1. Neftali Feliz, RHP – Feliz's heavy upper-90s fastball, which tops out at 101 mph, may be the most dominant heater in the game. His curveball and changeup have been inconsistent over the last two years, although they appeared to be much improved during his late-season stint in the Majors, which produced a 1.74 ERA in 31 innings of work.
2. Martin Perez, LHP – At only 18 years of age, Perez has reached Double-A Frisco, and he is already considered one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in baseball. The Venezuela native throws his fastball between 92-95 mph [topping out at 96], and both his changeup and curveball should become plus big league offerings within the next year or two. Because of his delivery and dominant power stuff, he has drawn comparisons to Johan Santana.
3. Justin Smoak, 1B – The switch-hitting first baseman is one of the best pure hitters in all of the minors. Smoak easily handled the Texas League in his first full pro season [.328 average, .930 OPS] before having some struggles in Triple-A ball. While Smoak may not be ready for the Majors just yet, he projects to hit for a high average and solid power while also drawing more than his share of walks at the next level.
4. Tanner Scheppers, RHP – While working in two- and three-inning stints at the Arizona Fall League, Scheppers' fastball sat comfortably in the upper-90s, reaching as high as 99 mph at times. In addition, he has a devastating curveball to go along with a usable slider and changeup. Although he has yet to pitch in an official professional game, Scheppers projects to open the 2010 season at Double-A Frisco, and he could end the season with the Rangers.
|Ross has an excellent fastball. b>|
6. Michael Main, RHP – Main had a rough season in 2009, as command struggles and a bad viral infection limited him to just 58 innings and a 6.83 ERA at High-A Bakersfield last season. However, the 21-year-old got his low-to-mid-90s velocity back at Advanced Instructional League, and his curveball once again began to show more bite. He could move quickly if he remains healthy next year.
7. Daniel Gutierrez, RHP – The Rangers knew they were getting a pitcher with big-time talent when they acquired him from the Royals late in the '09 season, but even they may have been surprised when he ran his fastball up to 97 mph with pinpoint command during the Arizona Fall League. In addition to his great fastball, Gutierrez is armed with one of the system's best curveballs.
8. Wilmer Font, RHP – The 6-foot-4 hurler may still have a long way to go, but no pitcher made more developmental progress than Font did in 2009. The Venezuelan right-hander learned to sacrifice velocity for command–he sat between 92-95 mph last season–and he remained tough to hit while also throwing strikes with some consistency. Font's changeup also looks like it could develop into a plus pitch.
9. Mitch Moreland, 1B/OF – The former 17th round selection has certainly had his doubters along the way, but Moreland is beginning to prove that his bat can be a legitimate force in the big leagues. The Mississippi State product combined to bat .331 with 38 doubles and 16 homers between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco last season. In addition to his ability to spray hard line drives all over the field, Moreland has a selective approach that allows him to see better pitches.
10. Jurickson Profar, SS – Profar has yet to play a professional game, and his bat will remain a bit of a question mark until this summer, but his raw talent and maturity warrants a top-10 ranking. Profar has rare defensive skills with his range, soft hands, and strong arm that can hit 93 mph on the mound. He also showed to be a mature, natural leader as a 16-year-old during Fall Instructional League.
11. Pedro Strop, RHP – With a fastball that tops out in the upper-90s, a splitter that falls off the table and a hard slider, Strop has some of the most dominant raw stuff in the system–when he commands it. Although he was inconsistent in '09, the 24-year-old former shortstop showed flashes of excellence during his late-season call-up with the Rangers last season.
12. Omar Poveda, RHP – The 22-year-old just continues to gradually improve with each season. In his first year at Double-A Frisco, Poveda logged 130.1 innings and posted a 4.14 ERA. His fastball generally sat in the low-90s, his plus changeup was excellent as usual, and his curveball continued to progress. Poveda is a member of the Rangers' 40-man roster, and he could make his big league debut in 2010.
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14. Michael Kirkman, LHP – The 6-foot-4 southpaw turned heads in a hurry, when he went 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA with High-A Bakersfield to open the 2009 season. Kirkman featured a fastball that got up to 94 mph, and he began throwing his slider again for the first time in a couple of years. The prospect also had extended success in the Texas League, earning him a spot on the club's 40-man roster.
15. Blake Beavan, RHP – The stuff wasn't overpowering, but it's difficult to argue with the results. At just 20-years-old, Beavan reached Double-A Frisco and posted a 4.01 earned-run average in 89.2 innings. He proved to be a workhorse–logging 163 innings on the season–and showed excellent fastball command to go with an improving changeup.
16. Tomas Telis, C – One of the best pure hitters in the system, Telis batted .330 with 21 extra-base hits in just 53 games between the AZL Rangers and Spokane Indians last season. The 18-year-old switch-hitter's outstanding hand-eye coordination allows him to consistently put the barrel of the bat on the ball. It's not easy to walk just four times in 203 official at-bats and still bat .330 with power.
17. Guillermo Moscoso, RHP – Moscoso has been a starting pitcher throughout his minor league career, but he will likely help the Rangers as a reliever in 2010. The right-hander has a 91-93 mph fastball that features excellent late life, giving him one of the best heaters in the system. Both his breaking ball and changeup showed improvement in 2009, allowing him to post a 2.31 ERA in 70 innings with the OKC RedHawks.
18. Engel Beltre, CF – The 20-year-old is still young, and he still has five-tool potential. Beltre is an excellent defender with a strong arm, and he has lots of raw power. After batting .283 at Single-A Clinton in 2008, he hit just .227 in 84 games with High-A Bakersfield last season. Beltre must improve his overall approach at the plate before his tools allow him to shine offensively.
19. Max Ramirez, C – The 25-year-old was hampered by a pair of bad wrists in 2009, leading to a disappointing .234 batting average with just five homers at Triple-A Oklahoma City. But Ramirez's power returned during the winterball season, as he finished second in the Venezuelan League with 13 home runs. If healthy, Ramirez's right-handed bat could help the Rangers next season.
20. Joe Wieland, RHP – Despite an up-and-down season with Single-A Hickory, Wieland's raw stuff improved in 2009, including his fastball velocity, which bumped 94 mph at times. The right-hander has an advanced three-pitch arsenal, and he has an opportunity to pitch at Double-A Frisco before the 2010 season comes to a conclusion.
21. Miguel Velazquez, OF – The Puerto Rico native returned to action last summer after missing the entire 2008 season, and his outstanding acros-the-board tools were put on display. Velazquez, 21, batted .296 with 12 doubles and 11 home runs in 63 games between the AZL Rangers and Spokane Indians.
22. Matt Thompson, RHP – Armed with a 90-93 mph fastball, one of the organization's most promising curveballs, and a solid 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame, Thompson is often overlooked in a Rangers system loaded with pitching prospects. But the 19-year-old has developed rapidly since he entered the system during the summer of 2008.
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24. Jake Brigham, RHP – Although the results weren't great, Brigham's stuff took a major step forward in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. While pitching for the Hickory Crawdads, Brigham's fastball often reached the mid-90s and his curveball looked like a potential plus offering at times.
25. Ben Snyder, LHP – The Rangers picked up Snyder from the San Francisco organization in December's Rule 5 Draft, and he will have an opportunity to make the big league bullpen out of Spring Training. Snyder limited left-handed hitters to just a .146 average in Double-A last season due to his strong fastball command and plus slider.
26. Craig Gentry, CF – The former Arkansas Razorback earned a big league call-up in September as a reward for his breakout season. A speedster, Gentry swiped 49 bases in just 55 tries at Double-A Frisco last summer, and he is a phenomenal defender in center with above-average range and a strong, accurate arm.
27. Wilfredo Boscan, RHP – While he isn't flashy, the 20-year-old Boscan has one of the best changeups of any right-hander in the organization. The Venezuela native throws strikes [19 walks in 105.1 innings at Hickory] with both his changeup and sinker, but his breaking ball remains inconsistent, as he often fails to get on top of it.
28. Zach Phillips, LHP – Phillips earned a spot on the 40-man roster after posting out-of-this-world numbers between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco in '09. The lefty yielded just 46 hits in 77.2 innings while posting a 1.39 ERA. Phillips, who made the move to the bullpen, attacked the strike zone with more consistency last season, and his curveball and changeup were both extremely effective.
29. Neil Ramirez, RHP – Injuries have been an issue in each of Ramirez's first two seasons, but he still has the raw ability that made him a supplemental first-round selection in 2007. Ramirez spent much of last season developing his changeup, and his fastball ranged anywhere between 88-93 mph. Though his hard curveball was inconsistent, it still can become a plus pitch.
30. Marcus Lemon, 2B/SS – With experience at second base, shortstop and centerfield, Lemon may profile as the Rangers' utilityman of the future, but this ranking may ultimately prove to be too low. At just 21 years of age, Lemon proved he could hit advanced pitching by dominating the Arizona Fall League to the tune of a .343 average with nine extra-base hits [including four homers] in just 67 at-bats.
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32. Eric Hurley, RHP – The former top prospect and first-round selection is set to return from labrum surgery in 2010. When healthy, Hurley features a heavy low-to-mid-90s fastball, a sharp slider, and a usable changeup. He could still develop into a mid-rotation starting pitcher if his shoulder holds up down the line.
33. Chad Tracy, 1B – The son of Rockies manager Jim Tracy employed a more disciplined approach around mid-season in '09, and he posted a .322 batting average with 19 doubles, 17 homers and 61 RBI in 63 second-half contests. Tracy has bounced between three positions [catcher, left field, first base] in three full professional seasons, but his bat may be good enough to make him a solid big leaguer.
34. Kennil Gomez, RHP – One of the system's more inconsistent pitching prospects, Gomez shows flashes of electric stuff when he can command it. The 21-year-old has a low-90s fastball with filthy sink, and his slider and changeup both show potential. Righties batted just .240 against him in 2009.
35. Tom Mendonca, 3B – The former College World Series MVP has phenomenal power potential and an above-average glove at the hot corner. A left-handed hitter, Mendonca has some holes in his swing–as evidenced by his 78 strikeouts in 231 at-bats during his pro debut–but he has already proven to be receptive to coaching and open to making the necessary adjustments.
36. Carlos Pimentel, RHP – Pimentel may not have the highest ceiling in the system, but he has three well-developed pitches, and he has shown marked improvement over each of the past three seasons. The Dominican Republic native logged a 2.11 earned-run average in 55.1 second-half innings at Single-A Hickory. Pimentel has plus potential with both his curveball and changeup, and he is tough to hit when he keeps his fastball down in the zone.
37. Warner Madrigal, RHP – Despite his struggles in the big leagues, Madrigal still showed late-inning stuff with above-average command when he pitched with Triple-A Oklahoma City last season. Madrigal must become a more aggressive pitcher against big league hitters, but he still has the stuff to become a key part of the Rangers' bullpen in the future.
38. Braden Tullis, RHP – Tullis, 19, is a candidate to fly through the system because of his advanced repertoire that includes a sinker, a changeup, and a sharp slider. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound hurler is athletic and still relatively new to pitching, so he could add some velocity down the line.
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40. Robbie Erlin, LHP – Although he has logged just four professional innings, last summer's third-round pick has been impressive thus far. The Northern California native generally works in the upper-80s, low-90s, and his hard curveball looks to have definite plus potential. Erlin fanned nine batters in his four innings with the AZL Rangers last season.
41. Richard Alvarez, RHP – More of a projection prospect, the 17-year-old Alvarez's fastball currently sits at just 86-88 mph, but his curveball and changeup are both incredibly advanced pitches for his age. Alvarez was one of only a handful of 16-year-olds to play professional ball in the U.S. last summer.
42. Leury Garcia, SS – Though raw, Garcia may have the best defensive tools of any infielder in the system with his outstanding range and strong arm. At the plate, Garcia's results as an 18-year-old switch-hitter at Single-A Hickory weren't great, but he also didn't appear overwhelmed by the pitching. He should benefit greatly by repeating the league in 2010.
43. Greg Golson, CF – The Austin native was able to shorten his swing and cut down on the whiffs [still 114 in 123 games] at Triple-A Oklahoma City last summer, but his batting average and power also suffered, as he hit only .258 with two home runs. Because of Golson's incredible tools–including sprinter speed and the system's best outfield arm–the 24-year-old remains an interesting prospect.
44. Chad Bell, LHP – A popular breakout candidate for the 2010 season, Bell is a 14th-round pick who signed with the Rangers for $450,000 after a dominant showing in the Cape Cod League over the summer. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound southpaw has decent command of three pitches [fastball, curveball, changeup], but it's the advanced changeup that gives him the opportunity to fly through the system.
45. Mike Bianucci, OF – One of the most powerful hitters in the system, Bianucci used his lumberjack-like strength to sock 30 home runs in 122 games between Single-A Hickory and High-A Bakersfield last season. The former Auburn standout has an opportunity to become the Rangers' designated hitter of the future if he can reduce his swings and misses.
46. Richard Bleier, LHP – Bleier isn't going to overpower many hitters, but he constantly attacks the bottom of the strike zone with his sinker, slider, and changeup. The, who has the potential to develop three solid pitches, led the Rangers organization with 167.1 innings pitched last season. He should face a challenge at Double-A Frisco this year.
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48. Tanner Roark, RHP – One of the top performers in the Rangers' system last season, Roark combined to go 11-1 with a 3.02 earned-run average between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco. Roark's role–starting or relieving–for the future is still up in the air, but one thing is sure: his impeccable command of his 88-93 mph fastball made him nothing short of dominant in '09.
49. Andrew Doyle, RHP – The University of Oklahoma product was impressive out of the bullpen in his debut summer in '09, but he will likely move back into the starting rotation this season. Doyle is known for attacking hitters and throwing strikes with his bread-and-butter low-90s sinker. He also has a slider and a changeup in his repertoire.
50. Ruben Sierra, OF – The Rangers' sixth-round pick in last summer's draft batted just .202 with the rookie-level AZL Rangers last season, but he has outstanding raw tools across the board and showed a great deal of improvement late in the regular season and during Fall Instructional League. Sierra has plus speed, good power potential, and a strong arm in the outfield.