Want More? Complete Top 10 Prospects Rankings
Get it all: Subscribe to Baseball America
Go 30 deep: Order the 2016 Prospect Handbook!
|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Joey Gallo, 3b/of|
|2. Lewis Brinson, of|
|3. Nomar Mazara, of|
|4. Luis Ortiz, rhp|
|5. Dillon Tate, rhp|
|6. Eric Jenkins, of|
|7. Josh Morgan, ss/3b|
|8. Andy Ibanez, 2b|
|9. Leodys Taveras, of|
|10. Michael Matuella, rhp|
Coming off a disastrous 2014 season with the third-worst record in baseball, the Rangers at least had hope that better health could reverse their fortune in 2015 after injuries ravaged the team the previous year.
Then before the 2015 season even began, Yu Darvish went down for the year with Tommy John surgery and Jurickson Profar had shoulder surgery that would wipe out his second straight season. Derek Holland threw one inning in April before going on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. By May 3, the Rangers were 8-16 and looked like they might stay in last place in the American League West the rest of the season.
Instead, the Rangers stayed competitive under first-year manager Jeff Bannister. After they pulled off a blockbuster trade for Cole Hamels on July 31, the Rangers entered August just 50-52. Then they went on a rampage, going on a 38-22 stretch to finish 88-74 atop the AL West.
The season ended on a bitter note, as Texas lost a 2-0 Division Series lead against the Blue Jays by dropping three straight to end the season, but on the whole the Rangers defied expectations and returned to their winning ways.
International scouting continues to be an organizational strength. That work came to fruition in 2015 when second baseman Rougned Odor emerged as one of the game's top young big leaguers. Odubel Herrera, another Rangers signing out of Venezuela, went to the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft and had a productive season in Philadelphia, though the Rangers made up for his loss with a shrewd Rule 5 pick of their own in Delino DeShields Jr.
More young hitting talent is on the way and close to helping in Texas, with a talented trio at the upper levels in Joey Gallo, Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara. The Rangers have done a tremendous job of getting high-ceiling position prospects with high strikeout rates to make more contact, even while facing better pitching.
Several of those hitters have simplified their swings, improved their balance in their lower halves and in turn kept their heads locked in, which has helped them better recognize pitches, leading to improved plate discipline and contact rates.
On the pitching side, the Rangers have several prospects who throw a lot of strikes—including two with frontline potential in Luis Ortiz and Dillon Tate—but many of those pitchers have durability question marks, so the Rangers have to handle them carefully.
The depth in the system isn't quite what it has been in previous years, thanks in parts to a series of trades highlighted by the Hamels deal that cost them three of their top prospects in outfielder Nick Williams, righthander Jake Thompson and catcher Jorge Alfaro.
Yet the young talent is still intact on the major league roster and more help from the farm is on the way in 2016, which should allow the Rangers to return to being a perennial threat in the AL West.