Behind the Insider paywall on ESPN.com, today Keith Law unveiled his top-100 prospects list, with six Rangers making the cut.
Unsurprisingly, Joey Gallo moved all the way up to #11 (from unranked in 2014), with outfielder Nomar Mazara (#31), catcher Jorge Alfaro (#35), and starters Jake Thompson (#52), Chi-Chi Gonzalez (#86) and Luis Ortiz (#96) rounding out the unit.
There are a couple things I like about this. For one, there's a strong mix around the diamond; Gallo is a corner infielder, Mazara's a corner outfielder, Alfaro catches and the other three pitch. Secondly, with a big league roster comprised mostly of peak and post-peak players, the Rangers are beginning to get desperate for an infusion of youth. By Opening Day 2016, the hope is to have Gallo at 3B, Adrian Beltre at DH, as well as Thompson and Gonzalez filling out the rotation behind Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Martin Perez.
Keith Law calls Gallo "the game's preeminent sonic-boom-or-bust candidate," noting "if he can just hit .230-.240 in the majors he'll hit 40-45 homers, if not more, with enough patience thrown in to be a 5-WAR player on his bat alone." On the flip side, there is likely an equal or greater chance he either washes out or becomes a Quad-A player because he can't make enough contact.
Jorge Alfaro has the tools -- "monumental tools," according to Law -- to be one of the two- or three-best catchers in MLB if all goes right. In 2014 he batted .261/.318/.440 (112 wRC+) at High-A and .261/.343/.443 (126 wRC+) in 99 Double-A plate appearances; if he hit that at the major league level, he would be something in the neighborhood of a 4-win catcher.
Since many already knew of Joey Gallo's prodigious power, there is a good argument to be made the the player who made the biggest jump in the system was Nomar Mazara. I mean, he literally jumped two levels -- from the Low-A Sally League to Double-A Frisco -- but his game also took a huge step forward.
Here are his triple slash lines and home run outputs from his first two years in the minors:
2012: .264/.383/.448 (123 wRC+), 6 HRs, 243 plate appearances
'13: .236/.310/.382 (101 wRC+), 13 HRs, 506 PAs
In 2014, Mazara established himself as a legitimate major league prospect. Repeating a level with the Hickory Crawdads, Nomar hit .264/.358/.470 (130 wRC+) with 19 HRs and a 12.4% walk rate. After being promoted to Frisco -- ahead of outfield prospects Nick Williams and Lewis Brinson who were playing a level above Mazara at Myrtle Beach -- he hit a robust .306/.381/.518 (157 wRC+), albeit in a small 97 PA sample.
Law writes: "He might be a full two years away from the majors, with the potential to be a middle-of-the-order bat, hitting 25 bombs with a .280/.360/.520 kind of line when he finishes filling out." Wow. You go, Nomar.
Luis Ortiz is only 19 right now, so he's a few years away, but Thompson and Gonzalez are both healthy bets to be called up at some point in 2015. Behind Darvish and Holland -- and having Perez and Matt Harrison on the shelf for the foreseeable future -- Texas's rotation is thin on the backend. Yovani Gallardo fills a valuable role smack dab in the middle, but Colby Lewis is hard to depend on because his hips are on the verge of disintegrating at any time, and Ross Detwiler/Nick Tepesch/Nick Martinez are what they are: 5th starters.
Anyway, before I get on some diatribe about what could go wrong with the Rangers, I'll finish by saying prospects are awesome. And having six on any top-100 list is impressive; that it's Keith Law's, one of the best writer/scout's doing it these days, is especially cool.