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Texas Rangers

The Rangers minor league system continues to be primarily a high-risk, high-reward collection of players.  Sure, there is Sam Huff and Josh Jung who both are likely major leaguers (Huff appeared in 10 games last season).  But exciting players are headlined by Leody Taveras, Maximo Acosta, and LuisAngel Acuna.  All three are incredibly athletic with huge upside. 

Taveras made his Major League debut last season and looked good.  He has double-plus speed and should develop good power as he matures.  Acosta has all the tools to be a star, but he’s still a teenager as is Acuna.   They both should be owned in all Dynasty Leagues.

The pitching depth is solid with Cole Winn and Hans Crouse both having Major League talent.  However, both have a long way to go and don’t have the profile that would suggest front-of-the-rotation upside.

In summary, it’s a solid system with some players that could become stars.  But high-risk, high-reward player acquisition policies take patience and flexibility to know when to add veterans to round out the team.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Leody Taveras
  • Biggest Mover: LuisAngel Auna
  • Emerging Prospect: Davis Wendzel

1. Leody Taveras (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: Got the call and played very well as one of the youngest players in the league

Last year, we wrote about prospect fatigue setting in on Leody Taveras.  A career .260 batting average and multiple demotions will do that.  However, we kept the faith, ranking him #1 in the system and a bold #51 on our Top 100.  We received the reward for our patience when he got the call and performed well.  Yeah, he struck out 31% of the time and only hit .227 but he showed solid power and stole an impressive eight bases in 134 plate appearance.  Plus, he continued to show plate patience, walking 11% of the time.  He did it all playing the entire season as a 22-year-old.  I think he only gets better with a ceiling of a leadoff batter with 25+ stolen bases, a solid .340 OBP and 15+ home runs.

2. Josh Jung (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: Excellent bat-to-ball skills and an understanding of the strike zone.  His power potential is the question as is a possible move to first.

The Rangers selected Josh Jung in the first round of the 2019 Draft (8th pick) where he got off to a fast start to his professional career.  In 44 games across the AZL and Low-A, he slashed .319/.389/.443 with two home runs and four stolen bases.  While he has an advanced hit-tool, his power is the open question.  Currently, the swing is more geared to contact.  As we’ve seen, that can change in today’s game as players learn the benefits of Launch Angle and learn to lift the ball.  The other unknown is whether he will stay at third.  There are whispers that a move to first might be in the cards.

3. Maximo Acosta (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS
  • Tools Summary: Potential five-tool player with a hit-tool that could allow him to move quickly

The Rangers signed Maximo Acosta in July of 2019 and while he hasn’t played a game of professional ball, the hype is in full motion.  Here’s the good news…it might be warranted.  While only 17-years-old, he’s impressed every time people have seen him.  He shows electric bat speed that points to future power.  The hit tool also looks promising as his quick hands allow him to wait on pitches and make excellent contact.  He’s a plus runner and most evaluators believe he will be able to stay in the dirt.  He should start the 2021 season in Rookie Ball.

4. LuisAngel Acuna (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: Ronald’s little brother.  He’s already showing impressive bat control and bat-to-ball skills. 

LuisAngel Acuna has gone from the little brother of Ronald to a Top prospect in his own right.  He’s not as physical as his brother but has great bat speed, plays the game with the same enthusiasm, and might be the better hitter.  He has good speed that should translate to 20 stolen bases annually and enough bat speed to also project power.  I’m not ready to say 20 home runs given his size but the bat speed is there as his ability to make hard contact.  He has a great understanding of the strike zone and while he’ll strike out at a rate higher than you want, he should make up for any deficiencies in his ability to work a walk.

5. Sam Huff (C)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: 70-grade power who hasn’t demonstrated the ability to control the strike zone

Sam Huff made his Major League debut in 2020 and did what he does – hit home runs and strike out a lot.  In only 10 games, he hit three home runs but also struck out 11 times.  While the sample size was tiny, he had the third-highest barrels per plate appearances in 2020 showing how hard he hits the ball. The upside is 30+ home runs but given his strikeout tendency, he could also hit around the Mendosa line.  Plus, at 6-foot-4, he’d be one of the tallest catchers in the league.  When you see outliers like that, it does give you pause as to whether he can stay behind the plate long-term.

6. Justin Foscue (2B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 2B
  • Tools Summary: High contact hitter with power potential. His arm will limit him to second base.

The Rangers selected Justin Foscue with the 14th overall pick in the 2020 Draft. He was off to a hot start before the season was shutdown striking out three times in 68 plate appearances. There is plenty of bat speed for the promise of future power and with his ability to make contact, he could move quickly through the system.

7. Cole Winn (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: Solid arsenal with 30-grade current control.  Mechanics look sound so there is hope that he will achieve at least average future control.

Cole Winn has solid stuff with a fastball that sits 92 to 94 MPH and three off-speed pitches with his slider being the best of the group.   His overall arsenal does play down because he can’t throw consistent strikes.  The good news is the delivery is simple, athletic, and he’s able to land balanced.  His arm slot just doesn’t stay locked and that appears to the source of his poor control.  If he fixes that, there is a mid-rotation arm in there.

8. Hans Crouse (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: Premium stuff with surprising control.  Concerns about his violent delivery give pause as to whether he can stay a starter.

Hans Crouse has a premium arsenal with a fastball that he can run-up to the mid to upper 90’s and a slider that has a chance to be a real weapon.  His changeup is his third pitch and lags the other two.  I’ve put his ceiling as a number three starter, perhaps more, but given the violence in his delivery, there’s a chance he moves to the bullpen.  Based on watching publicly available videos, I would think the chances are high.  For now, the Rangers will keep him as a starting pitcher.

9. Anderson Tejeda (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: A should injury cut his season short.  Plus power with a little speed, but he needs to cut down on his strikeouts. 

Anderson Tejeda made his Major League debut in 2020 and showed why we have always been excited about the upside.  In 23 games, he hit three home runs and stole four bases.  He also struck out nearly 40% of the time and therein lies the concern we have with his upside.  There is plenty of bat speed to project plus power and he can run a little, but unless he cuts down on the strikeouts, the chance of him hitting his ceiling is low.  With that caveat, he needs to rostered in most Dynasty Leagues as there are fantasy-friendly skills and he doesn’t turn 23 until May.

10. Osleivis Basabe (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: Athletic with double-plus speed and enough bat speed to eventually hit for power.  He also shows an ability to control the strike zone.

The Rangers signed Osleivis Basabe as an international free agent in 2017 and gave him a signing bonus of $550,000.  He’s done nothing but hit since being signed, batting .334 in 89 games as a professional.  He’s a premium athlete with excellent bat speed and is a plus runner.  His bat speed has yet to translate into much over-the-fence power, but he’s driving the ball and showing solid doubles power.  He does swing at everything but as he matures, the hope is his plate patience will improve.  Time will tell.

11. Joe Palumbo (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2019 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP
  • Tools Summary: I still think there is a back-of-the-rotation arm in there

Joe Palumbo spent most of the 2020 season at the Alternate Site but did get a couple of unimpressive innings in Texas.  Once again, he struggled to throw strikes but did show a quality fastball with a high spin rate that resulted in nice movement.  His control problems are curious as he does repeat his delivery well.  I’m guessing it’s just a small sample size and the Rangers need to give him an extended look to see what he has.  I think that opportunity should come in 2021.

12. Davis Wendzel (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: Plus power potential with a semblance of a hit tool

Davis Wendzel was a supplemental first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.  I had reports from the Alternate Site that he looked very good.  He showed plus power to all fields, showing an idea at the plate.  He’s only played in seven professional games but did play three years at Baylor.  Given his ability to hit, he could move through the system quickly.

13. Sherten Apostel (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: Plus power potential but his size could dictate a move to first base.

Apostel’s carrying tool is his plus power but he does have swing and miss in his game.  He’s currently a below-average runner and as he fills-out, his speed will likely continue to diminish.  At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, a move to first base could be in the cards.  I do believe the bat will work at first as there could be 30 plus home run power in the bat.  However, owners should temper their expectations as it could come with a .220 batting average.  He did get seven games in the Major Leagues in 2020 and struck out nearly half the time.  Since he can work a walk, his on-base percentage could add 80 to 100 points above his batting average.

14. Steele Walker (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 75 OF
  • Tools Summary:  He’s likely a fourth outfielder for a contender, but in the right situation, he could be a fantasy contributor.

Steele Walker was drafted in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft based on the impressive .352/.441/.606 stat line he produced in his junior year at Oklahoma.  He has tools, plays the game with enthusiasm, and has started to control the strike zone better.  However, in the end, I don’t see much power developing, and therefore, he’s likely a fourth outfielder on a contender.  He does have above-average speed and could steal 10 to 12 bags if given full-time at-bats.

15. Bayron Lora (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Massive raw power but with a very raw approach and significant swing and miss in the profile. 

The Rangers spent $3.9 million to sign 6-foot-5 Bayron Lora during the 2019-20 International signing period.  His carrying tool is massive raw power that he gets from his natural strength as well as impressive bat speed.  While there is 30 to 40 home run potential, there is also significant swing and miss in his game.  In listening to the evaluations, images of Miguel Sano and Jhaylin Ortiz emerge.  One, of course, has contributed to the big leagues and one is not likely to make it out of Double-A.

Now, Ortiz was not able to stay and shape, and that led to a lot of his issues.  Hopefully, Lora will be more disciplined.  He’s a gamble in a Dynasty League but if you believe he’ll hit, he should be rostered.

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