1. Eric Hurley – Hurley stayed right on track in 2007, as he dominated the Double-A level before competing in the Triple-A’s Pacific Coast League at 21 years of age. The right-hander's fastball sits in the low-90s and picks up steam as the game progresses. Hurley continued to show development with both his slider and changeup, both of which project as above-average big league pitches.
2. Chris Davis - Not only did Davis hit 36 home runs in his first full professional season, but he did so while playing nearly one-third of his season at the Double-A level as a 21-year-old. Davis’ power is easily the organization’s best and his improved plate discipline helped him post a 1.059 OPS in 109 at-bats with Frisco. The native Texan has a strong arm, but he must improve his range and footwork at the hot corner. Davis believes offseason surgery on his foot will help him defensively.
3. Elvis Andrus - His statistics aren’t eye-popping, but the shortstop’s tools and makeup are off the charts. Andrus’ glove at short is the best in the system. He combines a strong mixture of soft hands, phenomenal range, and a strong arm. The native Venezuelan played the majority of the season as an 18-year-old at the High-A level. He improved with the bat late in the year and shined against much older competition in the Arizona Fall League. Andrus has an advanced approach and good plate discipline for his age.
4. Kasey Kiker - The southpaw underwent a major mechanical adjustment in spring training, as the Rangers cut out his big leg kick. The move improved Kiker’s command and ability to hold runners, but his velocity dropped slightly. However, Kiker’s velocity showed signs of returning to its old form late in the season. The 20-year-old has an advanced curveball and changeup, especially for being just one year removed from high school.
5. Taylor Teagarden - The Dallas native was only able to catch about three times per week after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2006, but that didn’t stop Teagarden from having a breakout season at the plate. Previously known as an outstanding defender – and he still is – Teagarden hit 27 home runs between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco in what was basically his first full season. In addition to above-average power, Teagarden also possesses a good eye at the plate.
6. Michael Main - His electric fastball carried him to success in his professional debut, but Main also shows the makings of an excellent curveball-changeup combo. Also regarded as an elite centerfielder out of high school, Main notched 30 at-bats in rookie ball before appearing in a game as a pitcher. However, the Rangers believe the first round pick’s future is on the mound.
|Main was impressive in his debut.
7. Matt Harrison - Harrison recently finished up an outstanding Arizona Fall League campaign in which he went 5-0 with a 2.00 ERA. The hurler’s fastball was reportedly reaching 93 MPH, while it had consistently been 89-92 in the past. Harrison is in the process of developing a slider as his primary breaking pitch to help him against left-handed hitters. The southpaw has had trouble retiring lefties in the past, but they batted just .179 against him in the Fall League.
8. Blake Beavan - Though he has yet to appear in a professional game, Beavan was the 17th overall pick in the 2007 draft for a reason. The Irving native thrives on a hard fastball, slider combination that makes him lethal. He participated in Fall Instructional League this offseason and worked on using a higher arm slot to get a better angle on all three of his pitches.
9. Engel Beltre - The 18-year-old outfielder may have the highest ceiling of any position player in the Rangers organization. Even though he already has above-average power, Beltre figures to add more pop as his body develops. The former Red Sox prospect is also outstanding in the field, thanks to his good speed, instincts, and arm. Beltre is a long way from the big leagues at this point, but few doubt his five-tool potential.
10. German Duran - The 5-foot-10 second baseman doesn’t look the part of a power hitter, but he certainly played the part in 2007. Duran took home the Texas League’s Home Run Derby title and finished third in the league in slugging percentage. While Duran may not hit for the same amount of power at the next level, his lightning-quick hands should give him at least above-average gap power in the majors. The Fort Worth native will have a chance to make the Rangers out of spring training this year, as he is working out at shortstop, third base, and in the outfield to increase his versatility.
11. Omar Poveda - Poveda showed drastic improvements while repeating the Midwest League in 2007. The hurler showed improved velocity, as he consistently sat in the low-90s in 2007. Already with an above-average changeup, Poveda’s breaking ball has continued to improve. The 20-year-old has impressive control and should reach the Double-A level before his 21st birthday.
12. John Whittleman - Whittleman cooled off after an outstanding first half, but he is arguably the system’s top pure left-handed hitter. The 20-year-old has a good looking swing and figures to hit for a strong average down the line. He also has a good eye at the plate and should develop solid-average power. The primary issue for Whittleman has been his defense at third base, which he has worked hard with over the last two seasons.
13. Max Ramirez - There are many questions surrounding the backstop’s defensive game, but few doubt his bat. Ramirez commands the strike zone exceptionally well and has the ability to hit the ball to all fields, two attributes that make him one of the system’s best hitters. Though he doesn’t possess staggering power, Ramirez figures to hit his share of doubles and home runs at the higher levels.
14. Fabio Castillo - Just 18-years-old, Castillo was impressive in his first season in the States. The 6-foot-3 righty made 14 starts with short-season Spokane and consistently sat in the low-90s with a hard sinking fastball. Castillo also uses a hard slider – which should become a plus pitch in time – and he has shown good feel for a changeup. He should be ticketed for Single-A Clinton in 2008.
15. John Mayberry - Power has never been a problem for Mayberry, who jacked 30 home runs between Bakersfield and Frisco in 2007. The Stanford product has consistently shown the ability to hit a fastball a long way, but he has struggled to shake a pull-happy approach and make consistent contact. If Mayberry is able to rectify those issues, the sky’s the limit.
16. Tommy Hunter - The Alabama product worked out of the bullpen in his pro debut, but he will move into the starting rotation in 2008. Hunter is arguably the most polished pitcher drafted by the Rangers last year and he could move quickly. At 6-foot-3, 255-pounds, Hunter doesn’t lack in size or stuff. He has a low-90s fastball, a hard curveball, and a changeup that showed improvement after a mechanical adjustment at instructs.
17. Neftali Feliz - Perhaps the best raw arm in the system, Feliz has shown the ability to dial his fastball up to 96-97 MPH as a 19-year-old. But Feliz still has a lot of maturing to do, as he often struggled to find the plate and field his position with short-season Spokane. The native of the Dominican Republic shows some feel for a slider, but it is inconsistent at this point.
|Feliz can throw in the upper-90s.
18. Cristian Santana - Santana proved to be the real deal at the plate in 2007, but injury and defensive issues remain question marks for the catcher. With three catchers in the Rangers’ top 18 prospects, the position is deep, and Santana may possess the highest offensive ceiling of them all. He certainly figures to hit for the most power. But the 18-year-old has battled shoulder problems and struggled to throw out baserunners after missing the entire 2006 season to labrum surgery.
19. Julio Borbon - Borbon was admittedly rusty during his nine games played after the Rangers signed him to a big league contract in August. A left-handed centerfielder, Borbon has all the tools to be a top-of-the-order hitter. The former Tennessee Volunteer is a good pure hitter with plus speed. He is an aggressive line-drive hitter, but he may need to become more patient to stick at the top of a batting order. Borbon also flashed good raw power while playing with a wood bat with Team USA two summers ago.
20. Neil Ramirez - The Rangers took Ramirez with the 44th overall pick – their fourth of the draft – in last summer’s MLB Draft. Like Beavan, Ramirez has yet to appear in a professional game, but he has the upside to warrant a high ranking. A native of Virginia Beach, Ramirez has a fastball that sits in the low-90s and tops out around 96 MPH. The right-hander’s advanced curve is typically upper-70s, occasionally touching 80. His changeup is a work-in-progress.
21. Wilmer Font - Standing a solid 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, Font doesn’t look much like a 17-year-old. Not surprisingly, the young Venezuelan has a fastball to match his size. Font’s heater ranged anywhere between 90-98 miles per hour during his debut season. His changeup and breaking ball were both inconsistent in rookie ball, though his changeup may be a little more advanced at this point.
22. Thomas Diamond - The former first-round pick missed the entire 2007 season to Tommy John surgery, but he still possesses one of the system’s higher ceilings. Diamond’s fastball and tenacity on the mound have never been in question, but he must improve his breaking ball and overall command to take the next step forward in 2008.
23. Brandon Boggs - Fully healthy for the first time in his professional career, Boggs enjoyed a career year last summer. The switch-hitter has good power and a good eye at the plate. Boggs is also arguably the system’s best defensive centerfielder. The 24-year-old mashed left-handed pitching, but often struggled to hit from the left side of the plate. If he is able to improve from the left side, he could be patrolling center in Arlington within the next year.
24. Armando Galarraga - Galarraga hadn’t lived up to expectations since being acquired in the Alfonso Soriano trade in 2005. The hurler’s struggles continued up until the Texas League All-Star break last season. After the break, Galarraga returned to his old form, throwing his sinking fastball anywhere between 89 and 94 MPH, but often sitting in the 91-93 range. He also mixes in a hard 84-86 MPH slider. The combination makes Galarraga a solid bullpen option if he is unable to stick in the starting rotation.
25. Joaquin Arias - The toolsy shortstop appeared in just five games in 2007 due to a nagging shoulder injury. Arias tried to return with Triple-A Oklahoma in mid-season, but his shoulder wouldn’t allow it to happen. Still just 23-years-old, Arias is an outstanding defensive player with great speed. The only question is whether or not Arias will be able to reach base at a high enough rate to become an everyday player in the majors.
26. Brennan Garr - Garr reached the Double-A level in his first full season despite logging just 34.2 innings in three years of college ball. Working as a full-time pitcher for the first time, the reliever was able to increase velocity on his fastball (between 92-96 MPH) and iron out control issues that held him back in the past. The Northern Colorado product has a plus slurve and flashed an above-average changeup in the season’s second-half.
27. Josh Rupe - Rupe’s only obstacle since joining the Rangers organization in mid-2003 has been ability to stay healthy. Though the 25-year-old has spent four full seasons with the Rangers, he has logged more than 73 total innings just once. Rupe had his 2007 season cut to just seven starts due to elbow surgery, but he should return at 100 percent in 2008. Stuff has never been a question for the righty, whose four-pitch repertoire includes a power sinker and an above-average slider.
28. Doug Mathis - Much like Rupe, Mathis is a four-pitch hurler who works off his sinker. Mathis’ sinker ranges anywhere between 88-93 MPH and allowed him to post a 2:1 groundout-to-flyout ratio in Double-A last summer. The 24-year-old pitched well for the majority of the season, but a back injury led to a rough June and July for Mathis. The right-hander also throws a changeup, a curveball, and a slider – all of which show the makings of being strong pitches, but were inconsistent at times.
|Mathis may be overlooked by some.
29. Zach Phillips - As was the case for the majority of the 2007 Clinton LumberKings roster, Phillips benefited from a second season with the Single-A club. The lefty allowed only six home runs in 151.2 innings – a product of his 89-91 MPH two-seam sinking fastball. But the 21-year-old also finished second in the Midwest League with 157 strikeouts – a product of his outstanding curveball, which rates as one of the system’s best.
30. Warner Madrigal - Although he has pitched for just one full season, Madrigal arguably possesses the highest ceiling for a reliever in the system. Madrigal, 23, dominated the Midwest League (as a member of the Angels organization) to the tune of a 2.07 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 61 innings last summer. A power reliever, Madrigal thrives on a fastball that clocks in at 95-96 MPH. He also flashes a slider and a changeup.
31. Jacob Brigham - Offseason Tommy John surgery will wipe out all of Brigham’s 2008 season, but he remains a young pitcher with a lot of upside. Still just 19-years-old, the 6-foot-3 hurler has a hard 91-94 MPH fastball and a big-breaking curveball. Brigham struggled with control early in the season with Spokane, largely due to his improvement in velocity. He was able to cut down his walks as the year progressed.
32. Evan Reed - The club’s third-round pick in 2007, Reed was virtually unhittable in his professional debut. A closer at Cal Poly, Reed was eased into the starting rotation after signing with the Rangers. He notched 37.2 innings between short-season Spokane and Single-A Clinton and surrendered just 18 hits. The 21-year-old throws a low-90s fastball (occasionally topping out in the mid-90s), a slider, and a changeup. He will continue to work as a starting pitcher in 2008.
33. David Murphy - The former first-round pick caught the eyes of Rangers fans when he batted .340 in 103 at-bats after being acquired from the Red Sox. Despite the outstanding big league debut, Murphy hadn’t quite developed the power the Red Sox hoped he would when they selected him with the 17th overall pick in the 2003 MLB Draft. Even if that power doesn’t come, Murphy’s bat and versatility in the outfield could make him a valuable asset on the big league squad.
34. A.J. Murray - Following two shoulder surgeries in three years, Murray bounced back nicely in 2007. The southpaw didn’t just stay healthy -- he pitched well out of the bullpen for Triple-A Oklahoma before posting a 4.50 ERA in 28 innings with the Rangers. Because Murray has a four-pitch repertoire – including a plus changeup – the organization may move Murray back in to a starting role now that he has proven he can stay healthy for an entire season.
35. Carlos Pimentel - Pimentel helped co-headline the Rangers’ class of Latin American signings last year with Wilmer Font and Emmanuel Solis. The right-hander saw his ERA balloon to 5.53 during his last two starts of the season, but he also fanned 59 batters in 42.1 innings with the rookie level AZL Rangers. Pimentel was able to do so with a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball, and a changeup.
36. Luis Mendoza - The former Red Sox prospect bounced back from a disastrous 2006 season to become the Texas League’s second-winningest pitcher in 2007. Mendoza also pitched extremely well in 16 innings with the Rangers, allowing only four runs on 13 hits. The 24-year-old doesn’t have outstanding stuff, but he possesses plus command of a low-90s sinker that allowed him to be effective in his big league stint.
37. Marcus Lemon - As an 18-year-old in the Class-A Midwest League, Lemon understandably struggled in the season’s first half. But that experience, coupled with a move to the leadoff spot, helped the Florida native bat .279 with 13 doubles, five triples, and three home runs in the second half. Lemon has an advanced approach at the plate and isn’t afraid to go the other way, two qualities that allow him to fit well at the top of a batting order.
|Lemon posted a solid second-half in '07.
38. Michael Schlact - The 6-foot-8 righty’s numbers haven’t been impressive over the last two seasons, but he has done what the Rangers have asked of him. A sinkerball specialist, Schlact spent the last two years working to develop his four-seam fastball and slider. He was turned loose during a late-season promotion to Double-A Frisco and pitched well with the exception of one start. The 22-year-old is a leading candidate for a breakout season in ’08.
39. Miguel Velazquez - Maybe the biggest mystery in the system, Velazquez put up outstanding numbers with the rookie level AZL Rangers before being suspended by the organization after 24 games. Velazquez did not return, but he figures to be ready for 2008. The outfielder has strong tools across the board and was widely considered one of the top players in Puerto Rico when the Rangers drafted him in the 19th round in 2006.
40. Beau Jones - After working as a reliever in the Braves system last season, the Rangers made Jones a starter again after acquiring him in the Mark Teixeira trade. The 21-year-old lefty’s fastball sits in the 88-91 MPH range. His curveball and changeup are both strong pitches and could become above-average in time. Jones had offseason surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow and it could lead to increased velocity, as he was able to dial it up between 92-94 MPH in high school.
41. Derek Holland - Another left-handed pitcher, the former draft-and-follow signee was impressive in his pro debut. Holland features a low-90s fastball to go with a slider that has improved since signing with the Rangers. He credits the improvement to a slight adjustment in his arm slot. Holland turned 21-years-old in October and struck out 83 batters in 67 innings with short-season Spokane last season.
42. Danny Herrera - The diminutive southpaw may not be have an overpowering fastball, but he was the owner of the highest strikeout rate in the Rangers’ system last year. A 23-year-old reliever, Herrera’s fastball tops out in the mis-80s, but he baffles hitters with a screwball-like changeup that ranges between 55-60 MPH. One of the more polished pitchers in the system, the Odessa native logged 52.1 Double-A innings during his first full season.
43. Nate Gold - With a grand total of 60 home runs and 206 RBI over the past two seasons, no Rangers farmhand has put up bigger numbers than Gold. The 27-year-old first baseman rebounded from a relatively slow start at Triple-A this season by making an adjustment to his approach at the plate. The change led to an outstanding second-half, including 12 home runs in August. With plenty of questions surrounding the Rangers’ first base situation, Gold could get his opportunity next season.
44. Kea Kometani - After spending his first two professional seasons as a starting pitcher, a move to the bullpen seems to have benefited Kometani greatly. His fastball has improved slightly – consistently sitting in the low-90s – and his splitter is a legitimate big league strikeout pitch. The native Hawaiian followed up a solid regular season with an outstanding performance in the Arizona Fall League.
|Kometani was dominant in the Arizona Fall League.
45. Chad Tracy - The former third-round pick went through a position change (moving from catcher to left field) and battled second-half struggles with Clinton this past year. Although he had problems at the plate, the 22-year-old has the ability to step up and become one of the organization’s best pure hitters. Tracy could benefit from a jump to the hitter-friendly California League in 2008.
46. Jose Vallejo - Tools have never been a question for the slick-fielding second baseman, who has struggled to find consistency at the plate. A switch-hitter, Vallejo showed improvement in 2007, but he still has a long way to go. The native of the Dominican Republic is an outstanding baserunner (47 steals in 50 attempts in 2007) and his sure hands, quick feet, and strong arm make him one of the system’s best defenders.
47. Jesse Ingram - With 240 strikeouts in 179.2 career minor league innings, Ingram has shown the ability to miss bats. Included in those numbers were 70 K’s in 62 frames with Double-A Frisco this year. The strike-throwing righty works with an upper-80s, low-90s fastball and a strong slider. Ingram doesn’t have outstanding stuff, but he attacks hitters and throws quality strikes.
48. Steve Murphy - Murphy’s power fell off in his Double-A debut, but it’s too early to count him out. The Kansas State product has average tools across the board – he doesn’t do anything extremely well, but he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses either. At 23-years-old, a bounce-back year from the former Northwest League MVP would not be a surprise.
49. Jorge Quintero - Though he isn’t as heralded as other recent Latin American signings, Quintero is the most polished. The 20-year-old pitched well in rookie ball before earning a late-season promotion to High-A Bakersfield. Quintero’s fastball ranges anywhere between 88-93 MPH. He also features a curveball and a changeup.
50. Josh Lueke - Drafted out of Division II Northern Kentucky University this past summer, Lueke impressed in his debut with Single-A Clinton. The reliever became the first ’07 draft pick to join a full-season club and posted a 3.34 ERA in 20 appearances. With a fastball that can reach the mid-90s, Lueke could profile as a late-inning reliever in the big leagues.