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The Rays drafted Calhoun in the 17th round of the 2013 draft, but he opted to go to college instead. He played his freshman year at Arizona, then went to the Cape Cod League that summer. He returned to campus in the fall, but after being dismissed for academic reasons, Calhoun transferred to Yavapai (Ariz.) JC in 2015 and led all junior college hitters with 31 home runs. After the season, Calhoun signed with the Dodgers for $347,500 as a fourth-round pick and immediately showed his bat would translate. In 2017, Calhoun was continuing to rake at Triple-A when the Dodgers dealt him to the Rangers as the centerpiece of the Yu Darvish trade. He stayed in the Pacific Coast League after the trade, then made his big league debut as a September callup. Calhoun has a smaller, stocky frame, but frequent reminders he's too small or too slow help fuel his motivation. Calhoun is one of the most talented hitting prospects in game, with an outstanding combination of barrel control and power. He has great rhythm and balance in the batter's box, quick hands and powerful hip rotation. He has good hand-eye coordination and a compact swing that stays on plane through the hitting zone for a long time. He has great plate coverage, with little problem handling premium velocity or barreling breaking pitches. He seldom swings and misses and struck out just 11 percent of the time at Triple-A. He hit 32 home runs in 2017 and could be a 35-plus home run threat in the big leagues. Calhoun's stature gives him a smaller strike zone to cover, and he doesn't expand it by chasing much. He tried playing second base with the Dodgers, but he's a well below-average runner with a below-average arm who didn't show much range at the position and often struggled to make routine plays. Calhoun showed some signs of progress in 2017, but in June the Dodgers started getting him work in left field. After joining the Rangers, Calhoun played left field almost exclusively. The Rangers still plan to give Calhoun reps at second base, but Rougned Odor will force him to develop into an adequate left fielder. Calhoun will either DH or give away some runs with his defense, but he will create plenty of them with his bat. He's ready for an everyday job in Texas.
Taveras, a cousin of former big league center fielder Willy Taveras, signed for $2.1 million as a 16-year-old in 2015 and has shown the most upside of any prospect in the Rangers' system. Pushed to the low Class A South Atlantic League as an 18-year-old, Taveras' performance was modest but he still stood out as one of the league's premium prospects. Taveras has a chance for five average to plus tools at a premium position. He has a simple, balanced swing from both sides, using his hands well to generate bat speed and a clean swing path. Taveras makes frequent contact and stays through the ball well, which allows him to use the whole field, and he could develop into a plus hitter. His strike-zone discipline continued to improve in 2017 and he started to flash more pop, with a lean, projectable frame that should help him develop average power. Taveras glides around center field with plus speed, good instincts and quick reads off the bat to go with a plus arm that's accurate. Taveras has more risk than Willie Calhoun and is still a few years away, but if it all comes together he has a chance to be a cornerstone player and perennial all-star candidate. His aggressive path continues in 2018 at high Class A Down East.
A fiery competitor who pitched for USA Baseball's 18U National Team in 2016, Crouse passed up a Southern California commitment and signed for $1.45 million as a second-round pick, No. 66 overall, in 2017. He completely overmatched Rookie-level Arizona League hitters in his pro debut after signing, allowing seven hits and one earned run in 20 innings while recording 30 strikeouts. Crouse has the most upside of any pitcher in the Rangers organization. He has great arm speed on a power fastball that sits 93-96 mph and can reach 99, with Crouse cruising in that upper range in short stints in the AZL. His slider has tight spin, sharp bite and two-plane depth, giving him a putaway pitch. Crouse didn't throw his firm changeup much in high school so it's still below-average, but it shows promise with its late fading action. Crouse's delivery certainly isn't free and easy, with long arm action, a short stride and a violent finish across his body. However, Crouse repeats his arm slot well and is able to locate his fastball to both sides of the plate, with his long arms and legs flying at the hitter helping to enhance his deception. Crouse has frontline starter potential, though he's at least a few years away from reaching the majors. Low Class A Hickory is next.
A first-round pick, No. 30 overall, in 2016, Ragans stayed back in extended spring training before pitching in the short-season Northwest League, where he ranked as the league's top prospect. Hitters frequently find themselves off balance against Ragans, who throws off their timing with a promising fastball/changeup combination. Ragans throws his fastball at 89-93 mph and touches 95. It's solid velocity from the left side and plays up because of his fastball life, as its high spin rate allows him to get swings and misses when he elevates. Ragans fools batters with a plus changeup in the low-80s that has excellent separation off of his fastball. His curveball was more of a weapon in high school, but it's now a fringe-average pitch that's soft and sometimes loopy that he needs to tighten. Ragans creates good angle and hides the ball well in his delivery by keeping his front side closed, but he has to do a better job of repeating his mechanics because his control lags behind. Ragans has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter if he can throw more strikes. He's ready for his first full-season test with low Class A Hickory.
Mendez reached Triple-A in 2016 and pitched in two games out of the big league bullpen at the end of the season, but the Rangers sent him to Double-A Frisco in 2017 to have him focus on fastball command. He threw a career-high 150 innings, an important step for his durability given his previous injuries, and came back up to Texas as a September callup. Mendez's bread-and-butter is his 80-84 changeup, a plus pitch he relies on heavily to catch hitters leaning out front for either a whiff or soft contact. For the first 10 starts of the season, the Rangers told Mendez he couldn't throw his changeup until he got to a two-strike count. Mendez already had good control, but the Rangers wanted to emphasize using his 90-95 fastball and hitting his spots with that pitch. The plan worked, as Mendez threw more strikes and missed even more bats in the second half. He throws a fringe-average slider and an occasional curveball that's below-average, but he mostly leans on his fastball/changeup combination. Mendez showed promising signs that he can handle a starter's workload and the Rangers plan to keep him in that role. He should compete for a spot in Texas' rotation in 2018 and could settle in as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
It's the seventh Prospect Handbook appearance for Guzman, who signed for $3.45 million as a 16-year-old in 2011. Guzman spent all of 2017 with Triple-A Round Rock, where he set a career-high walk rate and cut down on his strikeout rate from 2016. Guzman has a huge frame but a hit-over-power profile. Earlier in his career, Guzman got himself in trouble when he got away from his strengths and tried to yank the ball for power, but in 2017 he stayed with a balanced, all-fields approach. Gaining more hitting knowledge has helped and so has being able to learn how to keep his long limbs in sync to maintain a repeatable swing. Guzman has a big strike zone to cover but doesn't swing and miss much and has a sound eye for discerning balls and strikes. Guzman has average raw power, which is less than the traditional first-base profile, never topping more than 16 home runs in a minor league season. He has made significant defensive strides at first baseman, where he's a huge target and turns errant throws from his infielders into outs, but his range and mobility are limited. The Rangers used Joey Gallo at first base down the stretch in 2017, so Guzman could end up starting 2018 back in Triple-A but should make his major league debut at some point this season.
The Twins drafted Cody in the supplemental second round in 2015, but he returned to Kentucky instead for his senior season and went to the Rangers in the sixth round of the 2016 draft. Cody became one of the Rangers' biggest developmental success stories in 2017, pitching well at two Class A levels. Cody has an extra-large frame at 6-foot-7, 245 pounds and drops the ball downhill with a lively fastball from 93-97 mph. He has a plus slider that comes out of his hand looking like a fastball until it snaps off at the end with late tilt and sharp action. Cody could lean heavily on his slider to get outs at the lower levels, but the Ranges instead forced him to pitch only with his fastball the first time through the order early in the season to help him improve his fastball command and learn how to attack hitters. They took off those restrictions in the second half, and Cody posted a 1.32 ERA with a 76-20 strikeout-to-walk mark over 61.1 innings in his final 10 starts. His changeup improved in 2017, but it's still a fringe-average pitch he needs to develop. Cody has the stuff to become a No. 3 or 4 starter. He'll likely return to high Class A Down East to begin 2018, but he should be in the upper levels soon and be ready to help the major league club in 2019.
Signed for $500,000 in 2015, Aparicio was just 18 in 2017, but he played so well in extended spring training the Rangers decided to push him to low Class A Hickory in May. He stumbled there but he looked comfortable when he went down to play at short-season Spokane in the college-heavy Northwest League. Aparicio's all-around game awareness is well beyond his years. His speed and arm strength are both fringe-average, but even without explosive athleticism, he can handle center field because of his top-shelf instincts. Other center fielders have more closing speed, but Aparicio has a quick first step, gets excellent jumps off the bat and takes sharp routes to the ball. Aparicio is a high-contact hitter with good hand-eye coordination and a short, efficient swing. He gained more awareness of the timing with his leg kick as the season progressed and showed a line-drive, all-fields approach. His power mostly goes for doubles right now, with a chance to grow into 10-15 homers. Aparicio is ready to return to Hickory in 2018. He could develop into an everyday center fielder along the lines of Gerardo Parra, albeit with less arm strength.
In a move that shouldn't surprise any Rangers fan, the team drafted a raw, premium athlete out of high school, selecting Thompson with one of their first-round picks, No. 26 overall, in 2017 and signing him for $2.1 million to pass up an Alabama commitment. At 19, Thompson was among of the oldest high school players drafted, and he held his own in his first taste of the Rookie-level Arizona League. Thompson was a standout quarterback in high school who is now committed to baseball full-time. With broad shoulders and a high waist, Thompson is a plus-plus runner with a plus arm who projects as a center fielder, although his reads and routes off the bat need improvement. Thompson has plus bat speed and average raw power, but he has a lot of work to do to smooth things out at the plate. He has an aggressive approach and will swing and miss, though he kept that manageable in his pro debut. Thompson probably won't fly through the system, but he has some of the best tools in the system at a premium position if everything clicks. He has a chance to see low Class A Hickory in 2018.
After Seise made an impression on scouts in high school for his defensive prowess at shortstop, the Rangers selected him with the second of their two first-round picks, No. 29 overall, in the 2017 draft and signed him for $2 million to pass up a Central Florida commitment. Seise hit well in the Rookie-level Arizona League, then struggled when the Rangers aggressively promoted him to short-season Spokane. Seise is a gifted defender with quick feet, soft hands and a plus arm. A tick above-average runner, Seise is an instinctive shortstop with a nose for the ball and good range to both sides. There is more risk in Seise's hitting ability, which he showed by striking out at a 26 percent clip in his pro debut. Seise has to improve his balance and timing at the plate to make more frequent contact, but he has good pop for the position. When he connects, it's usually loud contact, with average raw power that could tick up with physical maturity. If Seise can keep his strikeout rate manageable, he could develop into an everyday shortstop with good defense and power. He should make his full-season debut in 2018 with low Class A Hickory.
Signed for $32,000 as a 30th-round pick from a Long Island high school, Palumbo did little to stand out in his first three seasons. That changed in 2016, as he moved from the low Class A Hickory bullpen to the starting rotation at midseason. Palumbo was the talk of the high Class A Carolina League in April, but after just three starts he went down for the year with Tommy John surgery and isn't expected to return to game action until June 2018. Had Palumbo stayed healthy all season, he could have had a case as the organization's top pitching prospect. His fastball parks in the low-90s and reaches 96 mph, with his short arm stroke and crossfire delivery adding deception. Palumbo throws a lot of strikes with his fastball and misses a lot of bats with his curveball, a plus pitch with tight spin and sharp, late action. Palumbo's changeup is a fringe-average pitch with average potential, but he mostly has leaned on his fastball/curveball combination. Palumbo looked like a potential midrotation starter early in the 2017 season, but the TJ clouds his status and he won't get a full season's workload until 2019 at the earliest.
The Rangers already had one superlative defensive catcher in the system with Jose Trevino, their sixth-round pick in 2014. Three years later, the Rangers drafted Whatley, who won the Johnny Bench award as college baseball's top catcher, out of Oral Roberts in the third round and signed him for $517,100. Whatley is a potential plus defender and one of the most polished defensive catchers in the 2017 draft. He's an advanced receiver with soft hands, with an above-average arm and quick feet that help him get rid of the ball quickly to control the running game. He earns praise for his game calling, leadership skills and high-energy style that should endear him to managers. Whatley's looked better than expected in the short-season Northwest League, where he put together consistent quality at-bats with a mature approach. He worked counts and gained a better understanding of how to control the timing of the pre-pitch movement in his swing to make frequent contact and drive the ball with fringe-average power. Whatley's defense could carry him to a backup role, but has more offensive upside than Trevino and could develop into starter.
The Phillies signed Tocci for $759,000 on his 16th birthday in 2011. They left him off the 40-man roster after the 2016 season and he didn't get picked in the Rule 5 draft. They did the same thing after the 2017 season, but this time the White Sox picked him in the Rule 5 draft and traded him to the Rangers for cash considerations. Since the time he's signed, Tocci has been an instinctive player with an extremely skinny frame. That's still the case, as Tocci has been slow to add strength, but he's a smooth center fielder who gets good jumps off the bat with average speed and arm strength. Tocci's swing is sound and he has good bat-to-balls skills, with an approach geared to hit the ball to the middle of the field and the opposite way. He would benefit from a more patient approach to draw more walks, especially since he has minimal power. Tocci didn't play winter ball after the 2017 season, instead focusing on getting stronger, which remains the key for him taking the next step forward. The Rangers are counting on him stepping in as a fourth outfielder in 2018.
Robinson signed with the Rangers out of high school in 2010 and would have been a minor league free agent after the 2016 season, but the Rangers added him to the 40-man roster. In his eighth season with the organization, Robinson made his major league debut in 2017 on April 5, went back down to Triple-A, then returned to Texas at the end of June. Robinson is a versatile player who can play multiple positions and chips in value in different ways. He's a selective hitter who consistently walks at a high clip, including his 14 percent rate in Triple-A in 2017. His power is a tick above-average, with the ability to drive the ball in the air for home runs to all fields. His strikeout rate is high, a combination of his patience turning into passivity at times along with the swing-and-miss in his game. With average speed and arm strength, Robinson doesn't play shortstop but he does play steady defense just about everywhere else, including third, second and all three outfield spots, though he's stretched thin in center field. Robinson's versatility should keep him around the big league club in 2018 as on offensive-oriented utility man with value as a lefthanded bat off the bench who can occasionally fill-in as a starter when needed.
Reed put up monster numbers in college, but those numbers came at Itawamba (Miss.) junior college. He led NJCAA Division II in batting average, slugging and on-base percentage in 2017, then signed with the Rangers for $135,000 as an 8th-round pick. He annihilated the Rookie-level Arizona League in his debut, with a 1.072 OPS that would have led the league had he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Reed is a hulking righthanded power hitter, with some scouts giving him 70 raw power on the 20-80 scale. Reed can put on an impressive show during batting practice, but he also has a short swing that helps him make a lot of contact with good plate coverage in games. He's a patient hitter who walked in 15 percent of his plate appearances in the AZL. Reed is adept at driving the ball to the opposite field, and even more power should show up in games as he learns which pitches to turn on to his pull side. Reed has little speed and his defense is below-average. Reed will head to low Class A Hickory in 2018, where he could have a breakout year.
Garcia was a small and slightly built as a 15-year-old, but over the next year he got stronger and improved on both sides of the ball to become a player several clubs considered the top catcher on the international market. He signed in 2016 for $800,000, and while he showed some positive signs in his pro debut especially during extended spring training, he mostly struggled while playing in the Dominican Summer League. Garcia, who made the move from shortstop to catching full-time a year and a half before signing, threw out 41 percent of basestealers. He has an above-average, accurate arm with a clean throwing stroke and has quick feet to get rid of the ball quickly. He has soft hands and receives well. Garcia has the components to hit, with a simple stroke, solid contact skills and a mature, patient approach. Garcia doesn't have much power though and probably never will, but he will need to get stronger to do more damage on contact and become more than a singles hitter. The Rookie-level Arizona League should be the next step for Garcia in 2018.
Hernandez was born in Memphis, which is where his father, Fernando, pitched in Double-A in 1996 before making two big league relief appearances for Detroit the next year. Hernandez grew up in the Dominican Republic and signed for $300,000, with a fastball that has climbed since then. Hernandez throws 92-95 mph and can reach 98 mph. His fastball has an effective combination of velocity and movement, with good armside run and a high spin rate that he took advantage of last year by elevating it to get swings-and-misses up in the zone, which helped his strikeout rate jump from 17 percent in 2016 to 23 percent in 2017. His slider is an average pitch and his changeup flashes average at times but it's less consistent. He can also flip over a curveball early in the count. Hernandez throws across his body, which creates deception, but can also impede his control. Some of that may stem from overthrowing, a habit he tends to get into when he's in a jam or goes through the order a second time. Some scouts see Hernandez moving to the bullpen, though others see a potential back-end starter.
The Rangers continue to have high hopes for Martin, who has shown his potential in flashes, including seven scoreless, no-hit innings with 15 strikeouts in the high Class A California League playoffs in 2016. Martin is yet to put it all together for a breakout season quite yet, though, some of which has been due to his health. Hip issues in 2015, a sprained elbow ligament in 2016 and an oblique injury that sidelined Martin for most of May and June in 2017 have prevented him from throwing more than 100 innings in a season. His fastball sits at 90-92 mph and can touch 95 with late riding life. His curveball is an above-average pitch with tight spin, good shape and power at 80-82 mph. He mixes a changeup that's still firm and below-average, along with an occasional slider/cutter. Aside from staying healthy, one of the keys for Martin's development will be his ability to sync up his delivery and find a consistent release point. Martin has worked to get the arc out of the back of his motion to try to get his lower half into his mechanics more, but with his long limbs his delivery will always require some maintenance. Double-A Frisco is next for Martin, a potential No. 4 starter.
The Rangers have had success identifying off-the-radar pitchers in South Carolina. They signed righthander Carl Edwards with their 48th-round pick in 2011 and they got Pelham for $40,000 in the 33rd round in 2015. Pelham was so raw that he walked more than a batter per inning in 2016, but in 2017 he moved to the bullpen full-time and took off, punctuating his season with a pair of shutout innings in the high Class A Carolina League playoffs where his fastball sat at 97 mph. Pelham has an extra-large frame and a huge fastball from the left side, parking at 95-96 mph and touching 99 with downhill angle and great extension out front. Pelham can blow his fastball by hitters and also gets a high swing-and-miss rate on his slider, which became a plus pitch last year. Pelham still needs to improve his location, but he already made huge strides with his control last year but cutting his walk rate from 22 percent in 2016 to 10 percent in 2017. The arrows are pointing in the right direction for Pelham, who has the stuff to pitch high-leverage relief innings.
Rodriguez was one of the top amateur prospects in Venezuela in the 2017 class, standing out more for his game savvy than his raw tools or physicality. Rodriguez has a small, wiry build and a good performance record in games. Rodriguez is a switch-hitter with a quick, compact stroke, with high-contact skills to spray the ball all over the field without many strikeouts. Rodriguez has a good sense for the strike zone, with an offensive skill set tilted more toward getting on base than power, as he's mostly a singles hitter and probably won't ever be much of a home run threat. An above-average runner with basestealing savvy, Rodriguez is an athletic shortstop who fields his position well with a good internal clock. A lot of scouts expect Rodriguez to eventually slide over to second base due to his below-average arm and throwing mechanics. The Rangers have been sending their top July 2 signings to the Dominican Summer League in recent years, with Rodriguez likely to follow that same path.
Gardewine was a starter who helped take his Kaskaskia team to the Junior College World Series in 2013, then signed with the Rangers for $162,300 as a seventh-round pick. Gardweine remained a starter for the Rangers through 2015, then moved to the bullpen the next year. He broke through in 2017 with an excellent season for Double-A Frisco and jumped to the big league bullpen for his major league debut at the end of August. Gardewine has quick arm speed and a plus fastball at 93-96 mph. He's not tall, but he generates downhill plane and also has a high spin rate on his fastball to get swings-and-misses when he rides it up in the zone. His strikeout rate jumped from 28 percent in high Class A in 2016 to 34 percent in Double-A in 2017, and the key was his plus slider. It's a power slider Gardewine usually fires at 88-90 mph, but he can change speeds on that pitch too and often doubles up on it, landing it for a strike or using it as a chase pitch. He has a firm changeup but rarely throws it. Gardewine throws across his body and usually throws strikes, but got into trouble in the big leagues when his fastball control escaped him. Gardewine should open 2018 in the big league bullpen, with the stuff to stick around as a middle reliever.
Morgan repeated the high Class A level in 2017 at the Rangers' new Down East affiliate in the Carolina League, but he did so while having to learn a new position. Morgan had experimented with catching at instructional league in 2015 and 2016, and in 2017 the Rangers had him rotating between shortstop and catcher, with 36 games behind the plate but most of his time at shortstop. Morgan missed a month in June with a tight hamstring but got extra work catching upper-level pitching after the season in the Arizona Fall League. It's been difficult for Morgan to learn catching while playing it only part time, but the Rangers like the versatility of having him at multiple positions. Morgan has a contact-oriented swing and a good eye for the strike zone, though he wasn't as selective with his approach as he has shown in the past. Morgan doesn't have much power but has enough to pull 8-12 home runs over the fence. Morgan doesn't have the range to stick at shortstop, but his hands, feet and slightly above-average arm would work well at second or third base. He's shown promising signs behind the plate, but he understandably has a ways to go to stick there. Morgan is slated to move up to Double-A Frisco, where he will continue to work on his catching and bounce around the infield.
Perez hit well in Cuba's junior national leagues, earning a spot on the country's 18U World Cup team that played in Taiwan in 2013. Perez played briefly in Cuba's top league, Serie Nacional, before leaving the country and signing with the Rangers for $1.14 million in September 2016. He hit well in his pro debut in the low Class A South Atlantic League, but he scuffled upon a promotion to high Class A Down East. Perez is a strong, physical player with plus raw power, and he uses the whole field and is adept at working the ball toward right-center. His strikeouts were manageable, but he has a power-over-hit profile and got into bad habits with his swing in the second half, possibly due to fatigue as he played more games in a season than he ever did in Cuba. A below-average runner, Perez split time between third base, first base and the outfield corners in 2017. The Rangers are optimistic he can handle third base, but he's not a natural defender at the position. Perez moves well enough to play in the outfield with a solid-average arm that works in right field. He likely returns to Down East to start 2018.
Gonzalez was one of the top international shortstop prospects in 2015, when he signed with the Rockies for $1.3 million. After signing, Gonzalez kept growing, to the point where the Rockies pushed him out to center field. Gonzalez was hitting well in the Rookie-level Pioneer League last year when the Rangers acquired him on Aug. 23 as the player to be named later, completing the trade deadline deal for Jonathan Lucroy. Gonzalez is a smart player with good hitting actions, but it has and will continue to take time for him keep his long arms in sync and on time with his swing. He did a better job with his timing and getting into a better hitting position in 2017, dropping his Pioneer League strikeout rate from 32 percent in 2016 to 25 percent last year. Gonzalez has good bat speed and added significant bulk over the offseason, so there should be more thump coming than the mostly gap power he has shown so far. Gonzalez is huge for a center fielder, so whether he stays there long term is in question, but he has the tools to play there for now with slightly above-average speed and a plus arm. Gonzalez is headed to low Class A Hickory next, where he might rotate around the outfield with Miguel Aparicio also there.
Alexy was committed to Radford, but the Dodgers lured him away with a $597,500 signing bonus as an 11th-round pick in 2016. The Dodgers kept a restrictive workload on Alexy, who threw more than five innings for them just once last season before they sent him to the Rangers at the trade deadline along with Willie Calhoun and infielder Brendon Davis in the Yu Darvish deal. Alexy has a full windup with an aggressive, up-tempo delivery. It's made it difficult for him to repeat his mechanics and throw strikes, but he also misses a lot of bats with a 29 percent strikeout rate in 2017. Alexy isn't overpowering, but he can get swings-and-misses with a low-90s fastball and with his best pitch, a curveball that flashes plus. He shows feel for a changeup, though that's still below-average. Alexy is athletic and he's added 15 pounds since joining the Rangers, so the additional strength could potentially help him keep his delivery together more consistently. Throwing more strikes will be key for Alexy, who should move up to high Class A Down East in 2018 and could eventually slot in to the back of a rotation.
Speas checks off a lot of traditional scouting boxes, but he's still a raw project the Rangers are working to mold. In seven starts last year with short-season Spokane, Speas posted a 10.89 ERA with more walks (17) than strikeouts (16) in 19 innings. Once he moved to the bullpen, Speas was still wild but found far more success, throwing 14.2 scoreless innings with a 29-8 K-BB mark. The move to the bullpen isn't permanent--the Rangers will likely either start him or use him in a piggyback plan for their low Class A Hickory rotation in 2018--but it's a role that fit Speas well and could be in his future. Getting more innings as a starter will benefit Speas, an outstanding athlete with long arms and legs he's working to sync up in his delivery to throw more strikes. He has good arm action and has an explosive fastball from 93-97 mph. His slider is a fringe-average pitch but it played up out of the bullpen when he threw it with more power. Speas has a changeup too but it's still in its early stages.
After signing for $100,000 in 2014, Tejeda flashed breakout signals when the Rangers promoted him to short-season Spokane in 2016 and he smashed eight home runs in just 23 games. Tejeda didn't carry that success over to low Class A Hickory in 2017, with a lot of swing-and-miss, especially early in the season. Tejeda's swing has a lot of moving parts and often gets long, but the Rangers emphasized the importance of trusting his hands and focusing on driving the ball to the middle of the field. Tejeda's strikeout rate dropped from 34 percent in the first half to 25 percent in the second half, and Tejeda finished the year by hitting .293/.350/.500 in August. He's an aggressive hitter who is still learning to recognize breaking pitches, but he can ambush a fastball and is a 20-homer threat. An average runner, Tejeda's plus arm is a weapon, but he's still cleaning up his footwork and first step, and his range is a touch short for what's ideal at the position. Tejeda has a chance to stick there but could end up at second or third base. He will likely go to high Class A Down East to open 2018.
Trevino is a potential plus-plus defender who is considered by scouts to be one of the best defenders in the minors. Trevino allowed just three passed balls in 99 games and threw out 41 percent of basestealers. Trevino doesn't have a cannon arm--it's slightly above-average--but it plays way up because his quick feet help him transfer and release the ball swiftly, with consistently on-target throws. Pitchers and managers love Trevino for his game-calling, leadership skills and the way he handles a pitching staff. His blocking and receiving skills are both above-average too. Trevino's defense could help him carve out a decade-long career as a backup, but even in that role he will have to show more life at the plate. Trevino doesn't have a pure swing but he is a high-contact hitter who struck out in just 10 percent of his plate appearances. He has to become more selective, both to draw more walks and so that he's swinging at pitches he can drive instead of just putting the ball in play for weak contact. He's not a power hitter but has enough pop to his pull side to hit 10-15 home runs. Added to the 40-man roster after the season, Trevino should go to Triple-A in 2018 and could make his major league debut by the end of the year.
Ibanez was the youngest player on Cuba's 2013 World Baseball Classic team, then signed with the Rangers two years later for $1.6 million. Ibanez spent most of his first season in 2016 with Double-A Frisco, but he repeated the Texas League in 2017 and didn't take the next step forward in his development at the plate. Ibanez is a steady player whose tool box has a lot of 40s and 50s on the 20-80 scouting scale. He's an offensive-minded prospect who puts together quality at-bats with a short swing and good bat-to-ball skills. He got away from his swing at times last year, causing him to get underneath too many balls for easy outs instead of staying with his line-drive approach. His power is below-average with a chance for 10-15 home runs. Ibanez is a below-average runner with a fringe-average arm who fits best at second base, where he can make the routine plays. Triple-A Round Rock is the next step for Ibanez.
The 2017 season was a win for Matuella, simply because he stayed healthy all year. That has been an obstacle for Matuella, who was diagnosed with a chronic back condition while at Duke in the summer of 2014 and had Tommy John in April 2015. Matuella never threw more than 60 innings in a season in college, but the Rangers signed him for $2 million as a third-round pick that year. Matuella rehabbed and pitched one game in 2016 with short-season Spokane, but he felt elbow pain and shut it down the rest of the year. So while Matuella's overall numbers were modest, he checked off the box for the organization's primary goal for him last year. The next step is to try to get all of his pitches working in the same start. His fastball ranged from 92-98 mph depending on the night. His curveball and changeup all flashed plus throughout the season, but rarely in the same outing and with a lot of inconsistency, no surprise given Matuella's multi-year layoff. The Rangers want to keep Matuella as a starter, though given his medical history, a relief role seems like a better bet. The 2018 season will be a big step for Matuella, who's headed for High Class A Down East.
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