Saturday, December 3, 2011
Three Rangers in top-50 under 25 rankings
By Richard Durrett
ESPN.com's Keith Law recently ranked the top-50 players under the age of 25. Here was his criteria:
This ranking only includes players who have lost their Rookie of the Year eligibility, but were born on or after July 1, 1986. (That's the cut-off for a player's seasonal age.) That means that rising prospects (such as Bryce Harper) are not represented on this list -- they will be ranked in our annual Prospect Rankings, coming in mid-January.
I've ranked these players with an eye towards their peak rather than short-term value, and without regard to contracts, service time, or scheduled free agency. Therefore, you will see some players on here who were good in 2011 ranked below players who weren't so good, an indication that I like the next six years (roughly) from the second group more than I like the next six years from the first. It's subjective, and I even left off players I really like because I ran out of room.
With that in mind, Law has three Rangers in his top-50:
No. 21 -- Elvis Andrus
Analysis: Andrus is a tremendous defensive shortstop with a quick, slashing stroke that produces a lot of contact, but much of it on the ground. He's already among the most valuable shortstops in the game because of his glove and the fact that he's not a zero with the stick.
But how much ceiling remains for Andrus? Is he likely to develop anything more than grade-40 power (on the 20-80 scouting scale) or produce more than 50 extra-base hits in a full season? Could he boost his walk rate to 70-80 per year when pitchers know he's not likely to drive the ball? It's more likely that he holds his value going forward than takes a significant step forward, leaving him a very good player rather than an elite one.
No. 26 -- Neftali Feliz
Analysis: Feliz's move to the rotation in 2012 is the right step for the Rangers and for him, as he was miscast as a closer just because he threw hard. Feliz can hold that velocity deep into games and has the changeup needed to get left-handed hitters out as a starter.
He'll have to refine both breaking balls and get over whatever caused his control to melt in 2011 (4.3 BB/9), but both issues, especially the control, should improve with more repetitions. There's risk here that he can't hold up or doesn't develop, but he has No. 1 or 2 starter upside if he does.
No. 30 -- Derek Holland
Analysis: We've seen all sides of Holland across the last two postseasons, and he remained volatile this year from start to start while flashing signs of the frontline pitcher he still can become.
He threw a little harder this year and located the fastball better, while his changeup has been replaced as his best secondary pitch by an improved slider; he still has good arm speed on the changeup but not much action, and he doesn't have great deception on it. He does have a plus fastball and above-average slider, making him death on left-handed hitters, and if he can keep that changeup down more consistently (his main problem with the changeup is the long ball), he still has No. 2 starter potential.
Again, you can read the whole list here (insider)