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It was a Las Vegas sweep of the 2015 Baseball America awards, with Bryce Harper taking Major League Player of the Year honors and Kris Bryant winning Rookie of the Year. The next power-hitting monster out of Vegas is Gallo, who was once teammates with Harper when they were eight and nine years old and who worked with Bryant's father Mike as a personal hitting coach. Signed for $2.25 million as the No. 39 overall pick in 2012. Gallo posted back-to-back 40-plus home run seasons in 2013 and 2014. He got off to a strong start in 2015, jumping from Double-A Frisco to the majors on June 2 when Adrian Beltre went on the disabled list. Gallo stayed there the rest of the month and homered off Clayton Kershaw, but when the strikeouts started piling up, he went back down to Triple-A. He continued to show big power and too many whiffs with Round Rock before going back to Texas as a September callup. Even baseball's most experienced scouts marvel at Gallo's majestic power. It's a true 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, the most raw power of anyone in the minors and as much power as anyone on the planet, with the possible exception of Giancarlo Stanton. He dazzles in batting practice, and while he has a pull-conscious approach, he can go deep to any part of the park in games. It's easy power that he generates with tremendous strength, quick hands and bat speed, along with excellent leverage and loft. Gallo made major strides in 2014 with his contact rate, and through the first two months of the season, he appeared to be heading in the right direction, mashing in Double-A while trimming his strikeout rate from 40 percent at that level in 2014 to 34 percent in 2015. But in the major leagues and in Triple-A, Gallo's swing got longer, he struggled to recognize pitches and chased too many balls off the plate, leaving him with too many holes. Gallo played 2015 as a 21-year-old, the same age as college juniors just getting acclimated to pro ball, so he's already ahead of schedule with plenty of time to make adjustments. He has to work to keep his swing short--something that will always be a challenge with his long levers-- and learn that he doesn't have to swing for the fences every time. Gallo walked in 14 percent of his plate appearances in the minors in 2015, so even if he's a .250-.260 hitter, he should draw plenty of walks and have the power to be a middleof- the-order force. There aren't many third basemen Gallo's size, but he's quite athletic for his size, though a belowaverage runner. With his hands, agility and plus arm, he could stick at third base. Yet with Beltre under contract for one more season, Gallo has also seen time in the outfield and would fit well in either corner spot. Not quite ready for the big leagues, Gallo should return to Triple-A to open the 2016 season. If is able to make the proper adjustments to that level and is dominating the Pacific Coast League early, he could be up quickly, with a chance to develop into a star.
Brinson, signed for $1.625 million as the 29th overall pick in 2012, entered the system as an excellent athlete with promising size and tools but was raw at the plate. Strikeouts and injuries held back Brinson his first two full seasons, but he was one of the breakout prospects of 2015, soaring through three levels and ranking second in the minors with a .601 slugging percentage. Brinson's hitting transformation came from a combination of physical and mental adjustments. Adding strength to his lower half helped him get in better position to hit and improve his balance with a stronger base. That helped him keep his head locked in, which allowed him to track pitches better. Notorious for chasing breaking balls off the plate earlier in his career, Brinson developed a plan to zone in on hitting the fastball. The mentality and approach helped his plate discipline improve; he doesn't yet punish breaking balls but now has learned to lay off more of them out of the zone and take advantage of his excellent bat speed and plus power to crush the fastball. Brinson has gotten better at using the whole field, though he could still use the opposite field more often. His speed and arm strength are both plus tools, with the range to be a plus defender in center field. If Brinson can be even an average hitter, he will be an above-average everyday player because of his other skills. If his offensive growth plateaus, he could end up along the lines of Cameron Maybin, but his power-speed combination gives him the upside of Adam Jones.
When the Rangers signed Mazara for a then-record $4.95 million bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, other teams believed his contact troubles made it a massive overpay. Mazara has justified the faith of the Rangers' international scouts, becoming one of the top offensive prospects in baseball who draws praise for both his power and hitting ability. Mazara's swing and approach have evolved since signing, toning down a giant, out-of-control leg kick that caused timing issues and instead employing a smaller toe tap. That adjustment improved his balance, put him in better position to hit and allowed him to see the ball better, with Mazara trimming his strikeout rate while advancing to the upper levels of the minors without sacrificing his power. He's a smart, mature hitter with a good plan at the plate and the ability to make adjustments within an at-bat. Mazara has good bat control, uses the whole field and has the plus raw power to go deep to any part of the park. Once a liability in the outfield, Mazara has become a reliable defender in right field, even if he's a well-below-average runner who lacks first-step quickness and is still prone to youthful mistakes. His best defensive tool is a plus arm with precise accuracy, which helped him collect 16 assists. Mazara projects to be an above-average regular who should hit in the middle of the lineup, likely playing left field with right fielder Shin-Soo Choo under contract through 2020. He will start 2016 in Triple-A and is on the 40-man roster, so he will be up by September, if not sooner.
Ortiz made his mark as one of the top prospects in the 2014 draft the prior summer, when he was the MVP at the 18U World Cup on USA Baseball's gold medalists. The Rangers drafted him No. 30 overall and signed him for $1.75 million. He pitched effectively in his first full season with low Class A Hickory, though he missed two and a half months toward the end with elbow tendinitis. He returned and finished the season with four scoreless, one-hit innings in Hickory's championship playoff run. Ortiz combines power stuff with touch and feel. His power fastball sits 92-95 mph and can bump 97, with excellent command of the pitch for his age to both sides of the plate with a sound, repeatable delivery. Ortiz has a putaway slider with good tilt, coming out of his hand on the same plane as his fastball before snapping off with late, tight break. He has shown progress with a changeup that could become an average or better pitch, but it's still inconsistent. He also sprinkles in an occasional curveball. Durability is a concern with Ortiz, who in addition to the elbow problem in 2015 also missed time the previous year with forearm tightness. The Rangers have had to be conservative with him because of his poor conditioning, with Ortiz growing sideways and carrying a body reminiscent of Joba Chamberlain. Ortiz has the highest ceiling among the organization's pitching prospects, with frontline starter potential if he can get in better shape and stay on the mound. If he does, he could move quickly, with high Class A High Desert his next stop.
Tate pitched sparingly as a freshman at UC Santa Barbara, but he emerged as the Gauchos' closer as a sophomore, then moved into the rotation as a junior. His stock rose quickly, with the Rangers drafting him fourth overall in 2015 and paying $4.2 million to sign him. Tate has an extremely quick arm, with a fastball that sits at 92-96 mph and can reach 98 with good tailing life, though it can come in on a flat plane. He has a pair of plus pitches in his fastball and hard slider, a mid-to-upper 80s weapon that stays on plane with his fastball until the end when it has late, tight break to miss bats. Tate didn't have much need for a changeup but it has improved the more he's thrown it, projecting as a possible average third pitch. He mixes in an occasional cutter as well. Tate held his stuff deep into games as a starter, though it faded down the stretch in college. There is some effort to his high-energy mechanics, but the ball comes out of his hand with ease and he's a good athlete who repeats his delivery and throws strikes. Tate could be a fast-track guy with a chance to get to the big leagues by 2017. While there's a chance he ends up in the bullpen, the Rangers took him at the top of the draft to be a starter, with a chance to pitch at the front of the rotation.
Jenkins impressed scouts as a high school senior with his combination of speed, athleticism and bat speed. The Rangers drafted him in the second round at No. 45 overall and paid him an above-slot $2 million bonus before sending him to the Rookie-level Arizona League for his pro debut. Jenkins finished the year as part of low Class A Hickory's championship run, then broke his right hamate bone at the end of instructional league. With Nick Williams traded to the Phillies, Jenkins may have the fastest hands in the organization. He has loose wrists and a short, line-drive stroke. He doesn't always repeat that swing though, losing his balance and letting his shoulders fly out early. That causes his swing to get in and out of the zone too quickly, creating more strikeouts than scouts were expecting as an amateur. His pitch recognition skills are solid and he shows the patience to take his walks. Jenkins is an exciting, explosive athlete with 70 speed, which he uses well on the basepaths already, going 28-for-31 stealing bags in his debut. Jenkins has a lean frame with room to add much-needed strength. He has some sneaky power now in batting practice with a chance for 8-12 home runs, but his swing isn't conducive for loft. He uses his speed well in center field, where he has good range and average arm. Jenkins fits the mold of toolsy, premium athletes the Rangers have targeted in recent drafts. He could develop into an everyday center fielder, with his first full season starting next year back in Hickory as long as his hand is healed.
After signing for $800,000 as a third-round pick in 2014, Morgan led the Rookie-level Arizona League in on-base percentage. Moved up to low Class Hickory in 2015, Morgan continued to show strong on-base skills with a polished hitting approach before a broken right index finger ended his season in early August. Morgan is a smart player with plate discipline. He recognizes breaking balls and doesn't chase many pitches outside the strike zone. When he does swing, it's a simple, compact stroke without much movement. He has quick hands, good bat control and makes contact at a high rate, backspinning the ball and using the middle of the field. Morgan can sneak a ball over the fence to his pull side, but his power is well below-average, with an offensive profile that will always be tilted toward getting on base over power. The Rangers also had Michael De Leon at Hickory, so Morgan split time between shortstop and third base. A slightly aboveaverage runner, Morgan is a steady defender who doesn't have the pure range many teams seek at shortstop, but his hands, feet and instincts help him, along with a solid-average arm. As Morgan gets stronger and learns to drive the ball with more authority, his ability to put the ball and play and draw walks could make him a top-of-the-order hitter. He should make the jump to high Class A High Desert in 2016.
Ibanez stood out in Cuba from a young age, leading the country's 16U national league in batting (.458) and slugging (.703) in 2011, playing in the 16U World Cup that year and the 18U World Cup in 2013. Ibanez was the youngest player on Cuba's 2013 World Baseball Classic team, though he didn't play much there, and hit well in the 2014 World Port Tournament. After leaving Cuba, Ibanez signed with Texas for $1.6 million, widely considered a bargain by other organizations. Ibanez doesn't have one standout tool or flashy athleticism, but he has a strong track record of hitting in Cuba. He has a quick, short swing, good bat control and a line-drive approach with occasional power, though he's more of a doubles threat than a home run hitter. Ibanez has a thicker build for a middle infielder and is a below-average runner. He is an instinctive, high baseball IQ player who won a gold glove one season in Cuba, though he's more of a steady fielder than an above-average defender. After a long layoff from competitive baseball, Ibanez spent time in the Rangers' Dominican academy before playing winter ball in Colombia, where he was one of the league's best hitters. Given his time off and age, Ibanez might start in low Class A Hickory, but he could move quickly. Cuban Totals .283 242 817 106 231 60 6 13 97 71 119 14 14 .348 .419
Willy Taveras played seven major league seasons as an outfielder, mostly with the Astros and Rockies, leading MLB with 68 stolen bases in 2008. His cousin, Leodys, is another quick-twitch athlete and was one of the most well-rounded prospects on the international market when he signed with Texas for $2.6 million on July 2, 2015. With a lean, athletic build, Taveras is a smooth player could have five average to plus tools, playing the game calmly and under control. He's a sweet-swinging switch-hitter who's more advanced from the left side, with a clean, fluid stroke that's direct to the ball with a good bat path. Taveras performed well in games before signing, and while some scouts had reservations about his pitch recognition, he can hit good velocity. Since signing, he has shown more ability to stay back on pitches longer and done a better job of managing his at-bats. Taveras drives the ball well for his age, and with his size and big, strong hands, there's considerable physical projection for his power to grow. Taveras has plus speed with an easy gait and a strong arm, so while his outfield reads and routes need to improve, he has the tools to stick in center field. Taveras might start his career in the Dominican Summer League, but he's advanced enough that he could join the Rookie-level Arizona League club when their season begins a few weeks later. Taveras is several years away, but he has the highest ceiling of any Rangers position player below Double-A.
After the 2014 college season at Duke, Matuella was a candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, but health issues derailed any chance. In the summer of 2014, Matuella was diagnosed with spondylosis, a chronic back condition. He returned in the spring of 2015 for his junior year and didn't show quite the same stuff, then had Tommy John surgery in April. Despite the health concerns, the Rangers signed Matuella for $2 million, well above slot in the third round. He's not expected to return to games until May or June, with the Rangers targeting 80-100 innings for him in 2016. When healthy, Matuella showed four quality pitches with good control, starting with a two-seam fastball that sat 92-96 mph at hit 98 as a sophomore with plus life. His power curveball cranks up to the low-80s with good depth and grades out as plus, while his mid-80s slider flashes above-average as well. He hasn't needed to use his changeup much, but it has shown the makings of developing into an average pitch. Matuella has a ceiling of a frontline starter, but he never threw more than 60 innings in a season at Duke and is a major medical risk. Some scouts have likened him to Tanner Scheppers, whom the Rangers also drafted and signed after significant injury questions cost him in the draft, and Scheppers has had an inconsistent career as a reliever.
The Rangers have snapped up physical, tooled-up players in the draft, a mold Cordell fits, though he was a more under-the-radar selection as an 11th-rounder out of Liberty in 2013. Cordell built upon a strong 2014 season with an encouraging first half in the high Class A California League, but he struggled when he got to Double-A Frisco at the end of June. Cordell is a tall, lithe athlete with a simple swing. In 2014, Cordell worked to create more separation with his hands to load his trigger, but his swing otherwise has so little movement that it lacks rhythm, which forces him to use his body too much and takes away from his fluidity. He uses the whole field and has very good hands at the plate, so he's at his best when he's able to create rhythm with his hands. Cordell has long arms but never swung and missed much in the lower minors, though when he got to Double-A, he started chasing more pitches and his strikeout rate nearly doubled. Cordell has the bat speed and raw power to hit 20 home runs and the above-average speed to make him a 20-20 threat. Originally an outfielder, Cordell began the 2015 season as a shortstop, moved to center field, then split time between third base and all three outfield spots. He has a strong arm but lacks natural infield actions and fits best in the outfield, with a chance to play center or become an aboveaverage defender on a corner. Cordell will likely return to Frisco to re-group at that level, where he will likely play in the outfield primarily but should see time at third and perhaps first base. He could develop into an offensive player along the lines of Jake Marisnick, though he doesn't have the same defensive skills.
Faulkner put himself on to the prospect map in 2014, when he gained 20 pounds, added four mph to his fastball and had a breakout performance with high Class A Myrtle Beach. After opening the 2015 season as a starter in Double-A, Faulkner moved to the bullpen and made his major league debut on Aug. 31, pitching well for the big league club down the stretch. Out of the bullpen, Faulkner has a plus fastball that ranges from 92-97 mph with good life. He has a crossfire delivery and a short arm stroke that add deception, so the ball jumps on hitters faster than they expect. Faulkner threw a true splitter earlier in his career but now throws an average changeup with a split-like grip that has solid sink. He made progress with his slider but it's still a fringy third pitch for him that needs more depth. There's some effort to Faulkner's delivery and he finishes with a head whack, but he is a solid strike-thrower. He should compete for a bullpen spot on the Opening Day roster and stick around as a middle reliever.
Jackson has long tantalized with his stuff, but the results have yet to match. A starter throughout his career, Jackson opened the season in the Triple-A Round Rock rotation, but after five starts in which he allowed 14 runs in 22 1/3 innings, he slid into the bullpen, eventually making his major league debut as a September callup. Jackson's power fastball plays up in short relief stints, sitting at 94-98 mph. He pitches up in the zone, but he needs to be able to pitch down in the zone with his fastball more effectively and improve his overall command. Jackson mostly works off his fastball and 77-82 mph curveball. The breaking ball has sharp bite, but hitters recognize the pitch early out of his hand, so they're able to lay off and avoid swings-and-misses. Most scouts consider Jackson's curveball his best offspeed pitch, though some felt his 81-84 mph changeup eclipsed it in 2015, grading as an average pitch that he doesn't use much. Jackson will compete for a middle relief role in Texas to start 2016, with a chance to pitch higher-leverage innings if he can improve his fastball command and learn to corral his breaking ball in the strike zone.
The Rangers signed De Leon for $550,000 out of the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2013 as a 16-year-old, then decided to push him quickly up the ladder, including a stint in Double-A in 2014 and the Arizona Fall League, where he became the youngest player in AFL history. The Rangers pumped the brakes on De Leon in 2015, keeping him in Hickory for the full season, with quad and hamstring injuries slowing his progress. De Leon has a short, simple swing from both sides along with a sound approach for his age. That allows him to make frequent contact, but he has minimal strength or power, which is why his offensive numbers underwhelm. He doesn't project to hit for much more than gap power, but he should be able to get on base more once he gets stronger. De Leon is a smart, fundamentally sound player with excellent game awareness. While many scouts originally felt De Leon would be better suited at second base, he now earns high marks for his glove. Even though he's a below-average runner, De Leon has a great internal clock at the position, with sure hands and a solid-average arm with great accuracy. De Leon has a chance to be an everyday shortstop, with a promotion to high Class A High Desert likely to open 2016.
Aparicio was one of the more well-rounded players on the international market in 2015, when he signed for $500,000 on July 2. He has good bat control with a short, simple swing, making contact at a high rate and going with where the ball is pitched to hit line drives to all fields. Aparicio is more likely to hit for average than power, with 10-15 home run potential once he gains strength. Aparicio was a high-profile player early in the scouting process who some scouts felt didn't take the steps forward they were expecting, while others think he started to get stronger and got away from his usual line-drive approach while trying to show power. Aparicio is a good athlete, though not as explosive as fellow 2015 international signing Leodys Taveras, with average speed and a fringe-average arm. While he's not a burner, several scouts felt confident he would stay in center field because his reads and instincts are advanced, with his overall game drawing comparisons to David DeJesus and Gerardo Parra. Taveras is also a center fielder, so the Rangers might keep Aparicio in the Dominican Summer League to get him the most amount of playing time.
Beras originally presented himself to teams as a 16-year-old eligible to sign on July 2, 2012. When the new Collective Bargaining Agreement put bonus pools in place designed to limit international spending, Beras changed his date of birth, claiming he was born one year earlier, thus making him a 17-year-old eligible to sign immediately, which he did for $4.5 million in February 2012. Shortly after July 2, 2012, Major League Baseball ruled that Beras' age is undetermined and approved the signing. Beras had to serve a one-year suspension, which essentially amounted to a couple of weeks of missed games. Beras has shown above-average power and improvement as a hitter, batting .303/.343/.457 in 63 games in the second half, as well as improvement with his maturity and professionalism. His long arms leave him with holes in his swing, particularly on the inner third, but he did a better job in 2015 of using the whole field and improved his breaking ball recognition, though he still swings at too many pitches. He has a plus arm in right field, but his reads and routes need to improve. Beras should move up to high Class A for 2016.
Alberto built on the progress he made in 2014 by following up with a strong 2015 at Triple-A Round Rock. He made his major league debut on May 29 and stayed with the big league team for a month playing mostly second base before returning to Round Rock, then came back up in August and served as a reserve infielder down the stretch. Alberto is an average runner who has made himself into an aboveaverage defender at shortstop. He has solid range to both sides, makes all the routine plays, has good hands and a 55 arm with good accuracy. His hand-eye coordination helps him both in the field and at the plate, where he makes frequent contact. Sometimes his coordination is a detriment because he makes weak contact with borderline pitches that he should lay off instead of taking a more selective approach to drive the ball with more authority. Alberto made progress with his breaking ball recognition, keeping his lower half in better position to allow himself to track pitches better, but because he doesn't walk much and has well-below-average power, his offensive value is dependent on a fairly empty batting average. Alberto could contribute in 2016 as a utility man, which is likely his best role in the future as well.
Martin had an effective first full season with the Rangers in low Class A Hickory, where he showed a solid three-pitch mix while staying around the strike zone. Martin had a tall, thin frame as an amateur, but has added weight to his lanky, broad-shouldered frame. His lively fastball sits in the low-90s and can touch 95 with good downhill plane from his extreme over-the-top delivery, working that pitch to both sides of the plate. Martin complements the fastball with a power curveball that gets into the low-80s, an average pitch with tight spin that has the potential to be a putaway pitch. Martin's changeup is his third pitch. It comes in too firm right now but he showed signs of progress with it in 2015, leaning on it more than his curveball in some outings and generating some swing-and-miss with good depth and movement. Martin had hip issues that bothered him on his leg lift, so his workload stayed less than 100 innings in 2015. Martin's strikeout rate of 6.8 per nine innings was modest, but that could jump with more experience for pitch sequencing and refinement of his secondary pitches, giving him a chance to pitch at the back of the rotation. He heads to high Class A High Desert for 2016.
Jurado signed out of Panama in December 2012, when he was a skinny 16-year-old who threw in the mid-to-high 80s and stood out for his ability to throw strikes. He's added velocity and has proven to be a prolific strike-thrower, averaging just 1.1 walks per nine innings in his career after a strong 2015 season with low Class A Hickory. Jurado's best pitch is his two-seam fastball, which he started throwing in 2014 while dropping down to a low three-quarters arm slot. The pitch has outstanding natural sink, which is why Jurado has become a groundball machine. The two-seamer mostly rides in at 87-92 mph, can touch 94 and it's the pitch he throws most of the time, mixing in a four-seamer as well, pitching effectively with the sinker to both sides of the plate. Jurado mostly has success with one pitch, with his secondary stuff needing improvement to develop a swing-and-miss offering against more advanced hitters. He throws a slurvy, sweeping curveball that can get weak contact at times but isn't a true out pitch, while his changeup remains a work in progress. Jurado should move up to high Class A High Desert in 2016 and could move quickly, with a chance to become a back-end starter once he finds a reliable offspeed weapon.
Hernandez is the son of Fernando Hernandez, who made two relief appearances for the Tigers in 1997. The year before, he was pitching in the Double-A Southern League for Memphis, where Jonathan was born, but his son grew up in the Dominican Republic and signed with the Rangers for $300,000 in January 2013. When he made his U.S. debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2015, he sat at 89-91 mph and touched 93 with good extension. During instructional league in September, Hernandez threw even harder, reaching 95. Hernandez is a good athlete who repeats his delivery and is an adept strikethrower. His changeup could become an average pitch. It looks like a fastball out of his hand but drops to another plane with late action. While some scouts thought Hernandez's changeup was his best secondary pitch, others preferred his slurvy breaking ball, which also has average potential. Hernandez has added some weight since signing but is still slender, so he needs to get stronger to handle a bigger workload. He could get a crack at low Class A Hickory in 2016 with a chance to become a back-end starter.
LeClerc had been a reliever his entire career, and the role was a good fit for his high-energy, power approach. At the same time, LeClerc had a diverse enough repertoire that the Rangers moved him to the rotation in 2015. The results were not encouraging. LeClerc's ERA and walk rate jumped as a starter while moving up to Double-A Frisco. Pitching from a crossfire delivery, LeClerc sits at 92-96 mph and touches 98. He throws two different changeups, one of which has unusual cutter-like action, confusing many scouts into thinking it's a slider. That pitch can be plus and he uses it as a two-strike pitch, but he also uses a straight changeup to get across the plate. His curveball has good break and can be average, but Double-A hitters were able to detect it early out of his hand and lay off it more than lower-level hitters did. LeClerc's biggest problem is that he couldn't repeat his release point, so he either walked hitters or got hit hard because he was pitching from behind in the count. He's expected to return to Double-A as a starter in 2016, though he could end up in the bullpen again if his control remains a problem.
Trevino was a catcher his sophomore year at Oral Roberts, where he caught Rangers righthander Chi Chi Gonzalez, but he moved back to third base as a junior in 2014, spending some time at shortstop and catcher as well. When the Rangers drafted him in the sixth round that year and signed him for $200,000, they put him behind the plate. There's a learning curve there for Trevino, who has shown good bat control and fringe-average raw power, but the demands of catching may have taken a toll on his bat and will require patience. Trevino has strong wrists, good hand-eye coordination, makes frequent contact and did a better job of using the whole field in 2015. His swing is compact without much movement, but he tends to get too much of his body into his swing and takes a hyper-aggressive approach, which is why he doesn't walk much and limits his on-base percentage. A below-average runner with modest athleticism, Trevino has the tools to stick behind the plate. He has soft hands, quick feet and a solid-average, accurate arm, throwing out 34 percent of basestealers. His blocking and receiving need polish but are pretty good given his relative inexperience. He should move up to high Class A High Desert in 2016.
Signed for $151,600 as an eighth-round pick in 2013, Van Hoosier hit well in 2015 in the high Class A California League, though he missed time with a hamstring injury. After the season, Van Hoosier went to the Arizona Fall League, but that stint was cut short when he drew a 50-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamines and a second positive test for marijuana. The Colombian Professional Baseball League isn't affiliated with MLB, so after the suspension Van Hoosier went there to join the Cartagena Tigers. Van Hoosier's bat is his best tool. He manages his at-bats well with a simple approach and good feel for hitting. He doesn't have much separation to generate torque, so his swing can become shoulder-heavy, but when he uses his hands well he makes frequent contact with a line-drive, gap-to-gap approach, albeit without much power. In 2014, Van Hoosier spent most of his time in center and left field and played second base as well, but in 2015 he was primarily a second baseman, the position he played in college. He's a below-average defender there with limited range, solid-average speed and a below-average arm. Van Hoosier is a candidate to jump to Double-A Frisco in 2016 when he can start to play again in May.
For Mendez, the 2015 season was a success for one reason: He finally stayed healthy. Tall and frail, Mendez had never pitched more than 50 innings in a season since signing with the Rangers for $1.5 million on July 2, 2011. The first three months of the season, Mendez never pitched more than three innings in a start, but in the second half, the Rangers started to let him work deeper into games, with several five-inning starts his maximum. After throwing in the mid-to-upper 80s when he signed as a 16-year-old, Mendez now cruises at 88-91 mph, touching 93. He has an easy delivery with good arm action and throws plenty of strikes. He leans heavily on his plus changeup, which created a lot of awkward swings from low Class A hitters and helped Mendez strike out 10.0 batters per nine innings. His curveball is a fringy pitch that's still inconsistent, though that could improve with mechanical work. Placed on the 40-man roster after the season, Mendez will get a big test in 2016 as the Rangers attempt to stretch him out to 140 innings, with high Class A High Desert where he's likely to start.
Kivlehan is old for a prospect, as he will be 26 in 2016, but his career got off to a late start. After four years of football at Rutgers as a backup safety and special teams player, Kivlehan returned to baseball, and in one college season he ranked sixth in NCAA Division I by slugging .693. Kivlehan performed well throughout his time with the Mariners' system, then in December joined the Rangers as the player to be named in the Nov. 16 trade that sent Leonys Martin and Anthony Bass to the Mariners and brought Tom Wilhelmsen and James Jones to Texas. Kivlehan's unorthodox hitting style has worked for him, though his numbers regressed in 2015 upon jumping to Triple-A, where advanced pitchers exploited his tendency to expand the strike zone and pull approach. He's strong and athletic, with average power and speed, though his lack of first-step quickness hampers him in the field. Kivlehan has played all over the field, including third base, but he mostly played left field and first base in 2015. Kivlehan is on the 40-man roster, so he could make his major league debut this year, though he doesn't project to be better than a reserve.
Sadzeck can put triple-digit numbers on the radar gun but has little idea where the ball is going. He missed the entire 2014 season following Tommy John surgery, showing an electric fastball upon his return but also signs of rust and growing pains. A starter during the regular season, Sadzeck got lit up after a promotion to Double-A, then got hit hard out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League. He fits best as a reliever, where he can sit in the upper-90s and touch 101 mph. He has a hard slider that can miss bats as well as a firm changeup, but he pitches from behind in the count too frequently. Sadzeck has an upright finish but the delivery itself doesn't have too much effort. However, like a lot of tall pitchers, he has trouble getting his long arms and legs in sync, so he lacks the body control to be able to repeat his delivery. He has to clean up his mechanics to throw more strikes. Sadzeck has the pure stuff for high-leverage relief work, but he's so raw that he might not ever be reliable enough to earn regular big league innings.
Yrizarri, whose uncle is former major league shortstop Deivi Cruz, was born in Venezuela but grew up in the Dominican Republic, where he signed with the Rangers for $1.35 million on July 2, 2013. When injuries struck and the Rangers needed a fill-in shortstop at Triple-A Round Rock in June, they sent Yrizarri there for two weeks, even though he had never played above the Rookie-level Arizona League. Later that month, he went to short-season Spokane, where he spent the rest of the season as one of the youngest players in the Northwest League. Yrizarri has a physically mature frame, with strength through his wrists and forearms. His swing lacks loft, but it's a quick, line-drive stroke without much swing-andmiss. Yrizarri is far too aggressive, with a pull-oriented, free-swinging approach, drawing a walk in just two percent of his plate appearances in the NWL. His weight drifts forward early, so staying back and keeping his head locked in would help him track and recognize pitches. While scouts once considered Yrizarri a future second or third baseman, he has improved his defense at shortstop and could stick there, with his 70 arm his best tool. He should graduate to low Class A Hickory in 2016.
The Rangers have done well taking tooled-up prospects with contact troubles and turning them into more polished hitters. Demeritte has plenty of tools, but he hasn't been able to improve his plate coverage. He repeated low Class A Hickory, then in June received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for Furosemide, a diuretic often used with the intention of trying to flush the system of another drug. After the season, Demeritte played in the Australian Baseball League, where he struggled and led the league in strikeouts. Demeritte has quick hands that generate great bat speed and plus raw power. Strikeouts, however, continue to be a problem, with Demeritte getting beat too frequently in the strike zone and chasing too many pitches off the plate, leading to a 36 percent strikeout rate. A good athlete with average speed and a strong arm, Demeritte mostly played second base, where his defense has improved and he could become a solid-average fielder.
Guzman signed for $3.45 million in 2011, the same year they signed Nomar Mazara, with many scouts preferring Guzman over Mazara at the time. Mazara vs. Guzman is no longer a debate, with Mazara ascending into one of the best prospects in baseball while Guzman is still trying to put things together. The flashes of life are there with Guzman, an extra-large framed hitter with long arms and a big strike zone to cover, but he doesn't have excessive swing-and-miss in his game. Guzman is a smart player, but he's prone to bad habits, failing to stay back and trust his hands. When he stays quiet and compact, he's able to hit line drives to all fields, but his bat speed is just fair. He doesn't have prototypical first base power, while his approach could also benefit from being more selective. Guzman gives his infielders a huge target at first base and can do splits to pick balls in the dirt, though he's a restricted athlete and runner, with his lack of quickness hampering his range. Long-levered hitters like Guzman can take more time to develop, but Guzman will have to show more offensive impact to become an everyday player.
Cruz signed with the Rangers for $30,000 just before the 2014 Dominican Summer League season began. He was an under-the-radar pitcher at the time with a skinny build, good athleticism and a quick arm up to 91 mph. When he repeated the DSL in 2015, Cruz's stuff jumped, with his fastball sitting in the low-90s and touching as high as 95 mph. He didn't miss a ton of bats, but he was around the strike zone and showed feel for three pitches. His changeup was his best secondary pitch when he signed and is still a tick ahead of his curveball, but his curveball has improved since then, giving him a chance to develop three average pitches. He's not quite as advanced as fellow Rangers righthander Jonathan Hernandez, but the two have some similarities in terms of stuff, build, athleticism and feel for pitching. Cruz could follow in Hernandez's path in 2016 and boost his stock if he continues on the same trajectory when he makes his U.S. debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
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