2012 Texas Rangers Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

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. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Rangers Chat
Matt Forman
Pre-Order the 2012 Prospect Handbook
30 scouting reports on every team

Rangers Team Page
Rangers Top 10 Prospects
Last Year's Rangers Top 10 Prospects
2011 Draft: Rangers (Basic Database)
2011 Draft: Rangers (Advanced Database)
2011 Draft Report Cards: Texas Rangers
Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Pre-Order the 2012 Prospect Handbook
Texas Rangers

One game, one strike, is all that separated the Rangers from winning their first World Series and completing the organization's transformation.

Texas twice squandered a two-run lead to the Cardinals in Game Six of the World Series, then couldn't rebound in Game Seven, capping off an epic postseason. The Rangers hadn't lost consecutive games in 47 trips to the ballpark, but they couldn't overcome the St. Louis buzzsaw and became the first team since the 1991-92 Braves to drop back-to-back World Series.

Despite the disappointment at the end of October, there's no doom and gloom in Arlington. The Rangers remain positioned to extend their run of playoff appearances, thanks to a young core and one of the game's deepest farm systems. Texas affiliates posted the highest combined winning percentage (.564) of all organization in 2011, and all of the full-season clubs qualified for the playoffs.

Since Jon Daniels took over as GM following the 2005 season, the Rangers have become a model organization for scouting and player development. Interestingly, Texas still hasn't had many homegrown talents contribute at the big league level, as the bulk of the club's nucleus—Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, Mike Napoli, Alexi Ogando—was plucked from other teams. Ian Kinsler and C.J. Wilson were drafted by the Rangers before the Daniels administration, which did sign Derek Holland and Mitch Moreland

The farm system provided the talent to upgrade the bullpen with midseason trades for Mike Adams and Koji Uehara. It should continue to be productive, with lefthander Martin Perez, outfielder Leonys Martin and righthanders Neil Ramirez and Tanner Scheppers on the verge of landing big league roles.

To keep the talent flowing, the Rangers have poured resources into Latin America. They have become one of the most aggressive franchises in that arena and spent nearly $20 million in bonuses for international players in 2011. That total included $5 million for Martin (part of a $15.6 million big league contract), $4.95 million for Dominican outfielder Nomar Mazara, $3.45 million for Dominican first baseman/outfielder Ronald Guzman and $1.5 million for Venezuelan lefthander Yohander Mendez.

The Rangers made an even bigger splash in the offseason. They posted $51.7 million for the negotiating rights to Nippon-Ham Fighters righthander Yu Darvish, widely considered the best pitcher in the world not under contract to an MLB club. They signed him in January to a six-year contract worth $56 million.

Texas already had a strong international presence in their system. Its top prospects are shortstop Jurickson Profar (Curacao) and Perez (Venezuela), with Martin (Cuba), second baseman Rougned Odor (Venezuela), catcher Jorge Alfaro (Colombia) and third baseman Christian Villanueva (Mexico) not far behind.

After the season, farm director Scott Servais left to become the Angels' assistant GM and join former teammate Jerry Dipoto's new regime. To replace Servais, Texas hired former Astros GM and farm director Tim Purpura. More departures may be inevitable, as Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine and senior director of player personnel A.J. Preller are considered future GM candidates.

1. Yu Darvish, rhp Born: Aug. 16, 1986 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 215
Signed: Japan, 2012. Signed by: Josh Boyd/A.J. Preller/Joe Furukawa
Yu DarvishBackground:  Darvish's Iranian father and Japanese mother met while attending Eckerd (Fla.) College. He became a high school sensation in Japan, coming out of the same Tohoku High program that produced former all-star Kazuhiro Sasaki and Takashi Saito, before the Nippon-Ham Fighters selected him in the first round of Japan's 2005 draft. He joined the Fighters later that year and helped lead them to the Japan Series championship in 2006, winning the clincher. In the five years since, he has gone 76-28, 1.72 with 50 complete games and 1,083 strikeouts in 1,024 innings. He won the Sawamura Award (Japan's equivalent of the Cy Young Award) in 2007, pitched in the 2008 Olympics and helped Japan win the 2009 World Baseball Classic, where Baseball America ranked him as the event's No. 1 prospect. The Fighters posted him in December, making him available to major league teams, and the Rangers had the top bid at $51,703,411—eclipsing the $51,111,111.11 the Red Sox bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka's rights in 2006. Darvish agreed to a six-year deal worth $56 million on Jan. 18.

Scouting Report:
  Darvish has the stuff, aggressiveness and durability that scouts look for in a frontline starter. His best pitch is a fastball that sits at 92-95 mph and touched 99 when he worked in relief at the WBC. His heater plays up because of its quality life and command. He can throw a two-seamer with hard sink and cut his fastball as well. Darvish's second-best offering is a plus slider in the low 80s that he'll use in any count. He throws two versions of a curveball, a harder version to get swings and misses and a slower version to get ahead in the count. He also mixes in a 90-91 mph splitter and a changeup, and all of his pitches grade as at least 60s on the 20-80 scouting scale when they're on. Darvish stands tall in his delivery and possesses good athleticism that allows him to consistently repeat his delivery and command his pitches. His stuff also should be firm enough for him to challenge hitters rather than nibble around the edges. He's strong and physical, which should allow him to handle the rigors of pitching every fifth day in a U.S. rotation. However, he made only one of his 28 starts in Japan last year following four days of rest; the remainder came after five or more days off. The main knock against Darvish earlier in his career was a tendency to fall in love with his secondary pitches, but he was more aggressive with his fastball in 2011, when offense in Japan plunged because of reduced lighting (stemming from the Fukushima nuclear accident) and less lively balls. "He is better prepared to get guys out over here in the States," Padres Pacific Rim scouting coordinator Trevor Schumm said. "He is not like some of the Japanese pitchers in the past with decent fastballs that just do not use it enough."

The Future:
  The Rangers failed to retain Cliff Lee after the 2010 season and C.J. Wilson after 2011, but Darvish gives them a No. 1 starter for the foreseeable future. While Japanese pitchers such as Hideo Nomo and Matsuzaka had short-lived success in the United States, Darvish appears to be built for the long haul. Just 25, he's coming to Texas at the peak of his career and immediately will step to the front of the Rangers rotation.

Did Not Play

2. Jurickson Profar, ss Born: Feb. 20, 1993 B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 165
Signed: Curacao, 2009. Signed by: Mike Daly/Chu Halabi/Jose Felomina.
Jurickson ProfarBackground:  Signed for a then-franchise international record $1.55 million out of Curacao in 2009, Profar has been on the prospect radar since he was 11 and starred on the 2004 Little League World Series championship team from Curacao. In his first taste of full-season ball in 2011, he won MVP honors in the low Class A South Atlantic League at age 18.

Scouting Report:
  Profar offers a rare combination of present five-tool ability and additional projection. A natural righthanded hitter, he didn't start switch-hitting until after he signed, but he has a smooth swing and great bat speed from both sides. His swing has more leverage and loft from the right side, and some scouts see only gap power while others predict 20-plus homers annually once he fills out. He's a pure hitter with exceptional strike-zone awareness for his age. Profar has average speed that plays up on the bases and in the field because of his elite instincts. He's electrifying defensively, with plus range and arm strength to go along with soft hands and a quick release.

The Future:
  One scout compared him to Hanley Ramirez with Dustin Pedroia's makeup. Profar will open 2012 at high Class A Myrtle Beach at age 19. With Elvis Andrus entrenched at shortstop in Texas, Profar probably won't break in with the Rangers at that position, but he has all the ingredients to be a future superstar no matter where he plays.

'10 Spokane (SS) 252 42 63 19 0 4 23 28 46 8 3 .250 .323 .373
'11 Hickory (LoA) 430 86 123 37 8 12 65 65 63 23 9 .286 .390 .493
Minor League Totals 682 128 186 56 8 16 88 93 109 31 12 .273 .366 .449

3. Martin Perez, lhp Born: April 4, 1991 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 180
Signed: Venezuela, 2007. Signed by: Rafaic Saab/Manny Batista/Don Welke.
Martin PerezBackground:  Since signing for $580,000, Perez has rocketed through the system. He reached Double-A at age 18 and finally mastered that level in his third stint at Frisco last year, then was the youngest pitcher in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League when he was promoted there in mid-July.

Scouting Report:
  Scouts rave about Perez's picture-perfect delivery and arm action that evoke comparisons with fellow Venezuelan lefty Johan Santana. There aren't many pitchers who can match Perez's pure stuff, as he has the makings of three above-average pitches. His lively fastball sits at 90-96 mph with sink, though he needs to work on establishing it more early in counts. He also throws a plus-plus 80-82 mph fading changeup and a sharp 73-77 mph curveball with good depth. Wavering command and inconsistency with his secondary pitches have held Perez back slightly. The Rangers have discussed adding a slider to give him a breaking ball that he can better control. Despite his smallish frame, they aren't worried about his durability.

The Future:
  For all the attention given to his struggles in his first two years in Double-A, Perez got to Triple-A at age 20. He needs more seasoning but was added to the 40-man roster in November and should contribute in Texas in 2012.He profiles as a No. 2 starter.

'08 Spokane (SS) 1 2 3.65 15 15 0 62 66 32 25 3 28 53 .263
'09 Hickory (LoA) 5 5 2.31 22 14 1 94 82 35 24 3 33 105 .226
'09 Frisco (AA) 1 3 5.57 5 5 0 21 29 16 13 2 5 14 .315
'10 Frisco (AA) 5 8 5.96 24 23 0 100 117 73 66 12 50 101 .281
'11 Frisco (AA) 4 2 3.16 17 16 0 88 80 35 31 6 36 83 .232
'11 Round Rock (AAA) 4 4 6.43 10 10 0 49 72 38 35 4 20 37 .329
Minor League Totals 20 24 4.22 93 83 1 414 446 446 194 30 172 393 .264

4. Mike Olt, 3b Born: Aug. 27, 1988 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Connecticut, 2010 (1rst round supplemental). Signed by: Jay Heafner
Mike OltBackground:  The fourth and final of Texas' selections in the first and sandwich rounds of the 2010 draft, Olt was the lone college pick. Signed for $717,300, he established himself as the best prospect of the bunch and might have won the high Class A Carolina League MVP award in his first full pro season if he hadn't broken his collarbone in a home-plate collision in June. He made up for lost time by hitting .349/.433/.764 in the Arizona Fall League.

Scouting Report:
  Olt offers the increasingly rare combination of plus righthanded power and plus defense at third base. Sturdy and physically mature, he has great bat speed and impressive raw thunder. He projects as an average hitter, as he occasionally gets out front and struggles with quality offspeed stuff. Despite his selective approach, he strikes out often. Initially a shortstop in college at Connecticut, Olt plays the hot corner with fluid actions, soft hands and plus arm strength. While he's a below-average runner, he has good first-step quickness and average range.

The Future:
  With Adrian Beltre signed through at least 2015, Olt likely won't break in with Texas at third base. He has the athleticism to play left field, and he could be used as a blue-chip trade commodity. He'll spend 2012 at Frisco.

'10 Spokane (SS) 263 57 77 16 1 9 43 40 77 6 0 .293 .390 .464
'11 Rangers (R) 14 2 3 0 0 1 4 1 5 0 0 .214 .267 .429
'11 Myrtle Beach (HiA) 240 39 64 15 0 14 42 48 70 0 1 .267 .387 .504
Minor League Totals 517 98 144 31 1 24 89 89 152 6 1 .279 .386 .482

5. Leonys Martin, of Born: March 6, 1988 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 180
Signed: Cuba, 2011. Signed by: Chu Halabi/Jose Fernandez/Don Welke
Leonys MartinBackground:  Martin backed up Yoenis Cespedes on Cuba's 2009 World Baseball Classic and defected during the 2010 FISU World Championships in Taiwan. He signed with the Rangers last May, and his $15.6 million major league contract is the second-largest deal ever given to a Cuban defector. He was promoted to Texas in September and remained with the club for the American League Division Series.

Scouting Report:  Martin profiles as a prototypical leadoff hitter. He has above-average speed that plays up because of his instincts. He's a plus hitter with lightning-quick bat speed and a sound approach at the plate. He shows above-average raw power in batting practice but has gap power during games. His swing can get long at times, so the Rangers worked to shorten his path to the ball. Martin is a quality defender in center field with easy range and a plus-plus arm. He has bulked up too much to impress scouts and is better when his body is loose and athletic.

The Future:  Martin will have a chance to compete for the starting center-field job during spring training. If he wins it, Texas can shift former MVP Josh Hamilton back to left field.

'11 Rangers (R) 15 2 4 0 2 0 1 1 6 0 1 .267 .313 .533
'11 Frisco (AA) 112 24 39 9 2 4 24 15 8 10 8 .348 .435 .571
'11 Round Rock (AAA) 175 27 46 7 1 0 17 11 24 9 2 .263 .316 .314
'11 Texas (MAJ) 8 2 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .375 .375 .500
Major League Totals 8 2 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .375 .375 .500
Minor League Totals 302 53 89 16 5 4 42 27 38 19 11 .295 .362 .421

6. Neil Ramirez, rhp Born: May 25, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 185
Drafted: Kempsville (Va.) HS, 2007 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Russ Ardolina
Neil RamirezBackground:  Inconsistency dogged Ramirez in high school, when he fell to the 44th overall pick in the 2007 draft and signed for $1 million. He had a breakout 2011 season after spending last offseason working out at the team's training facility.

Scouting Report:
  Ramirez's fastball sits at 92-94 mph and touches 96 with good angle, while his swing-and-miss curveball ranges from 74-78 mph. Scouts previously projected Ramirez as a high-leverage reliever, but the development of his changeup last year gives him No. 2 starter upside. His mid-80s changeup now gives him a potential third plus pitch. The Rangers overhauled his high school delivery, and his new tall-and-fall approach helped lengthen his arm action, yielding in a more consistent release point. Ramirez's control and command still need improvement, however. His prototypical frame and delivery lend themselves to durability.

The Future:
  Protected on the 40-man roster in November, Ramirez should be at least a mid-rotation innings eater. He has the potential to contribute in the majors immediately, especially if Texas wants to use him in a relief role.

'08 Spokane (SS) 1 2 2.66 13 13 0 44 25 15 13 5 29 52 .159
'09 Hickory (LoA) 3 6 4.75 18 14 0 66 58 40 35 8 41 56 .226
'10 Hickory (LoA) 10 8 4.43 28 26 0 140 150 79 69 14 37 142 .263
'11 Myrtle Beach (HiA) 0 0 0.00 1 1 0 5 1 0 0 0 1 9 .067
'11 Frisco (AA) 1 0 1.89 6 6 0 19 13 4 4 1 8 24 .186
'11 Round Rock (AAA) 4 3 3.63 18 18 0 74 63 34 30 6 35 86 .220
Minor League Totals 19 19 3.91 84 78 0 348 310 310 151 34 151 369 .229

7. Cody Buckel, rhp Born: June 18, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 170
Drafted: Royal HS, Simi Valley, Calif., 2010 (2nd round). Signed by: Todd Guggiana
Cody BuckelBackground:  The Rangers haven't been afraid of taking undersized pitchers in recent drafts, including the 6-foot Buckel. He opted to forego a Pepperdine commitment to sign for $590,000 as a second-round pick in 2010. He opened his first full season in extended spring training and then the Hickory bullpen before going 7-2, 2.04 with a 104-19 K-BB ratio in 17 starts.

Scouting Report:
  Buckel's intelligence, mechanics and quirkiness are reminiscent of those of his best friend—Trevor Bauer, the No. 3 overall choice in the 2011 draft and his offseason workout partner. As with Bauer, Buckel's unorthodox and torque-heavy delivery creates deception. While he doesn't have overpowering stuff, he has a deep four-pitch mix, outstanding pitchability and a fiercely competitive nature. Buckel's fastball sits at 88-92 mph and touches 94 with armside run. He also throws a plus changeup, an average curveball with big break that he learned from Barry Zito and a short cutter/slider that induces grounders. Some scouts still worry about his size and durability, though his athleticism should help him.

The Future:
  Buckel doesn't have incredible upside, but he has a low floor and could become a solid No. 3 starter. He'll headline Myrtle Beach's 2012 rotation and may move quickly because of his advanced feel for pitching.

'10 Rangers (R) 0 0 0.00 4 0 0 5 2 0 0 0 1 9 .118
'11 Hickory (LoA) 8 3 2.61 23 17 0 97 83 34 28 7 27 120 .223
Minor League Totals 8 3 2.47 27 17 0 102 85 85 28 7 28 129 .217

8. Jorge Alfaro, c Born: Jun 11, 1993 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185
Signed: Columbia, 2010. Signed by: Rodolfo Rosario/Don Welke.
Jorge AlfaroBackground:  Alfaro didn't get much exposure as an infielder in his native Colombia, so he moved to the Dominican Republic and started catching. Though raw behind the plate, he showed enough ability to handle the position to earn a Colombian-record $1.3 million bonus. He was the second-youngest player in the short-season Northwest League last summer, behind only teammate Rougned Odor.

Scouting Report:  Athletic and strong, Alfaro stands out for his plus-plus raw power and his cannon arm. With impressive bat speed, hip rotation and extension, he puts on shows in batting practice. Like most young players, he can be overly aggressive and let his swing get long. He shows pitch-recognition skills but he could stand to make more contact, and his plate discipline still needs a lot of improvement. Alfaro has top-of-the-scale raw arm strength and good accuracy, but he has a tendency to rush throws and get sloppy with his footwork. That's why he threw out just 22 percent of basestealers in 2011. With refinement, he projects as an above-average overall defender. Alfaro moves well laterally and is more athletic than most catchers, and he even has fringy speed. He's still learning to deal with success and failure.

The Future:  With the potential to be a middle-of-the-order, middle-of-the-diamond star, Alfaro has one of the highest ceilings in the system. He'll advance to low Class A in 2012.

'10 Rangers (R) 172 18 38 5 2 1 23 5 48 1 4 .221 .278 .291
'11 Spokane (SS) 160 18 48 9 1 6 23 4 54 1 0 .300 .345 .481
Minor League Totals 332 36 86 14 3 7 46 9 102 2 4 .259 .310 .383

9. Christian Villanueva, 3b Born: June 19, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 160
Signed: Mexico, 2008. Signed by: Bill McLaughlin/Mike Daly.
Christian VillanuevaBackground:  Rangers international scouting director Mike Daly saw Villanueva star for Mexico at the 2008 Junior World Championships, and Texas signed him two weeks later. Coming from a family of baseball players, he always played shortstop as an amateur but moved to third base after injuring his knee in 2009 and starting to fill out.

Scouting Report:
  Villanueva has a short, compact swing with a balanced load and good bat control. He has an advanced approach at the plate, though he can get pull-happy at times. There are mixed opinions on his power, as he presently has line-drive sock but some scouts see at least average potential. He doesn't project as a basestealer, but he has sneaky quickness and instincts that allowed him to swipe 32 bases last year. Villanueva is equally as impressive at third base as Mike Olt. A plus defender, Villanueva has soft hands and easy actions. Despite average speed, he has a solid range thanks to his first-step quickness and instincts. He has above-average arm with good carry and accuracy.

The Future:
  Scouts compare Villanueva with countryman Vinny Castilla. With Adrian Beltre in Texas and Olt ahead of him in the system, Villanueva spent time during instructional league at second base, where there would be reduced pressure on his bat. He'll play in high Class A in 2012.

'09 Rangers 2 (R) 24 2 5 1 0 0 3 6 5 1 0 .208 .375 .250
'10 Rangers (R) 188 30 59 14 1 2 35 13 42 6 2 .314 .365 .431
'11 Hickory (LoA) 467 78 130 30 3 17 84 37 86 32 6 .278 .338 .465
Minor League Totals 679 110 194 45 4 19 122 56 133 39 8 .286 .347 .448

10. Rougned Odor, 2b Born: Feb. 3, 1994 B-T: L-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 170
Signed: Venezuela, 2011. Signed by: Rafic Saab/Mike Daly.
Rougned OdorBackground:  The nephew of Indians Double-A hitting coach Rouglas Odor, Rougned was a top international target for his sweet swing, but scouts initially were scared away by his smallish stature and speed. After he improved his speed and showed impressive polish in game action, the Rangers signed him for $425,000 in January. Five months later, he made his debut as the youngest player in the Northwest League, where he ranked as No. 7 prospect at age 17.

Scouting Report:  Odor doesn't have elite-level tools, but what he has plays up because of his instincts, intelligence and swagger. He controls the bat head well and his incredibly quick hands allow him to make late adjustments. Though not big, he has gap power and gets good natural backspin on the ball that could lead to more pop. He hangs in against lefthanders and can bunt. Initially signed as a shortstop, Odor handled the switch to second base smoothly and has the arm to play on either side of the bag. He has smooth actions, good range and a nose for the ball. He's a solid runner.

The Future:
  Depending on how much his power develops, Odor could develop into a solid regular or more. He has a chance to move quickly and may not be challenged until he reaches the higher minors. He'll spend 2012 in low Class A.

'11 Spokane (SS) 233 33 61 9 3 2 29 13 37 10 4 .262 .323 .352
Minor League Totals 233 33 61 9 3 2 29 13 37 10 4 .262 .323 .352