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Under the prospect microscope since high school, Teixeira has always thrived when healthy. He was expected to be a first-round pick out of high school in 1998, but fell to the Red Sox in the ninth thanks to perceived bonus demands. Teixeira had a decorated career at Georgia Tech, where he was Baseball America's College Player of the Year in 2000. His junior season was interrupted by a broken right ankle. The injury, and again perceived bonus demands, contributed to his being available to the Rangers with the No. 5 overall pick in 2001. He signed a major league contract that guaranteed him $9.5 million, including a club-record $4.5 million bonus. A ruptured tendon in his left elbow and forearm sidelined him in spring training, but Teixeira bounced back to have a big season in his pro debut. Teixeira's tools, approach and strength make him the best hitting prospect in the minor leagues. He has well-above-average power--40 homers a year is no stretch--and hitting ability from both sides of the plate, in part because he's in tune with his abilities and has sound fundamentals. Powerfully built, he has a short swing with leverage from both sides, excellent pitch recognition and an advanced two-strike approach. Athletic and instinctive, Teixeira also works hard on the deficiencies in his game. Teixeira takes pride in not being a base clogger, but speed is his weakest tool. Offensively, he can be stubborn and hasn't taken to the organization's take-a-strike philosophy, but his mindset stems from his success. Teixeira's range at third is average and he had throwing problems in 2002, which the Rangers attribute to injuries and rust. He worked on getting his body back into his throws, and by the Arizona Fall League his arm was again a plus instead of a problem. Teixeira's AFL stint was cut short by a muscle strain in his torso, but BA still rated him the league's top prospect. His major league ETA depends solely on his health. He figures to start 2003 in Triple-A but should get big league at-bats soon at third base, first base (which he hasn't played since the Cape Cod League in 1999) or DH.
Lewis surprised the Rangers by making the big league club out of spring training, thanks in part to injuries to Jay Powell and Jeff Zimmerman. Lewis held opponents to a .200 average to earn a bullpen spot when Texas went with 13 pitchers. His mid-90s fastball ultimately wasn't enough for him to succeed in the majors his first time through, however. Lewis is a prototypical power righthander. He's strong and durable, has a fluid delivery and gets excellent leverage and downhill movement on his fastball, which can touch 97 mph. His curveball, slider and changeup all have been effective when he commands them, but Lewis needs to find an offspeed pitch he can consistently throw for strikes. He toyed with a splitter this offseason. If he develops more touch and feel with his curve or change he may not need the splitter. Lewis could start 2003 in Texas again, but this time it would be in the rotation. He'll enter spring training with a 50-50 shot at a big league job.
Major League Baseball stopped the Rangers from putting Ryan Dittfurth on the 60-day disabled list in April, so they had to act quickly to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. They were able to send Andy Pratt to the Braves for Kozlowski, who didn't need to be placed on the 40-man. Kozlowski went from high Class A to the majors by September. Start with a strong left arm attached to a big frame, then add the poise to handle a rapid rise through the system and it resulted in a breakthrough season. Kozlowski deals low- 90s fastballs and has good arm speed on his changeup, one of the system's best. He uses his size to get depth on his curve, which can be a real hammer at times. Innings and experience will help Kozlowski repeat his mechanics and improve his fastball and changeup command. He'll have to become more consistent with his curve as well. Texas' rotation has openings, but Kozlowski has refinements to make and would be better off opening 2003 in the minors.
A second-team baseball All-American and a star quarterback in high school, Nix has continued to achieve success since spurning a baseball scholarship from Louisiana State. His Arizona Fall League campaign was cut short by a ligament injury in his right thumb. His brother Jayson plays second base in the Rockies organization. Many compare Nix to Brian Giles because of his compact, muscular build and power potential. Nix' power has developed to the point that he has outstripped comparisons to Rusty Greer, though like Greer he has an excellent work ethic, a nice swing and a disciplined-yet-aggressive approach. He ranked third in the minor leagues in RBIs in 2002. While Nix played center field in 2002 and the Rangers have a need at the position, scouts see him as a corner outfielder. He's an average runner and probably will slow down. The thick Nix must be careful that he doesn't cost himself flexibility with his workouts. Nix should move up to Double-A Frisco and continue to play center field in 2003. A successful tour of his native Texas League should have Nix ready for a trip to Arlington in 2004.
Following an injury-plagued 2001, Laird was considered the least promising of the four players the Rangers netted from the Athletics in the Carlos Pena trade. He got healthy and had a breakout season, just in time for the Rangers to cut ties with Ivan Rodriguez. Laird got a then-record $1 million bonus as a draft-and-follow primarily because of his catch-and-throw skills, and they remain his strong suit. He's an above-average receiver with good balance and a solid, very accurate arm. With a quick release, he led the Texas League by throwing out 44 percent of basestealers in 2002. Laird's athletic ability allowed him to start 13 games in the outfield, including one in center. Laird is more of a grinder offensively, though he has started to develop power. He lacks the patience customary for a premium prospect who played in the A's system. He also has durability questions, as his 101 games at Tulsa marked a career high. Laird needs at least one season in Triple-A before challenging for the big league job, and the trade for Einar Diaz buys him that time. Laird eventually should relegate him to a backup role.
Meyer was a second-round pick of the Dodgers out of high school, but not even a visit from Tommy Lasorda could dissuade him from playing for South Carolina. He followed first-rounders Adam Everett and Brian Roberts as the Gamecocks' shortstop and led them to the College World Series in 2002. Meyer oozes tools, has a strong body and never leaves a game with a clean uniform. He's an above-average runner who should steal bases. His plus arm and instincts allow him to make up for footwork deficiencies at second base, where he had limited experience before turning pro, and shortstop. His tools may profile better in center field. Meyer has never been a dominant hitter and struggled in two summers with wood bats in the Cape Cod League. He lacks a real plan at the plate and is too pull-conscious. The Rangers believe his instincts, strength and aggressiveness will help him succeed, though. Meyer was indoctrinated in the Rangers' philosophy during instructional league, where he showed more patience at the plate. He'll try to build on his progress at high Class A Stockton in 2003.
Another part of the Carlos Pena trade, Ludwick made his big league debut in 2002, starting 21 games in center field for Texas. He became the second member of his family to reach the majors, joining his brother Eric, a righthanded pitcher. His season ended in August, however, when he had a screw inserted in his left hip to repair a stress fracture. Ludwick has quick hands that generate power at the plate. He's a good defensive outfielder, especially on the corners, with a strong arm and average speed. He's suited for the grind of pro ball and doesn't get too high or low. Ludwick doesn't do anything exceptionally well. He still doesn't get his lower half into his swing, leaving him with several holes, and his swing mechanics can get out of whack easily. He also needs to be more patient and develop a better two-strike approach. The Rangers' outfield situation is crowded by bad contracts (Carl Everett, Juan Gonzalez), but Ludwick could figure into it, if healthy, in 2003 as a low-cost reserve. A start back at Triple-A seems more likely.
A two-way player in college, Wilson was the California community college co-player of the year at Santa Ana in 2000. A student of the game, he keeps a notebook on opposing hitters now that he's become a full-time pitcher. He made the high Class A Florida State League's all-star game in his first full season. Wilson has above-average athleticism to go with his thirst for pitching knowledge. The Rangers laud his heart and focus. He knows the value of pitching inside with his 89-91 mph fastball and his changeup, which developed into an efficient out pitch last year. His natural sinker helps keep balls in the park. His breaking pitch, while effective when thrown down in the zone, is still slurvy and could use some tightening. Wilson should do that as he becomes more accustomed to pro ball and pitching. Wilson resembles Mario Ramos in his ability to carve up hitters with a fastball and changeup. Wilson has more juice on his fastball, which could give him a better chance to succeed at higher levels. The Rangers will find out in 2003, which he'll open in Double-A.
Hughes signed as a draft-and-follow out of junior-college power Cowley County (Kan.), which also produced Diamondbacks infielder Junior Spivey and former Rangers farmhand Travis Hafner. He overcame offseason knee problems and a midsummer slump to emerge from the Rangers' pack of Double-A righthanders. Hughes has a big body and uses it to throw one of the organization's best fastballs, a mid-90s sinker. He has started commanding it better and added bite to his slider. When he stays on top of it, it's the best slider in the organization. Three starts in the Texas League playoffs helped Hughes gain much-needed feel for his changeup, which was a plus pitch in the postseason. The organization leader in walks in 2002, Hughes still has major command issues. His mechanics can go awry and he's not a tremendous athlete, so he has trouble repeating his delivery. Hughes' experience as a starter helped him develop his raw power arm. He figures to stay in that role until the big league team needs him in the bullpen, where he still profiles best. He'll get a look in spring training but figures to open 2003 in the Triple-A rotation.
A second-team prep All-American, Bourgeois was part of an Arizona State recruiting class that included No. 7 overall pick Matt Harrington and 2002 minor league ERA champion Bubba Nelson. Like the others, he didn't end up in Tempe, signing for a $621,000 bonus. Bourgeois has a unique package of tools considering his size. He has average power and is a plus runner. His range and arm, a tick above-average, prompted a move to shortstop from second base, and Bourgeois showed he can handle the position. His overall package, including leadership and a gamer's makeup, draw comparisons to Jimmy Rollins and Harold Reynolds. Bourgeois' size remains an issue, as he wore down late in the 2002 season and hit just .210 in the final month. A more patient approach would allow him to make better use of his power and his speed. He still needs repetitions to acclimate himself to shortstop. At worst, Bourgeois could be a utilityman. With his tools, though, the ceiling is higher than that. He'll take it one step at a time and could move back to second base down the road.
Hart was a Missouri Valley Conference home run champ at Southwest Missouri State, which had a noted hitter's park, but has since established a track record as a legitimate pro power hitter. Hart clearly is a favorite of assistant general manager Grady Fuson, who drafted him for the Athletics and then had him included in the Carlos Pena trade. Hart has spent the last two years in Triple-A, and in some organizations would be thought of as a Four-A player, but Fuson and the Rangers consider him a strong big league option who could be a starter if not for Rafael Palmeiro's presence in Texas. Hart added versatility to his game by spending more than half of last season in left field--in part to accommodate the since-traded Travis Hafner, who was limited to first base--and playing it adequately. Hart's arm and speed are slightly below-average, but he hits enough for the position. Hart has holes in his swing, particularly on offspeed stuff away. But he can handle a good fastball, has pull power and is willing to work the count to get a pitch he can drive. The Rangers could keep him as a big league reserve depending on the makeup of their roster.
Few minor leaguers have received the kind of notoriety McDougall dealt with as a collegian, when he hit six home runs in a game and was the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series in 1999, his first season at Florida State. However, scouts doubted his power and athleticism, and he wasn't drafted until the 26th round by the Red Sox that year. He was offered $1,000 to sign and instead chose to return for his senior season, after which the Athletics drafted him in the ninth round. Assistant general manager Grady Fuson was Oakland's scouting director then and drafted McDougall again, this time in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft. McDougall doesn't wow anyone with his tools, but he always has hit and has power. At worst, he's a 'tweener--a third baseman without enough power, or a second baseman whose range and athleticism leave him short defensively. At best, he's a hitter with on-base skills, some power and good enough footwork and hands to compensate for his athletic shortcomings. He figures to get more playing time at second base if he sticks with the Rangers this year.
Dominguez had visa issues to start the 2002 season, but instead of having his age revised upward, Dominguez just had his season delayed. He didn't return to the United States in time to start spring training, got going in extended spring and then finally got into his first game action in late June. Once he got started, he took to Texas' tandem-starter concept and showed a plus arm, with a low-90s fastball as well as one of the organization's best changeups. It's a circle change thrown with excellent arm action that helped him average more than a strikeout an inning. The changeup helps him neutralize lefthanded hitters, who hit just .204 against him with one home run in 98 at-bats. Dominguez still has much to learn in terms of carrying his stuff throughout a game, refining his slider (which came along during instructional league) and improving his fastball command. He'll also need to show he can pitch a full season, which he should get a chance to do in high Class A in 2003.
The Rangers have been searching for pitching in the Dominican Republic for some time. Joaquin Benoit finally rewarded their patience with flashes of brilliance in the big leagues as a rookie in 2002, while Jovanny Cedeno has fallen by the wayside with injuries. Cedeno was protected on the 40-man roster, but became a free agent after being nontendered in December. Benoit and Jimenez were the most prominent Rangers to have their ages revised in the 2001-02 offseason--both added two years--but Jimenez' performance still has him on a solid trajectory for the big leagues. He has grown into a 6-foot-2 body (though he's still listed at 150 pounds) and emerged along with Jose Dominguez as one of the system's two fine Dominican pitching candidates at low Class A. Jimenez was Savannah's most consistent and durable starter, belying his 5-10 record. He was more effective out of the bullpen in the tandem-starter arrangement, showing better control of with his fastball, which reached the low 90s, slider and changeup. He'll move up to high Class A with Dominguez this year, when he'll try to further refine his command with the strike zone.
The Rangers don't have outstanding pitching in the minors, but they do have depth, especially among lefthanders. Start with Ben Kozlowski, of course, but don't forget C.J. Wilson, Murray, Mario Ramos, Derrick Van Dusen and major league Rule 5 acquisition John Koronka. Other than Kozlowski, the rest of Texas' lefties share a common theme: decent arms, plus changeups and the need to throw quality strikes down in the zone. Murray did that consistently in 2002, his first full pro season. Rangers officials compare him to Kirk Rueter for his willingness to pitch inside with an 86-88 mph fastball, and because Murray spots his slider and changeup down in the zone, getting hitters off balance and reaching. Armed with a deceptive delivery, Murray pitched better in 2002 after a move up to high Class A and is in line for a promotion to Double-A. His slider's effectiveness helps separate him from some of the lefties below him on this list. He'll have to keep throwing it for strikes to remain a rotation candidate instead of being consigned to the bullpen.
Dittfurth ranked as the organization's No. 6 prospect a year ago, before a serious shoulder injury derailed his impressive march through the minors. He had October surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, and while that injury no longer spells certain doom for a pitcher, it may keep him off the mound for the entire 2003 season. The Rangers protected him on their 40- man roster, then got him through waivers and outrighted him to Triple-A once the season was over. Texas was glad to hold on to Dittfurth because of his arm strength and makeup. He's driven and an excellent competitor on the mound. When healthy, Dittfurth pitches off his fastball, which has low-90s velocity and sinks. He also throws a curveball, slider and changeup. The Rangers now must hope Dittfurth's stuff returns when he comes back. They should get their first look late in the summer or in instructional league.
Regilio made steady progress in 2002, interrupted only by biceps tendinitis that required rest in July. It was the second straight year physical concerns had slowed him, as a ribcage injury helped spoil his 2001 season that included a perfect game in the Florida State League. Neither injury required surgery, but Regilio made just two starts for Double-A Tulsa after returning from the tendinitis, neither lasting past the third inning. Up to that point, he had made great advances and earned an emergency June start in Triple-A when Aaron Myette was promoted to Texas. He should return to Triple-A in 2003 based on merit, not need. Regilio first made the move to Double-A in 2001 but struggled. He stopped trying to be a strikeout pitcher in 2002 and had more success in the Texas League, letting his 89-92 mph sinker and slider do the work. He showed improved velocity early in the year, getting up to 93 mph, and has another weapon to work with down in the zone in his splitter. Regilio still needs to command his pitches better, but the Rangers credit him for having the work ethic that helped him improve in the last offseason. They expect more progress in 2003.
A prep quarterback, Barnett was drafted out of high school by the Braves in the 46th round. Instead, he joined NCAA Division II powerhouse Florida Southern. Barnett had a consistent college career, winning MVP honors at the Division II South Regional in 2002, and was the first pitcher Grady Fuson drafted with the Rangers. Barnett has a durable frame, good arm action and a pro body, all of which project him as a workhorse. His size and stuff have drawn comparisons to Pat Hentgen. Barnett has a sinking 91-93 mph fastball that can touch the mid-90s, and he also employs an excellent changeup. He repeats his delivery well and has good athleticism, translating into plus command. He performed well in his pro debut and will continue to be pushed quickly if he shows similar results. The key as he moves up a level to high Class A in 2003 will be refining his slider, which needs tighter spin and better depth. Barnett missed some development time when he skipped instructional league to return to school in the fall, but the Rangers see his intelligence as an asset.
After wandering unnoticed through the Mariners farm system for nearly six seasons, Clark is more valued by the Rangers. After they acquired him in a trade for Ismael Valdes, Clark had an excellent debut with his new organization and kept hitting in the Arizona Fall League. Though Clark wasn't protected on Texas' 40-man roster, he made it through the Rule 5 draft and could make the Rangers in a utility role. Exclusively a second baseman while with Seattle, Clark has moved to center field and taken to the switch. He has good speed and range for the position, but still needs to learn the intricacies of the outfield and has a below-average arm. His strengths are his speed, his ability to make consistent contact and his eye for drawing walks. The last trait is especially valued by Texas. Even after the signing of Doug Glanville, center field is still a trouble spot in the organization, and Clark could help the Rangers there this year.
Few minor leaguers were as scrutinized as Ramos last season. He was the key player the Rangers acquired from the Athletics in the Carlos Pena trade, and Grady Fuson staked his personal reputation on the deal, but his 2002 season was a disaster. Luckily for Fuson, he has plenty of success stories to mitigate Ramos' failings, and there also is some hope to go with Ramos' disastrous numbers. He must pitch off his changeup to succeed, but the he got away from that in trying to justify the trade. Ramos succeeded in the past when he varied speeds off his 85-88 mph fastball and changeup and threw strikes with his curveball. However, he began last season trying to pound righthanders inside with his mediocre fastball and got destroyed in Triple-A. He posted an 8.20 ERA as a starter and didn't regain his confidence until a move to the bullpen late in the year. Ramos was protected on the 40-man roster, evidence the Rangers think he can regain his confidence and his ability to pitch, whether as a starter or back in the bullpen.
O'Riordan didn't have as decorated a career as some San Diego prep players, but he is clearly a product of that city's outstanding quality of high school baseball. O'Riordan wasn't drafted out of high school and went on to a stellar career at Stanford, where he was a three-year starter and the Cardinal's most consistent hitter over that span. Short but solidly built and deceptively strong, O'Riordan has hit everywhere he has played. He proved his bat was his best tool in his debut, dominating the Rookie-level Appalachian League the way a college senior should and finishing second in the league batting race. O'Riordan is more than adequate at second base, though with his range and arm he'll never be confused for Roberto Alomar. He has good enough footwork on the double play and may have enough arm to spend some time at third base down the line. His key will be his performance. As long as he hits, he'll move up the ladder and could have a similar career to former Rangers utilityman Frank Catalanotto.
Second base isn't supposed to be a prospect position, so maybe it's not a good sign that the Rangers' best depth in the minors appears to be there. Besides having possible second sackers in the top 10 with Drew Meyer and Jason Bourgeois, the Rangers also like the looks of Chris O'Riordan, Martinez and Jeff Pickler. Martinez got on the prospect map last season when he repeated high Class A with startling results. He improved his average by 64 points, cut down on his strikeouts and improved his stolen-base percentage. Martinez served as a catalyst at the top of the lineup for the best team in the Florida State League, was a league all-star and was named the best defensive second baseman by FSL managers. He made just eight errors in 100 games at second. Martinez' best tools are his speed, which rates a 70 on the 20-80 scale. He has an average arm and may play more shortstop now that Jose Morban is out of the organization. Martinez needs more strength and better plate discipline, and also has some swing mechanics to improve on, but he made enough strides in 2002 to make the Rangers think it's possible.
The Rangers drafted Thompson in the 43rd round out of high school, but had to wait two more years to land him as a 12th-rounder out of Pensacola JC. In between, the one-time Florida recruit had Tommy John surgery. While 2002 was his first full season back from the injury, Thompson maintained an 88-93 mph fastball throughout the season and showed the ability to spot it anywhere. He's a short righthander, but he has long arms and gets life on his pitches by throwing from a low three-quarters arm angle. Thompson touched 96 mph early last spring and he's aggressive early in the count with his fastball, helping him to have incredibly low walk totals--three in 32 pro innings, one in instructional league. He also has command of a curveball that can be a plus pitch. The Rangers brought Thompson along slowly last summer after he had a heavy workload in the spring, so a jump to high Class A in 2003 wouldn't be a surprise. A bulldog on the mound, he could move quickly.
Boyd and Kiki Bengochea have similar stories. Both were highly drafted out of high school (second round by the Mariners in 1998 for Boyd, third round by the Royals in 1999 for Bengochea). Both had some college success, with Boyd a second-team All-American after a sterling sophomore season at Clemson. Both stumbled thereafter and had disappointing ends to their college careers. Both are represented by Scott Boras and signed with the Rangers for bonuses that surprised the industry. Boyd signed in January 2002 for $600,000, the second-highest bonus ever given to a seventh-round pick. But unlike Bengochea, who rebounded once he turned pro, Boyd has continued to be dogged by a string of injuries that began in 2000. He has been bothered by a thumb injury that forced him to leave the Cape Cod League early that summer, and a cracked vertebra in his back wiped out his 2001 season. Last year, he battled an Achilles tendon problem. In each case, the Rangers say, Boyd's diligence and desire to get back on the field actually hurt him because he hasn't allowed his injuries to properly heal. His tools remain tantalizing. He's a switch-hitter with a line-drive swing (it's better from the left side), gap power and above-average power. He's an excellent defender in center field with a plus arm and good range. He had a good instructional league performance, but will need to stay healthy to start turning his potential into reality.
Bengochea entered 2002 as a preseason first-team All-American, meaning that big league scouting directors considered him one of the top five pitchers in college baseball. He was anything but for the Hurricanes, getting lit up early in the season and needing a late rush to finish at 6-7, 5.63. However, Bengochea won 14 games and a national championship in his first two seasons at Miami, and in two summers with Team USA he went 6-1, 0.61. Assistant general manager Grady Fuson thought it worth the gamble to pick Bengochea in the 11th round and pay him a bonus worthy of a third-round pick, $550,000. Bengochea pitched effectively in his pro debut. He's a classic sinker/slider pitcher who must keep his 89-91 mph fastball down in the zone to be effective. His slider is his best pitch. He got hammered in college when he overthrew, trying to put up radar-gun numbers instead of just pitching. The Rangers have worked, successfully so far, with getting Bengochea to stay on top of his pitches and use his sinking changeup more frequently. While he's not projected as a frontline starter anymore, he could move quickly if he makes those adjustments.
The Rangers acquired Van Dusen from the Mariners in the Ismael Valdes deal. Van Dusen isn't a premium pitching prospect, but he's lefthanded and has a slider that could be a plus major league pitch. He also has an above-average changeup that may be better than Mario Ramos'. Van Dusen has a deceptive delivery and, despite his unorthodox arm action, he has the ability to command his 84-87 mph fastball, slider and changeup. He pauses a bit during his windup, a change he made in 2002. He also shows a good feel for pitching. He sailed through the Mariners system, keeping hitters off balance and building his confidence, until he reached Double-A. Van Dusen bounced back after the trade and then reported to the Arizona Fall League, where he worked on his slider and got his first extended taste of relieving. The Rangers will keep him in the rotation this year in Double-A, but a move to the bullpen remains a possibility.
Botts is good friends with Laynce Nix and spent a third straight season with him, but he fell behind his buddy in terms of development. Botts, whose cousin Carl Bacon is a college catcher at Santa Clara, is the most physically imposing player in the system. He has size and speed to go with it, once running a 6.55-second 60-yard dash, best in the organization at the time. With all that athleticism, the Rangers will be patient--and Botts is testing that patience. His raw power and selectivity at the plate should generate a lot of home runs, but he has yet to crack double digits as a pro, thanks in part to some serious holes in his swing. In his first full season as more of an outfielder than first baseman, Botts looked raw in right field last year. He should repeat high Class A in 2003, this time closer to family back at Stockton.
Koronka adds to Texas' lefthanded depth after being plucked from the Reds in the major league Rule 5 draft. He got onto the prospect map last season by winning his first 11 decisions with Stockton, earning California League all-star honors. Koronka was much more hittable after his promotion to Double-A, but the Rangers saw enough potential to merit trying to keep him on their 25-man roster for all of this season. Koronka fits the bill of pitchers Grady Fuson looks for. He throws strikes (with a fastball in the high 80s) and has a good changeup, which Reds officials considered of major league caliber. He was effective with that combination in the Arizona Fall League, where he held hitters to a .212 average. Koronka's chances of sticking in the majors will be coming up with a breaking ball. His fastball/changeup combo doesn't faze lefthanders, who hit .355 against him last year. He'll have to improve on his slurvy curveball to stick as a situational reliever, the usual path for Rule 5 lefthanders.
Gold led NCAA Division I in home runs in 2002 with 33 in just 56 games. If you're going to have one tool, power is a good one to have, and that's Gold's calling card. He has shown the ability to loft the ball, gets good extension in his uppercut swing and has as much raw power as any Rangers minor leaguer besides Mark Teixeira. How much of his power will translate from batting practice to the games is the question. He's big and strong, with a build the Major League Scouting Bureau compared to Lee Stevens'. Gold isn't a guy who will hit for high average because he tries to pull the ball too much, a weakness South Atlantic League pitchers exploited. However, the Rangers remain high on Gold, who figures to return to low Class A in 2003. He'll move slowly as he polishes his raw approach at the plate and his defensive play at first base.
Grady Fuson calls Charles a "big dreams" guy, and he evoked comparisons to a former Rangers farmhand who also was raw and from the Dominican: Sammy Sosa. No one in the organization puts those kinds of expectations on Charles, however. They do compare his raw tools favorably to most any player in the organization, and are anxious to see what Charles can do in 2003, when he'll get his first taste of full-season ball. He has a good pro body that is still developing. He possesses the organization's strongest outfield arm, though he needs to be more accurate, and should develop into a good defensive right fielder. He gets good jumps on fly balls and is a plus runner. Offensively, he makes good use of his speed on the basepaths, stealing 35 bases in 40 tries over the last two seasons. A quick bat helps him crush fastballs and makes the ball jump off his bat, and he led Rookie-level Pulaski in homers in 2002. Charles' hitting approach, however, remains very unrefined. He struck out once every four at-bats and has little plate discipline, a commodity highly valued by the Rangers. Charles will be given time to hone the skills he needs to unleash his raw tools.
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