The Farm Report -- 3/31/2017, Lo and Hi A Rosters

Per MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan on twitter, RHP Dillon Gee will remain a Ranger, agreeing to a new deal that options him to Round Rock and keeps him in the running for Texas's 5th-starter role when needed on April 15.  Sullivan suggests injured RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez could hit the 60-day DL to create space for Gee.

And now, a peek at the preliminary rosters of high-A Down East and low-A Hickory.  The numbers in front of players are prospect rankings by MLB.com.

High-A Down East

Pitchers
Blake Bass, 23 years old
Wes Benjamin, 23
Adam Choplick, 24
Peter Fairbanks, 23
Brady Feigl, 26
Omarlin Lopez, 23
#5 Brett Martin, 21
#6 Joe Palumbo, 22
#28 Pedro Payano, 22
Richelson Pena, 23
Austin Pettibone, 24
Jason Richman, 23
Ricardo Rodriguez, 24
Jeffrey Springs, 24

A rotation of Bass, Benjamin, Martin, Palumbo and Payano – if that’s what transpires – should keep the Wood Ducks in nearly every game.  Martin probably would have earned a Frisco assignment if not for an injury-filled 2016, and I expect him to finish the season there.  Palumbo was the most impressive pitcher I saw in person last week, showing an effective change in addition to his already noteworthy curve and mid-90s fastball.  Strike-throwers Payano (returning from a broken arm) and Benjamin should thrive in the pitcher-friendly climate. 

Catchers
Carlos Garay, 22
Chuck Moorman, 23

Josh Morgan is also expected to play backstop on occasion.  Morgan caught last spring, also, but the experiment was shelved during the regular season.  Although he hit well enough for an assignment to AA Frisco, keeping him in high-A should ease his positional transition.  Moorman caught the majority of Hickory’s games last year.  Garay played sparingly in Spokane during 2014-2015.

Infielders
Josh Altmann, 22 (everywhere, mostly at 1B based on his teammates)
Frandy de la Rosa, 21 (2B, 3B)
Luis Yander La O, 25 (3B, 2B)
Arturo Lara, 26 (SS and elsewhere?)
Luis Mendez, 24 (everywhere but 1B)
#13 Josh Morgan, 21 (everywhere but 1B, plus C)

La O is from Cuba, where he primarily played third base with some action at second and short.  Like Andy Ibanez last year, he’s being eased into US ball after a fallow period and should reach AA during the season.  Lara is also Cuban, and that’s that extent of my knowledge of him.  Altmann played everywhere but catcher and even tossed two innings in low-A last year.  De la Rosa, acquired last year for reliever Spencer Patton, has advanced from Hickory while some more highly regarded infielders will stay behind.

Outfielders
#16 Jairo Beras, 22
Ledarious Clark, 23
Michael O’Neill, 24
Eduard Pinto, 22

Frisco has six outfielders, of whom at least four deserve regular action, so Beras will return to high-A despite 22 homers and a .511 slugging percentage (albeit in the hitter-friendliest park on the planet).  Up from Hickory is Clark, who I think has a better season in him than last year’s .242/.279/.439.  Eduard Pinto slides down from Frisco, where he served admirably after a host of trades, promotions and injuries gutted the squad last July.

Low-A Hickory

Pitchers
Reid Anderson, 21
Edgar Arredondo, 19
Kyle Cody, 22
Demarcus Evans, 20
Tyler Ferguson, 23
Kaleb Fontenot, 23
#18 Jonathan Hernandez, 20
Luke Lanphere, 21
Jake Lemoine, 23
Emerson Martinez, 22
Sal Mendez, 22
CD Pelham, 22
Tyler Phillips, 19
Argenis Rodriguez, 21

Despite only one top-thirty prospect (and Kyle Cody, who should be), this is a talented group with upside.  Baseball America described Lemoine as a potential first-round pick prior to shoulder trouble, Pelham reaches the mid-90s with ease, and Phillips fanned nearly a batter per inning as an 18-year-old with Spokane.  Ferguson, while stiff mechanically, has the stuff to overpower hitters at this level.  Hernandez reached 97 when I saw him last week and will attend to delivering that heat in the right location. 

That said, Hickory issued the third-most walks in a 14-team league last year, and I don’t see this collection improving much on that.  There’s some wildness about.

Catchers
Shaq Matta, 22
Isaias Quiroz, 20
Ricky Valencia, 24
Matta served as Frisco’s third (or fourth) catcher last year, while Valencia was Hickory’s backup.  Quiroz moves up from the rookie level.

Infielders
Ti’Quan Forbes, 20 (3B/1B)
Blaine Prescott, 21  (2B and elsewhere?)
#8 Anderson Tejeda, 18 (2B/SS)
#17 Yeyson Yrizarri, 20 (SS/2B)

Leody Taveras is the better prospect, but Tejeda is the 5’11”, 160-pound dynamo that blasted eight homers in just 23 games against much older opposition at short-season Spokane.  I suspect he and Yrizarri will split second and short.  Yrizarri and Forbes reached low-A as teenagers and will return with the hope of a later promotion to Down East.  Forbes, while no pure slugger, ought to surpass last year’s four homers and 24 extra-base hits.  Yrizarri, meanwhile, showed good power for a shortstop (7 HR, 37 XBH) offset by some of the worst plate discipline I’ve ever seen, drawing all of nine walks against 91 strikeouts last year after a 6/46 ratio in 2015. 

Outfielders
#29 Jose Almonte, 20
Travis Bolin, 22
#15 Yanio Perez, 21 (also 3B)
Preston Scott, 23
#1 Leody Taveras, 18

Taveras (born 9/8/98) is Texas’s top prospect and the youngest Ranger assigned to full-season ball. I’m excited about him.  That said, Taveras batted only .255/.302/.341 in the US last season, and last week I filmed a bunch of strikeouts along with his game-ending grand slam.  So, don’t be disappointed if he posts mediocre numbers. 

Almonte hit well in an injury-shortened low-A after two years of not much at all in short-season leagues.  Perez is yet another Cuban, more highly regarded and much younger than La O.  Bolin (2016, 32nd round) hit one homer as a rookie, but I saw him go deep on consecutive days in intersquads.

Unassigned
LHP Cole Ragans (2016 top pick)
RHP Alex Speas (2016 2nd-round)
IF Kole Enright (2016 3rd round)
IF Charles Leblanc (2016 4th round)
OF Eric Jenkins (2015 2nd round, injured)
RHP Mike Matuella (2015 3rd round, working up to game shape)

Expect most, if not all, of these players in Hickory at some point during the season.  The pitchers will be under careful workload management.

Former Rangers
The Braves optioned RHP Luke Jackson to AAA Gwinnett.  Texas traded him over the offseason for pitchers Brady Feigl (assigned to Hickory) and Tyrell Jenkins (subsequently lost on waivers).

RHP Neil Ramirez, traded to the Cubs with several others for Matt Garza, signed an offseason deal with the Giants and intends to exercise an opt-out if not added to the active roster. 

The Rays placed RHP Shawn Tolleson on the 60-day DL (right flexor strain).

--
Scott Lucas
Newberg Report (newbergreport.com)
twitter: @scottrlucas
#JanasHouse

 
title_authors

Jamey Newberg

Dallas attorney Jamey Newberg has been commenting on Rangers from the big club down through the entire farm system since 1998.

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas was born in Arlington, Texas, to Richard and Becky Lucas. He lived mostly in Arlington before moving to Austin, where he graduated from The University of Texas. Scott works for Austin Valuation Consultants, Ltd., and has published several boring articles about real estate appraisal and environmental contamination. He makes a swell margarita and refuses to run longer than ten kilometres.

Eleanor Czajka

Eleanor grew up watching the AAA Mudhens in Toledo, Ohio. A loyal Ranger fan since 1979, she works "behind the scenes" at the Newberg Report.

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