Welcome back to my annual off-season series that has a quick-and-dirty review of all 30 minor league systems around baseball. This feature began way back in 2008.
The Texas Rangers
If you were perusing the series back in late 2013, you would have read this:
The Sleeper: Odubel Herrera, 2B: An offensive-minded infielder, Herrera impressed me with his offensive potential in 2012. Unfortunately, he found Double-A to be more of a challenge and the 21-year-old finished the year back in High-A ball after being passed on the depth chart by fellow middle infield prospects Odor and Luis Sardinas. The 2014 season will be a key one for Herrera, who needs to avoid getting completely lost in the shuffle.
Now on to the new stuff:
First Taste of The Show: Ronald Guzman, 1B: The Rangers invested quite heavily in both Nomar Mazara and Guzman during the 2011 international free agency and both made good on their potential… with Guzman taking a little longer to develop. He has a huge frame that generates significant raw power but struggles to reach that pop in game situations. He’s still polishing his eye at plate and produced a modest 33-121 BB-K rate in his big league debut.
The Draft Pick: Cole Winn, RHP: I wasn’t as big on Winn as others leading up to the draft and preferred prep arms such as Mason Denaburg, Lenny Torres, J.T. Ginn, and Gunnar Hoglund. But the Rangers were happy to get him with the 15th overall selection and he’s considered a potential quick mover with a four-pitch mix. I’ve warmed up to him a little bit now and think his delivery looks a little smoother since signing with the potential for better command/control. I also like the breaking stuff he showed at instructs.
The Riser: Tyler Phillips, RHP: Phillips doesn’t have a huge ceiling but as a former 16th round pick, he’s come a long way as a potential innings-eating No. 4 starter. His BB-K of 14-124 in low-A ball highlights his plus control but he still has a ways to go with his fastball command. A former cold weather prospect, his secondary stuff still needs a significant amount of polish but flash average potential. His fastball works in the low-90s and he might find a couple more ticks if he utilized his legs more in his delivery.
The Fallen: Cole Ragans, LHP and Chris Seise, SS: Both young players lost valuable development time in 2018 due to significant injuries. Ragans underwent Tommy John surgery, while Seise injured his shoulder and had rotator cuff repairs. I’m most concerned for the latter prospect given the severity of the injury to his throwing shoulder, the lengthy rehab required and the impact it can also have to his hitting. Prior to the injury, he showed plus potential in the field, good speed and raw-but-promising potential at the plate.
The 2019 Contributor: Brock Burke, LHP: A great pick-up out of the loaded Rays system, this may be one pitcher that Tampa Bay will regret letting go. He has a chance to have two plus pitches and a third average offering while chewing up lots of innings as a mid-rotation starter. Burke has good control and has shown that ability to generate ground-balls, which will serve him well in this homer-happy era.
The 2019 Sleeper: Jordan Romano, RHP: An odd sleeper pick for a guy that might spend the year in the Majors, but Romano is an intriguing Rule 5 pick out of the Jays system. I think his old org may have really missed the boat here. Now don’t get me wrong. I think he’s a stretch to be an impact big league starter but might really take off as a reliever. Romano, 25, struggles with his fastball command but he can hit the mid-90s with an excellent slider. I could see him getting up to the upper 90s in shorter stints.
The 2019 Lottery Ticket: Jonathan Ornelas, 3B: Ornelas could go down as a massive third round steal if he continues to show the hitting acumen that he displayed in his debut at the rookie ball level. He’ll need to develop a good balance between his hit and power tools as it’s his aggressive swing that generates the pop, rather than raw strength. Known for being aggressive with their player development, I think it would behoove the Rangers to be patient with Ornelas and give him a year in extended spring training before unleashing him onto full-season ball.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.