Yesterday, the Texas Rangers optioned some of the organization's top prospects and re-assigned some non-roster invitees to minor league camp. The biggest of the names that were sent down were Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Jurickson Profar, and Lewis Brinson.
While the first three were optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, Brinson is not currently on the 40-man roster, and thus was not required to be optioned to a specific club. The expectation is that he'll likely join the other three in Round Rock for a significant portion of the 2016 season, if not the whole thing.
There are no surprises here if you follow Rangers baseball very closely. None of the players in this transaction were expected to be given a realistic shot at making the ball club out of Spring Training. The organization has a plan, and they intend to stick to it.
In looking at these moves, it just goes to show how deep and versatile the entire Texas organization is.
For starters, Jurickson Profar. Although he's only logged 341 Major League plate appearances, it's easy to forget about Profar. He hasn't played in awhile, but it feels like we've been hearing about Profar forever now. That tends to happen when a player gets signed at 16 years of age, and he's only just now 23 years old. While part of the equation is that Profar doesn't have a definite position to play at the Major League level for the Rangers at the current time, the organization is taking it slow to make sure there are no more setbacks in his recovery from shoulder problems that ended up costing him two years of his career.
Joey Gallo has been one of the most talked about players in minor league circles for several years now. His power is certainly prodigious, but he also strikes out a ton, and his career had a false start in 2015 when he was called up, enjoyed some early success, and then struggled mightily. Gallo is currently get his defensive reps at 3B, a position currently occupied by Adrian Beltre.
Brinson was drafted in the same draft as Gallo -- actually 10 spots ahead of him -- and profiles as a center fielder. He ended up receiving a late-season promotion to Round Rock in 2015 and had 37 plate appearances in which he put up an OPS of 1.107.
Mazara has only been around a year longer than Gallo and Brinson, signing as an international free agent in 2011 for $5 million. Over the last two years, he's really come on strong, and had many fans clamoring for him to have a job out of Spring Training this year.
When talking about these players, all I keep coming back to is the way they speak to the organization's versatility. Both Mazara and Brinson are players that figure to be important outfield pieces by Opening Day of 2017, and yet the way things stand today, they don't have a place to play. Ian Desmond is only in Texas for now on a 1-year deal, but even beyond that, Delino DeShields is still around, Shin-Soo Choo has a contract that runs through 2020, and Josh Hamilton will still be a factor with a contract through 2017.
Joey Gallo is currently blocked by Adrian Beltre at 3B; the same Adrian Beltre that is currently looking for a 3-year contract extension beyond this season. Sure, he'll need more at-bats at DH at some point in the future, but Prince Fielder currently occupies that role on a nearly full-time basis.
Jurickson Profar, for his part, is working to show that he can once again play SS. The Rangers don't want to try him at 2B again to avoid the awkward throwing angle it creates, so for now, he plays the same position as Elvis Andrus, yet another player who is under contract, his running through the 2023 season unless he opts out or misses out on a vesting option based on plate appearances.
So we have four players, all currently blocked at their current positions, and all looking like they're players that Texas could conceivably count on for significant production within a year's time. I have no idea how all this will pan out. I have some ideas and theories, but I can't being to imagine the things that go on in the Texas front office.
Of the four, Profar is easily the oldest at 23 years of age. Consider this, for a moment. Joey Gallo's childhood teammate, Bryce Harper, just had his MVP campaign in his age-22 season, his fourth season in the Majors. Even the best players don't tend to peak until they've been around awhile, and Texas just sent four of them down for a little more seasoning.
I don't know about you, but times like these make me think about odds. And while I'm not in the business of predicting future MVP status for prospects, it would seem to me that Texas has pretty good odds that at least one or two of these guys goes on to be immensely impactful for them.
It's situations like these that do not make me envy the front office and the difficult decisions that are sure to be looming on the horizon. And yet, having said that, it's a testament to just how good this front office regime has been. To have such a breadth of talent at their disposal is a fantastic "problem" to have, even if it might end up meaning that Adrian Beltre is somewhere else in 2017.
No, these four players may never see the Major League field again in 2016 other than a September call-up when rosters expand, but for my money, I wouldn't bet against all four being on the Opening Day roster in 2017. Even if I don't know yet how Texas will end up making room for them.