Texas Rangers – 2018 UTR Organizational All-Stars


CRandy Florentino – With Texas being the final American League team in the 2018 UTR OAS series, it leads us to sit a bit further back, do a quick ranking if you will of all the A.L. teams and how the positions stack up. Nothing formal, but fantasy baseball people tend to do that, well, a lot; and when looking at Rangers minor league catchers, I immediately grabbed  the calculator. Rangers catchers from HiA down clubbed a combined 81 home runs in 2018. It might not seem like much, but when comparing that number to the rest of the A.L. West, it’s a pretty impressive number being that the remaining four team’s catching prospects (Astros, Angels, Athletics and Mariners) combined to hit 168 round trippers. Recently-turned 21-year-old Sam Huff led the way with 18 (for LoA Hickory) while fifth-year Ranger Yohel Perez came in with 10. Home runs are great and the Rangers hit a lot of them, including 2017 free-agent signee Randy Florentino’s six home runs on the season, but overall game is where it’s at from the UTR standpoint and Florentine provided exactly that. The 5’11”- 175 lb. lefty spent his debut season on the Dominican Summer League Rangers2 squad posting a .309/.454/.550/1.001 slashine, while leading the team in doubles (18) and walks (53), which also ranked third in the entire DSL. As great as hit bat was, his defense needs some work, as he registered a .958 fielding percentage (12 errors) behind the plate. Of Florentino’s 59 hits last season, 29 of them went for extra bases (.492), and this is a trend the Rangers hope to see continue he continues to develop on the other side of the ball.
1BHeriberto Hernandez – With two young sluggers, 24-year-old Ronald Guzman and 27-year old, early-December trade acquisition Partick Wisdom in the major league fold, time can be spared for Texas to build their next first base prospect. Now, I’m as big a fan as anyone of Curtis Terry, a 2015 – 13th rounder out of Archer HS (GA). The guy has filthy power, and the Rangers 2017 – 8th round selection Tyreque Reed, who crushed 18 home runs for LoA Hickory last season and ranks as the Rangers top power hitting prospect (BA). However, the UTR in us says to stick to our roots, and we’re heading right back to the DSL Rangers2 roster and choosing Heriberto Hernandez as our OAS. Another 2017 Dominican Republic signee, the 6’1”- 180 lb. righty made his pro debut posting staggering numbers, leading the entire Rangers organization in on-base percentage (.454). slugging% (.635) and a 1.099 OPS. His 56 runs scored ranked fourth overall in the DSL, his 49 RBi fifth and 113 total bases seventh. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Texas promote the 19 year old past the AZL to SS Spokane of the Northwest League in an effort to see if his offense is truly legitimate.
2BCharles Leblanc No matter who was chosen as the Rangers UTR OAS second baseman, it’s only because they they had a deserving season. Rightfully so, being that this is an All-Star list. But we understand that UTR is in itself a closet-prognostication tool. So, in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty much a formality choosing LeBlanc, especially with 25-year-old Rougned Odor manning second base until the 2022 season. Other than a mediocre .248 career batting average in 675 major league games, Odor averages 25 home runs, 27 doubles, 80 RBi and 12 stolen bases per season and a near major league average .976 fielding percentage. Regardless however, the 22-year-old LeBlanc did very well in his third pro season with second-year HiA affiliate Down East.  LeBlanc led the Wood Ducks in batting (.274) ranked second in on-base percentage (.349) and total bases (193) and tied top outfield prospect Leody Taveras for the team lead in hits hits (128) and doubles (27) with Andretty Cordero. Unless something drastic happens within his game, I don’t see the former University of Pittsburgh draftee being more than organizational depth moving forward as long as Odor is in the organization.
3BDiosbel Arias – When looking at the Rangers current depth chart, free-agent signee  Asdrubal Cabrera is pencilled in as the Texas third baseman, while the aforementioned Patrick Wisdom is set to be the primary corner infield backup. The organization also brought in free-agent Matt Davidson, who I believe still has some gas in the tank. So, what you have here isn’t fully dried concrete, and Texas has their share of third base prospects waiting in the wings. One of which is this year’s OAS Diosbel Arias.The 6’2”- 190 lb. Cuban spent his second year in the organization with SS Spokane, skipping over the AZL after his pro debut with the Dominican Summer League squad in 2017, where he batted .419 with 4 doubles and 8 RBI in only eight games. For the Spokane last season, Arias nearly dominated the Northwest League leaderboard, ranking first in batting (.366) and on-base percentage (.451), second in RBi (49) and OPS (.942), third in hits (82), fourth in runs scored (43) and walks (33). I think you get the drift here. Simply put, Arias was one of the more exciting prospects in the system last year and if he even remotely comes close to his sophomore season’s production, he could skyrocket up prospect boards. Question is, at what position will this offense come from? He’s manned every position in the infield except first base, but some say that with growing power, third base will be his ultimate home. And we expect his 2019 home to be LoA Hickory where he can hopefully showcase his potent bat once again while solidifying a more permanent defensive home.
SSOsleivis Basabe – Baseball America’s 2019 #4 prospect, Anderson Tejeda is the shortstop of the future in Texas. He provides every offensive tool looked upon at the position to succeed in the majors. However, the crux in this plan is veteran Elvis Andrus, who’s been with the Rangers his whole career, and might be until his age 34 season when he serves the final year of his contract in 2022. Interesting scenario that will be fun to watch play itself out. But this is UTR and we’re digging deep here, as we aim to raise the floor, and that’s exactly what this year’s Rangers UTR OAS Oslevis Basabe did in 2018. He came to the organization with scouts saying he was a pure athlete with great bat speed, yet his hitting was going to be a bit of a project. Sure, the calling-card for the shortstop position lists fielding as the number one attribute, and truth be told, the 18-year-old has some work to do after registering a .944 fielding percentage at the position, but the offense he flashed in his pro debut more than made up for his defensive shortcomings. For the DSL Rangers1 squad, the 6’1”- 165 lb. righty batted .344 with 66 hits, including a team-leading 16 doubles and 91 total bases in only 52 of the team’s 72 games on the season. Basabe looks to be in a long line of super young hitters with a lot to prove moving forward. Despite Andrus and Tejeda, Basabe is the one we’ll be watching mostly in 2019.
LFAngel Aponte – Sometimes when you step back away from things, things can suddenly seem a lot more clear. So, it didn’t dawn on me until I stepped back a bit to notice how damn loaded the American League West is with outfield prospects. And as far as the Rangers go, they are absolutely no exception. The major league outfield is set for the foreseeable future with uber-power hitter Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and second-generation star Delino DeShields, all age 26-and-under, but their minors boasts one of the better trios in not only the American League, but all the minor leagues. Guys like 20-year old Leody Taveras, 2017 – 1st rounder Bubba Thompson and Cuban defector Julio Pablo Martinez lead the way. However, In UTR speak, we always hope someone comes out of the woodwork and claims an annual OAS spot. Of course we’re going to highlight who had a great season, but be sensible about it in a UTR-looking-ahead kind of way. Alponte fits perfectly into that mantra. In his 60 game debut in 2017, he batted .261 with 17 extra base hits 36 runs scored and 24 RBi. Not bad, but not lightning and thunder either. However, improvement is what organizations like to see and that’s what the 19-year-old did in a repeat of the DSL this past season. He upped his batting average to .280, hit seven home runs (had 4 in 2017), stole 30 bases, but had 21 more hits, 14 more RBi and scored 22 more runs in only three more games (63) than he played in 2017.
CFBubba Thompson – It will be interesting to see how the Rangers sort out their outfield “mess” if you will. I wouldn’t consider having guys like Taveras, Thompson and Martinez a mess, but where to play all of them could pose quite the conundrum. No matter how you slice it, Bubba Thomson, in our humble opinion is the answer in center field. He did everything you’d ask for in a center field prospect last year: posted a high batting average (.289), committed only two errors (.985 fielding %), stole 32 bases, had 18 doubles, 8 home runs and 5 triples (which led the LoA Hickory squad) and an average arm. There’s nothing not to like here. Thompson will take his services to HiA Down East in 2019 and if he shoots out of the gate, could see AA Frisco by season’s end.
RFJulio Pablo Martinez – Now that he’s fully conformed to American baseball after playing 297 games in five seasons in Cuba, the 5’9”- 175 lb. lefty could establish his spot as the top outfielder in the system. I’m placing him right field because he’s played games there, but mostly because when weighing the criteria of all the right fielders in the Rangers system along with all the outfielder’s bats, it would be doing Martinez a disservice not to place him on the list. He’s a stud in the making and could take a huge step forward in 2019 with a full season of play. He could shoot out of the gate, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him gas out at the end of the season, as he’s never played more than 83 games in a season dating back to his 2014 season with Guantanamo and Isla de la Juventud. Place him on any and every prospect “watch” list you have.
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. RHP Tyler Phillips(22.5) / HiA Down East
** Phillips marks another pitcher that I tagged as the “One to Watch” and then went out in 2018 and gave a “yes I am” performance. The Ranger’s named the 16th round pick in 2015 as the Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The 6′ 5″ 200lb right-hander posted a 2.64 ERA with 127 strikeouts and only 16 walks in 133 innings in his first full season. He led all MiLB Rangers pitchers with 12 wins and tied the South Atlantic League lead with eleven. finished 3rd in ERA, and 4th in WHIP (1.02). The 21-year old will continue his progression up the ladder at HiA Down East in 2019.
2. RHP Jonathan Hernandez – (17) / Double-A Frisco  “Legit UTR” 
** Hernandez solidifies the #2 spot again this season and becomes a “Legit UTR” heading into the 2019 season. Two words describes the 2013 free agent signee…….Electric Stuff. The 6′ 2″ 175 lb right-hander’s fastball touches into the high 90’s and I read a blurb where his was compared to Yankees ace Luis Severino. He saw 12 starts with Frisco and did struggle with his command 36/56 BB/K ratio in 64 innings. The alarm isn’t sounding yet, as Hernandez was only 21 years-old facing the advance hitters. The organization is high Hernandez, as they added him the 40-man roster and were in discussions about a September call-up, sans the rough go at Frisco. The promising stat from the righty would be the .207 batting average against left-handed hitters.
3. RHP A.J. Alexy(14) / LoA Hickory   “Solid Stash”
**Alexy easily gets a “Solid Stash” because the 2016 11th round pick would have ranked #5 with the LA Dodgers, but was sent to the Rangers in the Yu Darvish trade. His (14) Factor Score would have been good to rank #3 with the Rangers and the 6′ 4″ 217 lb right-hander should be one of the top system arms heading into 2019. The 20-year old saw his first full season at LoA Hickory and dominated. Over 108 innings, Alexy only allowed 89 hits and 5 HRs, along with 138 strikeouts. He has two plus pitches in a low 90’s fastball and curveball. His changeup is a work in progress and improvement would help create more swings & misses to diminish the 4,3 BB9 posted last season.
4. RHP Walker Weickel(13.5) / Double-A Frisco
** The former 1st round pick by the San Diego Padres is trying to regain his prospect status with the Rangers. The Padres released the 6′ 6″ 195 lb right-hander prior to the 2017 season and immediately signed by the Rangers a month later. He posted pedestrian numbers across two levels in 2018 and found himself a free agent once again in early November 2018. The Rangers then re-signed him two weeks later. His Factor Score indicates his stuff stills plays-up, so with the wealth of young arms, maybe its time for Weickel to experiment from the bullpen.
5. RHP Edgar Arredondo (12) /Double-A Frisco
** Arredondo was my 2018 Rangers “One to Watch”. After 11 starts at HiA Down East (5-2, 2.88 ERA, 68/11 K/BB in 59.1 IP), he saw an aggressive push into Double-A Frisco and enjoyed moderate success.
Top 3 Relief Pitchers –(Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. RHP Demarcus Evans (19) /  LoA Hickory  
2. RHP Joe Barlow (15) / LoA Hickory
3. RHP Alex Speas (5) / LoA Hickory
This entry was posted in 2018, 2018 Post Season UTR Organization All-Stars, Hitters, Pitchers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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