The Rangers have always been difficult to differentiate between solid prospects contributing to the MLB team and prospects that will sit in the organization for a long time. However, the emergence of some key players, as well as the 2021 Draft pick of Jack Leiter, really makes things a bit more interesting within the ranks.
Texas is a large payroll organization that seems to constantly rebuild. That led to them calling up several prospects in 2021, and unfortunately deeming a few of them as graduated, such as the likes of Nick Solak and Leody Taveras. However, there is a fresh batch of prospects that we can dive into, and hopefully, make you all aware of some increasingly exciting potential within the Rangers organization.
The Top 3 tiers are fairly cemented, but Tiers 4 and 5 are definitely more fluid. There is plenty of exciting talent within the Rangers’ system, but there are so many that would be deemed Tier 5 now which is very different from that of my 2021 midseason Rangers Top 50.
Here is the Prospects1500 tier system explained.
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above-average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have a high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players of interest, worth keeping an eye on, who have an outside chance of making their team’s 40-man roster
Levels listed for each player are the highest levels player reached in 2021
1. Jack Leiter, RHP, 21, College
Leiter is the number one player on the list for a reason. He enters the top of the list as the 2nd overall pick after accumulating 201 strikeouts in just 2 seasons at Vanderbilt. His elite fastball and plus secondaries make him an exciting pick for the Rangers. It will be interesting to see how he handles his workload, but he’s easily the best prospect in the organization.
122 pitches for Jack Leiter!
8 IP, 4 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 15 (!!) K
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 22, 2021
2. Josh Jung, 3B, 23, AAA
A prospect that has continued to develop strongly, Jung averaged .348 with Round Rock (AAA) and blasted 9 home runs to add to the 10 he had at Frisco (AA). He is pure power and strength and he continues to make waves throughout the organization. An advanced hitter and a solid fielder, he has the athleticism and bat to take over at 3B in the majors very soon.
3. Cole Winn, RHP, 22, AAA
Winn looked like a new pitcher in 2021. His strikeout rate was higher, he was finding the strike zone more regularly and he was hitting mid-90s regularly with his fastball. Still plenty left to unlock for him moving forward, but starting to look like the high upside pitcher they drafted back in 2018.
4. Justin Foscue, 2B, 22, AA
Foscue took to pro ball with relative ease. Hitting .296 with 14 home runs in High-A saw him swiftly moved to Double-A, where he continued to look at home. Not the most comfortable in the field, his aggressive nature adds to his ability to not strike out regularly, making him a very useful hitter. Another full season in 2022 will really show how he has adapted to pro ball.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) November 16, 2021
5. Sam Huff, C/1B, 23, AAA
Having been promoted in 2020 to the majors, Huff rejoined the minors scene in 2021 and looked comfortable in both Double-A and Triple-A. He hit 16 home runs in 2021, although a shift to 1B after his injury assignment may show where the Rangers see him in the future. He is big but agile and moves well in the field. Expect more of the same from the aggressive hitter.
6. Ezequiel Duran, 2B/SS, 22, High-A
Duran shows nothing but improvement with his production. The trade from the Yankees hardly affected his confidence or ability, adding another 7 home runs to his record with Hudson Valley to bring his total for 19 for the year. Although he can get caught out with pitches outside the zone, he showcases raw power and plenty of it.
7. Luisangel Acuna, SS/2B, 19, Low-A
Acuna picked up where he left off in the Dominican Summer League in 2019 by producing an impressive first season in pro ball. He slashed .266 with 12 home runs. Although his strikeout rate may be a bit high, he showed when he does hit the ball he can create moments of magic. He’s starting to make a name for himself, and now he’s not just the brother of Ronald anymore.
8. Josh Smith, SS, 24, AA
The second part of the Gallo trade, Smith had an impressive 2021 despite the move to Texas. He played across 3 different levels, and had an overall average of .313 for the year. Although not much of a power hitter, he regularly gets on base and creates opportunities for those further down the line-up to bring him home. He’s a consistent hitter and a threat on the bases.
9. Dustin Harris, 1B/3B, 22, High-A
Harris exploded onto the scene in 2019 and carried that form into 2021. The power-hitting corner infielder hit 10 home runs at both Low-A and High-A, as well as an overall average of .327, to conclude a successful season for him, and is looking to be a very shrewd addition from the A’s with how he has continued to impress. The 2021 Rangers’ prospect of the year has thrived in the assignments he has been given and has fully deserved the big climb from his midseason 2021 rank.
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) July 22, 2021
10. Maximo Acosta, SS, 19, Rookie (ACL)
Although he would have preferred more regular baseball in 2021, Acosta got his chance to shine in the Instructional League and got valuable game time under his belt. There wasn’t a lot to shout about in 2021 from him, but this is just the beginning of the chapter for Acosta and he remains exciting regardless.
11. Evan Carter, OF, 19, Low-A
A bit of a jump for the young outfielder but he looked at home with Down East in 2021. He managed to hit a couple of home runs and showed glimpses of the potential that the Rangers took a plunge on. Still plenty to come from him but a solid start nonetheless.
12. Aaron Zavala, OF, 21, Low-A
Drafted in 2021, Zavala started the season in the Arizona Complex League (Rookie ball) before a promotion to Down East. He certainly showcased his hit tool by averaging .302 in Low-A and could be useful as he continues his development, The hit-over-power approach certainly is different from others in the Top 10.
— Arizona Rangers (@ACLRangers) August 27, 2021
13. Davis Wendzel, 3B, 24, AAA
I’m usually quite low on Wendzel but there was something about his 2021 season that I liked. He focused on his pull power and this resulted in 6 home runs for Frisco and he finally showed some stability with playing due to past injury issues. It was the first time he was seen playing a big part of a pro ball season and hopefully if he carries on like that he will slowly rise in the ranks.
14. Yeison Morrobel, OF, 18, Rookie (DSL)
We finally got to see what Morrobel has to offer in 2021. The young outfielder looked at home in the DSL, hitting .270, picking up 8 stolen bases and showing a reserved approach at the plate. He focuses on solid contact, and regular contact, and with his projectable frame there may be more home runs to come from in moving into 2022.
15. Ronny Henriquez, RHP, 21, AA
After starting at High-A as expected, he was promoted to Frisco through the season. Despite the harder assignment, he showed glimpses of his potential. It was the most pitches he had thrown in his 4 seasons in the organization which will only help his developing arsenal and allow him more exposure to facing harder hitters.
16. Tekoah Roby, RHP, 20, Low-A
I was impressed with what Roby had to offer in 2021 with Down East. He quietly went about his business and finished with a respectable ERA of 2.45 and 35 strikeouts in 22 innings. Although not the quickest of pitchers, he has a repeatable action and works hard with his long arms that help create more distance and angle.
17. Sherten Apostel, 3B/1B, 22, AAA
Unfortunately, Apostel keeps dropping in these rankings. He can’t seem to find somewhere that produces his best. He seems to be stuck in a rut where he’s hitting for a low average (.205 in AAA) and striking out way too often. There may be some rust from making his MLB debut in 2020 so hopefully, he can start showing what he can do more regularly in 2022 with Round Rock.
18. Ricky Vanasco, RHP, 23, Low-A
Unfortunately, 2021 was another season without seeing Vanasco due to TJ Surgery in September 2020. There is plenty to like about him but there are also question marks about how he returns in 2022 due to his inexperience within pro ball.
19. Bubba Thompson, OF, 23, AA
A more consistent season followed a disappointing one in 2019. Averaging .275, Thompson hit 16 home runs despite his poor strikeout rate. He accumulated the most amount of games in a season in 2021 showcasing some of his potential that the Rangers expected.
20. Yerry Rodriguez, RHP, 24, AAA
Rodriguez continued to rise through the system consistently, although he found his assignment at Round Rock to be a lot harder than previous. He found himself as more of a reliever at AAA and this affected his rhythm and consistency, and will be looking to get back into a starting role in 2022.
21. Steele Walker, OF, 24, AAA
One of the more advanced hitters in the system, Walker started well at AA before struggling to adjust to AAA. The former White Sock had a decent output with 10 home runs at Frisco, and another 6 at Round Rock but struck out too many times in the tougher assignment.
22. David Garcia, C, 21, High-A
Garcia didn’t produce with the bat as expected but got plenty of games under his belt in 2021. 2021 was one of his biggest assignments in terms of games played and level, and he fared reasonably well without doing too much – 5 home runs and maintaining his low strikeout rate.
23. Bayron Lora, OF, 19, Rookie (DSL)
Lora had his first taste of baseball with the Rangers’ organization in 2021, striking out way too often but he managed to hit 6 home runs. His aggressive approach will have to be refined moving forward but nice to see him finally get the chance to express himself.
24. Trevor Hauver, OF/2B, 23, High-A
25. Blaine Crim, 1B, 24, AA
26. A.J. Alexy, RHP, 23, MLB
27. Glenn Otto, RHP, 25, MLB
28. Cody Bradford, LHP, 23, AA
29. Avery Weems, LHP, 24, High-A
30. Joe Palumbo, LHP, 27, AAA
31. Marcus Smith, OF, 21, Low-A
32. Demarcus Evans, RHP, 25, MLB
33. Cameron Cauley, SS, 18, Rookie (ACL)
34. Owen White, RHP, 22, Low-A
35. Zak Kent, RHP, 23, AA
36. Cole Ragans, LHP, 24, AA
37. Dylan MacLean, LHP, 19, Rookie (ACL)
38. Chris Seise, SS, 22, High-A
This is a mixed Tier for various reasons. As we get past Tier 3, there seems to be a pool of prospects that are all very similar and very interchangeable. This is the case for this particular group…..Crim, MacLean and Cauley are young with plenty of potential…..Crim followed up his impressive season by winning the Puerto Rican baseball batting title…..MacLean and Cauley both had their first seasons in pro ball, Cauley hit .255 in the ACL and MacLean struggled to really find his feet also within the ACL…Palumbo, unfortunately, finds himself sliding down the rankings, as an ERA of 13.50 came in just 6.2 innings of work, and he will really need to stay healthy in 2022…..Otto, Alexy and Evans all tasted MLB action and pitched 72.2 innings between themselves in the big leagues, none of whom eclipsed 50 IP so are all still eligible for this list…..Hauver and Smith need a bit of time to adjust after their retrospective trades, Hauver hit .246 at Hickory after his move from the Yankees and Smith .209 after his move from the Athletics.
BLAINE. CRIM.@Bcrim23 launches one over the left field wall to break up the perfect game
T5 | AMA 3, FRI 1 pic.twitter.com/vrGjWaMybl
— Frisco RoughRiders (@RidersBaseball) September 19, 2021
39. Josh Gessner, RHP, 21, Rookie (ACL)
40. Kevin Gowdy, RHP, 24, High-A
41. Keithron Moss, INF, 20, Low-A
42. Diosbel Arias, SS, 25, AA
43. Jonathan Ornelas, SS, 21, High-A
44. Emiliano Teodo, RHP, 20, Rookie (ACL)
45. Ian Moller, C, 19, Rookie (ACL)
46. Thomas Saggese, 3B, 18, Low-A
47. Antonio Cabello, OF, 20, Low-A
48. Marc Church, RHP, 20, Low-A
49. Zion Bannister, OF, 20, Rookie (ACL)
50. Yosy Galan, OF, 20, Rookie (ACL)
There is an influx of new talent within the final Tier. As with Tier 4, there seems to be a large pool of players that come and go from this Tier. To mix it up a little, I decided to add a few players that weren’t originally included in the midseason ranks to showcase this…..Saggese, Church and Cabello all performed well with Down East…..Saggese was drafted in 2020, but hit .256 with 10 home runs in his first season in pro ball…..Church had 49 strikeouts in 27.1 innings in his first season, whilst Cabello batted .208 in his first season after being traded by the Yankees…..Galan looked a strong hitter amongst the ACL Rangers team and had 10 home runs to show for it…..Teodo pitched for the first time competitively this year and looked impressive with 48 strikeouts with ACL Rangers…..Moller was an exciting pick in the latest MLB Draft and had 3 home runs in his 15 appearances in the ACL…..Ornelas looked solid in High-A, averaging .261 with 8 home runs and 9 stolen bases. He seems to be improving year after year, and his stats certainly backed that up…..Bannister struggled slightly in 2021, but it allowed him more experience with 37 games, as opposed to just 6 in 2019…..Arias and Moss had contrasting seasons, Arias slowly showing progression whilst Moss struggled with Down East in Low-A.