The Texas Rangers are on the back end of a rebuild, spending the past few seasons—especially the last two—revamping their farm system. And after finishing the 2021 season with 102 losses, the Rangers are set to add more talent with the No. 3 pick in the country in next summer’s draft.
The Rangers aren’t thought to have one of the top overall farm systems in the league, but some in the industry will argue they have the deepest. This was personified in Baseball America‘s 2022 Top 100 Prospects List, which came out this week. While five Rangers prospects appeared in MLB.com’s Top 100 at the end of the season, only three made the cut with BA‘s latest rankings.
Even so, Rangers faithful can take solace in the organization’s direction, which includes the talent at the top.
no. 25: RHP Jack Leiter
BA‘s Grades: Fastball: 70 | Curve ball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Change-up: 55 | Control: 50
InsideTheRangers.com Analysis: Before even throwing a professional pitch, the second overall pick from the 2021 MLB Draft made the top 25 in BA‘s rankings—and for good reason. Leiter was the most dominant pitcher in college baseball in 2021, sky-rocketing to the top of multiple draft boards.
Leiter has a well-developed five-pitch mix, highlighted by a dominant fastball that touches 98 mph and a swing-and-miss curveball. While he has yet to make his pro debut, the Rangers have already gotten their hands on him. In October, Leiter visited the club’s pitching lab in Arizona. There, he pinpointed some mechanical adjustments, tweaked his slider and found a changeup grip he finds more comfortable.
While it has yet to be decided where Leiter will start the 2022 season, his professional debut will be highly anticipated by Rangers fans, who have long been clamoring for a homegrown ace. All signs point toward Leiter being on the fast track to the big leagues, but that call won’t likely come until 2023 at the earliest.
no. 26: 3B Josh Jung
BA‘s Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Fielding: 45 | Arm: 55
InsideTheRangers.com Analysis: It’s not easy for a top-10 pick to live up to the hype, but thus far, Josh Jung has done exactly that. Since the Rangers selected him with the No. 8 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, Jung has either met or exceeded expectations, all while dealing with quite a bit of adversity.
Like all other minor leaguers, his 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following year, his first full professional season was put on hold when he suffered a stress fracture in his foot during spring training. Jung learned some tough mental skills during recovery, then slashed .326/.398/.592/.990 with 19 home runs and 61 RBI in 78 games between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock.
Of these three prospects, Jung is first in line for his big league debut. He’ll get a shot in spring training at competing for the everyday job at third base, squaring off with Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who won a Gold Glove at the position in 2020. Even if Jung doesn’t win the job, his first call to Arlington is on the docket for 2022.
no. 61: RHP Cole Winn
BA‘s Grades: Fast ball: 60 | Curve ball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Change-up: 50 | Control: 50
InsideTheRangers.com Analysis: Cole Winn’s accolades precede his professional career. Before the Rangers selected him with the 15th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, Winn became the first athlete to win Gatorade baseball player of the year awards in different states (Colorado in 2017, California in 2018).
Winn struggled early on in his first full professional season in 2019, but bounced back with a 2.81 ERA in the final 12 starts of the season. Winn took advantage of being one of the few prospects who worked out at the alternate training site in 2020, where it took a step forward in his development. He propelled himself forward with a standout performance during the 2021 campaign, going 4-3 with a 2.51 ERA and 0.86 WHIP over 86 innings and 21 starts between Frisco and Round Rock.
The 21-year-old boasts a strong four-pitch mix led by a mid-90s fastball, two solid breaking balls and a developing changeup. However, his poise and consistency should not be overlooked, especially at such a young age. Winn has a legitimate shot at the big leagues in 2022, but will likely start the year leading the Triple-A rotation.
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