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February 06, 2009

Texas Rangers Prospects 46-54

In parentheses: position, age on 4/1/09, highest level achieved, Jamey Newberg's ranking.

54. MATT THOMPSON (RHP-starter, 19.1, rookie, unranked by Jamey) – Texas’s 7th rounder from 2008 didn’t sign until late July and received a bonus worthy of a 2nd rounder. He then allowed 23 runs in 8.1 innings in rookie ball. No problem. Baseball America extolled his fastball, and folks who watched him at fall instructionals were duly impressed with his 6’ 3? frame and potential. He goes by “Matt,? but MLB Advanced Media calls him “William.? Bound for: Spokane.

53. GEURIS GRULLON (LHP-starter, 19.3, rookie, Jamey’s #44) – Grullon signed as a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic but never pitched in the Dominican Summer League. Grullon achieved an insane 70% ground-ball rate last year and hasn’t allowed a homer to any of the 222 batters he’s faced professionally. His control is problematic, even relative to other teenagers, though he did cut his sum of hit batters and wild pitches from 22 to 7. Bound for: Probably Spokane.

52. LEONEL DE LOS SANTOS (C, 19.5, rookie, Jamey’s #58) – The Venezuelan already had a nickname after 2007 (“macumba?) but didn’t get a bio in last year’s media guide. Not this time. De los Santos batted .286/.338/.397 in August after scuffling in his first six weeks in rookie ball. He gunned down a solid 37% of opposing runners (league average was 29%) but also committed a league-high 11 errors among catchers. Bound for: There’s room for him at Hickory if Texas feels he can handle full-season ball at 19.

51. MIKE BALLARD (LHP-starter, 25.1, AAA, Jamey’s #49) – Not a hard thrower, Ballard defeats hitters with a looping curve and changeup. He relies on pinpoint control (career 6% walk rate) and plenty of grounders to succeed. His .366 BABIP in 2008 really isn’t a fluke. Ballard has always been hittable, especially against righties, and a eventual conversion to relief is highly probable. Bound for: The AAA rotation, initially.

50. JOSH LUEKE (RHP-reliever, 24.3, high-A, Jamey’s #63) – A right-handed high-A reliever with a 5.03 ERA, ranked 50th? Yep. The 6’5? Lueke fanned 27% of opposing hitters, trailing only Warner Madrigal and Brennan Garr among Texas’s full-season relievers (relative to their respective league averages). He also walked just 6% of opponents and surrendered a tolerable number of homers for the Cal League. The high ERA comes from a .360 average on balls in play against him, including an absurd .330 on grounders. Bound for: Frisco, preferably.

49. MIGUEL DE LOS SANTOS (LHP-starter, 20.7, rookie, Jamey’s #60) – Coming off elbow surgery in July 2007, de los Santos returned to lead the organization with a 36% strikeout rate in 35 rookie-league innings. He’s not a flamethrower, and (like many teens) his control is shaky. Texas has to make a decision on his 40-man roster status after 2010. Bound for: Texas could well decide he belongs in Hickory with the famed hurlers from Spokane’s ’07 club. He might pitch some long relief to limit his workload.

48. MATT WEST (3B, 20.4, short-A, Jamey’s #55) – Coming back from a suspension, West batted .258/.367/.358 in Spokane. That line doesn’t deserve an exclamation point, but consider that West was the 16th-youngest player in the league (as of mid-August) and faced a steady diet of former college juniors and seniors. Texas has never drafted a successful position player in the 2nd round (unless you want to count ’79 pick Donnie Scott’s four months as a regular catcher in 1984. And you don’t.) Bound for: Hickory.

47. JAKE BRIGHAM (RHP-starter, 21.1, short-A, Jamey’s #43) – The promising, unpolished Brigham lost 2008 to Tommy John surgery. In two seasons prior, he’d pitched effectively for the rookies and Spokane, albeit with bouts of wildness. Bound for: Brigham probably will spend some time in extended Spring Training. He could eventually see a combination of Spokane and Hickory.

46. TIM SMITH (COF, 22.8, low-A, Jamey’s #52) – After hitting a game-winning homer in the Midwest League All-Star game, Smith joked that “"they're going to expect me to start hitting home runs when I get back to Clinton.? The joke was on Smith, in a good way. After hitting two dingers in the season’s first half, he clubbed 11 in the second including seven in August. Smith already had a knack for running (21 steals) and contact (.300 average), so the power burst makes him a corner outfielder worth watching. Bound for: The Cal League, where we’ll see how his bat plays in a much more hitter-friendly environment.

Posted by Lucas at February 6, 2009 05:39 PM