After the completion of the regular season and alternate training sites, most player development staffs have turned their attention to instructional league play. In the past, instructional leagues have been populated by new draftees, recent international signings and players at the bottom rungs of their organizational ladder. This year, in an attempt to make up for lost time due to the pandemic, it’s been expanded to include many more players. MLB Pipeline will be providing position-by-position reports from instructional league camps in Florida and Arizona.
Cody Bradford, LHP; Noah Bremer, RHP; Tim Brennan, RHP; Sean Chandler, RHP; Marc Church, RHP; Gavin Collyer, RHP; Aidan Curry, RHP; Destin Dotson, LHP; Mason Englert, RHP; Ronny Henriquez, RHP (No. 16); Leon Hunter, RHP; Zak Kent, RHP; Nick Krauth, RHP; Nick Lockhart, RHP; Dylan MacLean, LHP (No. 29); Andriu Marin, RHP; Spencer Mraz, RHP; Seth Nordlin, RHP; Tekoah Roby, RHP; Adrian Rodriguez, RHP; Florencio Serrano, RHP; Justin Slaten, RHP; Wyatt Sparks, RHP; Corey Stone, LHP; Stephen Villines, RHP; Owen White, RHP; Grant Wolfram, LHP
The Rangers went heavy on high school right-handers at the top of the 2018 Draft, taking Cole Winn in the first round, Owen White in the second and Mason Englert in the fourth. They handled them with extreme care, having them focus on conditioning and learning and keeping them out of game action in the summer after they signed. Nevertheless, both White and Englert blew out their elbows and required Tommy John surgery the following spring.
Neither has pitched in an official Minor League game yet but both have exuded promise during instructional league. White's athleticism, which allowed him to draw interest from college football programs as a quarterback and might have made him a two-way player in college had he attended South Carolina, has been apparent. Englert is showing the stuff that allowed him to pitch 55 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings as a senior, breaking a Texas high school record set by the legendary David Clyde.
"Both guys have been really good," Rangers assistant GM Mike Daly said. "Owen has been 92-96 mph, with a good curveball and slider and changeup, and Mason has been similar. Both guys have been among the highlights here, finally getting the opportunity to show what they can do."
Left-hander Cody Bradford also has looked good in advance of his pro debut. The 2018 Big 12 Conference pitcher of the year, he made just three starts at Baylor in 2019 before needing surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, which caused the projected second-rounder to drop to the sixth round. He has regained his advanced feel for pitching and an arsenal that includes a lively low-90s fastball, downer curveball and sinking changeup.
Jose Felix, Randy Florentino, David Garcia (No. 14), Scott Kapers, Reynaldo Pichardo, Brady Smith, Xavier Valentin
David Garcia has been an organization favorite since singing for $800,000 out of Venezuela as the top catching prospect in the 2016 international class. He grew up playing shortstop and immediately stood out with his athleticism behind the plate. His offense began to catch up to his defense last year after he made some swing changes and added strength.
"David has done a good job from a catch-and-throw standpoint and he's putting together good at-bats," Daly said. "He had a pretty good second half at [Class A Short-Season] Spokane and this was going to be a big year for him developmentally. He's made the most of his opportunity to catch out here."
Maximo Acosta, SS (No. 5); Luisangel Acuna, SS/2B (No. 17); Derwin Barreto, SS/2B; Osleivis Basabe, SS (No. 19); Jayce Easley, 2B; Justin Foscue, 2B (No. 8); Cody Freeman, 2B/SS; Josh Jung, 3B (No. 1); Keithron Moss, 2B/3B; Jonathan Ornelas, SS/2B (No. 27); Keyber Rodriguez, SS/3B; Thomas Saggese, SS; Chris Seise, SS (No. 28); Curtis Terry, 1B; Davis Wendzel, 3B (No. 11)
Chris Seise's five-tool potential at shortstop made him the 29th overall pick in the 2017 Draft, but he has played just 72 games since signing for $2 million. Rotator-cuff surgery on his throwing shoulder wiped out all of his 2018 season and his 2019 comeback lasted just 21 games before he tore the labrum in his left shoulder sliding into a base, necessitating more surgery.
Healthy again, Seise is showing off the size, bat speed, quickness, arm strength and defensive chops at shortstop that landed him in the first round three years ago.
"Chris has been really impressive," Daly said. "He's got tools. He can play shortstop, the arm is there, he has huge power to right-center field and he can run. He's running 4.2s. On the position-player side, we're as excited about him as we are about anybody."
The biggest surprise of the second round of the 2020 Draft came when Texas selected Tennessee prep outfielder Evan Carter with the 50th overall choice. He wasn't heavily scouted, didn't attend many showcase events and played just three games before the coronavirus brought a premature end to his senior season this spring.
Led by area scout Derrick Tucker, the Rangers put a lot of time in on Carter and became convinced that he had five-tool upside. They signed the valedictorian of his Elizabethton High School class away from a Duke commitment for $1.25 million and like what they've seen in instructional league.
"Right now, it's an opportunity to let him play," Daly said. "He has more walks than strikeouts in 40 plate appearances and he's done some damage. He can hit with future power, he can run, he can play center field.
"He's also smart, competitive and super young for his Draft class. He's been eye-opening. It's been an absolute pleasure to watch him play."