The Rangers began last decade with a pair of American League pennants, followed with three more playoff appearances in the next five years and ended with their worst three-year stretch since 2001-03. How quickly they bounce back depends in large part on a farm system that hasn't been able to deliver quite yet.
Texas remade its rotation and committed to $63.5 million in payroll obligations by trading for Corey Kluber and signing Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles as free agents this offseason. That's a short-term fix even if it works out, however, and doesn't address what was a mediocre offense. The Rangers don't have much in the way of immediate prospect help beyond Nick Solak, who played well in the final six weeks of last season and could plug a hole in center field.
They've long taken a high-risk, high-reward approach to player development, investing in prospects who had a ways to go to reach lofty ceilings but could be stars if they got there. Texas hasn't had many recent success stories beyond Joey Gallo, who might be just one of two purely homegrown players -- along with Rougned Odor -- in the Opening Day lineup.
The system is filled with intriguing prospects with huge upside but who need at least a couple of more years to develop. Sam Huff has Galloesque raw power and a strong arm behind the plate, while Sherten Apostel has the same type of tools at the hot corner. The Rangers spent $5.55 million last summer to land Venezuelan shortstop Maximo Acosta, who keeps eliciting Gleyber Torres comparisons, and Dominican outfielder Bayron Lora, who has as much power potential as anyone in the entire international class.
As for pitchers, right-hander Cole Winn could have four solid or better offerings once he's fully developed. Righty Hans Crouse was bothered by bone chips in his elbow last year, but when fully healthy he shows a pair of well above-average pitches in his fastball and slider.
While Texas won't stop betting on impact tools, it did balance ceilings with floors at the top of the 2019 Draft. After using 10 of their previous 12 first-round picks on high schoolers, the Rangers spent their first two choices last June on college third basemen who stood out for their hitting ability, Josh Jung and Davis Wendzel. They used their third on college righty Ryan Garcia, known more for his polish than his stuff.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2019 preseason list to the 2020 preseason list.
Jump: Sam Huff, C (2019: 21 | 2020: 2) -- His huge raw power translated into 28 homers last season. He added a memorable blast in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and also threw out 48 percent of basestealers.
Fall: Julio Pablo Martinez, OF (2019: 2 | 2020: NR) -- His athleticism is obvious but he has scuffled offensively, batting .248/.319/.423 as a 23-year-old in high Class A in 2019.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 -- Josh Jung
Power: 60 -- Sam Huff
Run: 65 -- Bubba Thompson (Osleivis Basabe)
Arm: 70 -- Anderson Tejeda
Defense: 65 -- Leody Taveras
Fastball: 70 -- Demarcus Evans
Curveball: 60 -- Joe Palumbo (A.J. Alexy, Demarcus Evans, Cole Winn)
Slider: 65 -- Hans Crouse
Changeup: 60 -- Tyler Phillips
Control: 60 -- Tyler Phillips
How they were built
Draft: 12 | International: 13 | Trade: 5
Breakdown by ETA
2020: 4 | 2021: 8 | 2022: 11 | 2023: 5 | 2024: 2
Breakdown by position
C: 3 | 2B: 2 | 3B: 3 | SS: 6 | OF: 5 | RHP: 9 | LHP: 2