1. Neftali Feliz, P – Do you think the Braves regret the trade for Mark Teixeira? Feliz was a part of that deal, and now he looks like an ace in the making. He’s got a high-90s fastball that moves and sinks. He’s got an OK curve that works well because of his deceptive delivery – it looks like his fastball coming out of his hand. He’s got a change-up that he’s still working on and he’s got a 4th pitch that people can’t identify – it ranges from 2 seam fastball to cutter to faster version of his change up. He’ll be in the rotation this year.
2. Martin Perez, P – Perez took a giant step forward in 2009, even with the Rangers limiting his work. He’s very advanced for his age (he’ll be 20 this year) and pitched great against older talent. He’s got decent mechanics, but there are concerns about his arm action. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and could get faster as he matures. He’s got a sharp curve and a deceptively slow change-up. His command of his pitches are pretty good. I think he could see some bullpen time in a September call up.
3. Justin Smoak, 1B – Smoak could be a factor this year for the Rangers; he’s pretty much ready. His power was done last year due to an oblique injury. I think he’ll start the season in Triple A to prove that. He can hit for power and average, while providing league average defense at first. He’ll be a clean up hitter in his prime.
4. Tanner Scheppers, P – Scheppers was drafted by the Rangers in 2009, after he didn’t sign with the Pirates in 2008. He was coming off a stress fracture in his shoulder and a stint in the American Association, where he was attempting to prove he was healthy. He made his affiliated debut in the Arizona Fall League, where he was throwing his fastball between 94 and 96. He’s got a good slider and a change-up that needs a lot of work. Right now, he could be a mid-rotation starter, but I don’t see him as anything higher than a #2 starter.
5. Wilmer Font, P – Font is built like a future workhorse – 6’4″, 210 lbs – and he’s only 19. As he developes, he could add another couple of MPHs to his mid-90s fastball. He also has a curve and change-up, but needs to work on his command (4.90 BB/9). He gets a good amount of strikeouts and gives up few home runs; he also doesn’t keep the ball on the ground – something he’ll need to improve on. He’ll probably start out in Hi-A this year.
6. Michael Main, P – Main has the potential to be a front of the rotation starter, but there are a few concerns. First off, he’s not made ore than 16 starts in a season since he’s been drafted. 2009 was pretty much lost to serious viral infection. Secondly, he’s got 3 pitches that could be average; he’ll need to make those better to be a top of the line starter. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, his curve is pretty good, and his change-up needs some work. He could be used as a reliever based off the durability concerns and solid 2 pitches. 2010 is his chance to prove himself.
7. Kasey Kiker, P – Kiker had a strong 2009 in Double A, where he gave up less than a hit per inning and had 8.57 K/9, but also saw his BB/9 jump to 4.71. He’s got a solid mid-90s fastball, a plus change-up, and a good curve ball; a solid repertoire for a mid-rotation pitcher. He needs to work on his ground ball rate, especially pitching in Arlington, and his lefty/righty splits. He’ll spend this year in Triple A.
8. Danny Gutierrez, P – I put Gutierrez this high for his potential, which we saw flashes of in 2008. He’s got a low-90s fastball that has good movement and a plus curve. He could be a prefect closer of the future. He needs to prove that he can stay healthy and out of trouble for that to happen; he’s had 3 brushes with the law since the beginning of 2008. He’ll attempt to show that he’s matured after he serves a 50 game suspension for an ADD drug, which he has a prescription for that he didn’t report to the Rangers.
9. Mitch Moreland, OF – Moreland has come out of nowhere to become one of the better prospects in the system. The 17th round pick from 2007 split last year between Hi-A and Double A. He hits for average and had decent power for a corner outfielder. He doesn’t strike out much and makes good contact. He could have to move to first base, due to limited range in the outfield; his arm is very good though.
10. Max Ramirez, C – Ramirez is ready for the MLB, but the question is where? He won’t stick at catcher, because of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden ahead of him and because he’s not very good at the position. His future lies at first base, which is fine because his bat works there. He won’t hit for average, but he’s got tons of power. Ramirez has said he’s ready for the switch in positions, so he may spend a year in Triple A working on it.
Tags: 30 Teams in 30 Days, Baseball, Baseball Preview, Texas Rangers, Top 10 Prospects