Over the past few weeks, Craig and I have been looking at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather to provide brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.
Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.
NL West: Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco
NL Central: Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, St. Louis
NL East: Atlanta, Miami, New York, Philadelphia
AL East: Baltimore, Boston, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay
AL Central: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Minnesota
AL West: Houston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle
The Rangers keep finding excellent high-ceiling prospects every year it seems, and just continue to reload constantly. They have a number of talented prospects who may be ready to contribute in the Majors right now (Profar, Olt, Perez, Martin), along with a number of other very interesting talents in the pipeline. This doesn't even include the prospects they have traded over the past few seasons in order to continue their playoff pushes. I would have to imagine that the Rangers would be at least a top 10 system in the Majors, and more likely a top 5 one.
Yu Darvish (SP), Robbie Ross (P)
AAA or Higher in 2012
These are players who reached the Rangers' Pacific Coast League affiliate in Round Rock in 2012. They will likely see time in the Majors in 2013, and could be a significant contributor there.
There's really very little to add about Profar that hasn't already been said. He is viewed as at worst one of the top 3 prospects in all of the minors at this point, and was our #1 shortstop prospect as well. If the Rangers decide to move Ian Kinsler from second base, it will assuredly be so that Profar can play there every day. Profar may see time in AAA, but it doesn't really seem like he is likely to need it. He'll provide fantasy owners with a bit of power, a bit of speed, and a high batting average. Overall, the floor on Profar is extremely high, with the potential for more as well.
Olt was ranked as our #3 third base prospect, but his path to the Majors may not necessarily include that position. With Adrian Beltre signed for another three plus seasons, Olt could be shifted to either first base or designated hitter. While not the best use of his overall value, Olt still profiles well at other positions due to his above-average power, and should also provide a decent batting average to go with it. He could see time in the Majors in 2013, but seems more likely to be up later in the season or potentially not until 2014.
Martin Perez (BBRef Statistics)
It's hard to remember sometimes that Perez still won't turn 22 until next April, and yet he was in the Majors at the end of the 2012 season. Perez has been ranked at least #31 or higher by Baseball America in each of their last three top 100 prospect rankings, and it's not hard to see why. The scouting reports on Perez have been excellent since signing, although the ceiling for Perez has dropped somewhat.
The results, however, have not really matched up with those reports in any of those seasons. He spent the 2012 season primarily at AAA Round Rock, where he struck out just 69 batters against 56 walks in 127 innings. He was called up, and threw 38 innings (25 K/15 BB, 5.45 ERA) last season.
Perez has shown glimpses that would lead us to think he can be a #2 starting pitcher, but he seems more likely at this point to end up as a mid-rotation starter. The other thing to remember is that Perez could be sent back to AAA for another full season and still would be just 23 in the following season. I think it is more likely we see Perez take hold of a rotation spot sometime in 2013, and could provide decent numbers across the categories. Long-term, I think he could slot in as a 4th or 5th fantasy starting pitcher at his peak, providing solid strikeout totals to go with above-average ratios.
Leonys Martin (BBRef Statistics)
Martin is a player that I personally have had a hard time revising my opinion on after seeing him for the first time in 2011. The player I saw then looked overmatched at the plate, flailing at pitches and completely out of sync. However, his performance in 2012 has shown what the scouts have seen, as he hit .359/.422/.610 in the Pacific Coast League with 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases in just 55 games there.
Martin missed over a month with a thumb injury, and was also with the big club for substantial periods of time as a backup. As a result, he only went to the plate 277 times all season, including just 46 in the Majors. He has shown solid power potential at time, and could potentially be a double-digit homerun and stolen base center fielder in the long-term. If he shows himself to be ready during Spring Training, we could see Martin take over the starting center field job for the Rangers.
AA in 2012
These are players who reached the Rangers' Texas League affiliate in Frisco in 2012. They could see time in the Majors in 2013, but are more likely to arrive during the 2014 season.
Buckel (pronounced Bew-kel) jumped onto the radars of many prospect writers after his 2011 season (120 K/27 BB in 96 innings at Low-A), and was moved up to High-A Myrtle Beach to start the 2012 season. He may have outdone his Low-A performance there, as he struck out 91 and walked 25 in 75 innings pitched before being promoted to AA. While his performance level came back to earth somewhat at AA, he still posted nearly a strikeout per inning in his 69 innings there.
Buckel has a bit of an unorthodox delivery, but it does not appear to be causing any issues with the performance at this point. He is viewed as having a very high floor, but not necessarily a particularly high ceiling. He seems to me like he has the potential to be an innings-eater in the Majors, providing decent numbers across the board, but nothing really elite in any of the categories.
Low-A in 2012
These are prospects who reached the Rangers' South Atlantic League affiliate in Hickory. These players could be at least 3 full seasons from reaching the Majors.
The #legend is another prospect where the tools are all there for him to potentially be a fantasy monster. He has shown above average power potential at times, although that hasn't necessarily shown in his home run totals just yet (5 last year in 74 games). The big question marks on Alfaro seem to surround how he will develop long term, as he has shown himself to be very raw behind the plate, but with the tools to potentially be solid or better behind the plate. We ranked him as our #7 catching prospect this season, and if he can play the full season in 2013, we could be looking at him as a top 5 catching prospect pretty easily.
Short Season in 2012
The prospects in this group reached one of the short season leagues as their final stop of the season. For the Rangers, this could mean the Arizona League or Northwest League.
Lewis Brinson (BBRef Statistics)
One of two first round picks by the Rangers in 2012, Brinson crushed Arizona League pitching in his debut to the tune of a .283/.345/.523 slash line with 36 extra base hits (7 HR) and 14 stolen bases in just 54 games. The Arizona League is known for being a hitters' paradise, but the performance so far matches up with a lot of the reports.
Brinson came into the draft viewed as a potential five-tool center field talent who could hit for power and provide excellent stolen base totals in the long term. Brinson seems likely to get a full season assignment to start the 2013 season, and has the potential to develop into a five category contributor if everything breaks right. We ranked Brinson as our #23 outfield prospect, and could vault into the top 15 next year if he can continue the same level of performance in 2013.
Craig wrote about Gallo during third base week, and the biggest take away for me is that Gallo has plus-plus power potential, and has already started to show that in game (22 home runs in 59 games between two levels). There are still things for Gallo to work on, as his strikeout rate is concerning even when coupled with the prodigious power and his excellent walk rate. Look for the Rangers to send Gallo to a full season league at some point in the 2013 season.
Others of Note
Rougned Odor (BBRef Statistics)
Our #7 second base prospect, Odor hit 10 home runs, stolen 19 bases, and posted a slash line of .259/.313/.400 at Low-A last season as an 18 year old. He's a prospect where the performance hasn't quite caught up to some of the scouting reports, which could make him a potentially very interesting prospect if he can maximize those tools in-game. Either way he will still be just 19 years old playing at High-A next year, and will likely be the youngest player at his level for the second straight season.
Ronald Guzman (BBRef Statistics)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, Guzman made his stateside debut in 2012 in the Arizona League as a 17 year old. He hit well, posting a .321/.374/.434 slash line with 7 stolen bases in 52 games. Guzman is viewed as a first base only prospect, which puts pressure on his bat in the long-term. That said, he has above-average power potential, and it sounds like his bat would still play at first if it develops as anticipated.
Beras was suspended until next July after it was determined by MLB that he had lied about his age, but took the unusual step of not voiding his contract at the same time. In general, there seems to be a lot of skepticism about the whole process of him being signed by the Rangers. The on-field reports on Beras seem to all point to a potential five-tool talent, but as with many international signings, just remember that he still has not played even a single game as a professional yet, and will be 18 when he does.
Grimm reached the Majors in 2012 after starting the season in AA, and could be in the hunt for a rotation spot with the 2013 team. Across all three levels, he threw 148 innings, struck out 116 and walked 33, and allowed just six home runs. He seems more likely to be sent to AAA for most of the year, but could be a nice sleeper in deeper leagues.