2021 Texas Rangers Top 5 Prospectsby Johnnie Black March 18, 2021 1 comment
It wasn’t that long ago that the Rangers won 95 games and their second consecutive American League West title. Of course, they had future Hall-of-Famer, Adrian Beltre. They also got a great season from Ian Desmond. Plus, Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara knew how to hit back then. Time flies and the Rangers haven’t done a great job building up the organization. They do, however, have a few names who will be up this season to help. Let’s take a look at their top 5 prospects.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.
#1 – Josh Jung – 3B
One of the best right-handed bats in college, Jung was drafted eighth overall in 2019. He had a 1.032 OPS in his three-year career at Texas Tech with nearly 100 extra-base hits in 191 games. Jung also showed excellent plate discipline walking more than he whiffed. His power took a dip when he got to pro ball, hitting just two HRs at two stops in the minors. He has supposedly made adjustments to pull the ball with more power.
Jung worked at multiple positions at the alternate site and camp. The Rangers have moved him around from shortstop to second base and even a little in the outfield. He will likely stay at third and be at least an average defender. Jung has a good arm and soft hands with decent instincts and reaction time to stick at the hot corner long-term. Wherever the Rangers decide to play Jung, his bat needs to be in the lineup on a daily basis and that could come this season.
#2 – Dane Dunning – RHP
Dunning was drafted out of the University of Florida in 2016 by the Washington Nationals and has since been traded with Lucas Giolito and for Lance Lynn. In between, he had Tommy John Surgery in March of 2019. As we stand now, Dunning is a 26-year-old prospect who made seven starts with the Chicago White Sox last year. He looked excellent in his first five starts before he got hit around a bit in his last two. There is no doubting he is a polished pitcher and has a diverse repertoire of quality pitches.
His fastball is a four-seamer which he can locate at the top of the zone at around 91-94. He has a slider which he can get down to 81-83 and a curveball that is even slower at 77-80 to keep hitters off-balance. Dunning has a nice little changeup as well which tails and keeps lefties in check. The 6’4 righty also deploys a sinker which he can get up to 91 and has excellent late drop to it. Dunning will be in the rotation this season and may very well be the ace of the staff by year’s end.
#3 – Sam Huff – C
High School catchers take a while to develop. Huff was drafted out of Arcadia HS in Arizona in 2016. While there is plenty of swing-and-miss to his game, the dude hits rockets. In his cup of coffee last season at the big league level, Huff hit three bombs in 33 PAs with an OPS of 1.136. Small sample size? Yes. A precursor of what’s to come? Probably. He is a big man for a catcher at 6’5 and 240 lbs but…
Don’t let that fool you. He can move behind the plate and has worked diligently on his framing and shortening up his pop time and transfer. Huff projects as an above-average defender and his arm strength plays. He absolutely clobbers the ball also. Did I mention that? Huff will be starting most games at catcher this season for the Rangers and expect he and Joey Gallo to put on a show most nights with their power.
#4 – Leody Taveras – CF
Taveras has some serious wheels. He was eight for eight on SB attempts last season and his sprint speed ranked in the 96th percentile. That speed helps to put him in the upper echelon of defensive centerfielders as well. Taveras also has the instincts and arm that should lead to multiple Gold Gloves at the position before he is done. Up the middle is a question mark defensively for Texas and Taveras should certainly help there.
At the plate, he can hold his own. His bat-to-ball skills are very good but he lacks pop. Taveras may add a little power with advanced training but don’t expect 20 HRs out of him. He does have the plate discipline and contact skills to be a top-of-the-order bat, however. The switch-hitting centerfielder is a little of a throwback and if all goes well, he could remind people of Willie McGee or Willie Wilson.
#5 – Cole Winn – RHP
Drafted out of High School 15th overall in 2018, Winn is trying to adjust to pro ball after deloading in 2018 and then the pandemic hitting last year. He did show improvement and has all the makings of a solid starter in the majors. In his final four starts at Hickory in 2019, Winn allowed only two ERs while striking out 18 in 18 innings.
Winn has a fastball that sits 92-95 with good running action up in the zone. His curve is a solid 12-6 and he can throw it in any count. Winn’s slider is a work in progress but can become a true wipeout pitch if he can command it. The changeup has nice fade and is another pitch Winn could work on refining. With another season of work in the minors, Winn should refine his four-pitch repertoire and be a polished product once he hits the majors in 2022. He has a repeatable delivery with little movement in his mechanics. Winn should be a number three starter in the majors for a long time with the Rangers.
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