Heading into the summer, 21-year-old first baseman Abimelec Ortiz was trending toward becoming the Rangers’ minor league player of the year, but he didn’t become a lock until after the trade deadline.
The Rangers dealt second baseman Thomas Saggese and shortstop Luisangel Acuña, who might have had the edge on Ortiz through July. Then again, the numbers Ortiz put up were matched by only a handful of prospects.
Ortiz hit 33 home runs and drove in 101 runs in a breakthrough season split between Low-A Down East and High-A Hickory.
Ortiz has shown power ever since he was signed as a nondrafted free agent out of Florida Southwestern State JC in 2021, but he added a hit tool to his prospect profile this season.
A native of Puerto Rico, Ortiz spent the offseason training with former all-star first baseman Carlos Delgado. He also had Lasik surgery to help his eyesight.
“He’s always had the ability to hit,” Rangers assistant general manager Ross Fenstermaker said. “He has the right people in his life. He had some vision correction that I think helped him a little bit, but ultimately he put it in the work.”
Ortiz handled the pitcher-friendly Carolina League over the season’s first five weeks, connecting for seven home runs in 29 games. The ball carries better at High-A Hickory, but Ortiz’s success wasn’t due to park factors.
He hit 26 more home runs. He also hit for average against a higher class of pitchers over a larger sample. His final line settled at .294/.371/.619 in 109 games.
While he’s seeing the ball better—literally—he is also making better swing decisions.
“As he’s progressed through our system, he’s shown the power, but now he’s marrying power plus plate discipline,” Fenstermaker said. “He’s swinging at better pitches and driving pitches more consistently.
“He’s hitting for more average because he’s staying in the strike zone a lot more frequently.”
— Outfielder Evan Carter made his MLB debut on Sept. 7 and by Sept. 17 had set a club record for most walks (seven) by a player in his first nine games. He also connected for his first MLB home run and made a series of key defensive plays in the outfield.
— Righthander Kumar Rocker, drafted third overall in 2022, returned to Vanderbilt in August to resume working toward his college degree and to continue his rehab from Tommy John surgery. He spent the summer in Arlington rehabbing with two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who also had Tommy John during the season.