Now that Joey Gallo and Chi Chi Gonzalez have made their major league debuts with the Texas Rangers this season, joining Ryan Rua, Alex Claudio and Keone Kela, it leads you to wonder what top prospects will be the next to jump from Double-A to the big leagues. Here’s a look at three players that definitely deserve your attention.
OF Nomar Mazara—Double-A Frisco: .289/.372/.448, 7 HRs, 34 RBI
Depsite being the youngest player on this list (20), Mazara signed his professional contract while Nick Williams and Jake Thompson were still in high school. At the time, the $4.95 million bonus he signed was the richest ever awarded to an international amateur. And from what Mazara has done at Double-A Frisco, that gargantuan bonus might be a steal of a deal.
Early on in his career, Mazara incorporated a large leg kick that slowed down his hands and compromised his ability to utilize his freakish bat speed. Now that this subtle flaw has been erased, Mazara is putting on quite a display with his plus-power.
Aside from being blocked by a formidable group of outfielders in the big leagues, Mazara needs to work on his plate discipline to help cut down on his strikeouts. A below-average runner, his arm is plus and makes him more than suitable for a corner outfield position.
OF Nick Williams—Double-A Frisco: .291/.352/.456, 8 HRs, 29 RBI
Nick Williams is a living embodiment of the type of position players the Rangers like to draft during the Jon Daniels era—super athletic and toolsy with high ceilings, but very raw in terms of baseball knowledge and practical implementation.
Taken in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft, Williams, like Jake Thompson is a native Texan. Williams, from Galveston’s Ball High, is a physical specimen that some have compared to a young Ken Griffey Jr.
The talent is definitely there, it’s just a matter of if he can segue from promising prospect to big league producer. Williams is an excellent runner but has not been able to utilize this tool as a professional due to poor reads on the basepaths. His arm is plenty strong enough for right field, but he likely projects as a left fielder.
Williams, like Joey Gallo before him, has a tremendous amount of raw power, but needs to work the count better and enhance his pitch awareness so as to maximize his power.
With a bevy of outfield talent both in the minors and on the Rangers’ roster, Williams’ ETA might be as late as 2016, but something will have to give first—i.e. a trade of Choo or Hamilton or a subsequent injury—and he may find himself as potential trade bait.
RHP Jake Thompson—6-5, 3.75 ERA, 71 Ks (8.9/9IP), 21 BBs (2.6/9IP)
The big (6’4”, 235 lb) right-hander was the top pick in the second round of 2012 by the Detroit Tigers.
Thompson came to the Rangers via a trade with the Tigers during last summer’s MLB Trade Deadline. The Tigers received Joaquin Soria with the Rangers netting Thompson, who graduated from Rockwall-Heath High School, less than an hour’s drive from Frisco’s Dr. Pepper Ballpark.
Of the three prospects, Thompson is the most likely for a 2015 call-up, since the Texas Rangers are outfield-heavy, and lack depth in the bullpen. He could slide into the bullpen or be slotted in the rotation should another injury ensue.
Just 21 years old, Thompson had success at Double-A last season, as he went 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA for the Lake Erie SeaWolves before finishing the year with the RoughRiders, where he finished up the season strong, going 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA.
Thompson projects as a solid number three starter with his two plus-pitches, a fastball that touches the mid-to-upper 90s and a slider that is a true swing-and-miss offering. Thompson’s ceiling could reach as high as a number two starter, especially if he can master his above-average curveball and changeup.