Money talks, and the Rangers have had a lot to say these past two winters. The timing was connected to their new stadium but nonetheless ideal for a system stocked with ready-soon contributors.
Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/23 | Highest Level Played | ETA
1. 3B Josh Jung | 25 | MLB | 2022
Happy birthday week to Josh, who turned 25 on February 12. Fantasy baseballers (Grey’s mom’s term) probably shouldn’t penalize players on their way back from injury, but Jung feels underrated in the wake of an abbreviated 2022. When Jung had surgery for a torn labrum around this time last year, I expected him to miss the whole season, so getting 49 games across two levels feels like a win. Jung was a shadow of his 2021 self that slashed .348/.436/.652 for 35 games in Triple-A. The difference was most notable in his plate skills. His walk rate dropped from 11.5 percent to 3.8 percent and his strikeout rate spiked from 17.2 to 28.3 percent. Shoulder injuries can permanently lower ceilings and even ruin careers, but Jung has the talent to overcome it. He’s a target for me in the CBS AL Only auction tomorrow night.
2. OF Evan Carter | 20 | AA | 2024
A left-handed hitter with smooth actions at 6’4”190 lbs, Evan Carter is a unique player with incredible plate skills. Brandon Nimmo comes to mind, but Carter is on course to be a better athlete with a better hit tool. He slashed .287/.388/.476 with 11 home runs and 26 stolen bases in 100 games at High-A and finished up with a white-hot week in Double-A (.429/.536/.714). I suspect he’ll look like a big leaguer this spring and open in Double-A on a fast track to slagging flies for Jacob DeGrom.
3. SS Luisangel Acuña | 21 | AA | 2024
Acuña struggled in Double-A, slashing .224/.302/.349 with three home runs in 37 games. He also stole 12 bases, and during the 54 games he played in High-A, Acuña had slashed .317/.417/.483 with eight home runs and 28 stolen bases. He’s now compiled double digit home runs and 40 stolen bases in two straight seasons before his 21st birthday. The Seager and Semien contracts complicate Acuña’s path to playing time. Feels like a hot start for the team could lead to a trade.
4. RHP Owen White | 23 | AA | 2023
When he’s on his game commanding four above average pitches, White looks like a no-doubt major league innings eater. He rolled through the Arizona Fall League in 2021 doing exactly that. 2022 in High-A wasn’t as smooth for White, but he still struck out a third of his opponents and graduated to Double-A in just ten starts. He won three of his four Double-A starts, posting a 1.06 WHIP in 21.2 innings. The Rangers brought a lot of rotation depth this winter, but none of it is particularly durable. Decent chance we see White in the majors before the All-Star break.
5. OF Anthony Gutierrez | 18 | CPX | 2026
A fantasy drool factory (don’t Google it) at 6’3” 180 lbs with easy twitch (don’t Google it), plus power and speed, Gutierrez didn’t adapt instantly as a 17-year-old on the complex league, but he’s one of the only players in his class to get the stateside call in his first pro season, and he’s an easy buy in just about any dynasty scenario, given the price in comparison to the possible outcomes. Right there with Miguel Bleis and Jorge De Paula among the likeliest list leapers in 2023.
6. OF Aaron Zavala | 22 | AA | 2023
Zavala’s talents play best in On Base Percentage leagues, where his plus patience can headline the profile, but he’ll still be plenty useful in rotisserie leagues as a well-rounded outfielder with 20/20 topside. The way this organization has sort of ignored the outfield this season, I have to wonder if Zavala and Dustin Harris are in the plan for early 2023. He doesn’t have much more to prove in the minors. He’ll likely open in Triple-A after posting a 133 wRC+ and .410 OBP in 30 Double-A games last season.
7. 1B OF Dustin Harris | 23 | AA | 2023
A smooth left-handed swinger at 6’2” 185 lbs, Harris could wind up playing all over the diamond. A right-handed thrower, he played third base earlier in his career and might wind up back on the dirt in a part-time capacity a la Brad Miller. The hope is he’s a little more compelling as a full-time option early in his career, but the bounce-around nature of his developmental path have left him a below-average defender wherever you put him. Time heals all wounds, however. Pair this kid up with Ron Washington and he might wind up at shortstop. Tell him the outfield’s easy, Wash.
8. SS Thomas Saggese | 20 | AA | 2024
Saggese has always hit, even as a 20-year-old in his second pro season getting a late bump to Double-A, where he slugged .857 in five games. At 5’11” 175 lbs, he’s not going to produce anything like that kind of power (nobody does), but Saggese feels like a smart bet to give fantasy players what they were told Tyler Freeman could provide: safe batting average with a little power and useful speed.
9. RHP Kumar Rocker | 23 | NA | 2024
There’s a name-value component to this ranking, I admit, but if Rocker can stay healthy long enough to get in rhythm, he might rip right through the minor leagues. I have a little fear that the club might send him straight to Double-A like they did Jack Leiter, but that seems unlikely given how Leiter’s career has gone so far. When they were at Vanderbilt, getting both Rocker and Leiter would’ve been an unthinkable windfall for a major league organization. Feels like we’ve got more questions than answers about each at the moment.
10. RHP Jack Leiter | 22 | AA | 2024
Leiter watched his dynasty stock go up in flames early in his pro career. Might be a buying window in start-up drafts, but in a general sense, I’m in wait-and-see mode on the number two overall draft pick in 2021. At 6’1” 205 lbs, Leiter lacks the margin for error that some more physical youngsters enjoy, and his command just wasn’t ready for the challenge of facing Double-A hitters right out of college. That’s not a death knell by any means. Texas was, according to Captain Hindsight, overly aggressive with Leiter, who needed less competitive innings than he’d seen in the SEC to develop a third offering to blend with his dominant fastball/slider combination. Here’s hoping his 1.55 WHIP and 5.54 ERA across 23 Double-A starts represent career-worst outcomes for Leiter, which feels like a fairly safe bet.
Thanks for reading!