rotation sooner rather than later. Fastball has limited velocity but stellar movement and his changeup is MLB-quality, as well. Career arc will come down to the development of his slider. Posted a 3.53 FIP in High-A ball and a 3.30 FIP in Double-A in 2016.

Michael Matuella, RHP – The former Duke Blue Devil was considered to be one of the top draft-eligible talents of the 2015 draft, but Tommy John surgery caused him to slip all the way down to 78th overall. The Rangers’ gamble on Matuella is yet to pay off, as the big righty has been limited to just a single appearance (3.0 IP on 6/17/16) since joining the organization. From MLB.com:

He has No. 1 starter upside but has a long way to go to prove he can hold up physically after working just 145 2/3 innings (including summer ball) in three years of college. In addition to his elbow reconstruction, he also has spondylolysis, a manageable defect of the vertebrae in the lower back.

Brett Martin, LHP – Another big lefty with mid-rotation potential. When healthy, Martin boasts a devastating curveball and a fastball that he’ll run up the mid-90s with decent command. Durability will be a major question mark for Martin moving forward, however. Had a 3.06 FIP in Class-A and 4.91 FIP in High-A in 2016.

Position Players

Andy Ibanez, 2B – 23-year-old signed out of Cuba by the Rangers back in 2015. Hit-tool is Ibanez’s biggest selling point; he posted a 171 wRC+ over 220 plate appearances in Class-A in 2016. Ran into a bit of a wall in Double-A, but tools are evident. Has decent gap power and nearly always manages to put the ball in play. 2017 will be a major year in determining his future outlook.

Ronald Guzman, 1B – 22-year-old signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2011. Guzman has a lot of raw power tucked away in his large frame, but he’s yet to translate it into results. Managed a 135 wRC+ in Double-A in 2016 despite the average power numbers thanks to a .331 BABIP and 8.0% walk-rate. Had a short and unsuccessful stint in Triple-A at the end of the year (94 plate appearances, 56 wRC+).

Leody Taveras, OF – 18-year-old signee out of the Dominican Republic who has already reached Low-A ball. Switch-hitting outfielder with phenomenal athleticism. From MinorLeagueBall’s John Sickels:

...not much game power yet but more may come; doesn’t draw many walks yet but feel for hitting and swing mechanics are well-regarded; high-upside no question but could still develop in any number of directions. ETA 2021.

Josh Morgan, INF – 21-year-old infielder with a polished bat. Slashed .300/.367/.394 over 533 plate appearances in High-A ball last season. Morgan has hit well at every level and provides decent defense at multiple positions. Figures to start out in Double-A next year, where he’ll have the opportunity to iron out a permanent defensive position and prove his bat can play against higher levels of competition.