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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Aaron Fitt
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1. Neftali Feliz, rhp
2. Justin Smoak, 1b
3. Martin Perez, lhp
4. Tanner Scheppers, rhp
5. Jurickson Profar, ss
6. Kasey Kiker, lhp
7. Robbie Ross, lhp
8. Mitch Moreland, of/1b
9. Danny Gutierrez, rhp
10. Wilmer Font, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Justin Smoak
Best Power Hitter Justin Smoak
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Justin Smoak
Fastest Baserunner Leury Garcia
Best Athlete Greg Golson
Best Fastball Neftali Feliz
Best Curveball Tanner Scheppers
Best Slider Robbie Ross
Best Changeup Kasey Kiker
Best Control Blake Beaven
Best Defensive Catcher Leonel de los Santos
Best Defensive Infielder Leury Garcia
Best Infield Arm Leury Garcia
Best Defensive Outfielder Craig Gentry
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 Josh Hamilton
Center Field Julio Borbon
Right Field Nelson Cruz
Designated Hitter Chris Davis
No. 1 Starter Neftali Feliz
No. 2 Starter Martin Perez
No. 3 Starter Derek Holland
No. 4 Starter Scott Feldman
No. 5 Starter Tommy Hunter
Closer Tanner Scheppers
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Ruben Mateo, of Reynosa (Mexican)
2001 Carlos Pena, 1b Rays
2002 Hank Blalock, 3b Rangers
2003 Mark Teixeira, 3b Yankees
2004 Adrian Gonzalez, 1b Padres
2005 Thomas Diamond, rhp Cubs
2006 Edinson Volquez, rhp Reds
2007 John Danks, lhp White Sox
2008 Elvis Andrus, ss Rangers
2009 Neftali Feliz, rhp Rangers
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Scott Heard, c Out of baseball
2001 Mark Teixeira, 3b Yankees
2002 Drew Meyer, ss Astros
2003 John Danks, lhp White Sox
2004 Thomas Diamond, rhp Cubs
2005 John Mayberry Jr., of Phillies
2006 Kasey Kiker, lhp Rangers
2007 Blake Beaven, rhp Rangers
2008 Justin Smoak, 1b Rangers
2009 *Matt Purke, lhp Texas Christian
*Did not sign
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

The Rangers farm system ranked as the best in game entering 2009, and it began bearing fruit immediately.

The major league team's young core returned it to contention sooner than expected. Texas was just two games out of the wild card and 4 1/2 back in the American League West as late as Sept. 9 before fading down the stretch, but that couldn't obscure a season of positive stories on the major and minor league diamonds.

Elvis Andrus stepped into the everyday shortstop job as a 20-year-old, delivering often spectacular defense and finishing second in American League rookie of the year voting. Julio Borbon added some speed on the bases and in the outfield when he became a regular over the final seven weeks of the season, while Neftali Feliz provided a spark out of the bullpen. Derek Holland and Tommy Hunter each settled into roles in the rotation.

The Rangers also got breakout seasons from young veterans Scott Feldman, who won a franchise-record 12 games on the road and 17 overall, and Nelson Cruz, who based a team-high 33 homers and made his first all-star team.

With improved pitching and defense, Texas ranked fourth in the AL in runs allowed, its best finish since 1983. That probably would have been good enough to make the playoffs had the offense been its usually productive itself. But after leading the league in scoring a year earlier, then getting productive seasons from infield mainstays Ian Kinsler and Michael Young, the Rangers placed seventh in the league in scoring, their worst finish in nine years.

The picture off the field wasn't as sunny, however, as owner Tom Hicks' financial problems essentially ceded fiscal control of the team to Major League Baseball. MLB extended a $15 million line of credit to the Rangers in the middle of the season, and the commissioner's office limited how high the club could go in its efforts to sign first-round pick Matt Purke. The team reportedly offered $4 million, which the righthander turned down to attend Texas Christian.

Three groups pursued efforts to buy the team in the offseason, and the Rangers selected a group led by Pennsylvania lawyer Chuck Greenberg to negotiate with exclusively. If that deal goes through, team president Nolan Ryan would remain in his role and would be a minority owner in the team, as would Hicks.

The new ownership will take over an organization loaded with young talent. Even after graduating Andrus, Borbon, Holland, Hunter and Taylor Teagarden to the majors last season, Texas still has one of the deepest systems in baseball.

No team has a more talented trio of prospects than the Rangers have in Feliz, who hasn't exhausted his rookie/prospect eligibility; first baseman Justin Smoak, who tore up Double-A in his first full season; and 18-year-old lefthander Martin Perez, who established himself as one of the top pitching prospects in the minors. Texas is flush with power arms throughout the system, though it's thinner in position players.

Texas tried to make up for losing Purke by adding righthander Tanner Scheppers in the supplemental first round of the draft. The Rangers also continued to spend money in Latin America, doling out seven-figure bonuses to switch-hitting shortstops Jurickson Profar and Luis Sardinas.

A.J. Preller, who had managed the productive international scouting department, was promoted in the fall to lead all of the club's scouting efforts. Kip Fagg, Josh Boyd and Mike Daly were promoted to direct the amateur, pro and international scouting departments, respectively. Former scouting director Ron Hopkins became a special assistant to the GM.

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