How do Rangers' prospects fit Texas' needs?
This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios.
Here's my look at the Rangers:
The Rangers have recently given first Major League opportunities to such players as Jurickson Profar, Leonys Martin and Martin Perez, and there are still a number of high-quality prospects waiting for their turn.
Michael Choice could see time at designated hitter and in the outfield this season, and he could surprise. He has power from a stocky, 6-foot, 215-pound frame. Choice has a large lower half, which is a source of much of his strength. Playing for Oakland last season, he made 19 plate appearances, but he hit 30 home runs in 2011 at Class A Advanced Stockton in the A's organization. Choice has since hit 10 at Double-A Midland and 14 at Triple-A Sacramento, and he doesn't strike out as much as most sluggers.
Rougned Odor may well be one of the reasons the Rangers could afford to trade Ian Kinsler. Along with Profar, Odor offers another solid infield option, though he profiles best as a second baseman. Odor has been in Texas' system for parts of three seasons. He hit .306 in 2013, making steady improvement in challenging classifications each year. Odor's hitting ability comes with enough speed to steal bases. He has some home run power, and he can pop an occasional double. Complementing Odor's good offense is his ability to play very smooth middle-infield defense.
PROJECTED 2016 RANGERS LINEUP
Luis Sardinas is a high-quality shortstop who, like Odor, comes from Venezuela. Sardinas is 6-foot-1 and only 150 pounds. He has excellent speed, which may be his best tool. Sardinas has a career .292 batting average over four years. This past year, however, he hit .259 at Double-A Frisco. Sardinas has missed time with injuries, but if healthy, the sure-handed youngster is a smooth and polished shortstop with all of the attributes of a top defender.
At 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, and at the age of 20, Joey Gallo may outgrow third base. The left-handed-hitting Gallo has a strong uppercut swing with home run power. Last season at Class A Hickory, he blasted 19 doubles, five triples and 38 home runs in 446 trips to the plate. Gallo drove in 78 runs while striking out 165 times. He plays acceptable defense, with good arm strength, but he is all about his loud bat. Gallo runs well enough but isn't fast.
First-base candidate Ronald Guzman is a left-handed hitter with a long, lean body at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds. He has good swing mechanics that result in gap hits. Guzman may not have home run power, but he could hit for average and play an adequate first base. He's a natural hitter.
Selected out of high school in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, outfielder Nick Williams could become a very special player. He hit .313 in the Arizona Rookie League and then was promoted to Class A Hickory last season. At Hickory, Williams hit .293 with 17 home runs and 60 RBIs in 404 plate appearances. He also stole eight bases. At age 20, the left-handed-hitting Williams has a sweet swing and generates gap power with the barrel of the bat.
My selection as the cream of the Rangers' prospect crop is catcher Jorge Alfaro, who is outstanding on both offense and defense. He is only 20, but his mechanics on both sides of the ball are much more advanced, and he's only going to get stronger and better. Alfaro is an aggressive player, to put it mildly. He may have to tamp down some of the excess in his game, but he's exciting to watch. Defensively, Alfaro calls a good game, takes charge, blocks balls well and looks quite advanced behind the plate. His arm is extremely strong and accurate. I believe Alfaro will punish pitchers with his bat and torment the opposition with his defense as he gains more experience.
Pitcher Alex Gonzalez uses his very effective sinking fastball and effective slider to keep hitters off balance. Included in his 14 starts last season were five at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, where he threw 19 innings and had a sparkling 2.84 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Issuing too many walks was a problem.
Texas selected 6-foot, 178-pound Travis Demeritte in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. Demeritte, a right-handed-hitting third baseman/shortstop, is still raw and needs time to cut down on his swing. He's probably best suited at third base. Demeritte does have good speed and shows power potential.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.