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Tales of Gallo's prodigious power date back to his days as a youth, when he and teammate Bryce Harper were 8 and 9 years old. Gallo went on to hit 65 career home runs in high school, a Nevada state record, before signing with the Rangers for $2.25 million as the No. 39 overall pick in 2012. Gallo quickly set another home run record with 18 blasts in the Rookie-level Arizona League en route to winning the league MVP. He followed that up with a minor league-leading 40-homer season in 2013'despite missing most of July with a groin injury'then hit 42 home runs in 2014, topped in the minors only by fellow Las Vegan Kris Bryant of the Cubs, who hit 43. Tales of Gallo's power sound like hyperbole, but scouts and coaches with 30-plus years of experience say Gallo hits balls as far as nearly anyone they have ever seen. He put on a stunning batting practice display during the Futures Game, hitting balls out of Target Field and smashing the windshield of a promotional truck set up by a sponsor on the right-field concourse. Gallo has easy, top-of-thescale 80 raw power on the 20-80 scouting scale, which he generates with quick hands, premium bat speed and plenty of strength, leveraging the ball with majestic loft and backspin. What changed Gallo from a good young talent to one of the game's elite prospects was the improvement in his strikeout rate, which dropped from 37 percent at low Class A Hickory in 2013 to 26 percent at high Class A Myrtle Beach in 2014, though it spiked again once he reached Double-A Frisco in the second half. Gallo simplified his swing, eliminating some of the excess movement and shortening his load to be more direct to the ball. With his muscular 6-foot-5 frame, his swing always will be long and his power will come with strikeouts. But he also improved his ability to control the strike zone, which helps his hitting and boosts his on-base percentage with a high walk rate. Overall discipline still is an area he needs to hone, however, especially against high fastballs. Gallo is a below-average runner, and few players with his size play third base in the major leagues. Yet he's remarkably athletic for his size, has sound hands and a plus arm, so there's a chance he can play the hot corner. Sticking at third would boost Gallo's value, but the offensive potential is plenty for a corner outfield spot or first base, two positions he's also experimented with during instructional league. Gallo's swing-and-miss tendencies still make him a high-risk player, but the remarkable improvement and tantalizing upside makes him a potential MVP candidate if everything clicks into place. Gallo spent the second half of 2014 at Double-A, and he probably will return to Frisco to open 2015, though he should reach Triple-A Round Rock by midseason, and possibly Texas by the end of the year.
The Tigers sacrificed their first-round pick in 2012 to sign Prince Fielder, so Thompson at No. 91 overall was their top selection. Detroit held him back in extended spring training the first two months of 2013, but he flew through the system after that slow start, reaching Double-A Erie as a 20-year-old in July 2014. Two starts later, the Tigers packaged him with relief prospect Corey Knebel to add reliever Joakim Soria to a thin Tigers bullpen. Thompson throws two-seam and four-seam fastballs downhill at 89-95 mph, with good sink and tail on his two-seamer. His best secondary weapon is his plus slider, a swing-and-miss pitch with two-plane break that flashes 70 on the 20-80 scale. Thompson didn't use his changeup much early in his career, but it's become an average pitch with projection to tick up. He mixes in an occasional curveball as well, and it too can be average. He's a solid strike-thrower, though he could tighten up his fastball command. The Tigers' desperation for bullpen help is the Rangers' gain. As a potential No. 2 or 3 starter, Thompson could be a steal. He's slated to return to Double-A Frisco to open 2015.
Alfaro went from Colombia to the Dominican Republic to train, then in January 2010 signed with the Rangers for $1.3 million, a Colombian record. A broken left hand in 2013 and hamstring issues in the past have cut into his development time, but he stayed healthy and logged a career high 121 games in 2014. Alfaro has two standout tools in his power and arm strength. His bat speed, explosive hips and strength generate plus raw power, though he remains a power-over-hit prospect who's still trying to tone down his aggressive approach, improve his pitch recognition and make more contact. He could grow to be an average hitter, which is plenty good for a catcher with his power. Alfaro is athletic and is one of the fastest catchers in baseball, a legitimate average runner. His double-plus arm generates pop times of sub-1.9 seconds on throws to second base. He's never been a shutdown defender of the running game, but he threw out basestealers at a solid 28 percent clip in 2014. Alfaro has the attributes to catch, but he's still a well below-average receiver who committed 23 passed balls in 90 games in 2014. Alfaro's defensive issues are troubling, but his ceiling is as an above-average player whose power can carry him. He likely returns to Double-A Frisco to start 2015.
Mazara set an international amateur record when he signed with the Rangers for $4.95 million on July 2, 2011. Other clubs thought the bonus was well beyond Mazara's value, and even Rangers officials worried after he struggled early. But 2014 was a breakthrough season for Mazara, who reached Double-A Frisco as a 19-year-old in August. Mazara entered pro ball with an exaggerated leg kick, which gave him timing problems once he faced better pitchers. The Rangers never told him specifically to eliminate the leg kick, but gradually he figured out that he needed to get his front foot down earlier. He now has a small toe-tap, which puts him in better position to hit, especially against good fastballs up and in. Mazara still takes a high dose of strikeouts, but he improved his contact rate, walk rate and game power in 2014. He has above-average raw power, which has always been his main draw. Defense was an adventure for Mazara early in his career, and while he's not rangy, he's become a reliable right fielder. He's also improved his throwing and now has a plus arm with good accuracy. Level-headed and mature beyond his years, Mazara has justified the Rangers' early belief in his ability. He has a chance to be an above-average everyday right fielder, and he likely returns to Double-A to open 2015.
Williams had an up-and-down season as a high school senior, which is why he was available in the second round despite an explosive tool set. He crushed both Class A levels but struggled in an August 2014 bump to Double-A Frisco and during a stint in an Arizona Fall League, showcasing a tantalizing ceiling but a high-risk offensive approach. Williams has some of the fastest hands in the minors. He has a loose, free and easy swing that's quick and explosive. He has plus raw power and can go deep to any part of the park, though his stroke is more geared for line drives than loft. Scouts consistently praise Williams for his hitting actions, even though he strikes out frequently. That's because he has trouble recognizing pitches and chases too many balls out of the strike zone, which leads to excessive strikeouts and minimal walks. Williams is an above-average runner with an average arm, so he's rotated between all three outfield positions. He's still learning to become a more efficient basestealer, which will improve once he's able to time his jumps better. Scouts inclined to dream on Williams think he can become the Rangers' version of Carlos Gonzalez. If he can't shrink his strike zone, then his approach carries enough risk that the downside could be Felix Pie. He will return to a loaded Frisco team in 2015.
Nicknamed "Chi-Chi", Gonzalez signed for $2.215 million as the No. 23 pick in the 2013 draft. He has looked the park of a polished college pitcher, moving quickly through the system to Double-A Frisco in 2014. Gonzalez commands his plus fastball to both sides of the plate, operating at 92-95 mph and touching 97. Gonzalez can cut and sink his fastball, giving it above-average movement and helping him get an abundance of grounders. He has another weapon in his plus slider, a sharp mid-80s offering that he adds and subtracts from depending on the situation. One of the focal points for Gonzalez this year was to improve his changeup, a pitch that flashes good action and sink. It has the makings of an average to a tick better offering, though he's not as consistent with the changeup yet as he is with his slider. He also started to use a solid curveball to get early-count called strikes, giving him a four-pitch mix to attack hitters. Gonzalez has all the attributes to be a mid-rotation starter. He could open 2015 at Frisco or Triple-A Round Rock, but by midseason he should be in Texas, with crisp command that should allow for a smooth transition.
The Rangers' July 2 haul in 2009 included $1.55 million to Jurickson Profar from Curacao and $1.2 million to Sardinas out of Venezuela. Injuries slowed Sardinas his first three years, but injuries to other players in the organization helped push him up the ladder in 2014 for three separate big league stints. Sardinas isn't short, but he plays the little man's game. He has good hand-eye coordination, goes with where the ball is pitched and generally stays within the strike zone. His bat-to-ball skills are advanced, but he hits the ball on the ground frequently and has bottom-of-the-scale power, so his bat lacks impact. A double-plus runner earlier in his career, Sardinas now is a plus runner, though his stolen base total has dipped each season. He's a talented defensive shortstop with nimble feet, smooth actions, good instincts and an above-average arm. Fatigue hampered Sardinas' speed, range and even arm in 2014, so getting stronger continues to be a focal point. Sardinas is in the wrong organization, blocked by Elvis Andrus at shortstop, Rougned Odor at second and oft-injured Profar ahead of him. He should be at least a utility player, with a chance to be a defensive-oriented regular who hits at the bottom of the order.
An afterthought as a 17th-round pick out of Lake Erie College, an NCAA Division II school in Ohio, Rua got attention when he hit 32 home runs, mostly in low Class A, as a 23-year-old in 2013. He continued to rake at the upper levels in 2014, spending the last month of the season in Texas. Rua is an offensive-oriented prospect who has plus power and can take the ball out of the park to all fields. He starts his swing with a leg kick, keeps his weight back and his head still. Rua can get long to the ball, with some concerns about his ability to hit good offspeed pitches, but his swing is fluid, and he squares up the ball frequently. Rua has mostly played third base, but with Adrian Beltre stationed there in Texas, the Rangers played Rua in left field and at first base. He's surprisingly athletic for his body type, though he's a below-average runner and adequate-at-best defender wherever he goes, making the routine plays at third base with an average arm. Rua is major league ready. His easiest path to regular playing time is in left field, where he should get an opportunity to play at least semi-regularly in 2015, though the Rangers could also use him as a bat-first fill-in on the four corners.
Ortiz drew attention as a high school junior for his arm strength, but his stock soared that summer when he shed excess weight and earned MVP honors at the 18U World Championship as the closer on Team USA's goldmedal winner. Despite an inconsistent senior season, including some missed time with forearm tightness, Ortiz went 30th overall to the Rangers, then signed for $1.75 million and pitched well in his brief pro debut. Ortiz is a big-bodied pitcher and the ball comes out of his arm cleanly with sound mechanics that he repeats, which helps him command his plus fastball, a pitch that sits in the low 90s and touches 96 mph. His slider is a swingand- miss pitch, a plus offering that he relies on to finish batters. He hasn't needed his changeup much, but it shows average potential, giving him the potential three-pitch mix to start, along with an occasional curveball. He's a consistent strike-thrower, which could help him move quickly if he remains healthy. After getting a brief trial at low Class A Hickory in 2014, Ortiz should return there to start 2015. He's still a few years away, but he has the makings of a potential mid-rotation starter.
Morgan signed for $800,000 as a third-round pick, then led the Rookielevel Arizona League with a .468 on-base percentage. In a system filled with toolsy free-swingers, Morgan stands out for his plate discipline and barrel awareness. He lays off breaking balls outside the zone and uses his quick hands to unleash a fast, compact stroke to rope line drives to all fields. Morgan can put a ball in the gap, but he lacks power. A slightly above-average runner when he signed, Morgan lost around 10 pounds in pro ball and improved his speed to plus. He's a reliable defensive shortstop, with good hands, footwork and instincts that help his range play up with a solid-average arm. Some scouts in the draft questioned whether Morgan would be better suited for second base, but he played well at shortstop in his pro debut. Morgan should move on to low Class A Hickory in 2015. His potential as a high-OBP hitter in the middle of the diamond is exciting if he can develop power.
Cordell, who signed for $100,000 as an 11th-round pick in 2013, could be a steal. He worked to create better separation with his hands to load his swing, which helped him see the ball better and allowed him to better use his hands. Cordell's swing can get long, but he makes consistent contact, uses the whole field, shows solid strike-zone management and the power for 20 home runs. He's a good athlete for his size, a legitimate plus runner and efficient basestealer. His speed allows him to play center field, where he gets good reads off the bat, and he has a strong arm to play anywhere in the outfield. The Rangers even experimented with him in the infield before games and during instructional league at third base and shortstop, though Cordell probably will stick in the outfield. He evokes memories of Jason Bay, another physical, athletic outfielder with good tools in his early days who also was a late-round pick.
Jackson had little trouble with Double-A hitters, but once he got to Triple-A Round Rock in late June, he got hammered in nearly every appearance. The stuff is still present for Jackson, who has a strong twopitch mix in his fastball and slider. His four-seam fastball sits at 92-95 mph and hits 97, and he can miss bats with his plus breaking ball. The lack of a reliable third offering has hampered Jackson, who throws a below-average changeup. His long arm action also contributes to control issues, which got him into more trouble once he hit Triple-A. The Rangers plan to keep Jackson in the rotation, and he does have a chance to develop into a back-of-the-rotation type. Many others think his best fit is in the bullpen.
Asher signed with the Giants as a 23rd-round pick out of high school in 2010, but San Francisco voided the contract when the club found a bone chip in his elbow. Two years later, he signed with the Rangers for $150,000 as a fourth-round pick. Despite the elbow issue out of high school, Asher has been a durable innings-eater with a big-bodied frame. He repeats his delivery and commands his fastball, which parks in the low 90s and reaches 95 mph. Asher attacks hitters with downhill plane from his high arm angle, moving his fastball to all quadrants of the zone. It can flatten out at times, but his heater is his best pitch. Asher's strikeout rate has declined as he's moved up because he doesn't have a dominant secondary offering. His low-80s slider and changeup can both be average at times, with the slider occasionally a tick better, but it's a matter of refining them so they're more consistent. A potential No. 4 starter, Asher should open 2015 at Triple-A Round Rock, with a chance to make his major league debut during the season.
Brinson posted a 20/20 season in his pro debut in 2013 at low Class A Hickory, but he also struck out 191 times (one behind the minor league leader) in 122 games, so he repeated the South Atlantic League in 2014. Brinson showed improvement in Hickory before a July promotion to high Class A Myrtle Beach, where he scuffled, and battled through some nagging leg injuries during the season. He already shines in center field, where he has plus speed, range and arm strength, with much-improved jumps off the bat. Brinson is a tool shed, but he's still learning the basics of hitting. His bat speed and raw power are plus, but tapping into that in games remains a struggle. He did slice his strikeout rate from 38 percent in 2013 to 25 percent in 2014, as he improved his plate coverage on the outer half and used the opposite field with more frequency, but that remains a focal point for him. So is making sure he doesn't expand the strike zone, especially against sliders. With an unorthodox swing, Brinson will always have a high swing-and-miss rate and is thus a high-risk prospect, but if he can merely be a serviceable hitter, he has the secondary skills to be a valuable player. Expect him to return to high Class A at the Rangers' new High Desert affiliate.
15 TI'QUAN FORBES, SS/3B A Mississippi prep product, Forbes signed for $1.2 million as a second-round pick in 2014, with Texas drawn to the three-sport athlete for his tools, physical projection and upside. Forbes has a sizable gap between his present ability and his future potential. He offers significant physical projection in his long, lean frame, and he already has plus bat speed despite not having a ton of strength yet. He's mostly a gap hitter, but some scouts see the potential for above-average power once he fills out. Forbes doesn't have a classic setup at the plate, starting with a hand hitch that leads to some swing-and-miss, but he has extremely quick hands and can buggy-whip the bat head through the zone. He's not a free-swinger either, so he will take his walks. Forbes is a plus runner, though he could slow down once he adds size. He has an average arm and likely fits best at third base, though he has room to improve there, with center field another option. Forbes could move on to low Class A Hickory in 2015, though given the Rangers' lower level infielders, he could open at short-season Spokane instead.
A $550,000 signing out of the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2013, De Leon made his pro debut in Double-A on May 11 when Frisco needed a fill-in. A few days later, he went to low Class A Hickory when the Rangers were short there due to injury, and he stuck around until the end of August, when the Rangers bumped him up to high Class A Myrtle Beach to finish the season. After the season, De Leon became the youngest player in the history of the Arizona Fall League. De Leon's rapid rise was more about opportunity than him being a truly elite prospect, however. He has a simple, line-drive swing from both sides of the plate and makes frequent contact, though with minimal power, and maintains a sound approach. De Leon doesn't have flashy tools, but he's a fundamentally sound player with game awareness beyond his years. He's a smart, reliable defender at shortstop, where he has a good internal clock, smooth hands and an extremely accurate arm, though his arm strength is just average. He's a below-average runner, so he's not the rangiest shortstop, with some scouts believing he may end up at second. De Leon has a chance to be a steady, everyday middle infielder, but given his unusual career arc, where he starts 2015 is up in the air.
The Tigers took Knebel with the No. 39 pick in the 2013 draft and he moved quickly, opening 2014 at Double-A Erie, reaching Triple-A Toledo in May and making his major league debut against the Rangers on May 24. In July, the Tigers traded him with righthander Jake Thompson to the Rangers to acquire reliever Joakim Soria. Knebel spent the remainder of 2014 at Triple-A Round Rock, though he came down with an elbow injury that didn't require surgery, so he spent his offseason in the Rangers' rehab program. Knebel has a lively fastball from the low 90s up to 98 mph. His low-80s curveball is a plus to double-plus pitch with tight spin and sharp, late action, giving him two swing-and-miss pitches to strike out hitters at a high clip. Knebel's delivery is full of effort and his arm action is short and funky, but he's a solid strikethrower and the quirky mechanics give him added deception. Knebel is just about big league ready and should help the Rangers bullpen in 2015, and he offers closer potential down the line.
Ar Everett (Wash.) CC, Kela's fastball went from touching the low 90s to reaching the mid-90s. The Rangers grabbed Kela for $100,000 as a 12th-round pick in 2012, and he's proved to be a late-round gem, with his velocity climbing into the triple-digits in 2013. He has one of the best fastballs in the minors, sitting in the upper 90s and reaching 100 mph with explosive late life, though there were times early in the season when his velocity dipped. Kela throws a power curveball that flashes plus with three-quarters break, a pitch he's improved but still requires more consistently. He dabbles with a changeup but is mostly a twopitch reliever. Kela has the stuff to miss bats in the zone and generate groundballs at an above-average clip, but he needs to throw more strikes after walking 5.7 batters per nine innings in 2014, mostly at Double-A Frisco. Kela is ready for Triple-A Round Rock in 2015, but he could reach Texas quickly with a chance to pitch high-leverage innings and possibly emerge as a future closer.
Demeritte, who signed for $1.9 million as the 30th overall pick in 2013, led all low Class A hitters with 25 home runs in 2014 at Hickory, producing power from his quick-twitch hands that generate plus bat speed. With plus power, he's a threat to go over the fence to any part of the park. Like many young Rangers prospects, Demeritte's power comes with a huge strikeout rate (37 percent) and his 171 strikeouts ranked sixth in the minors. He does draw a decent amount of walks, but he still chases too often and is working to improve his plate coverage on the outer half and use right field more frequently. An average runner, Demeritte played mostly second base in 2014. He's athletic, has a strong arm and took to the keystone quickly, with a chance to become an average defender. Demeritte's a risky player, but the upside exists to become a power-hitting second baseman. He probably follows in the footsteps of Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara, returning to Hickory to start 2015 with a chance to move up during the season.
After signing for $125,000 in the 14th round in 2011, Faulkner then spent two nondescript seasons at low Class A Hickory. In 2014, his stock soared at high Class A Myrtle Beach when he added 20 pounds and 4 mph to his fastball with the breakout performance to match. Faulkner's best pitch is his fastball, which sits at 91-94 mph and touches 96. He throws strikes, keeps the ball down and isn't afraid to pitch inside to righthanders. After previously throwing a true splitter earlier in his career, Faulkner instead now throws a changeup with a split-like grip. It's an average pitch with good sink. He also throws a fringy slider that he needs to refine. He throws across his body and finishes with a head whack. That leads some scouts to project him as a reliever, though Faulkner has a chance to keep moving as a potential back-end starter.
LeClerc has been a relief prospect his entire career, and it's a role that suits his power approach well. LeClerc sits at 93-95 mph and touches 97 with late life. He has one of the most unusual changeups in baseball because it has sharp cutting action instead of fade. It's a plus pitch that he can manipulate to get harder diving action at times. He adds and subtracts from his curveball, which is an average pitch that flashes better at times. LeClerc's strikeout rate has improved every year of his career, and he also induces grounders at an above-average clip. He has the stuff to pitch late-inning relief, but he needs to be more aggressive attacking hitters and throwing strikes, especially early in the count. He should move on to Double-A Frisco to begin 2015, with an outside chance of reaching Texas by the end of the season.
The Rangers signed Diplan on July 2, 2013 for $1.3 million, and he helped pitch the Rangers to a Dominican Summer League championship in 2014. Diplan sits at 89-93 mph and hits 95, though it can come in on a flat plane. Though he's not big, he has a quick arm, so he might have a little more velocity in the tank. Diplan flashes an above-average curveball and at times an average changeup, though both pitches are understandably inconsistent given his youth and inexperience. Diplan has the repertoire of a starter, but he needs to repeat his delivery better to throw more strikes. His herky-jerky mechanics throw him out of whack at times, which leads to bouts of wildness, though other times he just tries to toy around with hitters and doesn't attack aggressively enough, even though he's tough to hit. He's smart and athletic enough to be able to make the adjustments as he moves up. A potential mid-rotation starter, Diplan could skip the Rookie-level Arizona League and join short-season Spokane in 2015.
As an amateur, Beras had presented himself to major league teams as a 16-year-old eligible to sign on July 2, 2012. Shortly after the Collective Bargaining Agreement put restrictions on international signings through bonus pools set to begin on that date, Beras changed his date of birth, claiming he was in fact born one year earlier, making him 17 and eligible to sign immediately. The Rangers signed him for $4.5 million in February 2012, triggering controversy around baseball. Shortly after July 2, 2012, Major League Baseball announced that the signing would stand, but that Beras must serve a one-year suspension, which amounted to a slap on the wrist and essentially just a couple weeks of missed games. Even if Beras is a few years older, he has a promising combination of size and tools, though he remains unrefined. He has plus raw power, though he's still learning to generate more loft. He has a large strike zone to cover, can get tied up inside because of his long arms and needs to stop chasing breaking balls. He made strides at low Class A Hickory in 2014 as the season went along by keeping his weight back when he separated his hands, keeping his head locked to help him track pitches better. Beras surprises people with average speed, and that, with his plus arm, give him the ingredients to be a become a good defender in right. Beras likely follows the Nomar Mazara path, returning to Hickory in 2015 in the hopes he can have a breakout season.
The Astros did not protect DeShields on the 40-man roster after the 2014 season, so the Rangers picked him in the Rule 5 draft. DeShields showed toughness in a quick return from being struck in the face with a fastball in April 2014, though his offensive production took a tumble. Despite a thick, stocky frame, DeShields is a 70 runner. He has average raw power, but he got homer-happy after hitting 12 in 2012 across two levels. He tries to pull the ball too often and needs to rely more on his speed to get on base. A fringy defender at second base, DeShields moved to the outfield in 2014, and with his speed, he could be above-average in left field or perhaps center, with a below-average arm. DeShields doesn't project as an everyday player, but his speed and versatility give him a chance to stick as a Rule 5 pick.
Yrizarri, a nephew of former big league shortstop Deivi Cruz, was born in Venezuela, but he grew up in the Dominican Republic, where he signed out of on July 2, 2013, for $1.35 million. He hit well in his first two weeks in the Dominican Summer League in 2014, then scuffled at the plate upon his promotion to the Rookie-level Arizona League. He is physically mature for his age, with strong hands and forearms that help him hit hard line drives without excessive swing-and-miss and a quick, short swing. His power is mostly to the gaps, but he projects to grow into average power. Yrizarri is an aggressive, pull-conscious hitter who will have to learn to keep his weight back and improve his pitch recognition. He split time between shortstop and second base in the AZL, looking more comfortable at second because he lacks a quick first step. His double-plus arm is his best tool. Yrizarri should have a chance to jump to low Class A Hickory in 2015, though the Rangers could hold him back to play in short-season Spokane instead.
Telis hit well his first three years in the system, but his offensive performance tailed off in 2012 and 2013. He rebounded in 2014, making his big league debut in late August and sticking with the team the rest of the season. He has a knack for barreling the ball, with a flat swing path that results in more line drives and groundballs that loft, using the middle of the field with well below-average power. Telis has grown considerably as a receiver, committing just three passed balls in 82 games behind the plate in 2014, and he earns praise from other clubs for his game-calling and intangibles. Telis had Tommy John surgery in 2010, and while his arm strength is now average, controlling the running game is something he still must improve. He threw out 27 percent of basestealers in the minors in 2014, then erased just 1 of 17 in the majors. Telis could serve as the big league backup in 2015, though he might head back to Triple-A.
Claudio is a sidearm reliever whose fastball sits just 83-87 mph with good armside run and sink, but he still manages to strike out more than a batter per inning because of his devastating, double-plus changeup. He maintains his arm speed on his changeup, which is indistinguishable from the fastball out of his hand but travels at 66-69 mph, with late dive and tailing action that gives hitters fits. He will backdoor a slow, slurvy slider on occasion as well, but his changeup is his money maker. With long arms and legs that fly around, Claudio has deception that makes it tough for hitters to pick up the ball, and he's a consistent strike-thrower. In short stints, that works, and he should be a solid middle reliever for the Rangers in 2015.
Several teams considered Guzman the top prospect on the international market in 2011, when he signed for $3.45 million. After a strong debut as a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2012 and a solid 2013, Guzman regressed in his return to low Class A Hickory in 2014. Then in November, Guzman was driving in the Dominican Republic when his car collided with a motorcyclist, who was killed. Guzman was released after posting bond but barred from leaving the country. At his best, he showed a mature hitting approach, making consistent contact with good pitch recognition and a hitover- power skill set. In 2014, that approach unraveled. Guzman has average raw power, but he got caught up over-swinging. Once he started to struggle, he constantly tinkered with his stance and hand position, which made things worse. A 20 runner, Guzman has become a solid defender at first base. He gives infielders a wide margin for error on throws because he's a gigantic target with the flexibility to do splits. The 2015 season will be key for Guzman, though his legal situation clouds his status for Opening Day.
The Phillies signed Bonillla when he was 18 in December 2008, then almost exactly four years later traded him to the Rangers to acquire Michael Young. With experience as a starter and a reliever, Bonilla sits at 90-93 mph and touches 95, though his fastball lost a little life last year. He flashes a plus changeup at 83-86 mph that generates most of his swings and misses and a slider that vacillates between belowaverage to average. Bonilla's strikeout rate backed up to its lowest clip in the last three seasons in 2014, but he still recorded more than a strikeout per inning at Triple-A. He is a steady strike-thrower, though he had some trouble finding the strike zone once he got to Texas. The Rangers plan to have Bonilla compete for the No. 5 starter spot in 2015, but many scouts think he fits best in the bullpen.
Alberto returned to Myrtle Beach for a third season to start 2014 and earned a promotion to Double-A Frisco in July. Alberto has become an above-average fielder at shortstop. He makes all the routine plays with a tick above-average, accurate arm, and he improved his range to both sides. An average runner, he has good hand-eye coordination that's evident in the field and at the plate, where he makes frequent contact. It's a line-drive stroke with well below-average power, but Alberto gets himself into trouble with his aggressive, pull-conscious approach. Alberto might never hit enough to be an everyday shortstop, but his defensive skills and contact bat could make him a nice utility player.
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