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February 10, 2009

Texas Rangers Prospects 37-45

In parentheses: position, age on 4/1/09, highest level achieved, Jamey’s ranking)

45. CHAD TRACY (1B/COF, 23.1, AA, Jamey’s #46) – After May 26, 2008, Chad Tracy sported a career line of .250/.316/.406 in 245 professional games. Texas undoubtedly hoped for more from its third-round pick in 2006. Tracy then cured whatever ailed him by hitting .328/.389/.556 over three months that included a promotion to AA. Having downshifted from catcher to outfield corner to first base (and frequent DH) over the past two seasons, he’ll go as far as his bat allows. Bound for: OKC lacks a 1B prospect, but Tracy might first have to augment his grand total of 24 games in AA.

44. BRENNAN GARR (RHP-reliever, 25.1, AA, Jamey’s #54) – Garr mows down hitters with a hard four-seamer; his 27% strikeout rate trailed only Warner Madrigal among Texas’s full-season relievers. He also walked more batters than the other players mentioned, including a startling 27% of lefties during his two terms in Frisco. Though he’s become much more fly-prone in AA, he remains extremely difficult to take deep. Garr missed several weeks with shoulder soreness and logged only 44 innings in 2008. Bound for: Texas signs a new pitcher every day, so Garr might have to bide his time in Frisco for a while longer. A good spring could land him in AAA.

43. ANDREW LAUGHTER (RHP-reliever, 24.1, AA, Jamey’s #47) – Laughter has climbed the ladder quickly after being drafted in the 10th round as a college senior in 2007. Possessing a slider and low 90s fastball that can reach a little higher on occasion, Laughter doesn’t fan batters like Garr or Beau Jones but has exhibited much better control to date and is uncommonly stingy with the long ball. Some rough late-season outings led to ugly ERAs of 4.80 in AA and 6.14 ERA in the Arizona Fall League. He’s better than that, and ERA doesn’t mean much for relievers anyway. Bound for: See Garr, Brennan.

42. JOAQUIN ARIAS (2B/SS, 24.5, MLB, Jamey’s #45) – Coming off 2007’s shoulder surgery, Arias actually spent more time at short than second in 2008. Further, over the course of 32 MLB games, Arias narrowly bested Michael Young in average, OBP and slugging. Texas isn’t moving Young to accommodate Arias, however. His throws lacked their former snap, and his offensive evolution remains frustratingly modest. Teams with Ian Kinsler and 12 pitchers don’t need a backup second baseman. Bound for: Texas’s bench or back to Oklahoma as the starting SS or 2B.

41. MANUEL PINA (C, 21.8, AA, Jamey’s #39) – I was flabbergasted when Texas assigned Pina to Bakersfield last April. He’d batted .228/.278/.285 as a 19-year-old in Clinton; surely he needed to repeat low-A. The Rangers thought otherwise, and Pina rewarded them with a line of .268/.318/.360 that included some time in AA. He reminds me a bit of Einar Diaz at the plate: his best skill is avoiding strikeouts, he doesn’t walk much, and his slugging is largely fueled by doubles. He’s got the tools defensively. More game-calling experience at the higher levels will help. Bound for: Frisco. I promise never to mention Diaz again.

40. BEAU JONES (LHP-reliever, 22.6, AA, Jamey’s #34) – Jones was hammered in his first taste of high-A while still a Brave. On his second try, he improved modestly as a starter in Bakersfield, but Texas decided his future was in relief. Baseball America rated his curve the best in Atlanta’s system in November 2005. Amusingly, in a March 2007 interview with Scout.com, Jones himself ranked his curveball behind his fastball and change. He’s never exhibited much control outside of low-A Rome in 2007. Like Garr and Laughter, he’s adept at preventing homers. Bound for: See Garr, Brennan.

39. KYLE OCAMPO (RHP-starter, 20.3, rookie, Jamey’s #51) – Texas signed 2007 13th-rounder Ocampo (not “O’Campo?) with third-round money at the very last second before he scampered off to Cal State Fullerton. Texas eased him into pro ball with an assignment to rookie league, where he fanned 26% of his opponents and didn’t permit too many walks or homers. Bound for: Spokane. I can’t find room for him in Hickory.

38. TOMAS TELIS (C, 17.8, DSL, Jamey’s #40) – Meet Texas’s top prospect lacking US experience. Telis displayed astounding bat control for a 17-year-old, drawing walks at a league-average rate and striking out only once per 16 appearances. He also handled defensive duties reasonably well for someone who converted from shortstop just a year ago. Bound for: Texas loves to push its catchers. Still, I can’t envision him at Hickory next April. Give low-A to the older Leonel de los Santos (or grizzled Doug Hogan) and place Telis in Spokane, where he’ll still rank among the league’s youngest.

37. JOHN BANNISTER (RHP-reliever, 25.2, AA, Jamey’s #35) – Undrafted. Signed over six years ago. Only 26 innings above A ball. Career ERA of 4.58. And now, a proud member of Texas’s 40-man roster. Upon return from Tommy John surgery, Bannister flailed as a starter and posted only ordinary statistics in relief. However, he gained velocity as the season progressed, routinely dealing in the mid 90s during a reasonably successful showing in the hitter-crazy Arizona Fall League. Bound for: AAA if Texas can find room for him. AA to begin the season, if not.

Posted by Lucas at February 10, 2009 06:07 PM