Mike Ballard, LHP - Ballard's fastball – which sits in the upper-80s – may not be one of the best in the system, but he spent much of the 2007 season learning to attack hitters and pitch inside with it. The adjustment helped the southpaw reach the Double-A level in his first full season. Ballard also has an above-average curveball, which he uses as his strikeout pitch. The 23-year-old should open the 2008 season in the Double-A Frisco rotation.
Kendy Batista, RHP - A strong candidate for top 50 consideration, Batista has a big league arm. The 26-year-old native of Venezuela pitched his first season in the U.S. in 2007 and was impressive with High-A Bakersfield before earning a late-season promotion to Double-A. Batista has a 92-94 MPH sinking fastball, a good slider, and a changeup. If he is unable to stick as a starting pitcher, his hard sinker/slider combination could make him well-suited for a late-inning relief role.
Emerson Frostad, 1B - Though he had a disappointing season in 2007, it is too early to give up on Frostad. The first baseman is a good pure, line-drive hitter. When he is going well, Frostad shows the ability to drive the ball into the gaps and occasionally get one over the fence. He has spent time at catcher, third base, and first base during his time in the Rangers organization, but first base may be the best fit for him. He showed improvement defensively as the season progressed last year.
Eric Fry, OF - The club's 33rd round pick in 2006, Fry was a draft-and-follow signee just prior to the '07 Draft. The 20-year-old outfielder has a solid package of tools, including raw power and good speed. Fry, a 5-foot-10, left-handed hitter is able to play all three outfield positions, though he spent the majority of his professional debut in right field.
Craig Gentry, OF - The centerfielder is one of the system's best defenders and baserunners, but he must reach base consistently. A product of the University of Arkansas, Gentry flashed his outstanding range at both Single-A levels last year while swiping 42 bases in 52 attempts. He has decent raw power, but with a batting average that consistently sat in the .270 range last summer, Gentry will need to become more patient at the plate to stick as a leadoff hitter.
|K. Gomez is an intriguing prospect. b>|
Mauro Gomez, 1B - Gomez flashed his power with Single-A Clinton last season, as he belted 21 home runs in the extremely pitcher-friendly Midwest League. While the first baseman's power is an above-average tool, he still must refine his approach. Gomez tends to fall into a pull-happy approach and often struggles to command the strike zone. The 23-year-old should get his crack at the 360-foot centerfield fence in Bakersfield in 2008.
Jonathan Greene, C/3B - Greene arguably possesses the most power of any Rangers draft pick in 2007. The former Western Carolina Catamount split time behind the plate and at third base with Spokane and at instructs last year. Although Greene, who notched 206 professional at-bats after playing a full collegiate season, wore down towards the end of the year, he ended up with strong offensive numbers. The 22-year-old finished fourth in the Northwest League with 11 round-trippers.
Geuris Grullon, LHP - Standing 6-feet-5-inches tall, Geuris Grullon is certainly an impressive physical specimen. But the 18-year-old southpaw – who struck out 25 batters in 21 innings with the AZL Rangers last summer – struggled with his control, leading to a lofty 8.14 ERA in 13 appearances. Grullon still flashed a few moments of brilliance and has every bit the talent that higher-ranked prospects Wilmer Font and Carlos Pimentel possess.
K.C. Herren, OF - A second round pick in the 2004 Draft, Herren had failed to live up to expectations until a strong season with Single-A Clinton last year. Still just 22-years-old, Herren displayed a more mature approach and good gap power with the L-Kings, as he belted 30 doubles and 12 triples. The outfielder figures to add a bit more home run pop as he continues to develop. Herren should open the 2008 season as High-A Bakersfield's right fielder.
Andrew Laughter, RHP - The Rangers' 10th round pick in last summer's MLB Draft was extremely impressive in his debut season. Laughter posted phenomenal numbers as the closer for short-season Spokane before earning a promotion to Single-A Clinton for the playoffs. The reliever has a low-90s fastball which tops out at 93-94 MPH, a slider, and a changeup. Laughter's slider is considered his strikeout pitch. He worked to develop a two-seam fastball and changeup both during the regular season and fall instructional league.
Mitch Moreland, 1B - A product of Mississippi State, Moreland made a name for himself two summers ago when he belted 15 home runs to win the Cape Cod League Home Run Derby. But the first baseman struggled to hit for power (two home runs in 108 at-bats) in his pro debut with Spokane. Moreland underwent some swing adjustments during instructs to help him adjust to the wood bats and bring out his raw power.
|Ocampo has an excellent slider. b>|
Renny Osuna, IF - Despite hailing from Venezuela, Osuna attended New Mexico Junior College for two seasons before signing with the Rangers as a 32nd round pick in 2005. Visa issues kept the talented prospect at the club's academy in the Dominican Republic until the end of the 2006 season. Osuna is a talented hitter with some patience and the ability to take the ball the other way, but he had his struggles with short-season Spokane last summer. The versatile infielder has some pop and should take over a starting job with Single-A Clinton next year.
David Paisano, OF - Currently known as ‘the other player acquired in the Brandon McCarthy trade last offseason', Paisano will get an opportunity to make himself known in 2008. The 20-year-old joined Single-A Clinton last summer despite having no previous experience in the U.S. While Paisano struggled at the plate (he improved as the season progressed), he shined in the field. Paisano's good reads, range, and arm help make him an excellent defensive centerfielder. He also used his above-average speed to steal 20 bases in 22 attempts in 88 games with the L-Kings. Paisano will likely repeat the Midwest League with hopes of a more consistent season at the plate next year.
Manuel Pina, C - The backstop's biggest asset – his defense – may not show up in his statistics, but he made a difference in 2007. The 20-year-old has a strong, accurate arm. Pina's arm rates as the system's best behind the plate. At the plate, the Venezuelan must become more patient. Despite being a free-swinger, Pina's excellent hand-eye coordination keeps his strikeouts to a minimum. But Pina is unable to make solid contact on a lot of the pitches he swings at, leading to a high number of weakly-hit balls being put in play. The Rangers made some adjustments and worked to get Pina to shrink his strike zone during instructional league.
Tim Smith, OF - Smith flew under the radar after being picked in the seventh round of the MLB Draft, but he opened a few eyes with an impressive fall instructional league. After battling an injured hand through 23 games with the Spokane Indians, Smith won the Rangers' point system for hitting at instructs. The outfielder is a solid pure hitter with a good amount of raw power.
Emmanuel Solis, 3B - Talent has never been an issue for Solis, who signed for a reported bonus of $525,000 in 2006. The youngster made his debut in the states in 2007 and struggled with the rookie level AZL Rangers. Solis batted just .205 while striking out in one-third of his at-bats. Part of the problem – like many young hitters – was a pull-happy approach as well as a loss of plate discipline when he fell into slumps. However, the 6-foot-3 native of the Dominican Republic is just 18-years-old and possesses a tremendous amount of talent.
Glenn Swanson, LHP - The left-hander's '07 campaign was halted due to Tommy John surgery, but Swanson still has promise. With a fastball that ranges between 84-88 MPH, Swanson doesn't have the best velocity, but he consistently locates it well. The hurler also possesses a curveball and a changeup. Swanson, who missed an entire collegiate season due to elbow troubles, could benefit from the surgery in the long-run.
Matt West, IF - A positive test for performance-enhancing supplements will keep West sidelined for the first 50 games next season. Suspension issues aside, the Rangers' 2nd round pick in the 2007 Draft is a promising talent. The native Texan is a strong line-drive hitter with a chance to develop more power as his body fills out. West also has the ability to play third base, shortstop, and second base, though he will most likely be a third baseman in the long run.
Bobby Wilkins, RHP - The 6-foot-4, 225-pound right-hander was the Rangers' sixth round pick in the '07 Draft. Wilkins, who turned 18-years-old in August, works in the low-90s with his fastball, occasionally topping out around 94 MPH. He also has a curveball and a changeup. The San Diego native missed some time during his debut summer due to arm fatigue, but he was back at full-strength in time for fall instructional league. Because of the club's deep draft, Wilkins is currently flying under the radar and could break out next summer.
Johan Yan, 3B - Like so many others on this list, Yan has seemingly limitless talent but hasn't yet been able to produce the results he's capable of. The third baseman showed promise with the AZL Rangers in 2006, but was unable to handle a promotion to Spokane last summer and struggled after being sent back to rookie ball. The 19-year-old is impressive in batting practice, but often pulls off the ball during the game, leaving him susceptible to just about any breaking ball. Yan, who struck out 70 times while drawing only 12 walks in 156 at-bats in '07, must also work on refining his approach.