Jon Daniels continues to reload even after promoting most of the high-end talent developed in the Rangers farm system. Their Top 10 list is flush with young, high-upside talent as well as players ready to contribute to the MLB club in 2018. This off-season the club has filled up many of the pitching vacancies that looked like they may go to some of the young power arms ready to make the jump. Matt Moore, Doug Fister, and Mike Minor will fill the back-end of the rotation and are all low-risk acquisitions that could provide huge returns.
The offense is in terrific shape, with 4 under-30 studs in Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara, and Elvis Andrus leading the way and top prospects Willie Calhoun and Ronald Guzman ready to step in to fill the clubs most pressing needs. This Top 10 list is one dynasty owners should grow intimately familiar with - only two Top 100 prospects, but 6-7 others capable of making the Top 100 in the coming years and all with relatively low hype surrounding them.
- Willie Calhoun - 2B/OF
- Leody Taveras - OF
- Cole Ragans - LHP
- Yohander Mendez - LHP
- Ronald Guzman - 1B
- Bubba Thompson - OF
- Hans Crouse - RHP
- Chris Seise - SS
- Anderson Tejeda - SS
- Danny Drullard - OF
1) Willie Calhoun - 2B/OF
Admittedly, I was a skeptic after Calhoun’s 27 HR performance in the Texas League during 2016. I didn’t buy the power surge and questioned his OBP skills and how they would translate at the higher levels. I’m a believer now and really like Calhoun’s prospects with the Texas Rangers. He came over in the Yu Darvish trade and even received a brief cup of coffee in 2017. Calhoun is worthy of being drafted in re-draft leagues and should be on the early radar for Rookie of the Year given his offensive profile.
Calhoun moved to the OF in his trade to the Rangers, but his role is not clear heading into the season. Some sort of DH/Corner Outfield platoon looks to be in store and if any of these Jurickson Profar trade rumors materialize, that’s one less bat off the bench to compete with. I believe Calhoun will carve out a full-time role by season’s end and is a wise investment in dynasty leagues. Calhoun went #9 overall in a recent minor league dynasty draft.
2) Leody Taveras - OF
Taveras was extremely impressive in a full season at Single-A at 18 years old. The stats aren’t overwhelming, but the underlying skills were clearly on display. Taveras carries a bit of risk and requires a few years of development before paying any dividends in dynasty formats, but the upside is a 20-20 contributor in the top of the Texas Rangers lineup. Taveras plays a great CF so he has the floor of a fourth outfield type in the event the power never comes around, but hopefully we get to see much, much more from this kid.
I took Taveras 29th overall in my minor league dynasty draft, and it was admittedly a reach. I didn’t feel like taking an arm that early, and figured the upside was worth the risk. He should reach AA in 2018 and could be in position for a big league job by the time he turns 21. Taveras is one of my favorite bets to jump into a Top 10 prospect status for next off-season.
3) Cole Ragans - LHP
2017 was the first full season for the Rangers 2016 1st round pick and Cole Ragans looked awesome. A high school draft pick, Ragans held his own in short-season ball at 19 years old and flashed huge strikeout potential. He’s the type of pitching prospect I drool over - a lefty with plus fastball/changeup combo, Ragans is a serviceable curveball away from being all over Top 100 prospect rankings.
At 6’4” Ragans has the build of a future workhorse. I have him as one of my biggest risers in 2018 and am buying all the Ragans shares I can before he takes off. I would be surprised to see him on any pre-season lists, but he should start gathering buzz if he puts up similar strikeout numbers in A-ball this year. I’m not concerned yet about his high walk rates - many tall pitchers take longer to grow into their bodies and learn how to consistently maintain control every pitch.
4) Yohander Mendez - LHP
Mendez has 15.1 innings of big league relief experience under his belt and should find some time in the Texas rotation in 2018. Mendez was rated the top prospect on some lists before last season and has been passed by other big moves in the system. The future is still bright for this southpaw, and his proximity to the big leauges makes him an attractive prospect in dynasty formats. Mendez projects to a solid #3 starter and will eventually be relevant in all fantasy formats.
Mendez features a plus fastball and plus changeup with a developing slider and fringe curveball. If he can develop a consistent breaking pitch, he will solidify his future as a piece in the rotation, but his two plus-pitches insure him a floor as a reliever. I’m very curious to see how Mendez is used next year, and a start in AAA looks to be the most likely scenario.
5) Ronald Guzman - 1B
It has been a deliberate progression through the minors for Ronald Guzman, but he has proven himself at every level. His bat has carried the weight since he moved to a 1B-only prospect, and he’s another top prospect that should force his way into the scene in 2018. Beltre is signed through the end of 2018 and Joey Gallo is capable of sliding over to 3B, so don’t be surprised to see Guzman at 1B for the Rangers in 2019.
Guzman isn’t a prototypical slugger and likely isn’t going to top 25 HRs with much consistency, but he’s a high AVG and high OBP profile that fits both batting 2nd in the lineup or down in the middle of the order. He’s strangely the perfect inverse of Joey Gallo. Guzman has gone undrafted in over 100 picks so far in a minor league dynasty draft, and I expect him to be on the outside looking in to most Top 100 prospect lists.
6) Bubba Thompson - OF
The Rangers 2017 1st Round draft pick, Bubba Thompson is a toolsy, high school outfielder with intriguing power-speed upside. Thompson was a two-sport athlete in high school, and his development could take off now that he’s focusing solely on baseball. It was only a small sample size of 123 PAs in 2017, but scouting reports say Thompson has game-changing speed that should translate to SBs, and 6’2” frame hints at growing power as he matures.
The risk with Thompson is similar to all raw high school prospects. There are contact concerns that must be eased and his approach will need to be refined, but given his youth it is difficult to hold any of that against him. Thompson is still 3+ years away from breaking into an everyday role, but the upside is there to make him rosterable in most standard dynasty formats.
7) Hans Crouse - RHP
The Rangers 2nd Round pick in 2017, Crouse had a short 20 inning preview and struck out an insane 40% of batters faced. Crouse has a huge fastball and projectable breaking pitch, but lacks a changeup or third pitch to solidify his future as a starter. Working against his projection as an SP is his high-effort delivery. Crouse already looks like a future stud closer, but expect the Rangers to give him all the opportunity to make it as a starter. Crouse is worth a flier in dynasty formats because he has the floor of a future stud reliever, and there’s a chance he develops a third pitch and his delivery holds up and allows him to be a high-strikeout SP.
Chris Seise - SS
Another 2017 1st Round draft pick, Seise is a glove-first high school shortstop. At 6’2” 175 lbs, there’s a real chance Seise outgrows the position, but his athleticism plays currently and he’s a strong defender at SS and would be plus-plus if he moves to 3B. The question for Seise is his bat, and whether it can even be valuable if he sticks at SS. He’s had contact issues so far in his career, and he really struggled in an early promotion to short-season league. I expect him to repeat short-season ball in 2018, and if the bat shows progress, expect Seise to grab some buzz because he’s a stud athlete that will stay on the prospect radar with his glove alone.
Anderson Tejeda - SS
Tejeda received some love as the #95 prospect for Baseball Prospectus heading into 2017, but he didn’t do any favors for his stock heading into 2018. Tejeda’s contact issues carried into this year, and while I think there’s power potential to make Tejeda a real fantasy asset, I’m not sure he’ll make enough contact to let that power play in the upper minors and major leagues. I love the plate discipline Tejeda has displayed through his contact struggles, which leaves me optimistic of Tejeda being able to improve his stock in 2018.
Danny Drullard - OF
Drullard wasn’t the premier July 2nd signing, but he certainly had the most impressive debut in 2017. Drullard flashed power, speed, and discipline in a short 200 PA appearance. He’s already 6’1 at 17 years old and if he continues to grow, could become more of a power profile than power-speed, but the maturity he’s shown so far in his brief professional career has him on my radar for dynasty draft fliers.
Chad Smith - 1B/OF
Miguel Aparicio - OF
Ariel Jurando - RHP
Tyler Phillips - RHP
Darel Torres - RHP
Carlos Naveda - RHP
Clayton Blackburn - RHP
What do you think? Any other prospects that need to be on the radar for fantasy owners this season? Leave a comment below or don’t hesitate to reach out via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter