The Texas Rangers have won back-to-back pennants, thanks in large part to their revamped farm system under Jon Daniels. Once again, the Rangers are atop organizational talent rankings, as they have the best shortstop prospect in the game and a deep system. It's still early, but it's not too soon to start taking a look at how Texas' prospects are faring so far in 2012.
Expectations the past few years have been greatly tempered on Engle Beltre, as the talented outfielder has struggled in each of his stints at the AA level. Last year, Beltre hit a meager .231/.285/.300 in 437 at bats for Frisco, damaging his prospect status greatly.
So far, though, Beltre is off to a roaring start in AA. It is only 45 at bats, but through his first 12 games, Beltre is hitting .289/.360/.600, with three homers, four steals and four walks against 11 strikeouts. Four walks isn't a lot, but it's certainly progress. In 181 at bats at AA in 2010, Beltre walked just 10 times. Last year, in 437 at bats, Beltre drew just 28 walks.
Again, it's extremely early, and if Beltre wants to turn himself back into a very good prospect, he'll need to keep hitting for the entire year. It's certainly something to get slowly excited about, and certainly something worth watching.
Texas' top prospect has been struggling a bit in AA so far. Jurickson Profar is hitting just .200/.304/.425 through his first 40 at bats, but, does have three homers and five walks against eight strikeouts. It's still very early, and Profar is just 19, so there's no reason to be any less excited about him -- he still may just end up on top of top 100 lists headed into next year.
Mike Olt is struggling in AA as well so far. Through 43 at bats, Olt is hitting .209/277/.419, with four walks and 15 strikeouts. Again, it's still very early so we're dealing with small sample sizes, but Olt is going to need to put the ball in play much, much more often if he is going to succeed in AA, AAA or the MLB.
As it stands, Olt isn't really going to have a place to play in Texas. He's not going to hit enough to play first or left field, and he's a solid defender at third, where his bat plays best. He's a good prospect, and he's likely trade bait come July, but he certainly needs to cut down on his K-rate going forward if he's going to be a valuable trade chip. His strikeout rate is certainly worth monitoring all year long.