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|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Joey Gallo, 3b|
|2. Jake Thompson, rhp|
|3. Jorge Alfaro, c|
|4. Nomar Mazara, of|
|5. Nick Williams, of|
|6. Alex Gonzalez, rhp|
|7. Luis Sardinas, ss/2b|
|8. Ryan Rua, of/3b|
|9. Luis Ortiz, rhp|
|10. Josh Morgan, ss/2b|
He didn’t get his wish, but it was otherwise as disastrous a season as possible for the Rangers, who finished with the third-worst record in baseball at 67-95. It was the franchise’s worst winning percentage since 1985 and ended a run of four straight 90-win seasons.
Injuries demolished any hope the Rangers held for 2014. Starters Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez each missed most or all of the season with injury, as did righthander Alexi Ogando, Fielder and talented young shortstop Jurickson Profar.
With less than a month left in the season, the Rangers also lost manager Ron Washington, who resigned for undisclosed reasons. Even a strong 13-3 finish to the season hurt the organization, for it dropped the Rangers from being in position to have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft down to the fourth pick. It also cost them an estimated $750,000 in international bonus pool money for 2015.
As treacherous as the 2014 season was for the Rangers, few teams who finished in their neighborhood in the standings are in better position to contend in 2015, much like the Angels quickly reversed course in 2014.
The influx of talent headed to Texas will come mostly from the disabled list, but several young players are ready to take steps forward. Second baseman Rougned Odor was rushed to the big leagues in 2014 and looked over his head, but he also flashed signs of why he entered the season as the organization’s top prospect.
Righthanders Jake Thompson and Alex Gonzalez both pitched at Double-A Frisco and could reach Texas in 2015, as could righthanders Luke Jackson and Alec Asher and relievers Corey Knebel and Keone Kela.
The impact position players are a little further away, but the Rangers system as a whole is on the upswing, with several high-ceiling, high-risk prospects taking steps in the right direction.
Hitters with contact issues have consistently progressed under the Rangers’ watch, with third baseman Joey Gallo, catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielders Nomar Mazara and Lewis Brinson all trimming their strikeout rates in 2014, with many doing it while facing better pitchers.
Gallo, in particular, emerged as a monster talent and one of the game’s premium prospects. It’s clear he has the best raw power in the minors—he smashed 40 homers for the second straight year—with only a few hitters anywhere on the planet who can match him in that department.
Thanks in part to one of the game’s premier international programs, the Rangers have a farm system with both high-end talent at the top and a strong wave of depth behind the first wave. Most teams—such as the Cubs, Twins and Astros—need to lose at the big league level for multiple seasons in order to generate high draft picks and trade away big leaguers for prospects to build a strong farm system. But the Rangers have done it while fielding a perennial contender.
After a one-year dip, the Rangers have the pieces lined up to contend in 2015, with the young talent on the way to help keep them there.