The Texas Rangers’ three highest-ranked prospects who are position players haven’t played above Class A and will start next season there.
As the Rangers rebuild again in 2019, they actually won’t be waiting on any position players. The Rangers believe they have a nucleus of young position players already on the roster to build around for the future.
These young players aren’t strangers to anyone, and most are young in age only. By now, they know the ropes and have experiences from a few seasons in the majors to draw upon.
But they aren’t finished products, and that’s encouraging. The Rangers believe each of the six listed below has more in his tank, and each player believes that as well.
Three of them, though, are part of the quartet of left-handed-hitting corner outfielders, a glut that could result in a trade this off-season.
1. Joey Gallo
As general manager Jon Daniels said on Tuesday, everything about Gallo is big. He’s a big dude (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) with a big swing, a big arm and a big desire to be great. Gallo also posts big strikeout numbers and generates big frustrations with his low batting averages (.206 this season). But by one of today’s statistical gold standards — on-base plus slugging (OPS) — Gallo is a top offensive player. His power (two straight 40-homer seasons) and ability to draw walks (149 the past two seasons) are valuable, as is his ability to play five positions defensively. He will be 25 next season.
2. Nomar Mazara
The player who suddenly needs to be traded was on track for a career year until he injured his thumb just before the All-Star break. Though he missed a month, the thumb never completely healed and his offensive numbers suffered. Mazara’s outfield defense also dropped off, though the thumb had little to do with that. He doesn’t turn 24 until late April, has three years of club contractual control, and still has 30-homer potential. Would that produce a quality starting pitcher in return?
3. Delino DeShields
Even-numbered years haven’t been good to Delino DeShields, who in 2015 was an emerging star as a rookie and in 2017 recaptured his status after a disappointing 2016. This season was another step back for DeShields, who broke the hamate bone in his left hand in the second game of the season after a terrific spring. The center fielder is the Rangers’ best defensive outfielder and their fastest player, but his bat (.216 average, .281 slugging) disappeared. He will have to win a job in spring training.
4. Jurickson Profar
The season Profar had was supposed to happen in 2014, or was it 2013? For reasons that have been well-documented, it finally happened this season. Profar swatted 20 home runs and drove in 77 runs. His 54 walks were third on the team. He struck out only 88 times in 533 at-bats. That was six fewer Ks than Adrian Beltre in 91 fewer at-bats. Profar’s defense, though, wasn’t nearly as good as Beltre’s. Profar made an MLB-high 25 errors. However, if Beltre retires, Profar will take over at third.
5. Willie Calhoun
The Rangers believe that Calhoun had a productive season even though he batted .222 in only 99 MLB at-bats. He hit only 11 homers between Triple A Round Rock (nine) and the Rangers. His defense improved, and so did his attitude. The issue is that Calhoun is actually worse defensively than Mazara and Shin-Soo Choo, who need at-bats at designated hitter. If neither of them is moved, Calhoun is looking at another season in Triple A.
6. Ronald Guzman
The Rangers found their first baseman amid the 67-95 rubble. Guzman plays terrific defense and showed more power than he has his entire career in the minors. His teammates say that he is much better hitter than the .235 average he posted, as he showed in the minors the past three seasons. Another plus is his aptitude, which Daniels said is also true of Guzman’s fellow rookie, Isiah Kiner-Falefa. He also has the makings of a roster regular for seasons to come.