2013 Texas Rangers Top 10 Prospects Chat With Matt Eddy

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Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible.

Matthew Eddy: Thanks for joining us for a Rangers prospects chat. Time for me to get back in a Texas state of mind and stop thinking of Mets and Padres prospects. Those Top 30s are in progress.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How high of a ceiling does Hanser Alberto have, and will he be in the Handbook?

Matthew Eddy: Yes, High-A SS/3B Hanser Alberto made the Handbook. He made the top 20, in fact. He may lack the explosive tools of other Rangers middle infielders like Luis Sardinas or Leury Garcia, but in my opinion he has a higher floor because he plays to his strengths and really has feel to hit. I think of him as kind of a young Omar Infante type player in that he doesn't have an excess of power or speed, but he can hit, and I bet he'll be able to handle shortstop early in his big league career. Ultimately, I would expect him to settle in as some team's starting second baseman for five or more seasons.

    Frank (Chicago): How many of these guys do you see making the top 100?

Matthew Eddy: I would vote for the top six for inclusion in the Top 100. Jurickson Profar at No. 1, Mike Olt in the top 15, Martin Perez and Leonys Martin probably in the 30-50 range and Justin Grimm and Luke Jackson in the back half. Luis Sardinas might sneak on the back end of the list owing to his tools and ceiling.

    Mike (Tampa, FL): I see you have Gallo as the DH on the 2016 lineup card. While these should be taken with a grain of salt, do you believe he won't stick at the hot corner in the coming years?

Matthew Eddy: I think most scouts expect that Joey Gallo will move off third base by the time he's 22-24 and ready for a big league look. For one thing, he's not very quick or sure-footed at this stage, but just as importantly, there's not a lot of precedent for tall third basemen. The only recent example of a successful 3B who stood 6-foot-4 or taller is Troy Glaus. First base and right field are the strongest possibilities for Gallo, so don't read too much into the DH by his name. That's simply us trying to get him in the lineup.

    Ajax (Fairfax, VA): How excited or un-excited should we be about Nick Tepesch? He really seemed to come on strong last year. What does he throw?

Matthew Eddy: RHP Nick Tepesch had a solid year in Double-A and probably would be next in line behind Martin Perez and Justin Grimm if the Rangers need a spot start in 2013. That's not intended to be an insult, because Tepesch is a fine prospect. He throws just about every pitch, though he doesn't throw his fastball harder than about 92 mph so he gets overlooked. He leans on a sinker, curve and cutter, but his changeup and slider continue to improve in pro ball. Tepesch would be top 10 in many organizations.

    Ajax (Fairfax, VA): Any reason for optimism about Jordan Akins, Zach Cone, and Killen Deglan at this point? Cone did show some pop. What do scouts think of him?

Matthew Eddy: You've got the lay of the land, I think. At this stage of the game, CF Zach Cone is the best prospect of the bunch. If everything breaks right, you could be looking at a poor man's Drew Stubbs, with power, speed and range in the outfield to spare. The Rangers continue to work with Cone to iron out his hitting mechanics and get him in a better position to hit. If they're successful, you could be looking at a pretty good player in two-three years. Don't write off Low-A C Kellin Deglan, but at the same time don't expect great things right away. Texas believes it's a matter of him gaining experience in pro ball (given his background as a Canadian amateur), and he showed signs of life in the second half with an .811 OPS.

    Kelly (St. Cloud, MN): Had he remained, about where would Barret Loux have ranked? What does he project as?

Matthew Eddy: I turned in RHP Barret Loux in the range of No. 25 on the list, and I believe Jim Callis intends to rank him in the Cubs Top 30. He's a three-average-pitches guy with feel to locate the ball, a good candidate for a No. 5 role or spot starter on a good team.

    Aly (St Louis): Would you consider this list of 10 superior to last year's? Why or why not?

Matthew Eddy: The top four players occupy the top four spots on both lists, though given that Profar and Olt both proved themselves in Double-A (and reached the big leagues), I'd side with this year's list. RHP Luke Jackson took a step forward and we essentially traded out third basemen, Christian Villanueva (traded to the Cubs for Ryan Dempster) for Joey Gallo (who has the most power in the system). Reliever Matt West had Tommy John surgery, but this year we brought in SS Luis Sardinas. Yeah, give me the 2012 list.

    Frank (Chicago): How far off your top 10 was Leury Garcia this year?

Matthew Eddy: SS/2B Leury Garcia made the Top 20. As always, he's got the best raw speed and arm strength among the system's position players. The Rangers appear to be viewing him as a super-utility option because despite his explosive tools he's not efficient enough at bat or on the bases to profile as a regular on a first-division team like Texas. (They're also swimming with middle infield options.) Garcia has played short, second, third and center field in the Dominican League and you can expect that position distribution to continue in 2013, probably at Triple-A.

    Keith (Manchester, CT): Thanks Matt. Based on his rookie-ball stats — .321/.374/.434 in 212 AB — is occasional all-star too high of a ceiling for Ronald Guzman, and do you think he starts 2013 at SS or Low A?

Matthew Eddy: Yes, I think occasional all-star is a lofty ceiling for Rookie-ball 1B Ronald Guzman, probably too lofty. With international bonus babies, you've got to have patience and perspective. Now that Guzman is locked in at first base, he's got to absolutely mash to be a viable big leaguer, and while that's possible, it's not entirely likely. Even the most talented Latin teens take a long time to develop. Take a gander at the 2006 list of top international bonuses and you'll see that it took Jesus Montero six years to establish himself as a big leaguers; and Carlos Triunfel and Engel Beltre are still not there. These guys were all big deals four or five years ago. Similar deal with the 2007 class, where Julio Teheran, Wilmer Flores and Martin Perez look like good prospects, but even after five full years in the minors they're not established big leaguers.

    Hervilicious (High Rise): I know the Rangers are going to rank near the top of most team rankings, but how long can the team go without developing a top pick? Is it a bad sign that their last three (Brinson, Matthews, Skole) are not on the top-10?

Matthew Eddy: Interesting question. I would view the 2012 draft, with its budgetary restraints, as a different animal compared with 2010 or 2011. Because they were locked in at the back of the first round in 2011, the Rangers felt like they could get more value on the international market than they could with the 33rd pick in the draft. So I think that's where they focused their energy that year, signing Leonys Martin, Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman to huge bonuses and taking a more modest player (LHP Kevin Matthews) they could sign in the draft. Also, they probably guessed that the rules for signing international amateurs would soon change. As for 2012 first-round CF Lewis Brinson (taken 29th overall) not ranking in the 10, well I interpret it as a strong indicator of system strength when a club's top pick in June *doesn't* rank among the top 10.

    JAYPER'S Illegitimate Son (Texas): If it was you, would you rather have Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar for this season? For the next 3? The next 10?

Matthew Eddy: Nice handle. My legitimate answer would be Andrus for sure for 2013, and probably for the next three years (given the Rangers status as perennial pennant contenders), but definitely Profar for the next 10.

    Mike (Austin): Any reports for 2011 supp pick Kevin Matthews? BA did not have him ranked highly coming out of HS, but the Rangers apparently liked his upside? Too soon to tell what they got? Thanks!

Matthew Eddy: We discussed 2011 first-rounder Matthews a bit in a previous answer, but as to his current status in the organization . . . he's got some work to do. With 64 walks and 66 strikeouts in Low-A, you might say fastball control and command are a significant issue. The Rangers say he needs to build and maintain strength in his lower half to hold his velocity. Apparently he lost weight during the 2012 season.

    Dan (Ohio): With the Rangers' outfield depth it appears Engle Beltre's future lies elsewhere. Do the Rangers have any plans for him, if the don't trade/release him?

Matthew Eddy: CF Engel Beltre has one option remaining for 2013, so they'll give him at least one more year to sort out his issues at the plate. He's a strong defensive center fielder, so he might get big league looks as a reserve with a different organization, because unless he learns to slow the game and cleans up his hitting approach he's probably going to get squeezed out of Texas.

    Rafael Nieves (Los Angeles, CA): Tell us a little bit about Yohander Mendez and Eduard Pinto, did they crack the Top 30?

Matthew Eddy: LHP Yohander Mendez has a nice year in the DSL and would be a strong Rangers candidate to rank on next year's Arizona League Top 20. Tall, lean and projectable, Mendez sits at about 90 mph and shows feel for a change and breaking ball. It's easy to dream on what he might one day become.

    Rafael Nieves (Los Angeles, CA): Tell us a little bit about Yohander Mendez and Eduard Pinto, did they crack the Top 30?

Matthew Eddy: LHP Yohander Mendez has a nice year in the DSL and would be a strong Rangers candidate to rank on next year's Arizona League Top 20. Tall, lean and projectable, Mendez sits at about 90 mph and shows feel for a change and breaking ball. It's easy to dream on what he might one day become.

    Robert (Toronto, ON): What did scouts have to say about Nick Williams? Was he close to making the top 10?

Matthew Eddy: Lots of interest in second-round OF Nick Williams in this chat session, but I'm sorry to disappoint: He did not rank in the Top 10. Or Top 20. He's in the Handbook, but he's going to have to really hit to avoid being classified as a tweener. He's merely a fringe runner, and his future probably lies in left field, not center.

    Hsu (Taiwan): Which SP prospect in the minor have the highest ceiling? It seems we lack of SP prospects with NO.1 SP ceiling.

Matthew Eddy: The answer to your first question is still LHP Martin Perez, and that's why he ranked No. 3 in the system. But some of Perez's Frisco rotation-mates seem to be doing more with less raw stuff, namely Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch. As to the lack of No. 1's, the Rangers effectively purchased one on the open market this year (Yu Darvish), and they have churned out Derek Holland and Matt Harrison in recent years. The organization's M.O. seems to be trading prospects for big league pitchers each summer, e.g. Cliff Lee, Ryan Dempster, Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, and it's a model that's worked for them. Let other teams assume the risk of developing young pitchers; the Rangers will just trade from their prospect excess for the good ones on expiring contracts.

    Evan (Boston, MA): Profar is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Or since Trout. Anyways, can Profar have a similar season to Trout in 2013, or will it take him a couple years to achieve superstar production in the majors?

Matthew Eddy: I think Profar is going to be a really, really valuable major league player, but his tools simply aren't as loud as Trout's, especially in terms of power and speed, the real attention-grabbers. In fact, those are probably Profar's weakest tools, and his value is going to come more from the sum of all his abilities ... his defense, his baserunning, his feel for hitting. That's no knock on Profar. He could grow to be starting shortstop and No. 2 hitter for a pennant winner.

    Jon (Charlottesville): Matt, do your scouting sources believe, based on his nice comeback in 2012, that Wilmer Font has regained any prospect mojo? Is he seen purely as a future bullpen guy?

Matthew Eddy: RHP Wilmer Font has the best fastball in a system with plenty of hard-throwers, and he does rank in the Top 30. Yes, given his arm action and spotty control, I think Font will pitch the bulk of his innings out of the bullpen. He could be a bullpen option in 2013 if he can stay around the plate and throw enough quality changeups to keep opponents honest.

    Ken (Lakewood CA): With Moreland struggling against LH pitching and Michael Young getting older and losing some power, is Olt good enough to get the 1B job? Or am I rushing things a bit?

Matthew Eddy: Technically, Mike Olt probably would be good enough to hold down first base in 2013, but that's a lot to ask of a rookie, to hit for prototype power on a pennant contender. Olt has seen time at third as well as right field and first base in the Dominican League, and I'd bet the Rangers want to explore right field fully before they play him at first.

    JD (AZ): Matt, thanks for the chat, your thoughts on Profar vs Machado, who would you pick and why?

Matthew Eddy: In real baseball I'd take Profar for his intangibles, but in certain fantasy or sim formats Machado might be the way to go.

    Evan (Boston, MA): Can you clarify your answer of having Andrus over Profar for the next three years? Do you think Profar's playing time won't be there?

Matthew Eddy: For a team in the Rangers' position, I think having a sure thing such as all-star Elivs Andrus through his prime years (24-26) would be preferable to rolling the dice on an up-and-comer like Profar, who, despite his talent, probably has growing pains in front of him (much like Andrus did).

    Ajax (Fairfax, VA): What happened to Niel Ramirez last year? Did his stuff decline? What do scouts think of him now?

Matthew Eddy: Two things worked against RHP Neil Ramirez in 2012: a bout of shoulder fatigue and a tendency to over-analyze things and dwell on the negative between starts. For those reasons the Rangers believe he might be more effective as a late-game reliever. He touched 97 mph out of the bullpen in his final appearance of the year, and he's shown a nice slider and changeup at times. Yes, he's still a prospect, and, yes, he still ranks in the Top 30.

    Ken (Lakewood CA): Buckel's jump from A to AA showed him not to be as effective as his A ball stats showed. Do you think he has the stuff to make it as a major league starting pitcher?

Matthew Eddy: Yes, I think Buckel has major league talent, but I think his particular skill set would fit better in an organization that does not call Rangers Ballpark home. I get a Mike Leake vibe from Buckel because he's a short-ish, athletic righty who lacks frontline velocity but will sink the ball, cut the ball and generally throw everything but the kitchen cliche — er, sink — at batters. We've seen how Leake's talents have translated in Cincinnati's launching pad. Career ERA at home: 4.66. On the road: 3.74.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Of the pitchers moving from Spokane to Hickory, who is your favorite?

Matthew Eddy: There can be no answer here but RHP C.J. Edwards, the 2011 48th-round high-school righy who electrified observers in two leagues this year. The Rangers rave about his work ethic and aptitude for pitching, and they say he could fill out by 25 pounds, easily, and sit more consistently at the high end of his velocity range. That is, 94-95 mph. He imparts natural cutting action on the ball — to learn how, pick up the Prospect Handbook — that makes even his low-90s fastballs difficult to square up.

    Dave (San Jose): Surprised to see Gallo at #10, thought that much upside in terms of power + BBs would be higher, even if Ks are high. Is the possible floor that low (i.e. hit tool never good enough that the power plays)? Three true outcomes out of fashion at BA now? :-)

Matthew Eddy: You can rank the Rangers prospects however you wish after Profar and Olt, because I don't think there's one absolute truth with these rankings. We all place different weights on the different tools and performance indicators. Gallo has the most raw power in the Rangers system — that's a fact — but I want to see him prove himself against better competition before completely buying in. And if we're being completely honest, then we have to evaluate him as a first baseman or right fielder down the line. That's why he ranks No. 10 in a strong system. He's got upside for sure, but also plenty of risk.

    Stew (San francisco Ca,): Little Joe Ortiz has been the most effective left hand pitcher in the minor for the past 5 years? Whats the future looks like for him now that he is in the 40 man roster?

Matthew Eddy: In researching the Rangers system for this exercise, 5-foot-7 lefty reliever Joe Ortiz quickly became my obsession, but I'm not entirely sure why. The track record of *really* short pitchers is exceedingly poor. (Think Danny Ray Herrera or Tim Collins, and those are the success stories.) When the Rangers traded away Barret Loux and added Ortiz to the 40-man, though, that provided me with the ammunition to get him on the back of the Top 30. The Rangers say they nearly called up Ortiz this season when they needed an extra lefty, and he throws a very good slider and firm fastball that will suit him for, at worst, situational work. My favorite state: In the minors this year Ortiz struck out 25 and walked one of the 100 lefties he faced. Lefties in the Venezuelan League have gone 1-for-14 with six whiffs.

    Billy (Dallas): Where does Roman Mendez stand these days? He has long been recognized as having significant potential, but the Rangers' usage of him makes it a little unclear what they think.

Matthew Eddy: Maybe it's the novelty factor, but I ran Mendez up the list pretty good, and he settled in the 11-15 range. The Rangers seem content with developing him as a reliever, what with mid-90s heat and a good hard slider, and I don't think it would surprise many to see him setting up closer Neftali Feliz before the end of the 2014 season (assuming Alexi Ogando sticks in the rotation this time).

    Jody (Chicago): Thanks for taking questions today, Matt. While TEX has excellent depth I expected to see Brinson in the top 10. Can you share your thoughts on his ceiling/strengths/weaknesses?

Matthew Eddy: You could make a good case for CF Lewis Brinson ranking in the Top 10, but I had more confidence in some of the players like Luis Sardinas and Jorge Alfaro who have more pro experience. They all have similar ceilings, so I elected to go with those players who had longer track records. Brinson has exciting raw tool and could develop along the lines of Cameron Maybin. Step one in his development as a hitter will be reducing his stride, keeping his hands back and cutting out some of the loop in his swing. Those factors make him quite strikeout prone now, but few players enter pro ball as finished products.

    Scote (Grand Rapids, MI): With Jairo Beras suspended for a year, when do you think we'll see him in a State Side league? I would assume people would want to see him in a more organized league before he starts to sniff the ranking sheets. Any chance he'll be nearing the Majors by 2018?

Matthew Eddy: The interesting thing about RF Jairo Beras' suspension is that it does not preclude him from participating in instructs or in extended spring training next year, so that means he ought to be ready to follow the Nomar Mazara/Ronald Guzman path and debut in the Arizona League this summer. He can be reinstated on July 1. Like Mazara and Guzman, Beras could develop into an above-average regular, but he's so far away, and the Rangers system so deep, that it makes sense to me to rank them conservatively and move them up if they succeed.

    Kevin K (DC): Does Greg Miclat have a major league future as a utility infielder? With the Rangers or elsewhere?

Matthew Eddy: Can't ... resist ... question ... about minor league veteran. The Rangers acquired SS/2B Greg Miclat in the Taylor Teagarden trade, and he had a solid year in Triple-A, batting .275/.350/.394 in a park that favors pitchers (at least in 2012). He's flashed some speed in the past, but even taking a favorable view of his abilities one comes to the conclusion that Miclat is simply in the wrong organization to get noticed. The bad news for him is that he won't qualify for minor league free agency until after 2014. The good news is that his skills fit pretty well with the in-demand middle infielders on this year's market, guys like Steve Tolleson, Alberto Gonzalez, Darwin Perez, Angel Sanchez, etc.

    Jack (MA): How close was Rougned Odor to making the list?

Matthew Eddy: Lots of questions about 18-year-old 2B Rougned Odor, but this one is shortest and most to the point. Odor slipped in the rankings this year, that much is true. He slipped all the way to No. 11, essentially being supplanted by Joey Gallo. He's still an intriguing prospect. He killed the ball in the first half (.839 OPS) but hit just .222 in the second. Scouts who like Odor say he's a .280 hitter with the capability to hit about a dozen homers and play a strong second base. The Rangers want to see him tone down his leg kick and improve his discipline by picking a preferred hitting zone early in counts and not going outside it until he gets two strikes.

Matthew Eddy: Thanks for all the great Rangers questions. Hit me up on Twitter (@eddymk) if you have a question that can be answered in 140 characters. All American League Top 10s have been published. Check them out: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/organization-top-10-prospects/2013/