The time has come to countdown the Dallas Sports Nation Top 20 prospects heading into 2019. The grading process is combined from different criteria. Consideration is given from other list like MLB, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.
Rangers Nation also gives account to what has actually happened on the field. Some are coming back from injury, but performed well before getting hurt. While one is living off of reputation alone. This list can change easily once the season starts and we see results on the field. With that being said. Here are the results.
5) Joe Palumbo, LHP
Palumbo is the ultimate feel good story. A 30th round draft pick out of Islip, NY in 2013, he is has come a long way. Working his way up the minor league ladder he really caught the Rangers attention in 2016. While playing for Hickory he was 7-5 with a 2.24 ERA in 96 innings. But he wasn’t a full time starter then. He struck out 122 hitters in those 96 innings while saving 8 games for the Crawdads. Palumbo also started 7 games. In 2017 Texas made a choice and he became a full time starter. He made 3 starts for Down East where he only gave up 1 earned run in 13 innings. Then Palumbo went down with a UCL tear. In April of 2017 he underwent the infamous Tommy John Surgery.
He returned mid season in 2018 and picked right back up where he left off. He made 11 starts between rookie ball and AA. He ended the season with 45 innings and a 2.78 ERA. Expect Palumbo to start at Frisco. He should end up in Arlington by years end if he continues to produce. He is also a long shot to make the opening day roster as a fifth starter.
4) Julio Pablo Martinez, OF
Following the Angels signing of Shohei Ohtani, the Rangers were left with a lot of international slot money to spend. The best prospect out there was Martinez. He had defected from Cuba in 2017. In March of 2018 the Rangers signed him for a $2.8 million bonus. He started out in the Dominican Summer League where he hit .409 in 7 games with a HR. Then he came to the states and played for Spokane where he hit .252 with 8 HR.s in 60 games. He started off slow but got hot by the end of the season. Probably adjusting to life in the U.S. The Rangers sent him to the Arizona Fall League where Martinez really turned it on. In 13 games he hit .327 with 7 extra base hits including 5 doubles and a HR.
Where Martinez starts 2019 is up for debate. He is 22 years old and the AFL is sometimes compared to AA or AAA talent. Martinez will most likely start out at Hickory, but if he has a strong spring it might be Down East or even Frisco. With a strong season this is a guy who could be knocking on the doors of Arlington by years end. You have to remember that this isn’t a 20 year old kid. He is 22 and played at a high level in Cuba.
3) Anderson Tejada, SS
Another strong shortstop prospect, Tejada has been impressive for his age. Still only 20 he has already hit 41 HR’s in his minor league career. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, he was only 16 years old when he played for the DSL Rangers in 2015. He hit .312 that summer with 4 HR’s. In 2016 between DSL Rangers, AZL Rangers and Spokane he hit .283 and increased his HR’s to 10. He played for Hickory in 2017 and had his worst year with 8 HR’s and .247 average. But he was younger than most players in South Atlantic League. In 2018 his power showed up. Once again he was young moving up to Down East in the Carolina League. But he hit 19 HR’s while increasing his average to .259. Tejada has climbed up everyone’s prospect rankings. If he continues on the path they have him, he will open the season as Frisco’s shortstop. But at his age he could possibly start out at Down East again. One thing is for sure, Tejada leaped past Taveras who is the about the same age.
2) Bubba Thompson, OF
Thompson has shot up the list since being taken in the first round of the 2017 draft. A very athletic outfielder, there were concerns on whether he could adjust to professional pitching. He was considered somewhat raw coming out of high school. He played 30 games in the Arizona Rookie League in 2017. He hit .257 with 3 HR’s. In 2018 he played at Hickory and was impressive. Not overmatched, he hit .289 with 8 HR’s in 84 games. His approach was impressive and mature. But he really turned heads at the end of they year.
The Rangers and Padres played a future stars game at Petco in San Diego. Thompson launched a deep bomb that put the Rangers prospects up on the Padres farm hands. Bubba is far away the most athletic Rangers prospect. But he is showing that raw talent can be taught to be a legit player. Thompson will likely play center field for Down East this summer.
1) Hans Crouse, RHP
For the first time in three years the Texas Rangers have a new top prospect in their organization. For the first time since the famous DVD combo, the Texas Rangers have a prospected true ace in their system. Crouse was drafted in the second round of 2017 and made an immediate impression on scouts all around baseball. In the AZL Rookie league he made 10 appearances and 6 starts and had an .045 ERA. He was limited to 20 innings and struck out 30 hitters. In 2018 he was also limited to protect his arm. But he started 13 games between Spokane and Hickory. He was 5-3 with a 2.47 ERA and made the Northwest League All Star team. He again impressed with 62 K’s in only 54 innings. Crouse has a fastball that sits in the mid 90’s and can touch 99 mph. He also has a very good slider and is working on his changeup. Crouse is a tall and lanky and has been compared to Clayton Kershaw at the same point in his career. He should be the opening day starter for the Hickory Crawdads this season. Crouse was a year ahead of the deload program that the 2018 high school arms went through last year. If he continues to dominate he might push his way up quickly. But what Crouse needs more than anything is to build up his innings.
Don’t be surprised if he is shutdown by the end of year if he reaches a certain amount of work. Rangers fans should be excited. If Crouse lives up to the hype, the Rangers may have their first home grown ace since Kevin Brown.
So there it is! Dallas Sports Nation’s Top 20 Texas Rangers Prospects going into the 2019 season. There is a good chance that there will be names moving in and out of this list as the season progresses. Be sure and listen to Rangers Nation Podcast Every week during the season there will be show called “Down In The Bus Leagues”. This show will give you interviews with minor league players along with updates on who had good or bad weeks in the Rangers farm system. There will also be a regular show dropped every week that details the Rangers themselves.
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