The Texas Rangers stunned everyone who believed the Houston Astros were going to run away with the division in 2016 by winning the AL West and posting a 95-67 record, best in the American League. However, their run ended in the first round as they were swept in three games by the Toronto Blue Jays, largely due to the implosion of their pitching staff (averaged 7.33 runs allowed per game in the postseason).
The Rangers will be back in the thick of things next season, but there’s no doubt it will be a challenge. Adrian Beltre and Cole Hamels may seem to show no signs of age, but Hamels is 33 and Beltre will be 38 for much of the season. Yu Darvish will need to prove he can stay healthy for a full season and someone else will need to step up in that Texas rotation. To top it all off, the Mariners have made some major additions and the Astros are only getting better with their outstanding young core. But the Rangers definitely have a shot and could get a boost if guys like Jurickson Profar and Nomar Mazara continue to improve.
By the way, if you are interested in more MLB prospects columns, head on over to our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. Throughout the offseason, you will find the rest of our team prospect breakdowns, fantasy baseball prospect rankings, tiered positional rankings, keeper values articles, and more - all in one easy place.
Texas Rangers Top Prospects for Dynasty Leagues
Today I am finishing my list of prospect systems in the AL West. I have already covered the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners farm system. Later this week, I will delve into the Atlanta Braves. To read more about my prospect coverage, click here.
Top Overall Talent: Yohander Mendez
Top Prospect to Debut in 2017: Yohander Mendez
Biggest Boom or Bust: Yohander Mendez
If you ask me, Mendez is one of the most interesting prospects in baseball. Despite having average to slightly-above-average stuff, he managers to consistently miss bats and limit hard contact. He has always been reliable in the minors. But there is some risk involved with owning him.
As I said earlier, he lacks real dominating stuff which is concerning. He has shown himself to be capable of posting high strikeout numbers, but it would be nice to see him grow into his 6-foot-5 frame a little bit more and add some velocity to his pitches. Also concerning is the question about durability. Mendez threw a career-high 114 innings last season and only had 66.1 the year prior. He has had some elbow issues in the past and typically doesn’t go more than six innings into any start. Owners have to be nervous about his inability to go deep into games.
Top Prospect who won’t debut in 2017: Leody Taveras
Much like Mendez, Taveras has a very interesting case. He is very young, having only last September turned 18 years old. Despite his youth, Taveras has moved quickly through the minors (reached low Class-A just last season) and impressed scouts with his mature approach to hitting. Scouts see him as someone who could eventually develop some 15-20 homer pop and already view him as a 20-30 steal type player. He is one of those prospects who, given a few more years to develop, could be a top-10 prospect in baseball if he lives up to his full potential.
Biggest Sleeper: Jose Trevino
Trevino emerged onto the scene in 2015 when he blasted 14 home runs in only 112 games at Class-A. Then he rose up to High-A in 2016 where he continued to show his power (10 dingers) and also improved his other bat skills, raising his walk rate to 5.6%, lowering his strikeout rate to 10.5% and posting an impressive .303/.342/.434 slash line. Especially being a catcher, he is an incredibly valuable prospect and could be even better if he develops more pop.
Top Prospect Hitters
Best Power Hitter: Ronald Guzman
Most Likely to Hit over .300: Ronald Guzman
In terms of all-around hitting ability, Guzman is the best in the system right now. He has a smooth swing, capable of generating tons of line drives and home runs to all fields. Combine that with solid plate discipline and you’ve got a guy who looks like a solid first base prospect, capable of providing at least average production at the deep fantasy position.
Best Burner on the Bases: Eric Jenkins
Jenkins is undoubtedly the fastest prospect in this system. While Taveras has some speed of his own, Jenkins amassed 51 successful stolen bases last season at Class-A despite posting an OBP of .279. But therein lies the problem. Jenkins is not a very good hitter and will really have to improve that bat to chalk up a full-time role for himself in the big leagues. Still only 20 years old, Jenkins still has plenty of time to turn things around and could be a future 30+ stolen base guy in the big leagues.
Top Prospect Pitchers
Strikeout Machine: Alex Speas
Calling Speas a strikeout machine is just me assuming his raw stuff will translate into swings-and-misses. Drafted 63rd overall in the 2016 draft, Speas has an explosive mid-90s fastball that figures to add more ticks if he grows into his 6-foot-4 frame and a hammer of a power curveball that serves as his go-to outpitch. He really struggles with control right now and his changeup is a work-in-progress, but Speas certainly has the stuff to become a strikeout machine in the bigs.
Best Command: Ariel Jurado
Jurado’s most promising attribute has always been his A+ command. The guy rarely ever finds himself in trouble with the walks and has shown himself capable of consistently pounding the strike zone. Though he lacks strikeout stuff, Jurado knows how to pitch and should have no trouble reaching his ceiling of a backend of the rotation starting pitcher.
Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the Texas Rangers
1. Yohander Mendez (SP, MLB)
Medium-floor, medium-ceiling type prospect, Mendez will become a No. 3 starter if he ever finds a way to stay on the mound for more than six innings at a time and take the mound 25+ times per year.
2. Leody Taveras (OF, A)
Taveras is all about the insane upside. The guy has received comps to Carlos Beltran and could become a 20/30 hitter if he develops the power the way many envision him capable of doing.
3. Ronald Guzman (1B, AAA)
A reliable first base prospect, Guzman is not going to knock the cover off the ball, but he should hit enough to warrant owning in dynasty leagues.
4. Andy Ibanez (2B, AA)
Ibanez can do a little bit of everything: hit for power, steal some bags and post a nice batting average. His production is definitely above-average for a second base prospect.
5. Ariel Jurado (SP, AA)
Jurado’s command gives him a high floor, but his stuff gives him a low ceiling. He should start in the big leagues though.
6. Jose Trevino (C, A+)
Any time a catcher can hit a little bit, fantasy owners will gladly take the production. And Trevino has the chance to develop into a really solid hitter.
7. Cole Ragans (SP, ROK)
Ragans has a well-rounded array of pitches that give him a nice projection, but he still has many years of development remaining before he is ready to face even the upper-minors.
8. Alex Speas (SP, ROK)
Speas has insane upside, but he is risky because of poor command. Could either end up as an ace or a reliever.
9. Eric Jenkins (OF, A+)
It’s all about speed for right now, but any advancement in his hitting ability could lead Jenkins to be the next Jarrod Dyson.
10. Josh Morgan (3B/SS, A+)
Morgan is like a watered-down Andy Ibanez, he still does everything well, but playing at only third and shortstop really hurts his value due to the depth at those two positions.
This system is not what it used to be. A couple years ago, there was a ton of prospect depth with guys like Nomar Mazara, Jorge Alfaro, Luis Ortiz, Jurickson Profar and Nick Williams. But between a few promotions and some blockbuster deals like the Cole Hamels trade, this system is now relatively devoid of top prospects.
Mendez and Taveras are respectable at the top, but both are risky owns and only Taveras has the super-high ceiling of other top prospects. Some other guys in this system like Speas and Ragans have high upside, but distance from the big leagues and high risk make them less than favorable prospects to own. At this point, this is a weak farm system and one that has few impact prospects for dynasty owners to draft.