Texas Rangers: Top 10 Prospects

Texas Rangers

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

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1. Neftali Feliz, rhp
2. Derek Holland, lhp
3. Justin Smoak, 1b
4. Elvis Andrus, ss
5. Martin Perez, lhp
6. Taylor Teagarden, c
7. Engel Beltre, of
8. Michael Main, rhp
9. Julio Borbon, of
10. Max Ramirez, c/1b
Best Hitter for Average Max Ramirez
Best Power Hitter Justin Smoak
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Justin Smoak
Fastest Baserunner Greg Golson
Best Athlete Greg Golson
Best Fastball Neftali Feliz
Best Curveball Martin Perez
Best Slider Warner Madrigal
Best Changeup Derek Holland
Best Control Derek Holland
Best Defensive Catcher Taylor Teagarden
Best Defensive Infielder Elvis Andrus
Best Infield Arm Elvis Andrus
Best Defensive Outfielder David Paisano
Best Outfield Arm Greg Golson
Catcher Taylor Teagarden
First Base Justin Smoak
Second Base Ian Kinsler
Third Base Michael Young
Shortstop Elvis Andrus
Left Field Julio Borbon
Center Field Engel Beltre
Right Field Josh Hamilton
Designated Hitter Chris Davis
No. 1 Starter Neftali Feliz
No. 2 Starter Derek Holland
No. 3 Starter Martin Perez
No. 4 Starter Michael Main
No. 5 Starter Matt Harrison
Closer Blake Beavan
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Ruben Mateo, of Newark (Atlantic
2000 Ruben Mateo, of Newark (Atlantic
2001 Carlos Pena, 1b Rays
2002 Hank Blalock, 3b Rangers
2003 Mark Teixeira, 1b Angels
2004 Adrian Gonzalez, 1b Padres
2005 Thomas Diamond, rhp Rangers
2006 Edinson Volquez, rhp Reds
2007 John Danks, lhp White Sox
2008 Elvis Andrus, ss Rangers
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Colby Lewis, rhp (1st supp.) Japan
2000 Scott Heard, c Out of baseball
2001 Mark Teixeira, 1b Angels
2002 Drew Meyer, ss Rangers
2003 John Danks, lhp White Sox
2004 Thomas Diamond, rhp Rangers
2005 John Mayberry Jr., of Rangers
2006 Kasey Kiker, lhp Rangers
2007 Blake Beavan, rhp Rangers
2008 Justin Smoak, 1b Rangers
Mark Teixeira, 2001 $4,500,000
Justin Smoak, 2008 $3,500,000
John Danks, 2003 $2,100,000
Vincent Sinisi, 2003 $2,070,000
Thomas Diamond, 2004 $2,025,000
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Texas Rangers

Though the Rangers missed the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, 2008 was a success in the broader context of the franchise's long-term vision. Texas remained steadfast in its dedication to rebuilding through scouting and player development, a commitment the organization embraced just before the 2007 trading deadline, when general manager Jon Daniels traded superstar Mark Teixeira and lefthander Ron Mahay to the Braves for a five-player ransom.

That blockbuster looked good for the Rangers at the time, and it looks even better now. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and lefty Matt Harrison are poised to become big league regulars after spending large chunks of 2008 in Arlington. Precocious Elvis Andrus performed well beyond his years in Double-A and looks like a franchise shortstop in the making. And best of all, flamethrowing righty Neftali Feliz established himself as one of the best pitching prospects in the minors, rocketing from short-season ball in 2007 to Double-A by the second half of 2008.

Joining Feliz in that ascent to Double-A and to the ranks of elite prospects was lefthander Derek Holland, who saw his velocity spike into the upper 90s by season's end. That duo, combined with the emergence of young Latin American hurlers like Martin Perez, Wilfredo Boscan and Kennil Gomez and the continued steady development of recent first-round picks Michael Main, Blake Beavan and Kasey Kiker gives Texas its deepest stable of high-end pitching prospects ever.

The Rangers also are rich with quality catching, a rare luxury. Saltalamacchia, Gerald Laird, Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez present a catching logjam at the top of the system, while Manuel Pina, Jose Felix, Leonel de los Santos and Tomas Telis offer depth at lower levels. The organization also is stocked with premium athletes (such as outfielders Julio Borbon and Engel Beltre and middle infielders Andrus, Jose Vallejo and Joaquin Arias) and power bats (including first basemen Justin Smoak and Mitch Moreland). Smoak was the first-round pick in Texas' 2008 draft crop, which Baseball America rated No. 1 in the game.

With all that impact talent and depth, it's easy to see why many talent evaluators regard the system as the best in baseball.

Even newly installed team president Nolan Ryan is focused on the farm, instituting new organization-wide policies aimed at developing power pitchers. Specifically, Rangers pitching prospects will throw more live batting practice, do more sprinting, and work with expanded pitch counts in certain situations. Ryan also wants to instill an attitude of fearlessness among the pitchers to prepare them for the challenge of working in hitter-friendly Arlington.

All the hullaballoo over player development overshadowed the 79-83 major league club, but there were encouraging developments at that level as well. Acquired for Edinson Volquez from the Reds in a trade that was a boon for both teams, Josh Hamilton hit .304 with 32 home runs and an American League-leading 130 RBIs while emerging as the face of the Rangers franchise. Rookies Chris Davis and David Murphy combined to slug 32 home runs, and Ian Kinsler turned in an all-star campaign at second base. The Rangers led the majors in scoring (901 runs) but also posted the worst ERA (5.97) in baseball.

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