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The Rangers have had one of the most productive international pipelines in baseball over the last decade, with one of the most aggressive contingents of scouts in Latin America. They had their sights set on Taveras from an early age, then officially signed him as a 16-year-old for $2.1 million when he became eligible on July 2, 2015. Taveras is a younger cousin of Willy Taveras, the former outfielder who stood out for his speed and defense during his seven-year major league career, including 2008 when he led the majors with 68 stolen bases. Before Taveras made his official pro debut, the Rangers brought him over from the minor league back fields in 2016 and put him in three spring-training games with the major league club, and he went 1-for-4 with a double. He opened the 2016 season back home in the Dominican Summer League but didn't spend much time there before the Rangers brought him to the U.S. for the Rookie-level Arizona League. He ranked as the league's No. 1 prospect, got promoted to the short-season Northwest League in August and also ranked as that league's No. 1 prospect. Taveras is a smooth, well-rounded player with an exciting blend of tools and skills for his age, and he draws comparisons with a young Carlos Beltran. Lean and athletic, Taveras has a short, simple swing from both sides of the plate. He's a balanced hitter who uses his hands well in connection with his lower half. He's a high-contact hitter with good feel for the barrel who unleashes a fluid swing with whippy bat speed and a clean path to the ball. He is adept at hitting fastballs, and while he's still learning to recognize offspeed pitches, he has solid strike-zone awareness and improved his ability to manage the zone since signing, showing the ability to make adjustments within an at-bat. He uses the whole field with a line-drive approach, showing mostly gap power in games with the ability to drive the ball over the fence occasionally during batting practice. With his bat speed, strong hands and room to fill out his projectable frame, Taveras could eventually grow into average power. He makes the game look easy at the plate and in center field. He's a plus runner with long, gliding strides. He looks natural and instinctive in center field, where he gets sharp reads and jumps off the bat to give him good range. Even when Taveras does take a false step, he has the speed to compensate and cover plenty of ground. He also has a plus arm with good accuracy. Taveras has yet to reach full-season ball, but he has the highest ceiling and most exciting skill set in the Rangers system, with five tools that could all grade out average to plus. Mature beyond his years, he should open 2017 at low Class A Hickory. Between his ability and the Rangers' track record of hitting the accelerator with their most talented young international prospects, he could move quickly through the farm system.
The Rangers signed Mendez for $1.5 million as a tall, frail 16-year-old throwing in the mid- to upper 80s. He earned three in-season promotions in 2016 and made his major league debut as a September callup. Staying healthy helped Mendez pitch more than 100 innings for the first time in his career. His fastball crept up to sit in the low 90s and touch 95 mph. His calling card is his changeup, which he sells well with good separation off his fastball. It's a plus pitch that consistently fools hitters with empty swings or off balance ones for weak contact. His slider has improved but it's still fringe-average, while he mixes in an occasional get-me-over curveball early in the count. Mendez has smooth arm action, an easy delivery and throws strikes, but he needs to tighten his fastball command, particularly glove side so hitters can't key in on one side of the plate. The Rangers want to keep Mendez in the rotation, so he likely will start the year back at Triple-A Round Rock. He should be back in Texas at some point in 2017, possibly before the all-star break.
Jurado was a skinny 16-year-old who threw a lot of strikes with mid- to upper-80s fastballs when the Rangers signed him out of Panama. While he throws harder now that he's nearly 60 pounds heavier, it's his feel for pitching that stands out more than his pure stuff. Jurado throws all three of his pitches for strikes. Everything works off his two-seam fastball, which sits 88-92 mph and touches 94. It's more notable for its hard, heavy sink--he led the high Class A California League in groundout-to-airout ratio--with excellent movement and a high spin rate. He generates a lot of weak contact and more swing-and-miss than other pitchers with his two-seamer. He has good fastball command to both sides down in the zone. Jurado doesn't have a true out pitch, which will test him at higher levels. His changeup is better than his slider, with both pitches having a chance to be average and play up because he locates them. He could return to Double-A Frisco, where he ended last season, but should be in Triple-A quickly and make his major league debut by the end of 2017. He projects as a No. 4 starter with a chance for more because of his command, movement and pitchability.
Aside from sharing a first name and the same employer, Ragans is physically similar to a young Cole Hamels, whom Ragans models his game after. The Rangers drafted Ragans with the 30th overall pick in 2016 and signed him for $2,003,400 after a decorated career at North Florida Christian High, which he helped lead to a Florida state 3A title in 2014. He passes up a Florida State commitment in the process. Tall and athletic, Ragans has a simple delivery and advanced feel for a three-pitch mix. His fastball sits at 89-93 mph and has touched 95. His changeup made rapid progress over the past year, to the point where it's his best offspeed pitch. It's an above-average offering he sells with the same arm speed as his fastball, so it's just a matter of him learning how and when to use it more in games. His curveball flashes average and could grade higher down the road once he stays on top if it more consistently and does a better job repeating his arm slot. Ragans needs to improve his fastball command, but he has the delivery and athleticism that bode well for his ability to improve. He earns praise for his maturity and being a student of the game. Ragans has the talent to develop into a mid-rotation starter. He should pitch in the low Class A Hickory rotation in 2017.
Ibanez was a standout in Cuba's junior leagues and even played in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, where he was Cuba's youngest player. After leaving Cuba, he signed with the Rangers for $1.6 million in July 2015. The Rangers took things slowly with Ibanez and started him at low Class A Hickory for his first season, then skipped him a level to Double-A Frisco in June. Ibanez is a similar player to Josh Morgan, with Ibanez having more power but less defensive versatility. He has a short, quick stroke with good bat-to-ball skills. He stays within the strike zone, puts the ball in play at a high clip and uses the middle of the field. Ibanez is mostly a doubles hitter who focuses on line drives, but he has the power to hit 10-15 home runs. With a thick lower half and below-average speed, he doesn't stand out for his athleticism. He's a slightly below-average defender at second base with a fringy arm and doesn't have the versatility to fill in at shortstop. Getting quicker first-step reactions off the bat will be key for him. Ibanez is a second baseman blocked at that position in Texas by Rougned Odor. His profile doesn't typically fetch much in trades, but his hitting potential could carry him as an everyday second baseman.
Morgan's polished feel for hitting and gamer mentality stood out since he signed for $800,000 as a third-round pick in 2014. He finished the 2016 season strong at high Class A High Desert, batting .324/.386/.437 in the second half. After experimenting at catcher at 2015 instructional league, Morgan went behind the plate again at 2016 instructs, with the plan to have him catch and play the infield in 2017. Morgan's game is built around his ability to get on base. He's a disciplined hitter who recognizes breaking balls and doesn't chase much outside the strike zone. With quick hands and a short, simple stroke, Morgan is a high-contact hitter who uses the whole field with a line-drive approach but well below-average power. Morgan's swing has minimal movement but he could grow into more sock if he learns to load and generate more separation when he starts his swing. Primarily a shortstop in 2015, he spent most of his 2016 at third base and played the position well, though he got reps at shortstop and second base, too. He has the instincts, hands and feet to play second or third, with a tick above-average arm. If Morgan is able to catch, that would significantly enhance his value. Just 21, he may yet add catching and still move up to Double-A Frisco thanks to his polished approach.
The Rangers' two big 16-year-old Dominican signings in 2011 were Nomar Mazara ($4.95 million) and Guzman, who got $3.45 million. Guzman got off to a strong start to his pro career, but stalled when he spent parts of three seasons at low Class A Hickory. He rebounded in 2016, playing in the Futures Game and reaching Triple-A Round Rock as a 21-year-old. Guzman signed with a hit-over-power profile, but the last two years got caught up trying to focus on home runs. He did a better job of calming his hitting actions to keep his body under control at Double-A Frisco in 2016. That enabled him to have a more repeatable swing and recognize pitches better because his head wasn't moving as much. The results showed with improved walk and strikeout rates. Guzman's long levers add length and some stiffness to his swing, but he doesn't strike out excessively. He doesn't have traditional first-base power but could hit 15-20 home runs per year. A limited athlete and runner without great range, he showed much-improved defensive actions to go with being an already big target. Guzman, whom the Rangers added to the 40-man roster in November, should return to Triple-A to open 2017 with a chance to make his major league debut by the end of the year.
Speas showed his high-risk, high-reward potential in high school, flashing explosive arm speed and athleticism but looking raw at times. The Rangers, who have drafted aggressively from the Georgia prep ranks under scouting director Kip Fagg since 2010, selected him in the second round in 2016 and signed him for $1,024,900 as the No. 63 overall pick. A quick-twitch athlete with an extremely fast arm, Speas sits at 93-96 mph and can reach back for 99. His arm action is clean and the ball explodes out of his hand, finishing at the plate with good movement. He throws a power slider in the mid-80s that has the highest probability of developing into an out pitch. He's still learning to throw his changeup because he didn't need it much in high school. Getting Speas to make the mechanical adjustments to throw more strikes will be key. He tends to rush out on his front side and is still learning how to use his legs more in his delivery. His athleticism should help him make those adjustments, and he's already shown the ability to stay more online to the plate instead of spinning off since he signed. Speas likely won't move as quickly as fellow 2016 draft pick Cole Ragans, but the two should anchor the low Class A Hickory rotation in 2017.
Palumbo has transformed himself from organizational filler to become one of the system's best pitching prospects. Signed for $32,000 as a 30th-rounder out of a Long Island high school, he never generated much attention during his first three pro seasons. He opened 2016 as the low Class A Hickory closer, often working two to three inning stints. He was so effective that he moved to the rotation at the end of July. Getting stronger and improving his command helped Palumbo significantly in 2016, when he showed the three-pitch mix to start. He pitches off a low-90s fastball that touches 96 mph with the ability to hold his velocity even after he moved into the rotation. He has a short arm stroke that makes his fastball sneak up on hitters faster than they expect, while his cross-body mechanics further enhance his deception. Palumbo has improved his ability to command his plus curveball, a tight-spinning pitch with late break that is a big reason for his high strikeout rate. Palumbo's changeup flashes average, and he isn't afraid to mix it in against lefthanded hitters. His delivery is fairly simple and he's a solid strike-thrower. Palumbo will move on to the high Class A rotation in 2017, where he needs to prove he has the stuff to remain a starter over a full workload and isn't just a one-year fluke.
Martin opened 2016 by repeating low Class A Hickory, then spent June and July on the disabled list with a sprained elbow ligament. When healthy in August he jumped to high Class A High Desert. He saved his best start for last, pitching seven scoreless, no-hit innings with 15 strikeouts and one walk on 95 pitches in the California League playoffs. Over the last two years, Martin has bulked up into a strong, physical pitcher. His fastball sits at 90-92 mph and touches 94. His curveball is his putaway pitch when it's on, and it was at its best in the Cal League playoffs. He's still learning how to land it, especially early in the count, but it can be an above-average pitch with good spin, shape and power. Martin throws a firm changeup in the mid-80s, a below-average pitch that could use more separation off his fastball. He's added a short, hard cutter to give him a four-pitch mix. With long arm action and long limbs, Martin has cleaned up his mechanics by lowering his leg kick to help sync his upper and lower halves in his delivery. He's a solid strike-thrower who did a better job last season of maintaining his body control instead of overthrowing. A healthy 2017 will be key for Martin, who also was limited in 2015 by hip issues. He probably is destined for the high Class A rotation in 2017.
De Leon signed for $550,000 in 2013, then made his pro debut the next year at Double-A when Frisco needed a fill-in for a few days. While the Rangers slowed him down in 2016, he was still one of the youngest players in the high Class A California League as a 19-year-old. Skinny and underweight when he signed, De Leon gained 20 pounds since the end of the 2015 season. The additional strength helped him repeat his swing more frequently and allowed him to drive the ball with more authority. He's not a power hitter, though, and he relies more on excellent hand-eye coordination and a quick, short stroke from both sides of the plate to spray line drives around the field. He is a below-average runner who makes up for a lack of foot speed with a quick first step at shortstop, excellent instincts, fundamentals and a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He has a good internal clock with smooth hands and an average, accurate arm. De Leon's defense carries him right now, but his contact skills could be enough for him to develop into an everyday shortstop. He should be one of the youngest players in the Texas League in 2017.
After playing catcher as a sophomore at Oral Roberts, Trevino moved to third base the next year, while seeing some time at shortstop and catcher as well. That positional uncertainty played in a role in his availability in the sixth round in the 2014 draft, where the Rangers took him and put him behind the plate. He has transformed himself into an elite defender. Trevino takes pride in running the pitching staff and draws rave reviews for his leadership skills. Pitchers love throwing to him not only because he calls a good game but because he's adept at receiving and blocking balls in the dirt. His arm is a tick above average and plays up because of his footwork, quick release and accuracy, which helped him lead the high Class A California League by throwing out 48 percent of basestealers. Trevino doesn't have the prettiest swing, but he has good bat control so he doesn't strike out much., although his tendency to swing at pitches he can't drive limits his quality of contact sometimes. Trevino is a premium defender, but how much he improves as a hitter will dictate whether he can be more than a backup. He should head to Double-A Frisco to start 2017.
The year before he was eligible to sign, Garcia was a small, frail 15-year-old at 5-foot-9, 145 pounds, but as he grew taller, gained weight and improved both as a hitter and a defender, he developed into the player many clubs had ranked as the top catching prospect on the 2016 international market. The Rangers signed him for $800,000. Garcia has a simple, compact swing from both sides. His lefty stroke used to get long but he shortened that up before signing to the point some scouts now think he is more advanced from that side. Garcia has good plate coverage and a sound hitting mindset, working the middle of the field with a line-drive approach. He has a medium frame with gap power and doesn't project to be a big home run threat. Garcia originally was a shortstop but committed to catching a year and a half before he signed. He projects to stay there because he's a smooth receiver for his age with quick feet and soft hands. His arm was average when he signed with good arm action and has already improved to flashing plus, with a quick release and good accuracy. Garcia probably will make his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League.
The Rangers signed two of the best center fielders on the international market in 2015, adding Leody Taveras out of the Dominican Republic and Aparicio from Venezuela for $500,000. Aparicio doesn't match Taveras in terms of athleticism or explosiveness of tools, but he is a well-rounded player whose instincts and overall game awareness are advanced for his age. He's a high-contact hitter with a short, simple swing and manages his at-bats well with a good approach. He's at his best when he stays back and trusts his hands, though he can get caught out front and off balance at times, particularly when he gets too pull-conscious. Aparicio is a good hitter overall with a line-drive approach who can drill one over the fence occasionally and should grow into more power with a chance to hit 10-15 homers. Aparicio's pure speed and arm strength are both slightly below-average, but his defense might be what stands out the most. He makes up for his lack of burner speed with a quick first step, reading swings well to get excellent jumps off the bat and taking good routes. His baserunning acumen is advanced as well. Aparicio is ticketed for the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2017.
After missing the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery, Sadzeck saw his velocity soar back into the triple-digits in 2015, though with little feel for where his fastball would land. His control leaped forward in 2016 at Double-A as he trimmed his walk rate from 6.1 per nine innings to 3.3. Sadzeck is a hefty 6-foot-7 with an enormous fastball that sits in the mid-90s and peaks at 101 mph. His fastball has a touch of sink but is more notable for its velocity than its life. He improved his ability to throw his slider and changeup for strikes, though neither one is a true out pitch. His slider is more advanced, flashing average but needing improvement to give him a better weapon off his fastball. The development of his slider and improving his fastball command will be crucial for Sadzeck. He will go to Triple-A Round Rock and continue his development as a starter, but given his repertoire, command, medical history and potential for more frequent 100 mph readings in short stints, there's a good chance his future lies in relief.
The Rangers liked Tejeda's hitting ability when they signed him for $100,000 as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic. After a strong pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2015, he built upon that in 2016 in the Rookie-level Arizona League and earned a late promotion to short-season Spokane, where he ranked fifth in the Northwest League with eight home runs despite playing just 23 games there. Tejeda has quick, whippy bat speed and a lot of moving parts in his swing--from a leg kick to the way he loads his hands. He has the power to hit 20 home runs and shows natural feel to hit, but he's a free-swinger who struck out 25 percent of the time in 2016. Tejeda has good hand-eye coordination but he has to calm his swing and get better at recognizing breaking pitches. Some scouts think he can stay at shortstop, where he has a plus arm, but his offensive game is ahead of his defense. An average runner, Tejeda made 17 errors in 45 games at shortstop and is still learning to slow the game down. He is ready for low Class A Hickory next in 2017.
Hernandez's father is former Tigers reliever Fernando Hernandez. Fernando pitched for Double-A Memphis in 1996, and that's where Jonathan was born, though he grew up in the Dominican Republic and signed with the Rangers for $300,000 in January 2013. Hernandez has a lean, skinny frame and will need to get stronger, but his fastball has steadily ticked up since signing. He now sits in the low 90s and can hit 97 mph with easy, explosive arm action and a crossfire delivery. His changeup is an average pitch with good deception. His slider has its moments, but he needs to define it with better shape because he tends to get wide with it and hitters are able to lay off as a result. Hernandez has produced ordinary strikeout rates, but he's a solid strike-thrower for his age who is ready to make the jump to the Rangers' new high Class A affiliate in the Carolina League with a chance to develop into a back-end starter.
The Rangers had Enright ranked higher on their draft board than other clubs when they took him in the third round in 2016 and signed him away from a Stetson commitment for $675,000. The early returns were promising. Enright made a smooth transition to pro ball in the Rookie-level Arizona League despite missing two weeks early on with a hamstring injury. He has a mature swing that is simple and contact-oriented. At times it can get big, but when he stays back and uses his hands, he puts the ball in play with a line-drive approach. His pop is mostly to the gaps with enough strength projection where he could develop 10-15 home-run power. An offensive-minded prospect, Enright spent most of his time at third base and shortstop in the AZL, then at instructional league focused on second base. He probably will split time between second and third base in 2017, with most of his reps probably coming at second. He has the tools to be at least an average defender at second base with an average arm. Enright should head to low Class A Hickory in 2017.
Matuella is following Tanner Scheppers' path as a Rangers draft pick with electric stuff but durability issues that have hampered him since college. After his sophomore year at Duke, Matuella projected to be a potential No. 1 overall pick for the 2015 draft, but in the summer of 2014 he was diagnosed with spondylosis, a chronic back condition. He was back on the mound his junior year in 2015, but his stuff wasn't quite as crisp, and he had Tommy John surgery that April. Even with the injury and Matuella having never thrown more than 60 innings in college, the Rangers drafted him in the third round in 2015 and signed him for $2 million. He rehabbed and made his pro debut at short-season Spokane in 2016, but after one start felt elbow discomfort and was shut down the rest of the season. At his best, Matuella has good control and a frontline starter's repertoire, sitting 92-96 mph with his two-seamer and touching 98 with plus life. His power curveball and slider were both plus pitches, and while he didn't need his changeup much, it showed signs it could develop into an average pitch. Matuella's makeup will be an asset during the rehab, so the Rangers hold out hope that he can remain a starter.
When the Collective Bargaining Agreement went into place in December 2011, it included new international bonus pools designed to limit spending that would begin on July 2, 2012. Beras originally presented himself as a 16-year-old eligible to sign in 2012, but instead he signed with the Rangers for $4.5 million in February 2012, claiming he was really 17 and thus eligible to sign immediately. Shortly after July 2, Major League Baseball ruled Beras' age was "undetermined," but allowed the contract to stand. Beras struggled at high Class A High Desert for most of 2016, until he caught fire late and hit .308/.361/.692 in his final 29 games. Tall and lanky, he has plus raw power but gets himself out by swinging through breaking balls and expanding the strike zone. At the end of the season, Beras made an adjustment to put his hands and his body in better position, starting with a more upright stance instead of bending over from the top, allowing him to track pitches better. A below-average runner, he has a plus arm in right field but doesn't defend his position well because of a mix of puzzling routes and mental miscues. He should advance to Double-A Frisco in 2017.
Cardona has flown under the radar for most of his career. He hit only one home run in his first four pro seasons, but as he got stronger and matured as a hitter he started to drive the ball with more authority in 2015. He built upon that with his best offensive season in 2016 at high Class A High Desert. Cardona's tools don't immediately grab attention--and some of what he does is unorthodox--but he finds ways to contribute in all phases of the game. His best attribute is his defense, which grades as above-average in center field. He's a slightly above-average runner with a nose for the ball, good range and a strong arm in the outfield. At the plate, Cardona is short to the ball and he makes frequent contact with a line-drive approach and the ability to use the whole field. He tracks pitches well, puts together quality at-bats and has the power to hit 10-15 home runs, though he's more of a doubles threat than a power hitter. The jump to Double-A Frisco in 2017 will be a key test for Cardona's prospect status in his first taste of the upper minors.
A reliever his first four seasons, LeClerc moved to the rotation in 2015 at Double-A Frisco but had the worst season of his career. He returned to the bullpen in 2016 and made his major league debut with three appearances in July before returning to Triple-A Round Rock and then returning as a September callup. LeClerc has the stuff to be a quality reliever, but has to improve his control to stay in the big leagues. His quick arm delivers fastballs that sit 94-96 mph and can peak at 98. LeClerc has one of the most unusual changeups in baseball, with cutter-like action instead of armside fade, to the point some scouts think it's a slider. It's an above-average pitch, and he also has a straight changeup he uses as well. He mainly relies on his fastball-changeup combination, though he will mix in an occasional fringe-average curveball to give hitters another look. Fastball command and general wildness have long been an issue. At Triple-A, he got more swings and misses out of the strike zone, but major league hitters were able to resist. LeClerc should have a chance to win a job in the Rangers' bullpen in 2017 and could stay there if his location improves.
Bryce Harper was the talk of Nevada when he went No. 1 overall in the 2010 draft. It has been a slower climb for Robinson, a fellow Las Vegas native who signed with the Rangers for $198,000 out of the draft that year. He would have become a minor league free agent after the 2016 season, but the Rangers added him to the 40-man roster. Robinson doesn't have one plus tool, but he does a bit of everything, bats lefthanded and plays nearly every position. He has a loose, smooth swing with strong hands to drive the ball for a tick above-average power. He walked 13 percent of the time at Triple-A Round Rock but also struck out 28 percent of his plate appearances. His patience borders on passivity, putting him in bad counts sometimes. He is an average runner with good baserunning instincts and the speed to play the outfield in addition to his natural infield spots. That versatility is key for Robinson, who projects as an offensive-minded utility man. He likely will return to Triple-A but should make his major league debut in 2017.
Faulkner made his major league debut at the end of the 2015 season and pitched well for the Rangers over 11 relief outings. He made the Opening Day roster in 2016, but it ended up being a disappointing season for Faulkner. He stayed in Texas for two weeks, went down to Triple-A Round Rock for a month, returned to the major leagues for three appearances in May before going back to Triple-A the rest of the season, aside from one final scoreless inning in Oakland on Sept. 25. Faulkner's stuff backed up a bit from 2015, which resulted in less swing-and-miss and a lower strikeout rate. His fastball sits at 91-93 mph and touches 95. His crossfire delivery makes it difficult for lefties to pick up that pitch out of his hand. His slider and changeup--which he throws with a split-like grip--were both fringy pitches that didn't miss many bats, so he will have to sharpen his offspeed stuff. If Faulkner can do that, he has a future in middle relief, though he probably returns to Triple-A to begin 2017.
Hauschild has been around sports all his life. His father Doug is the long-time media relations director at Dayton, the same school where Michael starred from 2010 to 2012. Another in the long line of Astros late-round, senior signs, Hauschild steadily progressed up the minor league ladder but rarely impressed in the Houston system. He reached Triple-A Fresno in both 2015 and 2016, and he ranked fourth in the Pacific Coast League with a 3.22 ERA in the latter season. The Rangers selected Hauschild in the Rule 5 draft at the 2016 Winter Meetings. He has above-average control to go with his 89-93 mph fastball and an effective forkball-like changeup. He also snaps off a cutter and an occasional slider. As a starter, Hauschild succeeds by keeping the ball down, generating ground balls and avoiding walks that lead to big innings. The Rangers plan to let him battle for either their No. 5 starter job or a role in the bullpen.
Signed for $2 million as the No. 45 overall pick in 2015, Jenkins piled up strikeouts in 2016 at low Class A Hickory and generally had a tough time. He still showcased double-plus speed by stealing 51 bases, most in the South Atlantic League and third overall in the minors. Jenkins has extremely quick hands and strong wrists, but his barrel doesn't stay in the hitting zone very long. He is still learning to trust his hands by keeping them back and repeating his load and separation rather than getting caught out front. Jenkins has trouble recognizing changeups, which further contributed to him getting off balance. He has more power that his lean 6-foot-1 frame suggests and could hit 10-15 home runs, though his swing path isn't geared to hit the ball in the air. Jenkins is an outstanding athlete with the speed to cover plenty of ground in center field along with an average arm. The Rangers have had other tooled-up outfielders like Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara repeat Hickory before, so Jenkins could follow that path unless the Rangers push him to high Class A in 2017.
Perez hit well in Cuba's junior national leagues, batting .351/.448/.523 in 135 plate appearances in the country's 18U national league and earning a spot on the Cuban team that went to the 18U World Cup in Taiwan. Perez batted .265/.333/.347 in 514 plate appearances over two seasons with Artemisa in Cuba's top league, Serie Nacional, then left the country and signed with the Rangers in September 2016 for $1.1 million. He didn't stand out much when he was in Cuba, but his tools jumped after he left. During workouts in Mexico before he signed, he showed above-average raw power, and while he was a fringe-average runner in Cuba, he showed plus speed in the 60-yard dash. Those tools are intriguing, though his pure hitting ability remains a question mark. In Cuba, Perez mostly played third base but also got time at second base, right field and first base. He's expected to get most of his playing time rotating between all three outfield spots with the Rangers. His first action should come with low Class A Hickory in 2017 as he makes his U.S. professional debut.
When Profar signed with the Rangers for $150,000 in September 2012, it appeared a token signing from the organization that knew him since he was 12. At the time Juremi signed, older brother Jurickson was 19 years old and already in the majors. While Juremi was known mostly as Jurickson's younger brother his first few years in the system, he made his own name with a strong offensive campaign at high Class A High Desert in 2016. None of Profar's tools grade out better than average, but he has outstanding game awareness and a knack for squaring up the ball. He controls the strike zone with good plate discipline and plate coverage, resulting just an 11 percent strikeout rate in 2016. The power spike he showed was mostly a product of High Desert, but he can be a 10-15 home run hitter. Profar is an offensive-oriented player who mostly split time at third base and first base, with sporadic time at second base. He doesn't run well, but he has good hands and an average arm. Profar doesn't have a true position, but his bat has a chance to carry him to the majors, with Double-A Frisco his next step.
The Rangers signed Nomar Mazara on July 2, 2011, for $4.95 million out of Ivan Noboa's program. At the same time, Texas landed Payano, who also trained with Noboa, for $650,000. Payano, who was born in New York but grew up in the Dominican Republic, pitched three full seasons in the Dominican Summer League, with the Rangers leaving him there in part due to maturity issues. He was in the midst of his best season in 2016 when a comebacker fractured his right arm on July 7, ending his season. Payano kept low Class A South Atlantic League hitters off balance with one of the best changeups in the league. His fastball grades as below-average and sits 88-91 mph and touches 93, but he gets whiffs because he uses his changeup liberally, to the point some scouts would like to see him pitch more off his fastball. His curveball and slider both grade as below-average. Payano needs to tighten his fastball command, but he is generally a solid strike-thrower. He has a high-slot delivery that helps him stay on top of the baseball, generate downhill plane and keep the ball in the bottom of the strike zone. He should be ready to jump to high Class A in 2017.
As a sophomore at Vanderbilt, Ferguson pitched in the Commodores rotation and started a game in Omaha during their College World Series title run. Ferguson's control escaped him as a junior in 2015--he walked 35 in 20 innings--but his stuff was tantalizing enough for the Rangers to take him in the sixth round and sign him for $200,000. Strictly a relief prospect in 2016, Ferguson overpowered short-season Northwest League hitters in June and July, but when he got moved up to low Class A Hickory in August, his control vanished again. No pitcher in the Rangers system has a wider gap between his pure stuff and his feel for pitching than Ferguson. His fastball rides at 93-97 mph with plus movement, and his plus slider has sharp bite. Ferguson has the ability to generate swings and misses with both pitches, but his wildness makes him extremely risky. He should open 2017 either back at Hickory or at high Class A Down East, with a chance to develop into a quality reliever--though he might not escape Class A if he can't harness his control.
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