Texas Rangers 2023 midseason prospect rankings: Part 3 (Nos. 12 through 1)


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It was inevitable, once the Rangers spent the entire first half leading the AL West, that this final grouping of prospects in the club’s farm system was going to look different by August, and not just by virtue of various minor leaguers going on heaters or hitting a wall. The system has steadily risen in stature for several years, and the timing was right for the front office to take advantage and use some of that currency to buy major-league help for the pennant run.

Enter Max Scherzer, Jordan Montgomery and Chris Stratton; exit infielders Luisangel Acuña and Thomas Saggese and pitcher Tekoah Roby. I had the latter three ranked seventh, 12th and 10th, respectively, coming into the season. I would have had them sixth, 13th and 12th on this revision had they not been traded.

The remaining dozen players include two who arrived in 2023, and that can’t be an outlier if the Rangers aspire to emulate the Dodgers and Rays, franchises that are consistently strong in both the standings and farm system rankings. Texas will need to constantly replenish the farm system, particularly given its expectations that this winning cycle will last. Some of the 12 players here will come off the list soon – at least two should be major leaguers at some point in 2024, and others are sure to be moved, if not this winter then ahead of next summer’s trade deadline. The Rangers are now firmly in the “buyers” column but aren’t going to spend hundreds of millions in free agency every winter to sustain things.

On the heels of the No. 13-No. 42 and No. 43-No. 72 prospect lists, here are the top 12 prospects in the Rangers system. For now.

12. Dustin Harris, OF-1B, Triple-A Round Rock

Trade with A’s/2020 (-1)

It’s been an interesting year for Harris, whose return to Double-A Frisco in the first half this season was not as productive as his 2022 season at the same level but whose promotion to Round Rock has turned out better than both. His solid walk and strikeout rates have carried over and he’s raised all of his slash numbers, hitting .270 with an OPS of .831 for the Express after posting .245 and .780 numbers with Frisco.

Still, the 24-year-old, who came over from Oakland in a 2020 trade for Mike Minor and was the Rangers’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2021, hasn’t hit the ball with as much authority since reaching the upper levels of the system and it clouds his future. A left fielder and first baseman but known for neither, he lacks the defensive gifts that led the Rangers to reach outside the 40-man roster for J.P. Martinez rather than bring Harris up three weeks ago or the versatility that has kept Josh Smith in the big leagues.

Harris broke out in 2021 as the only player in minor-league baseball with 20 homers, 20 doubles, 20 stolen bases and fewer than 100 strikeouts, hitting a robust .327/.401/.542 that season at the two Class-A levels. But the power has yet to translate to the upper levels (though the baserunning has; he has 36 steals in 40 tries this season). He could be a key trade piece this winter — he’s approaching his mid-20s, has already exhausted his first of three options and doesn’t have a clear path to a role with the Rangers — and the fact that he’s in the midst of his best stretch of the season as it nears an end is certainly a positive.

11. Mitch Bratt, LHP, High-A Hickory

Round 5/2021 (+3)

Mitch Bratt. (Courtesy of Michelle Thompson / Hickory Crawdads)

It’s been an eventful year for Bratt, who made a Team Canada start against a World Baseball Classic Team USA full of future Hall of Famers and has had a very good season as one of the youngest pitchers in the High-A South Atlantic League. For two months — at age 19, four years young for the league — Bratt held opponents to a .230 batting average and .630 OPS, striking out 56 in 52 2/3 innings while walking only 11. Shortly after that, a lat injury sidelined him for what has now been two months, but he’s throwing live BP again and should return to action before the season ends.

After giving up more than three earned only one time in his first two pro seasons, it’s happened only one time in 2023 as well. Bratt is a year behind Roby in development and is not dissimilar in physical stature and profile. He makes up for average velocity with plus carry on his fastball and command of a full array of secondary offerings, plus a feel for the craft that projects toward the back of a big-league rotation. The left-hander has a good chance to start 2024 in a Double-A rotation at age 20, continuing his methodical rise through the system, as some others ahead of him on the depth chart have stagnated.

10. Aaron Zavala, OF, Double-A Frisco 

Round 2/2021 (-6)

Zavala tore an elbow tendon in the Arizona Fall League last year, resulting in surgery and rehabilitation that delayed the start of his 2023 season by six weeks. He’s spent all year trying to recover the form that made him one of the system’s breakout stars in 2022, but it hasn’t been easy. The Oregon product finished last summer with an OPS of .918 over two months with Frisco. Back with the RoughRiders this year, he hasn’t had a single month with so much as a .700 mark.

If the 23-year-old returns to the Texas League for a third run to start 2024, he wouldn’t necessarily be behind schedule — he would just no longer be massively ahead of it. The 2021 second-rounder needed only 103 pro games before he was in Double A, and by the end of last summer, there was buzz that he could force his way to Arlington at some point in 2023. No hitter in the system aside from Evan Carter exhibited better strike zone judgment and bat-to-ball skills, and he was getting better as the competition got stiffer: he posted an .866 OPS in Class A before the above-mentioned .918 in last year’s Double-A debut. This year, Zavala has had to battle to get his batting average above .200 and his slugging percentage over .300. After striking out every 4.6 Frisco plate appearances in 2022, the rate has disintegrated to once every 2.7 trips this season. The outfielder could use an uneventful offseason and a normal spring training before recalibrating to begin the 2024 season.

9. Kumar Rocker, RHP, injured

Round 1/2022 (-1)

The Rangers made the controversial decision to use the third overall selection in the 2022 draft on Rocker, which ultimately enabled them to sign fellow right-hander Brock Porter to the largest bonus ever paid to a fourth-round pick. After Rocker, who had shoulder surgery in September 2021, pitched sparingly in the independent leagues leading up to the draft, Texas held him out of action until Fall Instructs and the Arizona Fall League, delaying his official pro debut until 2023. Unlike his Vanderbilt teammate Jack Leiter, whom the Rangers had aggressively sent to Double A a year earlier to begin his career, Rocker was assigned to High-A Hickory coming out of his first spring training.

Things started well. The 23-year-old was dominant in his first month, holding hitters to a .179/.233/.250 line in five starts and striking out 37 in 23 1/3 innings while walking only six. But on May 11, he was touched up for five runs on six hits (including two home runs) in 4 2/3 innings and came out of it with a torn UCL. Rocker needed Tommy John surgery and will be out until at least the middle of the 2024 season when he will be approaching his 25th birthday.

8. Jack Leiter, RHP, Double-A Frisco 

Round 1/2021 (-5)

Going into 2021, the draft year for both Rocker and Leiter, the idea that the Vanderbilt teammates would end up with the same team was preposterous. Rocker’s junior season raised enough questions to push him down to the Mets with the 10th pick, but the only question eight slots earlier was whether the Rangers would tap Leiter or go instead with one of two high school shortstops, Marcelo Mayer or Jordan Lawlar.

Not much has gone right since. Mayer and Lawlar are both among the top seven prospects in baseball, according to The Athletic’s Keith Law, while Leiter was shut down — without any apparent injury — for seven weeks starting July 7 to focus on mechanical adjustments. He’d had his most encouraging stretch as a pro in May, scattering 13 hits (.148 average) and 13 walks in 27 innings while setting 33 down on strikes, but lost all momentum and feel after that. His return to Frisco on Aug. 27 was encouraging: a four-strikeout, zero-walk effort in three innings in which he was more effective working up in the zone with his fastball. Even with his brief run of success in May, Leiter is 5-15 with a 5.48 ERA as a pro, beset by an egregious 99 walks in 161 innings. He’s still a year away from needing to be added to the 40-man roster, and as long as he’s healthy, it’s hard to imagine the Rangers would leave him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. He’s got a lot of work to do between now and then, with a chance to finish 2023 on a high note after his lengthy reset.

7. Anthony Gutierrez, OF, Low-A Down East

International/2022 (-2)

After a tremendous pro debut a year ago in the Dominican Summer League, Gutierrez has played the entire 2023 season at age 18, most of it at the Low-A level. His full toolbox has been on display in flashes, but he hasn’t had the season some hoped for after he torched DSL pitching with a .352/.408/.539 slash line and struck out only 18 times in 103 plate appearances.

The good news is that Gutierrez, who signed for $1,997,500 before the 2022 season, has methodically lifted his numbers throughout 2023 after working through an elbow injury. He hit .245 in April/May, then .268 in June (which began with a six-game reset in the Complex League), .282 in July and .286 so far in August, a month in which he has added 11 stolen bases in 18 games. The power hasn’t shown up yet for the athletic, 6-3 center fielder but the Rangers believe it will as he fills out and begins to turn on the pitches he should. For now, he’s a .261 hitter for a full-season affiliate,  is a weapon defensively and on the bases and will be a teenager for all of 2024 as well. He’s no longer the Rangers’ highest hope among their international signees, but he’s among the four or five they — and the industry — have been most excited about in the last decade.

6. Justin Foscue, 2B-3B-1B, Triple-A Round Rock

Round 1/2020 (+3)

Foscue was likely a popular name in July trade talks and should be again this winter, as he’s now 24 and has no clear path to a role with the Rangers. It’s been an interesting year for the second baseman/third baseman, who has sacrificed some power for contact. He’s struck out only 55 times in 454 plate appearances — he’s currently on a streak of 25 straight plate appearances without a strikeout — and has drawn even more walks (66), a freakish accomplishment in today’s game, particularly among those who pose an extra-base threat.

As July arrived, the former first-rounder seemed as poised to move as ever. He had a .902 OPS and had struck out just over a tenth of the time through 59 games. But whether it was the pressure of seeing his name in trade rumors or just a slump, he ended up having the second-worst offensive month of his career, hitting .215 in July with a .657 OPS and striking out every sixth plate appearance. That, along with Robbie Grossman’s solid splits against lefties, quieted any thought of bringing Foscue to Arlington this summer. He’ll be added to the 40-man roster this winter, whether it’s with Texas or another club. It stands to reason that by this time next year, he’ll probably be suiting up somewhere else.

5. Brock Porter, RHP, Low-A Down East

Round 4/2022 (+1)

Brock Porter 1 scaled

Brock Porter. (Courtesy of Raeganne Sholar)

Don’t be deceived by Porter’s winless record as he nears the finish of his debut season. Aside from issues with his control, he’s been as advertised, and has been handled carefully by the Rangers, who have only once allowed him to go the requisite five innings to be eligible for a box-score victory. In 20 appearances for Down East, all starts, the 20-year-old has been the second-hardest pitcher to hit in the Carolina League (5.0 hits per nine innings and a .157 opponents’ batting average) and has a top-20 strikeout rate (12.5 per nine) while allowing only one home run all season. While most of the Rangers’ recent high-profile, high-dollar pitching draftees – Leiter, Rocker, Cole Winn – have had disappointing years, Porter’s season has stood out as a plus.

The Rangers set themselves up to meet Porter’s $3.7 million demand in the fourth round (they had no picks in the second and third rounds by virtue of having signed Corey Seager and Marcus Semien) but they had no assurances that Porter would fall to them as he did. In fact, hours before the 2022 draft, Baseball America projected in its final mock that he would be the first pitcher selected, 11th overall to the Mets. The 6-4 righty had flashed a mid-90s two-seamer and one of the best changeups in the draft class as a Michigan prep, but once he slid to the 109th pick due to perceived signability issues, the Rangers pounced and bought him out of a commitment to Clemson, using primarily the savings they’d created by agreeing to Rocker’s under-slot demand. Porter will be in High A next spring as one of the youngest starting pitchers at that level. The stuff is there; the priority in 2024 will be to improve his command of it.

4. Owen White, RHP, Triple-A Round Rock

Round 2/2018 (-2)

Both White’s stuff and his command have ticked down in 2023, resulting in significant regressions in both his strikeout and walk rate, which went from an impressive 11.7 and 2.6 per nine innings in 2022 (High A and Double A) to a discouraging 6.6 and 4.5 per nine (Double A and Triple A) in 2023. Stated another way, after striking out 4.5 batters for every walk in 2022, his minor-league ratio this year has plummeted to 1.5. Though he’s fared well suppressing base hits this year (.210 opponents’ batting average, down from .233 in 2022), more pitches are missing the plate and more are leaving the park, which has resulted in a 3.91 ERA between Frisco and Round Rock. The life on his fastball and deep array of secondary offerings — and his intensity on the mound — continue to feed a starter’s profile, but he simply hasn’t been as sharp this season.

White was summoned to the majors for his debut in mid-June, making one middle-relief appearance before returning to Frisco for a final Double-A start. He was then promoted to Triple A and, despite command issues over his first four Express starts (10 walks in 16 innings), Texas brought him back to Arlington for several days (and one appearance) to reinforce the bullpen until Josh Sborz was ready to come off the injured list. Between the two major-league cameos, White started the Futures Game for the American League squad, setting frontline prospects Pete Crow-Armstrong, Jordan Lawlar and Jackson Chourio down in an eight-pitch inning of work. He remains a top prospect in the industry’s eyes and in the Rangers’ plans, but to make himself a big-league option, he’ll need to iron out the strikeout-to-walk ratio that, before 2023, was a big part of his profile.

3. Sebastian Walcott, SS, Arizona Complex League

International/2023 (+12)

The Rangers were more aggressive with Walcott than they were a year earlier with Gutierrez, moving him from the Dominican Summer League to Arizona after just nine games (as opposed to Gutierrez’s 22), and he has rewarded them. The 17-year-old finished fifth in the Complex League in home runs (seven in 35 games) and in the top 20 in slugging (.525), considerably younger than every player ahead of him in both categories.

Texas signed Walcott for $3.2 million in January out of the Bahamas, and only Padres catcher Ethan Salas has generated more buzz among this year’s international class. At a well-built 6-4, he’s not quite as big a shortstop as Elly De La Cruz and some believe Walcott will end up at third base or an outfield corner. Offfensively, he profiles to offer a similar power-speed-explosiveness package. It’s a heady comp and might be a long shot to live up to, but Walcott has had a much more impactful start to his pro career than De La Cruz did at a similar age and there is tons of projection for more. Law ranked Walcott as the No. 42 prospect in baseball in July – 16 spots ahead of Acuña, for example – suggesting “he could be a top-10 prospect by this time next year.” He had an OPS of .849 against pitchers who are four years older on average, though he did most of his damage early before cooling off in the last month. There are organizations for whom Walcott would be the top prospect — eight of them, based on Law’s rankings — but for Law, and for me, he’s only third in the Texas system. For now.

2. Evan Carter, OF, Triple-A Round Rock

Round 2/2020 (-1)

Carter has been three to five years young for every minor-league level he’s played at, and he’s hit everywhere he’s been, with an OPS of at least .825 at every stop. That includes an .862 with Frisco this season that is now frozen, as the Rangers promoted him to Triple A on Aug. 29 — his 21st birthday — for a season-ending taste of the system’s highest level, much as they did a year ago when they bumped him to Frisco to finish the year.

In 2023, Carter’s production has uncharacteristically come in spurts; he was on fire in April and June, slumped in between in May, and has settled into being consistently productive throughout the second half. All told, the center fielder’s 2023 Frisco numbers (.284/.411/.451) are squarely in step with his career line, though both his walk rate and strikeout rate are slightly up, while his extra-base hit rate has quieted some. Whether he will tap into above-average power is the key question about his game. Though he has 27 home runs as a pro (about one every nine games, which extrapolates to 18 in a 162-game season), there is hope that he will do more damage as his lanky 6-2 frame continues to fill out – and that he will become more aggressive with his approach at the plate, which is as disciplined as any in the system, sometimes to a fault. Carter has also struggled mightily against left-handed pitchers this year (.595 OPS, compared with .926 against righties), far more so than he did in 2022. Any temptation to bring him to Arlington this year seems to have receded (he’s not on the 40-man roster and won’t need to be this winter), but a 2024 debut is a near certainty. While the Texas infield projects to be set for years, the outfield picture is less defined — but between Carter and the one player ranked ahead of him on this list (by the smallest of margins), that’s soon going to change.

1. Wyatt Langford, OF, High-A Hickory 

Round 1/2023 (N/A)

Though they have wildly different backgrounds – Langford was a household name on draft day while Carter was a player some draft experts admitted they’d never heard of when the Rangers called his name in the second round – most midseason prospect rankings have the two 21-year-olds bundled together, with Law ranking Carter No. 10 overall and Langford No. 13. That was before Langford, who was predicted by some (including Law) to go first in the draft in final projections, had stepped on a pro field for the first time.

The 21-year-old has justified the hype early on. Between the Complex League (three games) and the High-A level (20 games), Langford has hit .325 with a 1.078 OPS. More than half of his hits have gone for extra bases and he has as many walks as strikeouts (18 of each). A plus runner, he has also stolen seven bases in eight attempts. He played left field for the University of Florida and has been deployed there primarily by the Rangers, with an occasional look in center field. But his carrying tools are at the plate, where he combines above-average power to all fields with an advanced approach and command of the strike zone.

The Astros and Orioles did a tremendous job taking advantage of multi-year positions at the top of the draft, setting things up for what’s been a lengthy window of contention for one and should be for the other. The Rangers, on the other hand, have had top-10 picks four times in the last five drafts, hitting on Josh Jung while the jury remains out on Leiter and Rocker. The opportunity to take Langford fourth overall in July was huge, and it’s not one the Rangers are likely to have again for years. By 2025, he and Carter should be fixtures in the Rangers lineup, with Carter eventually at or near the top of the lineup and Langford somewhere in the middle. That’s the hope, at least.

The Top 72 Texas Rangers prospects (midseason update):

72. Arturo Disla, 1B
71. Seth Clark, LHP
70. Josh Gessner, RHP
69. David Davalillo, RHP
68. Thomas Ireland, LHP
67. Adrian Rodriguez, RHP
66. Keyber Rodriguez, IF
65. Liam Hicks, C-1B
64. Julian Brock, C
63. Josh Hatcher, 1B-OF
62. Ian Moller, C
61. Tucker Mitchell, C-1B
60. Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa, RHP
59. Tim Brennan, RHP
58. Pablo Guerrero, OF
57. Caden Scarborough, RHP
56. Robby Ahlstrom, LHP
55. Ryan Garcia, RHP
54. Daniel Mateo, OF
53. Cody Freeman, C-IF
52. Wilian Bormie, RHP
51. Skylar Hales, RHP
50. Geisel Cepeda, OF
49. Tommy Specht, OF
48. Avery Weems, LHP
47. Grant Wolfram, LHP
46. Braylin Morel, OF
45. Alejandro Rosario, RHP
44. D.J. McCarty, RHP
43. Justin Slaten, RHP
42. Danyer Cueva, 2B-SS
41. Luis Ramirez, RHP
40. Maximo Acosta, SS-2B
39. Yeremi Cabrera, OF-1B
38. Alejandro Osuna, OF
37. Joseph Montalvo, RHP
36. Gleider Figuereo, 3B-2B
35. Winston Santos, RHP
34. Trevor Hauver, OF-1B-3B
33. Jonathan Ornelas, IF-OF
32. Jesus Lopez, C
31. Larson Kindreich, LHP
30. Antoine Kelly, LHP
29. Leandro Lopez, RHP
28. Zak Kent, RHP
27. Marcos Torres, OF-1B
26. Davis Wendzel, SS-3B-2B
25. Chase Lee, RHP
24. Cole Winn, RHP
23. Echedry Vargas, 2B-SS-3B
22. Blaine Crim, 1B-3B
21. Emiliano Teodo, RHP
20. Marc Church, RHP
19. Dane Acker, RHP
18. Aidan Curry, RHP
17. Jose Corniell, RHP
16. Yeison Morrobel, OF
15. Josh Stephan, RHP
14. Abimelec Ortiz, 1B-OF
13. Cam Cauley, SS-2B
12. Dustin Harris, OF-1B
11. Mitch Bratt, LHP
10. Aaron Zavala, OF
9. Kumar Rocker, RHP
8. Jack Leiter, RHP
7. Anthony Gutierrez, OF
6. Justin Foscue, 2B-3B-1B
5. Brock Porter, RHP
4. Owen White, RHP
3. Sebastian Walcott, SS
2. Evan Carter, OF
1. Wyatt Langford, OF

(Top photo of Wyatt Langford courtesy of Ashley Salinas / Hickory Crawdads)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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