Top 10 Prospects: The Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers
2010 MLB Record: 90-72 (first place, AL West)
Minor League Power Ranking: 8th (out of 30)
Click for: Last Year’s Top 10 Prospect List

The Prospects

1. Jurickson Profar, SS
Acquired: 2009 non-drafted free agent (Curacao)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: Short-season
Opening Day Age: 18
Estimated Peak WAR: 5.0

Notes: Profar was challenged with a North American debut in short-season ball and held his own. Then 17, he hit .250/.323/.373 in 252 at-bats. He utilized a quick bat to post a .123 ISO rate despite a slight frame. Encouragingly, Profar also showed a lot of patience for his age and experience level by posting a walk rate of 9.7 BB%. His strikeout rate was reasonable at 18.3 K%. At the plate, he doesn’t take much of a stride but he has a balanced base and quick hips. On the base paths, the youngster shows decent speed and stole eight bags in 11 tries. Defensively, he’ll have no issues with remaining at shortstop thanks to good range, soft hands and a strong arm (He was coveted by many teams as a pitcher). Rangers fans should be excited about this infielder.

2. Martin Perez, LHP
Acquired: 2007 non-drafted free agent (Venezuela)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA
Opening Day Age: 20
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: Soon to be 20, Perez could open 2011 in triple-A with a strong spring. The lefty had a bit of a down season in ’10 after seeing his value skyrocket in ’09. Perez was slowed by back problems last season but still pitched 99.2 innings with a modest 4.24 FIP. His strikeout rate was impressive at 9.12 K/9 but his control took a step backward, going from 3.17 in low-A to 4.52 at double-A. He gave up a lot of hits (10.57 H/9) but was hurt by a .352 BABIP. Perez’ repertoire includes a 90-95 mph fastball, potentially-plus changeup, and curveball. He utilizes his legs well in his delivery and maintains good balance. He also ends in a good fielding position.

3. Tanner Scheppers, RHP
Acquired: 2009 supplemental 1st round (St. Paul IND)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: AA/AAA
Opening Day Age: 24
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: On the outside, Scheppers’ season didn’t look that good once he hit triple-A. But it was the reliever’s first pro season and he ended the year just one step from the Majors. His ERA was an ugly 5.48 but his FIP sat at 3.74. Scheppers also gave up a lot of hits (10.70 H/9) but he suffered from a high BABIP at .374. He does need to work on his command and control (3.91 BB/9) but he has over-powering stuff (9.26 K/9) when he can find the plate consistently. The right-hander spent some time in the starting rotation in ’10 but I’d personally keep him in the bullpen where his fastball can touch triple digits; shoulder concerns littered his college career. His repertoire also includes a curveball, slider and changeup. Scheppers’ delivery is pretty clean, which bodes well for the health of his shoulder going forward but he does drift out over the rubber.

4. Robert Erlin, LHP
Acquired: 2009 3rd round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A-
Opening Day Age: 20
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0

Notes: An under-sized lefty, Erlin posted dominating numbers at low-A ball in 2010. He had a 2.59 FIP in 114.2 innings and showed uncanny control with a walk rate of 1.33 BB/9. He also limited the number of base runners he allowed via the base-knock (6.99 H/9). Erlin missed a good number of bats, too (9.81 K/9). As he moves up the ladder, the southpaw will want to try and induce more ground balls (40 GB%). Erlin has an 87-91 mph fastball, a curveball and a changeup but his command/control makes his stuff play up.

5. Michael Kirkman, LHP
Acquired: 2005 5th round (Florida HS)
Pro Experience: 6 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 24
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: It was a slow and challenging climb through the minor leagues for Kirkman, who has a plus fastball for a lefty but below-average control and command (4.67 BB/9 in AAA). His heater sits in the 91-94 mph range and he also has a strong slider, which helped him post an 8.93 K/9 rate in triple-A. As a starter, Kirkman rounds out his four-pitch repertoire with a curveball and changeup. His delivery is not the smoothest and he fights his arm slot at times.Texas seems to view Kirkman as a reliever who can pitch numerous innings or provide spot starts. The 24-year-old pitcher has a good shot at opening 2011 with the big league club.

6. Mike Olt, 3B
Acquired: 2010 supplemental 1st round (U of Connecticut)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: Short-season
Opening Day Age: 22
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: A big, strong hitter, Olt took to pro ball right away after signing out of the University of Connecticut as a supplemental first round pick. He hit .293/.390/.468 in 263 short-season at-bats. His power output was good (.175 ISO) and he showed a patient approach (12.9 BB%). Olt had a high strikeout rate (29.4 K%) so he has some adjustments to make as he moves up through the system. He has late movement in his stance and might be best served by getting set a little sooner. Olt shows a pull approach. He’s not expected to hit for average when he reaches the Majors but he should posted solid on-base rates with above-average power and good defense at the hot corner. He has a strong arm and good range despite below-average foot speed.

7. Robbie Ross, LHP
Acquired: 2008 2nd round (Kentucky HS)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A-/A+
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0

Notes: Ross is a step a head of Robert Erlin, but they’re similar pitchers in the sense that they’re under-sized southpaws. Ross stands just 5’11” and doesn’t have much projection due to his height and stocky build, but he showed good control at both low-A (1.91 BB/9) and high-A (2.80 BB/9) in 2010. In 94.0 innings at the lower level, he posted a 3.15 FIP but his strikeout rate was just 5.94. It rose to 8.40 K/9 in 54.2 high-A innings and his FIP was 3.44 (despite a 5.10 ERA). His heater sits in the 87-91 mph range but he produces outstanding ground-ball rates (64%). Both his changeup and breaking ball need work. His control is currently more advance than the command of his pitches. Ross has a low-three-quarter arm slot. It’s impressive that he can throw with as much control as he shows because he almost jumps off the mound during the follow through on his delivery.

8. Jake Skole, OF
Acquired: 2010 1st round (Georgia HS)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: Rookie/Short-season
Opening Day Age: 19
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: A football player in high school, Skole did not focus solely on baseball until turning pro. Despite his split attention as an amateur, the outfielder showed signs of being more advanced than expected. He posted a walk rate of 10.1 BB% in short-season ball. His inexperience does show with pitch recognition and struck out at a rate of 25.9 K%. He gets out on his front foot with off-speed pitches, but he his good bat speed (which currently generates line-drive power) helps him compensate. Skole did not show much home-run pop in his debut (.095 ISO) but could develop above-average power with more experience. Defensively, he might stick in center field but will more than likely end up in right field. He has a good arm. Skole should open 2011 in low-A ball.

9. Luis Sardinas, SS
Acquired: 2009 non-drafted free agent (Venezuela)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: Rookie
Opening Day Age: 17
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: The Rangers organization has perhaps the youngest Top 10 lists in the Majors and Sardinas is another talented teenager in the system. He won’t turn 18 until May but he is another exciting shortstop. He hit .311/.363/.350 in 103 rookie ball at-bats in 2010. He showed good speed with eight steals in 10 tries but has almost no current power (.039 ISO, four extra-base hits). He could nab 40-50 steals in a full MLB season and could fill out enough to pop 10 homers. Sardinas handles the bat well for his age and posted a modest walk rate of 5.9 BB% but struck out just 14.6 K% of the time. Defensively, he has the potential to be a plus defender with a strong arm. He hurt his shoulder after the season and could miss much of 2011 after surgery.

10. Neil Ramirez, RHP
Acquired: 2007 supplemental 1st round (Virginia HS)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A-
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: Ramirez, 21, was a former supplemental first round pick struggled in ’08 and ’09 thanks, in part, to poor control. His walk rate improved from 5.56 in ’09 to 2.37 BB/9 in 2010. His strikeout rate jumped from 7.60 to 9.11 K/9 as he repeated low-A. Ramirez also saw his inning total more than double to 140.1. His repertoire includes a 91-94 mph fastball, curveball, and changeup. He has a quick, low-three-quarter arm slot but I’d like to see him use his legs more to generate power. Other exciting young players in the running for the Top 10 list included pitchers David Perez, Miguel de los Santos, and third baseman Christian Villanueva.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


9 Responses to “Top 10 Prospects: The Texas Rangers”

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  1. CSJ says:

    Wow, very surprised that Profar is ranked ahead of Perez. I guess you’re confident that he’ll be able to hit, then?

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  2. ICEYhawtSTUNNAZ says:

    Are you sure about Scheppers’ peak value? Since 200, only Gagne has exceeded 4 WAR in one season.

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    • John says:

      Scheppers is being stretched out as a starter. I’m guessing you think he won’t stick there and will be a reliever?

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      • sean says:

        was thinking the same thing, if Tanner Scheppers is a reliever long term how could his peak value be a 4.0 WAR? 3.0 is more likely for a reliever as a top value and that would be a TOP tier guy. it’s not that we think he’ll be a reliver marc even says he thinks he should relieve

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  3. Bill says:

    No Engle Beltre?

    I watched Perez twice last season, I saw a lot more 89 than “90-95″.

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  4. Marc Hulet says:

    I definitely do like the look of Profar… lots of projection, though. And the inconsistent velo is one of the reasons why I have Perez at No. 2. He did have some back problems in 2010 so he wasn’t at his best.

    I’m just not a Beltre believer. If he continues to build upon the improvements he made in 2010, I’ll move him from the 11-15 range into the Top 10 for next season’s list.

    As for Scheppers, it’s his peak WAR assuming he does in fact make the Majors as a starter. I personally see him as a reliever due to the health concerns but Texas seems committed to developing him as a starter. Obviously, if he’s a reliever… you’re looking more around 2.0 for the peak WAR.

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  5. DonChrysler says:

    Just realized Jurickson Profar was the star of the Curacao Little League World Series team that won it all back in 2004. That’s pretty awesome.

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  6. Paul says:

    Hey Marc, have you given any thought to posting MLB.com video to profiles when a prospect has played some at that level? I’m referring specifically to Kirkman. You have to love the numbers, but your assessment on his delivery is just dead on. I hadn’t seen him until checking the video the other day since he’s supposedly the favorite for the 5th starter slot. Looks like a reliever to me, but really great FB. Do you think it would be wise for them to consider flipping Feliz and Kirkman and giving him at shot at closing? There has been a lot of talk on this pages about others, but to me Kirkman looks like as good a candidate as any to close.

    Great work as always.

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