Rangers Look To Trio Of Young Backstops

ARLINGTON—Mike Napoli, one of the two catchers on the Rangers roster, becomes a free agent after this season. The club's top catching prospects are all in Class A this season.

Advantage, Napoli. But the length of any deal handed out this offseason by the Rangers could be affected by how quickly they believe their class of young catchers can develop into major leaguers.

That's nothing against Luis Martinez, a member of the 40-man roster, or Double-A catcher Jose Felix. Both are good defensively, and Felix has made gains this season with handling a pitching staff.

The Rangers also like Patrick Cantwell, who helped Stony Brook along its magical ride to the College World Series, but are still trying to get their arms around their third-round pick.

The best three in the system are former international free agents Jorge Alfaro and Tomas Telis, and Canadian-born 2010 first-round pick Kellin Deglan.

"We've got guys who can helps us out," catching instructor Hector Ortiz said. "But it is a big gap. Of the main three guys, it's maybe two years before they can help."

Telis, a 20-year-old Venezuelan who had Tommy John surgery in 2010, is the best thrower of the three right now at high Class A Myrtle Beach, and the 19-year-old Deglan is more advanced with the mental side of catching at low Class A Hickory.

Alfaro, also at Hickory, is the one with the most upside. But his development has been delayed this year by two hamstring injuries that forced him to miss much of the first half of the season. Throw in a shoulder injury, and the Rangers have given him a first baseman's glove as a way to get more at-bats.

Alfaro turned 18 in June, and the Colombian needs a dose of maturity before he can take off toward what the Rangers believe is superstar potential.

"He's a smart kid, but he needs to mature," Ortiz said. "Only time is going to make that happen. He should be a senior in high school."

Ranger Roundup

• Triple-A Round Rock center fielder Leonys Martin homered in four straight games during an August road trip to Colorado Springs and Reno. The 24-year-old raised his season total to 11 to go with a .364/.427/.612 batting line.

• Martin and fellow Round Rock outfielder Julio Borbon were both finishing the Triple-A season hot, positioning themselves for September callups. Borbon, 26, was hitting .316/.355/.510 through 98 at-bats in August, raising his season's line to .301/.346/.438 with 10 homers.