The Baseball America Top 100 was unveiled last night, featuring five Rangers prospects, only one of whom had been on the list before.
That’s outfielder Michael Choice, who was number 80 on the list in 2012 while with Oakland, fell off the list in 2013, and resurfaces this year at number 98, months after coming to the Rangers in the trade that sent Craig Gentry the other way.
Would you like to have seen Choice higher? Sure, but (1) while that’s also Dan Peltier (number 100 in 1991) and Ryan Dittfurth (99/2002) territory, it’s also around where Ian Kinsler (98/2005) and Matt Harrison (90/2007) made their lone appearances on the BA list, and (2) these lists don’t matter.
There’s outfielder Nick Williams at 97. He was the 33rd player taken in the second round of the 2012 draft. Nobody else in that second round shows up on the BA list (though two college lefthanders chosen, Paco Rodriguez and Alex Wood, have reached the big leagues).
That 97 slot is also where Leonys Martin landed a year ago, when he was 25. Williams is 20.
Joey Gallo is the game’s number 60 prospect, according to BA. If his career ends up like the 14-year run turned in by fellow third baseman Dean Palmer, who was number 60 himself back in 1991, that’s probably OK. Then again, (then-)third baseman Chris Davis was number 65 in 2007.
It’s also where Shin-Soo Choo (61 in 2003) was at the same age (20) that Gallo is now.
Jorge Alfaro’s debut on the list (at number 54) won’t be his final entry. He may not ascend as high as Pudge’s number 7 ranking (1991) before getting to the big leagues — but he might. And there’s so much development as far as catchers go that doesn’t show up in the numbers, and it may be the position at which rankings can be the most misleading. Taylor Teagarden made the BA list twice (number 80 and 73). J.P. Arencibia (43) and Geovany Soto (47) each showed up once, but so did Max Ramirez (84) and the unforgettable Cesar King (31 in 1998, seven spots ahead of Roy Halladay).
And Yadier Molina never made a Top 100 list.
Rougned Odor leads the Rangers contingent with the number 42 spot on BA’s 2014 list, at the same age (20) that Elvis Andrus was when he was BA’s number 37 prospect. That was Andrus’s final year on the farm (he’d been number 61, 65, and 19 on the list the previous three years), and though nobody thinks Odor is going to get the 130 big league plate appearances this year that would make him ineligible for next year’s list, nobody thinks he’s going to drop off the list on merit, like the similarly positioned Donald Harris (43 in 1990) and Brian Bohanon (45 in 1990) did before unremarkable big league careers.
Yu Darvish was a number 4 (2012), and so was Tommy Hanson (2009). Ruben Mateo got as high as number 6 (2000), and so did Alex Rios (2004). Braves-Rangers lefthander prospect Ben Kozlowski (80 in 2003) was ranked higher the one time he made the list than fellow Braves-Rangers lefthander prospect Harrison was in his one appearance.
Hank Blalock was the number 3 prospect in the game in 2002.
Adrian Beltre was the number 3 prospect in the game in 1998.
You never know.
Mitch Moreland never made the list, and neither did Neal Cotts or Joakim Soria.
But Benji Gil made it four times, and he’d probably have traded places.
Julio Borbon never made the list, either, and he needed fewer than 200 minor league games before he made it to Arlington, turning in an exceptional rookie effort (.312/.414/.790 in 179 plate appearances, and 19 steals in 23 tries over 46 games in 2009) and giving rise to long-term expectations that were nearly as high as Martin’s.
Four years later, Borbon was chosen in the Rule 5 Draft.
In the minor league phase.
Borbon celebrates his 28th birthday today, a note that allows me to dig out my buried lead.
Today is also Jurickson Profar’s birthday. He’s 21. He’s younger than nine of the top 12 players on the Top 100 list that Baseball America rolled out last night.
Profar was number 74 on the list after his debut in the minor leagues, around the same area that Prince Fielder was (78 in 2003).
Fielder was number 10 after his first full season on the farm. Profar was number 7.
Fielder was number 15 and number 11 his final two years as a minor leaguer.
Profar was number 1 last year. There won’t be another year in the minors.
There are some who are down on Profar right now and upset he wasn’t traded sometime the last two years, all because his arm is barking right now and the team is taking precautions with him as camp gets going. The Venn diagram showing that set of fans and the set who expects a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper to arrive every year or two probably has a pretty decent overlap.
This shoulder tendinitis thing isn’t something to ignore, and you’d much rather have Profar fully ready to go as he settles in as a first-time everyday player.
But when I hear Ron Washington cliché us with his comment about a player who is “in the best shape I’ve ever seen him in,” I’m happier that he’s talking about Neftali Feliz than I would be if it were Profar.
Given that the reason for the Fielder trade was largely to get Profar into the lineup, this is going to be among the headline stories in camp, as we’re a week away from games that don’t count but whose results — the individual performances, that is — will be overanalyzed. But don’t overreact. Not yet, at least.
Chances are that when the Rangers and Royals play next Thursday and next Friday, Profar won’t be in the box score. Texas is going to handle him with extreme care, not because he was Baseball America’s number one prospect in the game a year ago, but because he’s the team’s starting second baseman and one of its most important player assets, for all kinds of reasons.
Happy Birthday, Jurick. Take it easy tonight.