1. Neftali Feliz, RHP – Feliz edged out Holland by the slimmest of margins to become this year's Rangers top prospect. The 20-year-old broke out in a big way in 2008, posting a 2.69 ERA with 153 strikeouts in 127.1 innings between Single-A Clinton and Double-A Frisco. Feliz's electric fastball sat between 93-97 mph and reached 101 mph twice in his Double-A debut. With his rapidly developing changeup and curveball, Feliz could reach the Majors in 2009.
2. Derek Holland, LHP – The southpaw became one of baseball's top left-handed pitching prospects in 2008 due to his consistent mid-90s heat and development of a reliable slider. Holland, who began the season throwing 91-94 mph with Clinton, was dialing it up between 93-97 mph after his promotion to Frisco. The 22-year-old combined to go 13-1 with a 2.27 ERA between three levels in '08. He allowed only three earned runs in 46.2 innings [0.58 ERA] after his promotion to Double-A.
3. Justin Smoak, 1B – Despite having just 56 professional at-bats, Smoak is the system's top position prospect. This summer's 11th overall pick in the MLB Draft is the complete package both offensively and defensively. The switch-hitting Smoak packs plus power and good discipline from both sides of the plate in addition to his solid defensive skills at first base.
4. Elvis Andrus, SS – Andrus proved he could succeed against Double-A competition in 2008 despite being just 19-years-old for most of the season. The shortstop has outstanding tools, including plus-plus range, a plus arm, and plus speed. His bat is also beginning to develop—Andrus hit .313 after the Texas League All-Star break.
5. Michael Main, RHP – Sidelined by a rib injury for the entire first half, Main rebounded to post a 2.58 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 45.1 innings with Single-A Clinton. The 19-year-old righty is not only polished for his age, but he can also dial his fastball into the mid-90s.
|Perez could be the system's top prospect this time next year. b>|
7. Taylor Teagarden, C – Known as a defensive whiz behind the plate, Teagarden's 2008 campaign appeared to be a complete loss offensively, as he batted .211 with nine home runs in 73 games between Double- and Triple-A. But the Dallas native helped quell doubts about his bat when he hit .319 with six home runs with the Rangers in September.
8. Engel Beltre, CF – Beltre, 18, spent all of 2008 in the full-season Midwest League. He improved as the season progressed, batting .295 with five home runs and 22 stolen bases in the second half. With excellent raw power, good speed, and a great arm, the centerfielder not only has true five-tool potential, but he also has the highest ceiling of any position player in the Rangers' system.
9. Neil Ramirez, RHP – The fourth of the Rangers' five first round picks in the 2007 Draft, Ramirez could turn out to be the best of them all. The Virginia Beach native had an outstanding debut with short-season Spokane this past summer, as he held batters to a .166 average while striking out 52 in 44 innings. The 6-foot-3 hurler consistently works in the low-90s with a plus hammer curveball.
10. Julio Borbon, CF – Though he has played just one professional season, Borbon should see the Majors at some point in 2009. The centerfielder finished his 2008 campaign by batting .337 with five home runs at Double-A Frisco. Borbon, who possesses plus speed and good bat control skills, has shown improved plate discipline in the highly competitive Arizona Fall League this offseason.
11. Eric Hurley, RHP – Hurley had disappointing results with Triple-A Oklahoma in 2008, as he posted a 5.30 ERA with 15 home runs allowed in 13 starts. Still, the 23-year-old pitched relatively well in limited action for the Rangers before his season was ended with shoulder tendonitis. Despite the setbacks, Hurley's solid three-pitch mix could help him develop into a mid-rotation starter—if he succeeds at keeping the ball in the park.
12. Blake Beavan, RHP – The Irving native didn't have his mid-90s velocity in 2008, but that didn't stop him from putting up a 2.37 ERA in 121.2 innings at Single-A Clinton. Beavan, who generally worked in the 88-89 mph range, displayed excellent command of his fastball and outstanding pitchability skills in general. Look for Beavan's velocity to kick up a notch in his second full season.
13. Max Ramirez, C – Ramirez terrorized the Texas League to the tune of a .354 average and 17 home runs in just 69 games this past season. The performance helped Ramirez earn his second consecutive trip to the MLB All-Star Futures Game. The 24-year-old catcher is an excellent hitter with above-average power and plate discipline. He should compete for a spot on the Rangers' opening day roster in 2009.
14. Wilfredo Boscan, RHP – The 19-year-old posted a 9-1 record and a 3.12 ERA with short-season Spokane in his first season in the U.S. Boscan, who struck out 70 while walking just 11 in 69.1 innings, has an upper-80s, low-90s sinker to go along with an excellent changeup. Despite his lack of experience, Boscan could be the most polished of the Rangers' recent international signees.
15. Tommy Hunter, RHP – Hunter reached the Major League level in just his first full season. The big right-hander is a strike-throwing machine who possesses arguably the system's best curveball. Hunter's fastball sits in the 91-93 mph range, generally bumping 94 a handful of times per start. He spent much of the 2008 season developing his changeup, a pitch he will need in order to succeed as a big league starter.
|Poveda's curveball is developing. b>|
17. Kasey Kiker, LHP – Not wanting to jeopardize his future, the Rangers erred on the side of caution with Kiker's shoulder in 2008. Though the left-hander didn't post outstanding numbers in Bakersfield, he continued to refine his command. Kiker uses his solid curveball and changeup to complement his upper-80s, low-90s heater. He could re-gain some velocity in 2009, assuming the shoulder troubles become a thing of the past.
18. Warner Madrigal, RHP – In just his second full season of pitching, the former outfielder showed flashes of brilliance with the Rangers this past summer. Madrigal showed the potential to be a future late-inning reliever with his 90-94 mph fastball and excellent slider-splitter combination. The right-hander should play a key role in the Rangers' bullpen in 2009.
19. Joe Wieland, RHP – Wieland's performance this past summer was the best of any 2008 Rangers draft pick. The 18-year-old righty limited opposing hitters to a .200 average while going 5-1 with a 1.44 ERA in 43.2 innings for the rookie-level AZL Rangers. The pitcher's fastball currently sits in the upper-80s and low-90s, but the club expects him to add some velocity as he matures. Wieland also mixes in a curveball and a changeup.
20. Jose Vallejo, 2B – Vallejo entered 2008 with a bag of intriguing tools [speed, range, arm], but he had always failed to do one thing—hit. Though he is arguably the best [and fastest] baserunner in the system, Vallejo had never been able to reach base consistently. That changed this season, as he combined to hit .292 with 29 doubles and 11 home runs between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco. The slick-fielding second baseman also added 42 steals in 46 attempts.
21. Robbie Ross, LHP – The only player on the list yet to play a professional game, Ross is said to possess excellent command for his age. The left-hander, who signed with the Rangers for a reported $1.575 million, throws his fastball in the low-90s. He also has a promising slider and an advanced changeup. Ross is likely to begin next season with the Spokane Indians.
22. Clark Murphy, 1B – The Rangers' fifth round pick in the 2008 Draft was said to be raw, but he certainly didn't show it in his debut. Though he was drafted as an outfielder, Murphy played first base for the AZL Rangers while batting .358 with 11 extra-base hits in 95 at-bats. The left-hander not only has impressive raw power, but he also appears to be a well-disciplined hitter for his young age.
23. Tim Murphy, LHP – Tim, no relation to Clark, was the club's third round pick in the 2008 Draft. The 21-year-old southpaw proved to be polished despite focusing solely on pitching for just one year at UCLA. Murphy compiled a 2.83 ERA while surrendering only 29 hits in 47.1 innings between Spokane and Clinton. His polish, low-90s fastball, and good curveball all make him comparable to 2007 draft pick Tommy Hunter.
24. Mitch Moreland, 1B/LHP – Moreland is a rare athlete. It's not often that a player can bat .324 with 59 extra-base hits in a pitcher-friendly league, yet still not convince an organization that he's best suited as a position player. Though Moreland made the necessary adjustments to his swing and conquered the Midwest League, the Rangers had the left-hander—who throws in the low-90s—go to instructs solely as a pitcher. He is likely to remain a position player in 2009, but he could see some action on the mound as well.
|Pimentel had excellent results in Spokane. b>|
26. John Mayberry, OF – Mayberry got off to an excellent start in Triple-A [.311 in his first 219 at-bats] before stumbling late [.216 in his last 218]. The 6-foot-6 Stanford product still has his light-tower power—and he continued to cut down on his strikeouts—but he is still an inconsistent hitter. The 24-year-old Mayberry could be added to the Rangers' 40-man roster in order to protect him from this offseason's Rule 5 Draft.
27. Thomas Diamond, RHP –Coming off Tommy John surgery in 2008, Diamond's stats don't tell the entire story. Diamond tried to come back with bone spurs in his ankle—an issue that was fixed after minor surgery in August. The big 25-year-old possesses a good fastball-changeup combination, but in the past, he had lacked a reliable breaking pitch. That changed this past summer, as Diamond came back throwing a big-breaking curveball that showed plus potential. A healthy Diamond could burst back on to the scene in 2009.
28. Wilmer Font, RHP – Font, 18, missed nearly all of the 2008 season with a shoulder injury. The 6-foot-4 hurler is very raw, but he is one of the system's most naturally gifted players. Font, who stands 6-foot-4, throws serious gas, with his fastball ranging anywhere between 90-99 mph. His curveball and changeup have shown potential at times despite being in the early development stages.
29. Kyle Ocampo, RHP – Ocampo, who signed for $250,000 as a 13th round pick in the 2007 Draft, made his pro debut this past summer. The right-hander was impressive, sitting between 90-93 mph with good life on his fastball while flashing a slider that showed definite plus potential. Ocampo is also working to develop a curveball and a changeup.
30. Marcus Lemon, IF – Lemon has played shortstop since joining the organization in 2006, but he shifted to second base at instructs this fall. It is unclear which position he will focus on in 2009. The 20-year-old broke out offensively at the High-A level this past season, batting .295 with 42 extra-base hits. Lemon should begin next season with Double-A Frisco.
31. Doug Mathis, RHP – Shortly after his first big league stint, Mathis had relatively minor shoulder issues that lingered until the season ended. With his four pitch repertoire – which includes an upper-80s, low-90s sinker – Mathis could develop into a solid back-of-the-rotation starter.
32. John Whittleman, 3B – Whittleman led the California League in walks  despite having nearly 100 fewer at-bats than runner-up Eric Sogard. But the third baseman was inconsistent on the whole, batting .257 with seven homers in Bakersfield. Whittleman did show some of his offensive potential after a late-season promotion to Frisco. The Houston native is just 21-years-old, but he must shake off a dreadful Fall League performance [4-for-47] when he returns to Frisco next season.
|Laughter is one of the system's best relief prospects. b>|
34. Tomas Telis, C – Don't be fooled by his listed physical stats at 5-foot-8, 175-pounds—Telis' body has already filled out quite a bit since he signed as a 16-year-old last summer. Now 17, the switch-hitting catcher had an outstanding professional debut in the Dominican Summer League. Telis has superb hand-eye coordination and extremely advanced plate discipline for his age. He should make his U.S. debut with the AZL Rangers in 2009.
35. Beau Jones, LHP – Jones excelled after making a permanent move to the bullpen in June, posting a 1.11 ERA in 24.1 relief innings with High-A Bakersfield. The 22-year-old continued to excel after being promoted to Double-A. A left-hander, Jones has the ability to effectively throw three pitches—an upper-80s, low-90s fastball, a curveball, and a changeup—in any count.
36. Matt West, 3B – Though the Houston native didn't post eye-popping stats with Spokane [he hit .258 with four home runs in 67 games], he showed a great deal of potential. The Rangers' second round pick in the 2007 Draft, West figures to develop his raw power as he moves up the organizational ladder.
37. Jacob Brigham, RHP – Because he missed the 2008 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Brigham is often forgotten. But he still has one of the system's best arms. The 20-year-old hurler worked between 90-95 mph with short-season Spokane in 2007. He also uses a big-breaking curveball and a changeup. Brigham should be ready to go when spring training breaks next season.
38. Joaquin Arias, IF – Questions still remain about Arias' troubled shoulder, which relegated him to second base for much of the 2008 season, but he performed well at the plate. The former Yankees prospect batted .296 with a career-high seven home runs for Triple-A Oklahoma before hitting .291 in 110 at-bats for the Rangers. While Arias may never be an everyday player in the Majors, he could be an extremely valuable utilityman.
39. Kennil Gomez, RHP – A mid-season shoulder problem marked the end of an otherwise outstanding season for the 20-year-old. Despite entering the season with just 34.1 professional innings, Gomez opened with Single-A Clinton and went 8-4 with a 2.97 ERA. The righty, who throws in the low-90s, works with a good sinker-slider combination.
40. John Bannister, RHP – Coming off Tommy John surgery, Bannister gained strength as the year progressed. After a disastrous late-April stint in Double-A, Bannister went back to Bakersfield and moved to the bullpen. The switch benefited him greatly, and he returned to Frisco in August to post a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings. The big 24-year-old flashes a 92-96 mph fastball while showing good command of a hard curveball.
41. Cristian Santana, C/OF – With 121 strikeouts in 328 at-bats at Single-A Clinton, Santana proved to be even more raw than most people thought. The 19-year-old struggled with pitch recognition all season long, but his enormous raw power was still evident at times. Santana, who entered the 2008 campaign with just 121 professional at-bats, still has plenty of time to develop. It is unclear whether he will remain in the outfield or eventually return behind the plate full-time.
42. Brennan Garr, RHP – Shoulder issues caused an early season DL trip and a rough start for the reliever, but he rebounded nicely to post a strong season with Frisco. With his fastball sitting from 91-94 mph, Garr had a 2.70 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 20 second-half innings. He also features a hard slurve and an improving changeup, both of which can be swing-and-miss pitches.
43. Fabio Castillo, RHP – Castillo struggled in adjusting to full-season ball in 2008. The 19-year-old saw his velocity fluctuate greatly [from the low-80s to the low-90s] while moving between the rotation and the bullpen. But Castillo's season wasn't as disastrous as it seems. He still worked in the low-90s – touching 94 mph – at times while showing excellent life on his fastball. He also has a decent slider, which sits at 83-85 mph when he's going well.
44. Chad Tracy, 1B – The catcher-turned-outfielder-turned-first baseman batted .318 with 21 doubles and 12 home runs over his final 233 at-bats in Bakersfield. He continued the streak after a promotion to Double-A, hitting .344 in 24 games with Frisco. The Rangers' third round pick in the 2006 Draft, Tracy is an all-around solid hitter that must prove his phenomenal second half was no fluke.
|Ortiz excelled as a 17-year-old in Clinton. b>|
46. Zach Phillips, LHP – With a 5.54 ERA, Phillips struggled to adjust to the High-A California League. However, the lefty's plus curveball and promising changeup make him worth keeping an eye on. Phillips could benefit from a mechanical change the Rangers made in instructs designed to smooth out his delivery.
47. Michael Schlact, RHP – Schlact is another talented arm that struggled statistically in 2008. The 6-foot-8 right-hander got off to a strong start and finished well, but a dreadful mid-season stretch [8.44 ERA in July] put quite a dent in his overall numbers. The 22-year-old works with a heavy low-90s sinker and a much-improved slider.
48. Renny Osuna, IF – Osuna's solid plate discipline and opposite-field approach helped him bat .360 in 68 games with Single-A Clinton in 2008. The 23-year-old lost much of his power after a mid-season promotion to Bakersfield, but he was still able to hit .317. Osuna's advanced approach—coupled with his ability to play second base, shortstop, and third base—make him a potential Major League utilityman.
49. Leonel De Los Santos, C – Nicknamed ‘Macumba' [meaning magic] because of his plus-plus arm, De Los Santos has the tools to become an excellent defensive catcher. Though his skills are raw across the board, the 19-year-old has some potential as a hitter and he has already begun to develop some raw power as his body fills out.
50. Tim Smith, OF – The 22-year-old held his own in the Midwest League, batting .300 with 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases. Smith began to tap into his raw power with 11 second-half home runs, including seven in August alone. The outfielder is a candidate to break out in the hitter-friendly California League next summer.