2023 Texas Rangers Top 10 Prospects Chat
Josh Norris hosted a chat to discuss the Rangers system. You can read the transcript here.
Josh Norris: Hello, chatters. It is chat time. Let us chat.
- What can you guys tell us about cole winn's season from a year ago? Some speculate the line drive on his ankle messed up his mechanics, but ive yet to hear if this was ever confirmed ny anybody.
Josh Norris: Yes, that is a good part of the reason he struggled. Once he got hit by the line drive, he started unconsciously getting out of whack with his mechanics, and his stuff across the board suffered. There were other factors, too. Namely, his fastball command was not particularly good, and his pitch sequencing left something to be desired. He relied on his changeup too much at times. He also might not have a true plus pitch in the arsenal. He's still plenty young though and has time for a reset in 2023.
Ken (Lakewood CA):
- Curious - you rated Zavala #6 and Dustin Harris #9. Yet in the projected 2026 line up you picked Harris over Zavala for RF. Can I ask why? Must have been close. Thanks.
Josh Norris: Zavala's arm (especially after the surgery) might not profile enough for him to play right field.
Larry (Dallas, TX):
- Obviously the Handbook has already gone to press, but where would you slot newly signed Pablo Guerrero in their top 30, hypothetically? Thoughts on this kid? Does he have any of Vladdy Sr and Vladdy Jr's upside?
Josh Norris: I can't honestly say I've given that any thought yet. It's hard enough lining up guys who were in the system to also think about where dudes who are going to be in the system might fit. That said, we should have full T30s on the site in a couple of weeks which will include any transactions that have happened since the book went to press as well as any J15 signings who warrant inclusion.
- Some high walk players can be getting walks by being too passive. Are there concerns about Carter in this respect?
Josh Norris: Not to me, no. He also hits pretty darn well, too. There are two corresponding warts I can gather with Carter. One is whether he'll continue to add strength to his frame. Evaluators believe his large hands, feet and neck point to that happening. If it doesn't, however, he might not develop to the power necessary to truly be an elite player instead of a very good one.
- Is Antoine Kelly a future reliever? Or is there a chance he can improve his control enough to continue starting?
Josh Norris: I think he's probably relief bound. The stuff and delivery, however, point to a guy who can be a true weapon out of the bullpen if he can be a bit more consistent.
Raul (Mesa, Az.):
- What's up, Josh? What do you have on Danyer Cueva? I saw him in rookie ball a couple of times, and all the dude did was hit, hit, hit. Can he stay at shortstop?
Josh Norris: Cueva is part of a very interesting group of young players who made up the Rangers' ACL team in 2022. He might be the safest hitter of the group, albeit the one with the least amount of upside offensively. Scouts are split on his ability to stick at shortstop, which tells you there's at least a chance he can do it.
- Teodo's got really interesting starter/reliever splits. Why do you think he walks less batters when he's starting, as opposed to relieving?
Josh Norris: Between the ears. There's an easier routine for a starter than there is for a reliever—though it's not as if he wasn't on a schedule as a piggyback guy—but the mental component of both roles can't be ignored.
- Aaron Zavala. The kid seemingly can flat hit...righties. What are your scouting sources saying about his future ability to hit lefties? Will he likely be more than a platoon player? Thanks.
Josh Norris: There's definite concern there from external scouts but there's belief that he could improve in that regard by being less passive overall. He knows the strike zone, but the swing decisions could stand to get better. As mentioned earlier, too, I'm still pretty concerned by the elbow injury and how it might affect his long term outlook.
- Blaine Crim showed some big time power and although 25 did make it up to AAA at end of year. Any chance to see him in Texas in 2023 - and can he make an impact? Thanks for the chat!
Josh Norris: I'm a big believer in letting teams tell you what they think of players by the way they treat them. Despite his numbers, Crim was left unprotected in the R5 Draft and went unpicked. I'm not saying teams don't whiff in that regard, but it's not a great sign. I could see him getting a cup of coffee and/or being one of those guys who comes up and gets hot for a quick stretch, but I don't think we're talking about a long-term piece here.
- Hey Josh, thanks for chatting! Surprised not to see Thomas Saggese in the top 10, how close was he to breaking in? Are there underlying metrics that don't support him as a plus hitter going forward like he showed this past season?
Josh Norris: I'll admit I whiffed on Saggese during the season as far as the T30 updates were concerned, but he wasn't a guy I seriously considered for the Top 10. He's a fringy defender and a below-average runner and although he got the barrel on the ball plenty, scouts were concerned about him being overaggressive at the plate—he swung nearly 56% of the time in 2022—though there was some improvement in that department as the year wore on.
- Hi there, I'm curious about your thoughts on Jonathan Ornelas. Was he close to the top 10 after leading the org in hits? Do he have the defensive versatility to crack the big league roster, or do you see him more as a potential trade piece?
Josh Norris: He was not close to the Top 10, though he was a guy who did a good job rising up the ranks. Scouts who liked him saw a player who could hit the ball plenty hard and had lots of defensive versatility that should serve him well in the long run. There's plusses and minuses to his game and he should be a big leaguer but might fit best in a utility role.
- Does Thomas Sagasse have a chance to make a leap? Possibly into the top 10? What other prospects in the system do you see having potential to make a jump?
Josh Norris: I answered the first part already, but let's move to the second part of the question. One name that comes to mind is a righthander named Leandro Calderon. He could be Emiliano Teodo 2.0. I came very close to ranking him in the T30 but repeating the DSL was a bit of a red flag for me. He's a converted infielder with big time arm strength that produces plenty of mid-90s fastballs. His breaking ball is a powerful downer with big-time spin rates. He pairs both pitches well, but the command and control needs to come a long way. On the offensive side, JoJo Blackmon hits the ball incredibly hard, can run like a faucet (does wind really run?) and has the chops to stick in center field. He also swings and misses a ton, but sometimes you just have to bet on upside and that's exactly what I did with Blackmon.
Davey P (Las Vegas):
- Jack Leiter and Cole Winn were the Rangers top two pitching prospects heading into last year and had disappointing seasons with command issues etc. Has there been organizational approaches to instructing pitching which contributed to the regression of those 2? Do you think Leiter and Winn will be able to restore the luster they lost last season?
Josh Norris: I've mentioned Winn earlier in the chat, but let's address Leiter. Scouts outside the org still like the stuff, but he's going to have to make tweaks to his approach to make it play to its fullest potential. Part of it is that the data show that his fastball plays better north-south than east-west, particularly up in the zone. Further, his slider is the better of his two breaking balls and it might have taken a season like the one he just had to help him realize the discrepancy. It's also important to realize that he was pushed super aggressively from Vandy to Double-A, and a super hitter-friendly Double-A league at that.
- What are your thoughts on Echedry Vargas? Looks like a decent all around skill set, what say you?
Josh Norris: He made the 30 and is certainly an interesting player. He makes lots of contact and lots of loud contact but he is a bit of a free swinger. He's not going to stand out on defense and isn't a quick-twitch player either, but he's enough to raise an eyebrow, especially for a player who signed for $10,000.
Matt (Austin, TX):
- Do you see Cameron Cauley moving up the list at all? I recall him being a standout at instructs but had a pretty mediocre year in A ball. Are the Rangers still optimistic?
Josh Norris: Yes, the Rangers are optimistic about Mr. Cauley. There were tweaks made to his swing to help him use the opposite field a bit more and to help him close a hole on the inner half. He's an excellent athlete who can look electric in bursts, but there's plenty of smoothing out before he reaches his ceiling.
Jim (Durham, NC):
- Thoughts on Yeison Morrobel? Pretty fat away, but he was impressive in 2022. Thanks!
Josh Norris: Morrobel was pretty close to the Top 10 (full 40s will be on the site soon-ish, so I don't want to spoil anything), and showed a pretty solid bucket of 50s and 55s across the board that could become further amplified with strength gains. He should form a very fun core of players at Down East this year.
Josh Norris: Thanks for all the questions, Rangers fans. Until next year.