The Rangers’ decision to emphasize versatility in the shortstop prospects has come about in part because of their surplus of intriguing prospects at the position. Big leaguer Elvis Andrus gives every other shortstop in the organization a lofty target to aim for—if you want to be the Rangers’ everyday shortstop, you’re going to have to be better than him. It’s a lofty goal.
“We encourage these guys, go out and be better than him,” Rangers field coordinator Jayce Tingler said. “Don’t be afraid to fail. If you come up short of Elvis Andrus, you still have a great chance to be a very good player.
With that in mind, we asked Tingler to explain what stands out to him among the top five minor league shortstop prospects in the Rangers system.
Jurickson Profar (Rangers No. 1 prospect, baseball’s No. 1 prospect): “His internal clock defines him. He’s always ready. He’s always in the right position. His game awareness, that’s the thing that separates Profar from some guys.”
Luis Sardinas (Rangers No. 7 prospect): “Sardinas’ biggest issue in the first two years stateside is just being able to stay healthy. It was just about him maturing. He’s a super smart kid who’s a true shortstop. He probably has the softest hands out of the group. He can flat-out defend.”
Hanser Alberto (Rangers No. 15 prospect): “He has tremendous hand-eye coordination. It can get him in trouble offensively because he can hit everything. What Alberto will be as a hitter depends on the pitches he swings at. He can hit the ball off the plate, and he doesn’t swing and miss much, so he puts most all of them in play. It’s about trying to identify the pitches for him to do damage with.”
Leury Garcia (Rangers No. 20 prospect): “Leury is so physically gifted with being a plus runner, a plus defender with huge range—and he’s a switch hitter. Now he’s starting to identify what it takes to play the game. With his skillset he can do a lot of things on the field. He’s starting to identify what his game is. It’s hard for guys with a ton of ability to master one or two things. He’s identifying his game which is using his speed as an asset, making the routine play. And quite frankly it’s also about maturing.
“For him to have the winter ball year he had, and for him to be asked to play on the Dominican World Baseball Classic team tells us this is going in the right direction. He’s starting to do the little things that are part of being a winning player. Is it there yet? No.
“He can be an offensive weapon. It’s about being in the same position every time offensively and hitting strikes.”
Luis Marte (Top unranked shortstop on the Rangers depth chart): “He has a very good arm across the diamond. He has good hands. He looks the part. I think he’s an average runner, but looking at his stride and size he could end up being a tick above-average runner. Offensively he’s been up and down. He has to learn to get ready without his head going forward. His issue is when his head stays center he’s very good and he controls the zone. When he goes forward he doesn’t recognize (pitches). If he can learn to get into the right position we think he has a chance to be a very good hitter going forward.”