A Minor Review of 2017: Texas Rangers

The Rangers had an impressive 2017 draft and feature an intriguing collection of talented players — especially in the low minors.

The Graduate: Jose Leclerc, RHP: The Rangers are known for churning out young, high-impact players but that wasn’t the case in 2017 with Leclerc as the top rookie with a 0.2 WAR. He showed swing-and-miss stuff with a strikeout rate of 11.82 K/9 but he also walked almost eight batters per nine innings. He predominantly relies on a fastball-changeup combo but mixes in a few other offerings and his slider shows some potential. He put a lot of batters on base — mainly due to the free pass — but was difficult to hit and allowed just 23 base knocks. If he can find a way to locate the plate more consistently then he could be a very dominating pitcher.

First Taste of The Show: Willie Calhoun, 2B/LF: Acquired from the Dodgers in the Yu Darvish swap, Calhoun has a chance to develop into an impact hitter. Unfortunately, he carries almost zero defensive value and will quite likely move off second base when he settles into a permanent big league role. He’s Jose-Altuve-sized but easily generates the power to slug 20+ homers in the Majors. He also makes a lot of contact and doesn’t strike out much which could help him eventually hit for average. He should end up in left field or spend time at designated hitter. Look for him to battle for a starting role in spring 2018.

The Stud: Leody Taveras, OF: This young outfielder has true five-tool potential and could eventually develop into a 20-20 (HR-SB) threat. He’s also a switch-hitter and plays a very good center field. Just 19, he held his own in full-season ball as an 18 year old and could reach double-A in 2018 if he continues to follow his current development path. In truth, though, the club has a lot of outfield depth so there’s not a lot of reason to rush him.

The Draft Pick: Bubba Thompson, OF: Thompson, 19, has some exciting tools with a strong arm and ability to play center field. He also has impact speed that he’s still learning to use on the base paths. His in-game power is currently average at best but he’s starting to tap into more pop and has a frame that suggests more is to come. His time playing high school football may have slowed down his development on the baseball diamond but he could move quickly now that he’s focusing on just one sport. Look for him to open 2018 in full-season, low-A ball.

The Riser: Cole Ragans, LHP: A 2016 first round pick, Ragans opened the year in extended spring training and moved up to short-season ball in June. He has a great pitcher’s frame and has the potential to develop three better-than-average offerings — fastball, curveball, changeup. He has the frame to suggest he could eventually sit in the mid-90s with his heater once he adds some more muscle. He has No. 2/3 starter potential and should move up to low-A ball in 2018 where the Rangers will field a very prospect-heavy team.

The Sleeper: Pedro Gonzalez, OF: Rangers fans are probably still getting familiarized with Gonzalez, who came over from the Rockies in the Jonathan Lucroy trade. In truth, he was an outstanding return to the veteran catcher and could be an impact player if he continues to develop. Just 19. he already stands 6-5 so it could take some extra time for him to learn how to effective control his long levers. I foresee 20+ homer potential for Gonzalez, who should open 2018 in low-A ball with Bubba Thompson.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Joe Donmember
6 years ago

Thanks for this. I’m not a fantasy player, but it’s nice to read something positive about my team at FanGraphs.