Welcome to the annual series that provides both a review of your favorite teams’ 2016 season, as well as a early look toward 2017. It also serves as a helpful guide for keeper and dynasty leagues.
The Graduate: Nomar Mazara (OF): Just 21 when the season began, Mazara had a breakout 2015 season and reached triple-A. He appeared in just a handful of minor league games in ’16 before getting called up to the Majors to fill in for injured players. When the players healed, the rookie remained. Not surprisingly given his limited experience, Mazara still has holes in his game (BB-K of 37-107) but he looks like a future star after slugging 20 home runs and flashing a potentially-plus hit tool in his debut season. Look for him to slug in the middle of the Rangers lineup for years to come.
The Riser: Yohander Mendez (LHP): Mendez, 21, was signed in 2011 (the same year as Nomar Mazara) but entered 2016 having never amassed more than 66.1 innings of work. He opened the year in high-A ball but then hit double-A, triple-A and finally the Majors. He’s not overpowering but he has a chance for three better-than-average offerings and his changeup absolutely befuddled minor league hitters. Mendez’s meteoric rise in ’16 caught a lot of attention and people are rating him highly but remember that he’s only surpassed 100 innings one time in his five-year career (this year) so he still has a lot to prove.
The Tumbler: Joey Gallo (IF): Listing Gallo here is definitely a risky choice. However, the Rangers clearly lost faith in him in 2016 and gave playing time to other rookies ahead of him. You also have to look at the lack of improvements that the young infielder has made with his contact rates. In 53 games at triple-A in 2015 he struck out 39.5% of the time. In 102 games in 2016 he struck out 34.6% of the time. In small sample sizes at the big league level over the past two seasons he’s struck out 46.3% and 60% of the time. His power is a game-changer and he could hit 40 to 50 home runs if he could make enough contact but Gallo looks to be more Russell Branyan than Giancarlo Stanton.
The ’16 Draft Pick: Kole Enright (3B): The Rangers’ third round pick was my favorite of the 2016 draft. Enright has the makings of a plus hit tool. He’ll also take some walks. The big question mark is around how much power he’ll eventually produce. He has the frame to add muscle and some tweaks to his approach at the plate could allow him to tap into more useable power. Defensively, he has the ability to be a better-than-average defender at third base. Look for him to open 2017 in full-season ball and he could move fairly quickly for a prep draftee.
The Lottery Ticket: Connor Sadzeck (RHP): It’s not often that you find a sleeper in double-A but Sadzeck is a special case. Standing 6-7, the right-hander produced just modest results in 140.2 innings in ’16 due to below-average command and control — resulting in below-average secondary offerings, although the slider has potential. His fastball hits the upper 90s and more consistent mechanics could result in triple digits — especially if Sadzeck moves to the bullpen, which could really unlock his potential. Power arms in the bullpen are all the rage in the Majors right now so don’t be shocked to see the 24-year-old pitcher change roles in 2017 — and quite possibly reach the Majors.
For reference sake, here is the 2015 Review.
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