Another Year, Another Hickory Team Loaded With Rangers Prospects
When it comes to Rangers prospects, Texas doesn’t mean to brag. Think of them as the kid who lived down the street as a child who was the first to own all the shiny new toys. He/she invited the neighborhood over to play and share in the fun, but it didn’t matter. Everybody hated him/her anyway. Yes, the Rangers develop a boat load of young talent, and deal plenty of it too, but other organizations must be envious over their embarrassment of riches. So when the Rangers are first to market with prospect rosters, the baseball world takes notice.
Last spring, I asked Josh Boyd, Texas’ Director Of Professional Scouting if he was ever tempted to lend the Hickory bench to Kannapolis (White Sox), so Rangers prospects had competition to play against. The question was met with a laugh and non-answer (as any good baseball person should respond), but he did mention the organization did have a preferred body type, meaning long, lean and athletic.
This year’s Hickory Crawdads roster has players who fit the prototype for Rangers prospects beautifully, starting with Lewis Brinson. A 20-20 performer in 2013, he’s a Cameron Maybin clone with sexy tools and the swing-and-miss issues to match. A true center fielder, he gallops like a gazelle in the outfield and oozes tools in every aspect of his game.
With an opportunity for a second look, the only question in need of answering is whether or not Brinson’s able to make more consistent contact. If yes, then let the hype machine begin. If no, then he’ll require another full season in Single-A. At 20, the Rangers have plenty of time to wait for the tools to turn into production.
Nomar Mazara was another member of the 2013 Hickory roster taking a second turn around the South Atlantic League. The tools aren’t nearly as explosive as Brinson, but the 5-million dollar man projects to develop as an all-around hitter. Mazara had his best month in August of 2013 at a time where South Atlantic League prospects are tiring and ready for the off-season. If this is a sign of things to come, then Mazara is a breakout candidate in 2014.
Not all Rangers prospects work out though. Catcher Kellin Deglan took two seasons to reach High-A and finds himself back in Hickory for a third time. With Jorge Alfaro firmly cemented as Texas’ catcher of the future, Deglan takes a back seat. Soon to be 22, it’s difficult to envision him ever being considered a prospect again. Back in 2012, I wrote this about Deglan as a part of my Newman’s Own series;
Deglan is a prospect I often try to will myself into liking. He’s athletic behind the dish, has power and catch-and-throw skills, but the sum of the parts is a messy mix of strikeouts and poor performance. Entering 2013, the former first round pick is likely off the prospect radar until further notice.
The other semi-interesting prospect on the roster is shortstop Luis Marte. He’ll probably never hit, but the shortstop can pick it. He’s the type of player who’ll be playing affiliated baseball a decade from now, although he might never make it past Double-A.
Other Rangers Prospects On Display
Ronald Guzman was injured during last year’s looks at Hickory, so seeing him in person will be a first. In video, it’s impossible to overlook his size and natural lift present in the swing.
Other prospects of note include infielder Travis Demeritte, outfielder Jairo Beras and a trio of pitchers including Akeem Bostick, David Ledbetter and Kelvin Vasquez. In all, nine of Baseball America’s top-30 are represented on Hickory’s roster. Once again, it’s Rangers prospects galore and ROTOscouting will have a ringside seat and scouting material for months. In 2014, Hickory plays eight games in Rome, although a yearly trip to upstate New York will force me to miss four of those. However, a trip to Asheville is always welcomed and the Crawdads will play the Tourists in Mid-April.
27 Mar 2014 / Mike Newman / 4
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