ESPN.com’s Keith Law, our MLB prospect guru and a very busy man these days, chatted with me for a few minutes this morning about his top-10 Rangers list and what he expects from some of the club’s prospects in 2014. You can see Law's top-10 here (insider) and read what he wrote about it (these questions are about some of the guys that he didn't really go into detail about in his write-up).
RD: It seems the Rangers take a broad view of collecting as many high-end assets as they can, regardless of position. Do you like that approach?
Law: I do. I like the fact that they “go for it” in the farm system. They have a good big league club without a ton of holes and they build wherever they can at the farm level. I had a GM tell me one time that his team was looking for stars because they were a competitive team. I think it’s the same for the Rangers. You can’t just be OK and play for the Rangers. They have too good a team. You have to be exceptional.
They’ve focused on guys that can be exceptional. That’s why you get Joey Gallo. I know his flaws and I’ve seen his flaws, but if he clicks, it’s a monster. He could hit 40 homers and drive in 100 runs for you. He can do so many things with his bat. That’s the kind of player the Rangers should go after. They shouldn’t target low-ceiling guys. They won’t play for the Rangers in the big leagues otherwise and their trade value isn’t that high. If you’re a high-revenue, high-payroll team, you should be going for high-ceiling guys. The Rangers do that.
RD: It appears that the Rangers got even better value in the Craig Gentry trade than I thought. I’ll admit that I didn’t expect to see Chris Bostick in your top-10 at No. 6. He wasn’t a guy you had in the A’s top-10 lists the past few years.
Law: I’ve loved him when he was in the A’s system and I had him as a sleeper prospect a few years ago. He’s got a great swing, good approach at the plate, can really run and is an above-average defender at second base. In the Rangers’ system, they have (Jurickson) Profar and (Rougned) Odor ahead of him, but it’s an asset with value. Maybe he becomes a tradable guy for them because he’s blocked and could be a good player for someone else. He’s got the swing discipline, the swing and attitude to end up an above-average second baseman.
RD: Who will you be keeping your eye on in particular this year, outside of Jorge Alfaro and Odor, who made your top-100 overall list (Alfaro is 44 and Odor is 64)?
Law: Lewis Brinson is a guy I’m interested in seeing this year. He’s done such a great job of cleaning up his swing. He needed a lot of work when he came in, and they did so much with him in such a short period of time. You can’t teach that kind of hand speed at the plate. He went to (Low-A) Hickory, and I know the strikeouts were high, but the Rangers decided to send him and Gallo there and see what they could do and challenge them. I like that. They didn’t fail. Brinson and Gallo have things to work on, but there was production. I’m dying to see what both of these kids will do.
I think they (the Rangers) did it right. They did well enough that I’d send them up a level this year. I wouldn’t send them back to Hickory, I’d push them up. Be mindful: There may be a point where you have to slow them down. But let’s see what they do.
Brinson is the one where I may look at every year until he’s 25 years old and think that it’s going to happen. You bet on kids with that kind of athleticism and the fact that he has the aptitude in center. When guys show feel in one aspect of the game, I feel like they’ll pick it up in another aspect.
RD: Should Rangers fans expect Cody Buckel to bounce back? (He was No. 3 on your Rangers’ top-10 prospects list last year and No. 90 overall)
Law: Who was the last guy to have the yips and come back? I think Mark Wohlers had it and came back a little bit afterwards, but it doesn’t happen often. I feel terrible for the kid. You hear that about a young pitcher and it’s tough to hear. It’s tough to know where it comes from and there are so many theories. I hope he’s an exception. I wouldn’t even put him in a top-20 list right now because history says he’s got a tough go.