Top 5 Prospects for 2015: Texas Rangers by Marc Hulet March 20, 2015 This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshman contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season. In a Nutshell: The club suffered through a nightmare season in 2014 thanks to injuries but the club should be better positioned to weather the storm in 2015, thanks to the impending arrivals of a number of key prospects. The Top 5 Freshman for 2015 1. Alex Gonzalez, RHP: The Rangers first round draft pick from 2013, Gonzalez will likely open 2015 back in Double-A but he’s a spring training invitee and a strong spring could help him earn one of the first promotions to offset an injury or disappointing performance. The Rangers have some pitching depth entering the year but the starting rotation has some question marks in the No. 4 and 5 slots, as well as a couple of other arms with injury concerns. Gonzalez is fairly polished and has good command/control, which helps his average-ish fastball play up. The young hurler also gets his fair share of ground-ball outs. He has the ceiling of a No. 3 starter. 2. Ryan Rua, IF/OF: Rua continues to prove people wrong as a former 17th round draft pick. He’s not a great defender but he plays a variety of positions — both in the outfield and the infield — and may have the inside track on the left field job in 2015 based on his hitting. He opened eyes in 2013 when he (uncharacteristically) slugged 32 home runs. His power dipped to more expected levels in 2014 but he still went yard 18 times. Ria was a better overall hitter last year by making more contact, and that helped him hit more than .300 while splitting the year between Double-A and Triple-A. 3. Jorge Alfaro, C: The Rangers open the year with question marks at the catcher’s spot with Robinson Chirinos and Carlos Corporan looking to share the duties. Neither player is an everyday guy behind the dish so that could expedite the arrival of the 21-year-old Colombian prospect. Texas has never been shy about challenging prospects and Alfaro could become a star behind the dish thanks to his above-average pop. He just needs to become a little more selective. 4. Joey Gallo, 3B: It’s hard to believe there was actually some debate regarding Gallo’s professional destination prior to his selection in the draft: third base or the pitcher’s mound. He’s already become a prolific minor league slugger at the age of 21 and has 104 home runs in just 296 career games. That power comes with a trade-off, though, and he struck out 115 times in 250 at-bats after reaching Double-A and 179 times in total in 2014. He’ll probably need close to a full season in Double-A/Triple-A in 2015 but any appearance in the Majors would certainly be fascinating to watch. 5. Anthony Ranaudo RHP: Acquired late in the off-season from Boston, Ranuado was expendable for the Red Sox because of their depth on the mound. The Rangers, though, don’t have the same high-ceiling arms nearing the big league level so he was a welcomed addition. The righty has had injury issues in the past but he’s been durable over the past two seasons and could develop into a solid back-end starter for the Rangers, capable of chewing up innings as long as his shoulder holds up.