Dallas Sports Nation had a TOP 20 countdown before spring training began in Surprise Arizona. As we approach midway through the season, there are adjustments that need to be made. Injuries have caused many top prospects to fall off the preseason list. They are still considered top talent. However, the rise of healthy players has caused major changes to the DSN list.
Last week we came out with the updated 20 thru 11 of our list. Now, let’s move to the Top 10 in reverse order.
10. Julio Pablo Martinez OF: ⇓ (Pre Season #4) Martinez started off in Hickory where he wasn’t spectacular. After 10 games he was promoted to Down East with only a .250 average and 1 HR. He started off bad in High A Down East but has come on lately. His total numbers for 2019 are a putrid .233 average, 303 OBP. He has hit 9 HR’s but struck out 91 times in only 266 AB’s. The adjustment to the United States could be part of the problem. However the Rangers are expecting much more from Martinez.
9. Cole Winn RHP: ⇓ (Pre Season #8) Winn came in with a lot of hype before the season. He was listed at number 8 before the season, having not pitched an inning of professional ball yet. He started off at Hickory and hasn’t been stellar. But it doesn’t mean he isn’t a great arm. There is an adjustment to pro ball and he seems to be figuring it out. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last two starts. Still, only 19 years old Winn should only get better. He will be interesting watching the second half of the season.
8. Bubba Thompson OF: ⇓ (Pre Season #2) Injuries have hampered Thompson’s season. But he has struggled when healthy. Thompson broke his hamate bone early in the year. After coming back he is back on the IL for a second time. His numbers are not good. He is hitting .125 in 16 total games played. This is another one who needs a healthy second half.
7. Brock Burke LHP: ⇑ (Pre Season #19) Burke is one of the highest risers even though he has been struck with the injury bug. But while healthy he is proving that he is a top prospect for the Rangers. First a blister and then a shoulder issue slowed his progress. But he is healthy and back at it. His numbers aren’t flashy. But he is a strike thrower and might be the best piece from the Profar trade. Look for a big second half and possible major league debut by the end of the season.
6. Jonathan Ornelas SS: ⇑ (Pre Season #13) Ornelas is proving that he may have been the a steal in the third round of the 2018 draft. He has slowed down a bit but is one the youngest players in the South Atlantic League. Hitting .258 with 6 HR’s, there are some who think he may be the best position player in the Rangers minor league system. This is a name that Ranger fans need to keep an eye on the rest of the season.
5. Leody Taveras OF: ⇑ (Pre Season #10) Taveras was the top prospect for the last two years. However, he struggled in Hickory and Down East over the last two seasons. This prompted the Rangers to start him back at Down East for the beginning of the 2019 season. Taveras responded well. Although there wasn’t much power, his average rose to .294 in 66 games with only 2 HRs. He was promoted to Frisco. In 12 games at AA he is hitting a respectable .271. Once again he is still young for the league he is playing in. But all signs are pointing to a top prospect who is starting to figure things out.
4. Sam Huff C: ⇑ (Pre Season N/R) Huff was not even ranked coming into the season. He was on people’s radar after hitting 18 HR’s in 2018. But 2019 has been a huge breakout year. Combined between Hickory and Down East, Huff is hitting .281 with 21 HRs. This would be good except for how well he has played on defense. Huff is a 6’4 230 lb catcher who is throwing out about 50% of baserunners trying to run on him. That is a borderline great prospect. He is also the only Ranger representative in the Futures Game the day before the All-Star game.
3. Joe Palumbo LHP: ⇑ (Pre Season #5) Palumbo is turning heads. He started off fantastic for Frisco with a 3.19 ERA in 11 starts. Then the Rangers called on Joe to make a couple of big league starts. He went four innings against Oakland giving up 4 runs. Then he faced off against the Indians and gave up 7 runs in two innings. From there he was promoted/demoted to AAA Nashville. In two starts he is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA. However, word has come down that Palumbo will make his third major league start in Minnesota on July 7th. This may take him off this list. But Palumbo is proving that he has a future in the Rangers rotation.
2. Josh Jung 3B: ⇑ (Pre Season NOT IN ORGANIZATION) Normally a player who hasn’t played a pro game doesn’t start off this high on anyone’s list. But after a stellar season, Jung carried Texas Tech to the College World Series. He performed well on the big stage after he was selected 8th overall by the Rangers. Jung signed on July 3rd for a $4.4 million bonus. He is in Arizona and should end up in Spokane within a week or two. Hickory may end up with the top draft pick before seasons end. Jung could be quick to rise through the Ranger organization. Good college bats usually do progress faster.
1. Hans Crouse RHP: ⇔ (Pre Season #1) Crouse started off as the top prospect in the organization before the season. That hasn’t changed. Crouse has had a few outings where he was touched for some runs. But he has consistently stuck out hitters. There was some worry when Crouse was sent to Arizona towards the end of May. But all of that subsided when he returned to Hickory a few weeks later. Crouse is a potential ace. The Rangers are going to protect an arm like that. He is building up innings this season. He may go to Down East by the end of this season. But Rangers fans shouldn’t expect him to see Frisco before next season.
Featured Image: Levi Weaver of The Athletic