We have started our countdown of the Top 20 Rangers prospects heading into the 2021 season; last week, we did 20-16.
It’s time to reveal 15-11.
A reminder of the criteria to be on the Dallas Sports Nation list. You CANNOT have played even one game in the major leagues.
So, prospects like Sam Huff, Anderson Tejeda, Leody Taveras, etc… are not eligible.
We go below to the players who have yet to make their major league debuts.
With that in mind, let’s continue the countdown.
15) OF Steele Walker
Walker was the Rangers’ piece in the Nomar Mazara trade before the 2020 season from the Chicago White Sox. (They may want that one back since Mazara is now a free agent because they non-tendered him this offseason) A local product, Walker played high school ball in Prosper before taking his talents to the University of Oklahoma.
He was taken in the 2nd round by the White Sox in 2018. He was a bit erratic in 2018 after being drafted. He played 4 games in rookie ball where he hit .455. He then went to A-ball, where he only hit .186, getting demoted back to the short season. He was much better in 2019.
Combined between Low A and High A, Walker played in 120 games, hitting .284 with 10 HRs and a .811 OPS. COVID derailed any attempt to continue his better play for 2020. Entering 2021, he should start out at Frisco and be the starting centerfielder. He is a plus defender whose major league future is probably as a fourth outfielder.
14) RHP Tyler Phillips
Phillips came in at 18 on last year’s list. He was a 16th round pick out of New Jersey in 2015. While he got acclimated to pro baseball in 2016 and 2017, he caught everyone’s eye in 2018. He started 23 games between Low A and High A. He was 12-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 133 innings pitched. He continued to impress in 2019, starting 24 games between Down East and Frisco, going 9-11 with an ERA of 3.71.
He was another one that missed out on a chance to improve in 2020 with COVID canceling the season. He pitched at the alternative site, but 2021 should be good for him to face competition in real games again. Phillips should start in Frisco after being added to the 40 man roster this offseason. He has a chance to make his major league debut.
13) RHP Ronny Henriquez
Henriquez jumped up 6 spots from number 19 last year. Not a very big guy, Henriquez is another Ranger arm that has an electric fastball for someone who only stands about 5’10 and 160 lbs. Ronny did end up at the alternative site in 2020 but really needed to pitch against the competition. His numbers have been impressive since turning pro in 2017.
In 2018, he struck out 79 in 58 innings for the DSL Rangers. He played the entire 2019 season Hickory. He threw 82 innings and struck out 99. Henriquez seems destined to be a bullpen arm in the big leagues. He will probably start 2021 in Hickory (High A) with a quick promotion to AA soon if he still misses bats.
12) C David Garcia
Garcia jumps 4 spots from 2020. Garcia will be only 20, heading into the 2021 season. But the Rangers saw fit to add the backstop to the 40 man roster this offseason. That says a lot about what they think of him, seeing how he hadn’t played above short-season rookie ball. He wasn’t very likely to be taken in the Rule 5 draft. Had he been taken, he would have had to stay on a major league active roster all season or been returned to the Rangers.
Either they feared he was a target by someone, or they think he is ready to jump a few levels. It wouldn’t seem likely he plays in Arlington in 2021, but neither did Tejeda, Apostel, or Huff in 2020. Garcia broke out in 2019, hitting .277 in 48 games with 5 HRs after not doing much the two seasons before. I imagine he is headed for Hickory since he is on the 40-man. He is behind Huff on the depth chart and probably follows him as he progresses.
11) RHP Yerry Rodriguez
Rodriguez is the name to watch in 2021. His numbers have been impressive since signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. Just 23 years old, missing 2020 due to covid may be the only thing keeping him from pitching in the big leagues this season. There is a real possibility he does make his debut in 2021, especially since there might be a limit on innings to protect arms from the shortened 2020 season.
Rodriquez last pitched a full season in 2019, where he started 13 games for “then” Low A Hickory and was 7-3 with a 2.08 ERA and 85 K’s in 73 innings. Yerry will likely start the season in AA-Frisco; he was also added to the 40-man roster this offseason.
We are halfway through the Top 20. We start the Top 10 next week.
We will also have some honorable mentions that could have landed anywhere on this list once we are done.
Featured Image: Tracy Proffitt