Texas Rangers Top 50 Prospects

Our Rangers Top 50 prospect list is here. Lone Star Dugout gives a little insight on each selection in our rankings, but we will follow up with in-depth individual scouting reports on each player throughout the remainder of the offseason, starting in descending order.

To be eligible for our prospect rankings, a player must have fewer than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, regardless of service time.

1. Martin Perez, LHP – Despite less than sparkling results, the 19-year-old continued to show a potentially dominant three-pitch repertoire while pitching the entire season at Double-A Frisco. Perez often featured a 91-95 mph fastball to go along with a promising curveball and changeup. The Venezuela native is extremely young––he doesn't turn 20 until April––but he must refine his command and consistency with all three pitches.

2. Tanner Scheppers, RHP – The hard-throwing righty projects to have two elite pitches with a 95-98 mph fastball and a sharp, big-breaking 79-82 mph curveball. Even in his starts, Scheppers' heater rarely dipped below 95 mph and topped out at 99 on several occasions. Whether the 23-year-old will eventually reside in the starting rotation or bullpen has yet to be decided, though he is expected to open the 2011 campaign as a starting pitcher.

3. Jurickson Profar, SS – Profar began earning praise for his advanced makeup and skills shortly after he signed for $1.55 million as a 16-year-old in the summer of 2009. The Rangers rewarded him with an aggressive assignment to short-season Spokane last summer, where he more than held his own. The switch-hitter has a mature feel for hitting while displaying excellent quickness, soft hands, and a strong arm at shortstop. Profar will play at Single-A Hickory as an 18-year-old in 2011.

4. Engel Beltre, CF – Arguably the most naturally gifted player in the system, Beltre flashes raw five-tool potential. The 21-year-old made significant progress in refining his tools last season, as he batted .300/.346/.410 with 18 steals between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco. He finished off the year with a .333/.366/.437 performance in the Dominican Winter League. Beltre is already a plus defender in center field due to his range and strong arm.

Erlin is extremely polished.
5. Robbie Erlin, LHP – The former third-round pick doesn't offer elite projection in his 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame, but he is about as polished as a 20-year-old high school product gets. Erlin projects as a big league starting pitcher due to his clean arm action, plus control, and refined three-pitch repertoire. The southpaw throws his fastball in the upper-80s, low-90s, touching up to 93 mph.

6. Michael Kirkman, LHP – Kirkman gained valuable experience on a world-wide stage last season by making appearances in both the ALCS and World Series. The 24-year-old has a chance to start if he refines his overall command. If not, Kirkman could be a power lefty out of the bullpen with his 91-94 mph fastball and wipeout hard slider. The Florida native also mixes in the occasional curveball and changeup.

7. Mike Olt, 3B – The UConn product quickly became Texas' top corner infield prospect after being selected with the 49th overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. While Olt must refine his hit tool, he offers staggering raw power and a good eye for the strike zone. Defensively, the former college shortstop has quick reflexes, soft hands, and a strong arm from the hot corner. He posted a .293/.390/.464 line in his debut summer at Spokane.

8. Miguel de los Santos, LHP – Texas added de los Santos to its 40-man roster after he logged an incredible 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2010. Likely to be fast-tracked as a reliever, de los Santos has a plus 91-93 mph fastball and a screwball-like changeup that rates as the system's best. His solid-average curveball has flashed plus in the past. The 22-year-old has big league stuff but will need to refine his fastball command after walking 44 batters in 70.1 innings.

9. Luis Sardinas, SS – The Venezuela native, 17, battled through an injury-plagued first season. He missed time after being hit on the hand by a pitch during Extended Spring Training and underwent shoulder surgery earlier this offseason. When healthy, Sardinas showed an advanced approach and batted .311 in rookie ball. Though not as polished as Profar, he may possess better raw tools with premium speed and elite defensive potential.

10. David Perez, RHP – The 18-year-old has as much raw potential as any prospect in the Rangers system. Perez is an intriguing projection arm because of his 6-foot-5 frame, loose arm action, and current 89-91 mph fastball that has bumped as high as 93-94. He attacks the bottom half of the zone with all three pitches. Working with the DSL Rangers last summer, Perez posted a 1.41 ERA while walking eight and fanning 68 over 70 innings.

11. Jake Skole, CF – Texas selected the two-sport standout with the 15th overall pick in last summer's draft and signed him for just over $1.5 million. Skole, who passed up an opportunity to play defensive back at Georgia Tech, has excellent athleticism and overall tools. He held his own in the college product-dominated Northwest League despite having never focused on baseball full-time. He could begin the 2011 season at Single-A Hickory.

Thompson has a plus curveball.
12. Matt Thompson, RHP – One of the system's top sleeper prospects, Thompson showed the ability to miss bats (130 strikeouts) and throw strikes (23 walks) in 129.1 innings with Hickory last season. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound hurler has a smooth delivery that produces an 88-92 mph fastball, a sharp curveball with plenty of depth, and a developing changeup. Some scouts already consider Thompson to be among the top arms in the organization.

13. Luke Jackson, RHP – The supplemental first-round pick has yet to throw an official pitch in professional baseball, but the Rangers liked his arm enough to give him a signing bonus north of $1.5 million. Jackson showed a relatively mature mid-70s curveball while he shook off the rust at Fall Instructional League in October. The hurler has a powerful arm, throwing a fastball that sat in the low-90s and touched 95-96 mph during his senior year of high school.

14. Joe Wieland, RHP – Wieland, 20, throws plenty of strikes (25 walks in 148 innings) and began to miss more bats as his hard curveball improved late last season. The 6-foot-3 righty likely doesn't have much projection left, though he should eventually sit in the low-90s with the ability to reach 94 mph on a consistent basis. Wieland has an advanced feel for pitching and should make his Double-A debut at some point in 2011.

15. Fabio Castillo, RHP – The big Dominican reliever rededicated himself to baseball––both mentally and physically––and experienced major improvements across the board in 2010. Working with more consistent mechanics, Castillo began throwing his fastball between 93-97 mph with late ride. His solid-average slider ticked into the upper-80s and can miss bats. The 21-year-old will pitch in the big leagues next season if his command continues to develop.

16. Neil Ramirez, RHP – Like Castillo, Ramirez saw his stuff and command take off during the second half last season. The starting pitcher's 90-96 mph fastball (sitting 92-93) and curveball helped him finish second in the Sally League with 142 strikeouts in 140.1 innings. Ramirez has also improved his walk rate over the last three seasons––from 15.4% to 13.4% to an excellent 6.2% in '10.

17. Robbie Ross, LHP – Ross finished his second full season by earning promotion to Double-A for the Texas League playoffs. The 5-foot-11 southpaw generates plenty of ground balls––over 2.8 groundouts per flyout last season––thanks to an 89-91 mph fastball (touching 93) with lots of late life. He issued only 37 free passes in 146 innings. Perhaps a reliever in the long run, Ross' plus fastball and potentially strong slider make him intriguing.

18. Cody Buckel, RHP – The second-round pick has drawn slight comparisons to Robbie Erlin due to his smallish frame and overall polish out of high school. Working in short relief with the rookie Surprise Rangers last summer, Buckel flashed a 92-94 mph fastball and a tight, late-breaking mid-70s curve. The 18-year-old will likely sit more in the 89-92 mph range as a starter, though his breaking ball and command should allow him to excel next season.

Alfaro has no shortage of raw power and arm strength.
19. Jorge Alfaro, C – Alfaro is very raw––as his .221/.278/.291 line in the DSL last year shows––but he has outstanding potential. The 17-year-old garnered a $1.3 million bonus last offseason––the largest ever given to a Colombian prospect. Alfaro has plenty of strength for his age and puts it to use with impressive power displays in batting practice. Still new to catching, he has present 70-grade arm strength but is learning the nuances of the position.

20. Wilmer Font, RHP – Font is expected to miss the entire 2011 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery on October 1. Now a member of Texas' 40-man roster, Font could return as a reliever, as the club may try to fast-track him to the big leagues. The big righty has a fastball that can touch the upper-90s, though he is learning to sacrifice some velocity for improved command as a starting pitcher.

21. Justin Grimm, RHP – Raw talent has never been an issue for the University of Georgia product, who commanded an $825,000 bonus as a fifth-round pick in last summer's draft. Grimm features a low-90s fastball that bumps 95 mph when starting, and he can reach higher out of the bullpen. The right-hander struggled with mechanics and secondary stuff in college but made strides during his first Fall Instructional League.

22. Eric Hurley, RHP – After missing the last two seasons with shoulder and wrist troubles, Hurley generated some optimistic buzz by posting a 1.82 ERA in six Arizona Fall League starts. The 25-year-old topped out at 94 mph on the radar gun, and his slider gained sharpness with each outing. While likely to begin next season at Triple-A, Hurley could make an impact on the big league pitching staff at some point in 2011.

23. Roman Mendez, RHP – The 20-year-old was acquired from Boston in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia deal last summer. Armed with a mid-90s fastball that touches 98 mph, Mendez has one of the highest ceilings in the organization. Both of his secondary pitches––a hard slider and changeup––flash above-average in spurts but are currently inconsistent. He has a solid 6-foot-2 frame, a quick arm, and plenty of athleticism.

24. Omar Beltre, RHP – Beltre, 29, displayed two plus pitches last summer in a 92-94 mph fastball (touching 96) and mid-80s splitter. His slider was inconsistent, as it often broke out of the hand. Despite his struggles in two big league starts, Beltre was dominant at Triple-A, where he logged a 2.65 ERA and yielded only 69 hits in 85 innings. His stuff may profile best in the bullpen, though his arm must prove it can consistently bounce back on short rest.

25. Christian Villanueva, 3B – The Mexico native missed practically the entire '09 campaign with a knee injury but responded by hitting .314/.365/.431 in the rookie Arizona League last summer. Villanueva offers an impressive package of skills at the hot corner, including advanced instincts and smooth actions. At the plate, the 19-year-old has a good-looking swing and some present strength that projects for average power.

Velazquez can show all five tools.
26. Miguel Velazquez, OF – Velazquez became a household name with a strong start at Single-A Hickory last season, but his production dipped in the second half. The 22-year-old stands out for his raw power and possesses at least solid-average tools across the board. Though Velazquez played 74 of his 119 games last season in center field, he profiles best as a corner outfielder at the upper levels. The prospect has good––but not elite––range and above-average arm strength.

27. Mason Tobin, RHP – The Rangers' Rule 5 Draft pick is an extreme long shot to stick on the big league roster after injuries limited him to only three total appearances during the last two seasons. If Tobin doesn't make the opening day roster, Texas will likely attempt to keep him in the organization via trade. The 6-foot-3 reliever works from a low three-quarters arm slot and uses a mid-90s sinker, hard slider mix.

28. Barret Loux, RHP – Perhaps the system's biggest question mark, the former sixth overall pick signed for $312,000 as a free agent. Plenty of questions surround both Loux's elbow and shoulder, though he says he's currently healthy and will pitch in Spring Training. The Texas A&M product has a four-pitch mix that includes a low-90s fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. Loux credits improved secondary stuff for his 2010 college breakout.

29. Kellin Deglan, C – Deglan, the 22nd overall pick in the 2010 draft, has all the tools to become a successful professional. The Canadian backstop has a plus arm from behind the plate and raw power potential out of a left-handed swing. He struggled after a mid-summer promotion to short-season Spokane, going 13-for-82 (.159), and may need a couple years of development at the lower levels.

30. Pedro Strop, RHP – Strop's 15 big league appearances in 2010 bordered on disastrous, producing a 10.13 ERA. However, he posted a 1.91 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 42.1 Triple-A frames and still flashes legitimate late-inning stuff. The 25-year-old uses a three-pitch mix that includes a 93-97 mph fastball, a hard splitter, and a low-80s slider. All three pitches can generate swinging strikes at times. The former shortstop must repeat his arm slot and avoid rushing his delivery.

31. Jared Hoying, OF – The Rangers believe they may have found a diamond in the rough with the 10th-round pick. A college shortstop, Hoying made the transition to the outfield this past summer, where his above-average athleticism and arm strength should play well once he adjusts. The 21-year-old has worked to fix an unorthodox swing that employs very little of his lower half, though he has outstanding hand speed that generates plus raw power.

32. Ovispo de los Santos, RHP – The reliever's heater rivals Scheppers' as tops in the Texas system. De los Santos sits between 93-98 mph, and he bumped triple digits during an outing with Spokane last year. The slider was his primary focus last season––he began throwing the pitch more often and gained trust in it. The 23-year-old could be primed for a breakout in '11 after posting strong results at Single-A Hickory last summer.

Brigham added a slider with Hickory.
33. Jake Brigham, RHP – After a poor start at High-A Bakersfield, Brigham returned to Single-A Hickory and added a slider to his repertoire. The 6-foot-3 hurler continued to show plus velocity, sitting low-90s and hitting 94-96 mph during starts. He began throwing the slider more often than the curve, as he found it easier to locate within the strike zone. Unable to master the changeup thus far, Brigham may profile best as a hard-throwing reliever with two usable breaking balls.

34. Leury Garcia, SS – Garcia has premium defensive tools, with arguably the best range and arm strength of any infielder in the system. The game still moves too fast for the 19-year-old at times––he often rushes plays, leading to 30 errors in 89 games at Hickory last season. Garcia's plus speed helped him notch 47 steals despite missing a large chunk of the season. The prospect is rarely overmatched at the plate but has limited offensive upside due to his 5-foot-7 frame.

35. Randol Rojas, RHP – The 2009 Dominican Summer League Pitcher of the Year skipped rookie ball and logged a 2.79 ERA in 15 starts at short-season Spokane last season. Rojas has a polished repertoire, with an 88-91 mph sinker, mature curveball, and average changeup. While the 6-foot-0 righty doesn't figure to add much more velocity, his pitchability and arsenal should give him an opportunity to develop as a starting pitcher.

36. Chris McGuiness, 1B – McGuiness, Boston's 13th-round pick in '09, broke out by hitting .298/.416/.504 in 78 contests at Single-A Greenville. The South Carolina native came to Texas along with Mendez in the Saltalamacchia trade. An above-average defender at first base, McGuiness has a disciplined plate approach and projects for solid-average power. He earned a promotion to Double-A Frisco for the postseason and could play there out of camp next season.

37. Tomas Telis, C – Coming off Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, Telis was limited to a full-time DH role in 2010. His bat speed suffered early in the year but appeared to be back at full-strength by season's end. The switch-hitter finished the campaign by going 29-for-70 (.414) with seven extra-base hits. An ultra-aggressive hitter, Telis covers the plate well and rarely strikes out because of his excellent hand-eye coordination.

38. Cody Eppley, RHP – The former 43rd-round pick ascended to Triple-A Oklahoma City in his second full season. Eppley's sidearm delivery and sinker-slider mix proved to be deathly on fellow righties last season––he limited them to a punchless .147/.210/.180 slash line with a 38% strikeout rate between three levels. The 25-year-old's sinker velocity climbed up to 88-92 mph during the second half. He also mixes in a sweeping upper-70s slider with the occasional changeup.

39. Santiago Chirino, 2B – Chirino's advanced skill-set draws slight comparisons to that of a young Placido Polanco. After beginning last season in rookie ball, the 19-year-old held his own in the college product-dominated Northwest League, batting .288 with 13 walks and 16 strikeouts in 39 contests. At the plate, Chirino works counts and shows a mature all-fields approach. He's a plus defender at second base due to his strong instincts and sure hands.

Boscan has an excellent changeup.
40. Wilfredo Boscan, RHP – The 21-year-old went through his share of peaks and valleys at High-A, finishing with a 4.67 ERA in 163.2 innings. Boscan, who fanned 130 while walking only 40, throws strikes with all three of his pitches. Armed with one of the organization's best changeups, Boscan hasn't yet experienced his projected velocity spike and largely works between 85-91 mph. The right-hander began to experience more success with his 69-72 mph curve in 2010.

41. Carlos Melo, RHP – Melo made massive strides in 2010, lowering his ERA from 7.09 to 3.83 while repeating the rookie Arizona League. Most likely a reliever in the long run, the 19-year-old currently works as a starter, where he flashes a 90-93 mph fastball (bumping the mid-90s) with natural life. While Melo has always possessed a powerful arm, he is beginning to harness his secondary stuff (curveball, changeup) and the mental aspect of the game.

42. Nick McBride, RHP – McBride, 19, held his own against mostly older competition at short-season Spokane, posting a 4.24 ERA and inducing nearly two groundouts per flyout in 70 frames. The 6-foot-4 hurler projects to have a plus fastball. The pitch currently works between 88-92 mph with good armside run and sink. McBride developed some confidence in a changeup during his first Extended Spring Training, and he began working with a new curveball grip late in the season.

43. Teodoro Martinez, CF – The 18-year-old's biggest enemy is his smallish frame, though the Rangers hope he's not done growing. A top-of-the-order type, Martinez is an exciting player that puts the ball in play and uses his plus speed. During his state-side debut with the Surprise Rangers, he batted .313/.357/.422 with 20 steals in 53 contests. Martinez is an advanced defender in center with good instincts and a strong arm.

44. Jose Felix, C – An excellent defender, Felix gunned down 71-of-122 (58%) attempted base stealers between the regular season, Fall League, and winterball in 2010. The 5-foot-10, 198-pound backstop has decent arm strength, but it's his smooth mechanics and quick release that stand out. Felix, 22, could develop into a defensive-minded big league backup catcher down the line.

45. Hanser Alberto, SS – The Dominican middle infielder put himself on the prospect map by topping the Dominican Summer League with a .358 average last summer. Playing the season as a 17-year-old, Alberto ranked 10th in the circuit with a .464 slugging percentage. His above-average speed helped him notch 16 steals in 19 attempts over 50 contests.

46. Zach Phillips, LHP – Phillips has continued his gradual climb up the organizational ladder in '10, reaching Triple-A and posting a 3.22 ERA in 50.1 innings. Armed with a three-pitch repertoire, Phillips profiles as a middle reliever that can pitch to both left- and right-handed batters. He has an 88-91 mph fastball and two secondary pitches––a curveball and a changeup––that flash plus at times.

It's too soon to give up on Mendonca.
47. Tom Mendonca, 3B – Mendonca's first full season was certainly disappointing––he hit .248/.331/.391 at High-A with 28 errors in 114 games at the hot corner. However, the 22-year-old has plenty of untapped potential. Mendonca has some of the best raw power and defensive tools in the Texas system. He built some much-needed momentum with a strong showing at Advanced Instructional League early in the offseason.

48. Nick Tepesch, RHP – Texas took a flier on the talented righty, selecting him in the 14th round and eventually signing him for $400,000 in last summer's MLB Draft. With a 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame and a powerful arm, Tepesch passes scouts' initial eye test with flying colors. His fastball sits in the low-90s and reaches the mid-90s. The Mizzou product will look to gain consistency with his three secondary pitches––curveball, cutter, and changeup––during his first professional season.

49. Craig Gentry, CF – Gentry has seen big league action as a reserve outfielder in each of the last two seasons. Even if the 27-year-old doesn't provide much with the bat, he can be a valuable roster piece through his plus defensive and base running skills. Gentry has excellent range and a strong arm that lets him fill in at any of the three outfield spots. The speedster also has 141 steals in 176 attempts (80%) over parts of five professional seasons.

50. Shawn Blackwell, RHP – Listed at 6-foot-5, 195-pounds and possessing an upper-80s fastball when drafted in '09, Blackwell is a projection arm that is beginning to show progress. At his best, the native Texan sits between 88-91 mph and figures to tack on more velocity as his body develops. Blackwell's big-breaking curveball looks like a future plus pitch, and the 20-year-old shows a passable feel for a changeup given his experience level.

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