When the Rangers signed him as an international free agent in 2011 -- for a measly $425,000 -- Rougned Odor became another face in Texas's middle-infield-rich organization. The World Series tested tandem of Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler was among the class of baseball at the time; Jurickson Profar was on the brink of being the top prospect in the game, even though he was only 19 and still playing in Hickory; even Luis Sardinas was on the radar, whom the Rangers gave $1.2 million two summers prior.
Undersized and at the base of a behemoth organizational depth chart, Odor controlled what he could, raking his way through the minor leagues waiting for the dust to clear. And when it did, he somehow found himself as the Rangers everyday second baseman.
That's the TL;DR version, a quick snapshot of a 21 year-old, with a happy ending to boot. It doesn't, however, begin to describe just how great Roogie has been over the last month.
His last 29 games, since June 15th, Odor is hitting a ridiculous .370/.408/.648 (185 wRC+), with 5 HRs, 4 3Bs, 7 2Bs and 15 runs scored in 120 plate appearances. To say he's been the Rangers best player over the last month is an understatement, as Rougned has been one of the best players in all of MLB since his recall, something most of us wouldn't have guessed when he got sent down earlier this year.
All the while, in recent years Texas's once-valuable middle infield logjam has all but disintegrated. Elvis Andrus has been about average the last three seasons, Ian Kinsler was dealt to Detroit in the winter of 2013 for Prince Fielder, and Jurickson Profar -- who was supposed to assume second base after Ian's departure -- has been down for two years running due to a shoulder issue. Even depth prospects like Sardinas and Leury Garcia were moved for short term gains.
Of all Texas's middle infielders over the last 4 years, Rougned Odor is, by default, about the only thing that's gone in the right direction. Everyone else has either been traded, injured, or ineffective.
And now, this side of perhaps Joey Gallo, Roogie is arguably Texas's most valuable asset. When asked what he thinks Odor's ceiling is, ESPN Insider's Keith Law simply responded: All-Star 2B.
Most of us expected Jurickson Profar, the former #1 prospect in MLB, to be the starting second baseman right now. Odor, for whatever reason, has generally been overlooked his entire minor league career. Not necessarily because he hasn't produced -- many Rangers fans including myself have enjoyed following his rise -- but because the franchise already had so much in the bank where middle infielders were concerned, and Odor was superfluous. The better he got, the more value he would bring in a future trade, I thought.
The best part? Rougned Odor is only 21 years old. Over the large sample, it's a safe bet he's not going to consistently generate MVP-caliber triple slash lines -- as he has over the last month -- but at the absolute basement, Roogie is a starting second baseman on a playoff team. Probably hitting at or near the top of the lineup. In all likelihood that isn't going to be in 2015, but with an organization bound to graduate a ton of young talent the next couple years -- from Gallo to Chi Chi Gonzalez to Nomar Mazara to Jorge Alfaro (hopefully) to Nick Williams to Jake Thompson -- there will be every chance for Odor to be a first division 2B on a bunch of very good Rangers teams.