Texas Rangers 2020 Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update
STATE OF THE SYSTEM
Slowly but surely, and in the face of a bevy of injuries to many of the team’s prospects, the Rangers’ system is improving despite not having any Top 100 Prospects. Texas got a breakout season from C Sam Huff, who showed power and athleticism and took home MVP honors from the Futures Game. The Rangers also got intriguing performances from prospects like RHPs Ricky Vanasco and Ronny Henriquez and a standout pro debut from SS Luisangel Acuña. They added college performer Justin Foscue with their first-round pick in the abbreviated 2020 draft.
1. Josh Jung, 3B
Jung was one of the top college hitters in the country when the Rangers drafted him eighth overall in 2019. He has a chance to develop into a plus hitter because of his bat-to-ball and pitch-recognition skills, but the amount of power he will produce is in question. He hit two home runs in 44 pro games last year and has an offensive approach more conducive to spreading the ball around the field rather than driving it for impact.
2. Sam Huff, C
Huff has 70-grade raw power, which he used to belt 28 home runs between two Class A levels last year, though he will have to improve his plate discipline as he faces better pitching. At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Huff is a big man for a catcher, but he has a plus arm, frames pitches well and improved his blocking and footwork last year.
3. Leody Taveras, OF
Taveras is a plus runner with a plus arm in center field, where he's a plus defender with good instincts and range. The Rangers have pushed Taveras aggressively—he reached Double-A last year as a 20-year-old—and while he has shown solid bat-to-ball skills, scouts would like to see him drive the ball for more damage on contact to project him hitting in the top half of a lineup. After a strong turn in summer camp, Taveras made Texas’ Opening Day roster.
4. Nick Solak, 2B/OF
Solak has an excellent track record of hitting throughout the minors, with a compact swing that stays through the zone for a long time, solid-average raw power and the ability to control the strike zone. A plus runner, Solak has struggled defensively at second base, but his ability in the batter's box may be good enough to carry him as an everyday left fielder.
5. Maximo Acosta, SS
Acosta ranked as the No. 4 international signing in the 2019 class, a well-rounded player with an exciting balance of tools and skills for a 17-year-old. He has yet to make his pro debut, but he's an athletic shortstop with plus speed, a plus arm and a chance to stick at the position, along with the pure hitting ability and raw power that could fit toward the top or in the middle of a lineup.
6. Justin Foscue, 2B
One of the top hitters in college baseball, Foscue went No. 14 overall to the Rangers in the 2020 draft, agreeing to an under-slot deal of $3.25 million. His defense needs to improve to stay at second base and avoid moving to an outfield corner, but he has a chance to develop an above-average hit/power combination.
7. Hans Crouse, RHP
Crouse was the system's No. 1 prospect after the 2018 season, but last year he pitched through a bone spur in his pitching elbow that took a toll on his stuff, particularly his slider, resulting in a lowered strikeout rate. At his best, Crouse has shown a plus fastball and slider, so if his stuff returns to that level while healthy, he could develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter, but what he showed last year adds more risk to his profile, and he's not in the team's 60-man prospect pool.
8. Joe Palumbo, LHP
Palumbo has a plus fastball that can reach 96 mph and plays up because of the deception in his delivery and a plus curveball he can use as a finishing pitch to get swings and misses. Palumbo has never topped 100 innings in a season and had Tommy John surgery in 2017, so there is some durability risk, but if he can handle the workload, he projects as a back-end starter who will pitch either in that role or out of the bullpen in Texas this year.
9. Luisangel Acuña, SS
Acuña is a small, explosive player with a chance to be a high-OBP hitter, showing a sharp eye for the strike zone and a high-contact bat with a fast, aggressive swing. He's also a good athlete with plus speed and arm strength, and while there's still a chance he ends up at second base or center field, the defensive strides he has made give him a greater chance to stick at shortstop.
10. Bayron Lora, OF
Signed for $3.9 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, Lora has yet to play in an official game, but has shown outstanding raw power, a 70 on the 20-80 scale, albeit with swing-and-miss tendencies he will have to keep in check. Lora has a huge frame and has improved his conditioning over the last year, but he's limited to a corner-outfield spot or possibly first base.
- Ronny Henriquez, RHP
- Sherten Apostel, 3B
- Ricky Vanasco, RHP
- Osleivis Basabe, SS
- Cole Winn, RHP
- Davis Wendzel, 3B
- DeMarcus Evans, RHP
- Jonathan Hernandez, RHP
- Anderson Tejeda, SS
- Ryan Garcia, RHP
- Heriberto Hernandez, OF/1B/C
- Steele Walker, OF
- Bubba Thompson, OF
- David Garcia, C
- Keithron Moss, 2B/3B
- Randy Florentino, C
- Julio Pablo Martinez, OF
- Taylor Hearn, LHP
- Zion Bannister, OF
- Tyler Phillips, RHP
The Rangers have a deep system, especially throughout the lower levels. They added two of the best collegiate hitters with their first-round picks in the last two drafts between third baseman Josh Jung last year and second baseman Justin Foscue this year, and two of the best international prospects in the 2019 class with shortstop Maximo Acosta and outfielder Bayron Lora. They join a diverse mix of talent the Rangers fielded from the Dominican Summer League to Class A levels last year. Several of those players, from shortstop Luisangel Acuña to righthanders Ronny Henriquez and Ricky Vanasco—have breakout potential, but are still a few years away from being in the major league picture.
The Rangers lack elite prospects, with no players ranked among the Top 100 prospects, though third baseman Josh Jung and catcher Sam Huff are just on the periphery. While the Rangers have a range of intriguing prospects at the lower levels, the only two hitters in their top 30 prospects who reached Double-A or higher last year are Nick Solak and Leody Taveras, so the Rangers' lineup is unlikely to get much help from the farm system in 2020. Health has also been a weakness for the organization, with a wave of Tommy John surgeries for several recent high draft picks, while some of their position prospects with loud tools—outfielder Bubba Thompson and shortstops Anderson Tejeda and Chris Seise—have also missed significant time due to injuries.
PLAYER POOL TIDBITS
The big bats in the system with full-season experience are all in the organization's player pool, led by third baseman Josh Jung, catcher Sam Huff and center fielder Leody Taveras. So are third baseman Sherten Apostel and shortstop Anderson Tejeda, with Apostel there after a big 2019 season and Tejeda a 40-man roster player who missed most of last season due to a subluxation of his left shoulder. Righthanders Hans Crouse, Ronny Henriquez and Cole Winn all pitched at low Class A Hickory last year and rank among the organization's top 15 prospects, but the Rangers left them off their player pool in deference to upper-level pitchers who can help them this year. One notable arm in their player pool is 22-year-old righthander Alex Speas, a 2016 second-round pick who hasn't pitched above low Class A, with his progress slowed by Tommy John surgery but whose fastball has reached triple-digits.
Lefthander Brock Burke had surgery in February to repair the labrum in his throwing shoulder. He will miss the 2020 season and dropped out of the Rangers' top 30 after ranking as the No. 21 prospect after the 2019 season.