It has been a summer of uncertainty, both on and off the baseball diamond. There was much excitement surrounding the Texas Rangers’ 2020 season, with hopes of a competitive team playing meaningful baseball into the late summer. At the very least, the young talent would get another year of development. Sadly, this is not the way things have played out. The season was put on hold in the middle of Spring Training, and on June 30, the dreaded news that the MiLB season had been postponed broke. With MLB returning, there is some sense of normalcy back in our lives as baseball fans (for now…), and a 60 game sprint leaves all 30 teams as contenders.
There will be no minor leagues this summer, but that does not leave us without names to look forward to seeing in 2021, and perhaps even sooner in this abbreviated sprint to a championship. These are 10 names you should keep an eye on in the Rangers farm system. The first 5 names are Casey Krish’s (@CaseyKrish) players to watch, while the second half of names are the five Jake Tweedie (@MLBUKAnalysis1) wants to put the spotlight on.
Josh Jung, 3B (CK)
My top rated player in my Texas Rangers Preseason Top 50. There is little shock that he is on this list, and if you are unaware of Jung’s name at this point in time, then you must be brand new to the sport. The Rangers first round pick from a year ago is going to sit at the top of any list regarding this system. I was hoping to see him move through the system quickly this season – perhaps challenging to get some significant playing time in 2021. Without getting any games under his belt this season, it might be more of a stretch, but I don’t think the lost season will stall his development significantly.
Sam Huff, C (CK)
Huff is another name that should clock in on any top 10 list throughout the system. Huff had a stellar season behind the plate last year, hitting .278 and mashing 28 home runs as a member of Hickory and Down East. He has a big frame, and at 6’4, I have some questions as to whether or not he is destined to remain behind the plate forever. With that being said, I would rate Huff as a slightly above average catcher defensively. In the few in-person looks I got at him, I wasn’t blown away with the defense, but he can stick there and be comfortable. The bat is the most impressive part of his game, and I was anxious to see if he can repeat those numbers in 2020.
Randy Florentino, C/1B (CK)
Florentino just turned 20 earlier in July, so make no mistake that he could still be a few years away from making an impact at the highest level. I am high on this kid, however I would still like to see another year out of him before putting him up in the upper tiers of the system. He is young, so it is hard to judge what the future holds for him. He certainly knows how to get on base, which is a plus for a kid that age. The only thing left for him to do is prove it at the full season level.
Bubba Thompson, OF (CK)
Bubba was a guy I was rooting to have a bounce back season, whether that have been returning to the Wood Ducks or making the jump to AA. Thompson at one point in his career was considered to be the top prospect in the system, but has struggled to hit since his promotion to High-A ball. Thompson is coming off a .178 season in which he struck out in nearly a third of his at bats. There is still time for him to bounce back, but with losing all of this season to the pandemic, his window in 2021 might be even smaller.
Demarcus Evans, LHP (CK)
Evans is a personal favorite of mine. I saw him a few years back in Hickory, and boy did his fastball explode out of his hands. He was a nominee to be the Prospects1500 Relief Pitching Prospect of the Year last season and his numbers certainly lead you to see why. He pitched to a sub-1.00 ERA while pitching in 37.2 innings of work last year. Don’t be surprised if Evans gets a shot near the back of the bullpen in this shortened Major League season.
Heriberto Hernandez, OF/1B/C (JT)
One of the underrated batters of 2019, Hernandez slashed a .343/.433/.646 line with 11 HR and 48 RBI, before a late call-up to Spokane Indians. Although defensively he hasn’t found his true home, he makes up for this with his huge offensive ceiling. He barrels the ball cleanly, with solid exit velocities, whilst maintaining an aggressive batting approach. If he can lock down one defensive position then he has the ability to become one of the Rangers’ most exciting prospects.
Justin Foscue, 2B (JT)
Signed with the 1st round pick by the Rangers, Foscue demonstrates decent projectability with his solid power and high Baseball IQ. Although defensively he is seen as being average, he has the intelligence and the accuracy to produce plays, as well as being able to switch between 2B and 3B. The most emphasis, however, is on his hitting. He adjusted his swing between freshman and sophomore that led from 3 HR and an average of .241 to 14 HR and an average of .331. He continued this in a shortened 2020 season by averaging .321 with 2 HR in just 16 appearances.
Tekoah Roby, RHP (JT)
Picked in the 3rd round of the 2020 Draft, the 19-year-old righty has an intriguing 3-pitch mix and ability to pick up consistent strikes. He can sometimes lack control, especially when facing left-handed batters, but his fast arm action and the way he generates power through his body can be a real threat. Whilst he isn’t the quickest with his fastball, sitting low-90s, the way he complements this with his down-breaking curveball shows real potential. He would need to work on his changeup to allow it to catch up with his fastball/curveball combo, but his age and projection should enable him to improve his command and velocity.
Tyreque Reed, 1B (JT)
An underrated player with good potential, Reed hit 18 HR for the second season in a row, whilst picking up 67 RBI across A and A advanced. Solidly built at 6’1″ and weighing 250 lbs, he uses his power to consistently hit XBH. Drafted in 2017, he exploded out of the gates with an average of .350 with 20 XBH at Rookie level, before being promoted to Hickory Crawdads in 2018. Another solid season saw his with Down East Wood Ducks for 2019, but he couldn’t quite replicate the 2018 form. After being brought back down to Hickory, he regained his form and hit 30 XBH in 64 games, alongside an average of .282. Certainly, a player to keep an eye on when Minor League Baseball resumes.
Leody Taveras, OF (JT)
Where to start with this talented switch-hitter? He made the Rangers’ Opening Day roster and showed his offensive upside with 32 XBH and 32 stolen bases in 2019. There will need to be work to make both sides of the plate as effective as one another, but his ability against RHP has been standout. He has hit all 19 HR against RHP and has consistently made solid contact with the ball. It will be interesting to see how the Rangers utilize him in 2020, but his offensive qualities alongside his solid defensive abilities make him a player that could be used to change games in a shortened 2020 season.