All summer long, we've been keeping you apprised of the latest regarding the Texas Rangers and their minor league system -- as well as the minor league systems of rival AL West competitors.
With minor league seasons winding down, and the trade deadline now two weeks passed, now is as good a time as any to check in on Texas' top prospects.
Coming into 2012, the Rangers boasted the top farm system in all of baseball, per Baseball America. Just as we did in April, we'll take a look at Texas' top 10 prospects, per Baseball America.
Yu Darvish, MLB: 12-8, 4.54 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 162 SO, 79 BB, 140 2/3 IP
Without a doubt, Darvish has been a disappointment. Though the uber-talented righty has held opponents to a .238 average against, Darvish leads the American League in walks -- the same American League that has Ubaldo Jimenez pitching in a rotation. At times, Darvish flashes top-of-the-rotation stuff, and it's evident that he can be an ace. He simply hasn't put it together in his rookie campaign, and he continues to battle with his command.
Jurickson Profar, AA: .285/.362/.467, 55 BB, 71 SO, 14 HR, 15 SB
Profar is arguably the best prospect in baseball, and the only other prospect that can lay claim to that title is Baltimore's Dylan Bundy. As a 19 year old in AA, Profar has done everything you can ask from him, and displays true five tool talent from one of baseball's premium positions. There are too few superlatives for Profar, and we'll see him in Arlington, sooner rather than later.
Martin Perez, AAA: 5-6, 4.73 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 53 SO, 47 BB, 97 IP
Perez has also seen time with the Rangers this year, but the bulk of his time has come at AAA Round Rock. Though only 21, Perez' numbers are quite underwhelming, especially his strikeout-to-walk ratio. It is quite telling that Rangers GM Jon Daniels refused to surrender Perez in a deal for Zack Greinke, so there is hope for Perez' future. The star on his prospect's shine has faded considerably, and I view Perez more as a 3-4 starter than the 1-2 he was projected as years ago.
Mike Olt, AA: .288/.398/.579, 61 BB, 101 SO, 28 HR, 4 SB
Olt has been one of the biggest stories for the Rangers this year, blossoming into not only a top prospect in Texas' system, leapfrogging Perez easily, but one of the very best prospects in baseball. Expectations should be tempered for Olt a bit, though, as he probably isn't going to be as good a hitter as his AA numbers indicate, and I'm skeptical his bat will play at first, but he should be an occasional All-Star at third base long-term, and that's quite a good player.
Needless to say, it speaks volumes to what Jon Daniels and the Rangers' brass think about Olt, that they wouldn't move him even for a top of the rotation pitcher at the trade deadline.
Leonys Martin, AAA: .352/.422/.615, 21 BB, 31 SO, 10 HR, 7 SB, 9 CS
Martin is sure answering critics who questioned his hit tool, but with only 21 walks in 182 at bats, Martin will have to improve his plate discipline if he's going to have sustainable success at the major league level. Still, Martin has showed he can hit AAA pitching, which is huge. I'm still not quite sure what to make of him long-term, but he's done nothing but help his stock this year.
Neil Ramirez, AAA: 7.66 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 63 SO, 31 BB, 74 IP
AA: 4.21 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 32 SO, 11 BB, 36 1/3 IP
It's certainly easy to be discouraged by Ramirez' year so far. The Rangers started the 23 year old off again in AAA, but he struggled mightily, requiring a demotion down to Frisco. It's not a totally lost season for Ramirez, as he's seemed to turn his season around in AA. Still, there's been some damage done to his stock, and it's fair if you're disappointed in him -- but he's still young, and still looks like he could be a quality pitcher.
Cody Buckel, A+: 1.31 ERA, .98 WHIP, 91 SO, 25 BB, 75 2/3 IP
AA: 4.75 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 45 SO, 23 BB, 53 IP
Buckel has been one of the more pleasant surprises for the Rangers this year, carving up batters as a 20 year old at Myrtle Beach. Buckel's run into a bit more trouble at AA, but, he's only 20. That Buckel has walked nearly the same amount in roughly 20 fewer innings at AA than he did in A+ could very well be attributed to more advanced hitters not chasing as many pitches out of the zone -- something Buckel will learn to cope with.
Jorge Alfaro, A: .270/.331/.447, 14 BB, 64 SO, 3 HR, 7 SB
Alfaro's numbers won't blow you away, but bear in mind that he's a 19 year old catcher in his first season of full-season ball. Though the BB/SO ratio needs work, it's actually an improvement from where he was in short season ball. He'll still be 19 on Opening Day 2013, so there's lots to love about Alfaro. He's still a very raw prospect, but there still appears to be considerable ceiling there.
Christian Villanueva, A+: .285/.359/.430, 29 BB, 96 SO, 12 HR, 10 SB
Villanueva is no longer with the Rangers, but it speaks to the depth of Texas' system that they were able to ship him off to Chicago in exchange for Ryan Dempster, and not really bat an eyelash. Like many prospects, Villanueva will need to improve his plate discipline in order to succeed, but he certainly looks like he'll be a nice prospect for the Cubs.
Though Dempster has struggled with the Rangers, Villanueva would be behind both Beltre and Olt on Texas' depth chart at third base, and was easily expendable.
Rougned Odor, A: .259/.312/.403, 22 BB, 56 SO, 8 HR, 16 SB
Odor was born in 1994. Let that sink in for a minute. That's the post Zoo TV world. Anyway, Odor is doing very well for his age, in his first season of full-season ball. Odor has hit a bit of a wall after the All-Star break, so there's reason to believe that he's tiring. Odor is certainly a good, if not great, prospect, and I believe 2013 could very well be a breakout campaign for him.
There are going to be new additions to Texas' top 10 next year. We may see Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman there. We will certainly see Joey Gallo there, and we may well see Lewis Brinson there.
Point is, Texas' system is again locked and loaded, and profiles as one of the best systems in baseball...again.