These Rangers prospects are on the rise

October 19th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Kennedi Landry’s Rangers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' farm system is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was just two short years ago, thanks to a combination of savvy drafting, solid trades and internal development throughout the organization.

Over the last four years, the system has steadily improved and is now ranked sixth among all 30 clubs. Texas is armed with six Top 100 prospects, as well as elite depth up and down the system. Here’s a 2022 Minors report to keep you updated on the latest Rangers prospects.


1. OF Evan Carter (Rangers’ No. 3, MLB No. 56)
Carter was truly under the radar only outside of the organization, even as the Rangers shocked the world when they took him in the second round of the COVID-shortened 2020 Draft, but he’s become a bonafide prospect through two professional seasons.

Carter struggled with injuries throughout his debut season in 2021, but in ‘22 he jumped into MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 after the midseason rerank. The now-20-year-old slashed .295/.397/.489 between High-A Hickory and Double-A Frisco. Opening the season as the youngest player in the South Atlantic League, he finished with 12 home runs, 10 triples, 21 doubles and 28 stolen bases.

Carter’s promotion to Double-A Frisco on Sept. 13 helped the club to a Texas League championship, as he went 3-for-5 in the series-clinching win.

2. INF Jonathan Ornelas (No. 21) 
Ornelas broke out specifically for his elite defensive abilities as he spent the entire season with Double-A Fricso. A natural shortstop, he made 86 starts at the position and added 29 at third base, four at second and four in center field. He led the entire Texas League with 236 assists and posted a .973 fielding percentage at his primary position of shortstop, earning back-to-back honors as the Rangers’ Minor League Defender of the Month for July and August.

At the plate, Ornelas hit .299 with a career-high 14 home runs and 64 RBIs. His 157 hits led the Texas League while tying the Frisco franchise record for a single season (Joaquin Arias in 2005). He’ll likely start '23 with Triple-A Round Rock, and his versatility could have him in the big leagues sooner rather than later.

3. INF Thomas Saggese (No. 19) 
At 20 years old, Saggese snuck under the radar as he produced a breakout season with High-A Hickory and Double-A Frisco. He slashed .312/.361/.506 with an .867 OPS, 15 home runs and 70 RBIs, while leading all qualified Rangers Minor Leaguers in batting average.

Saggese was a major contributor to the RoughRiders' Texas League championship run, and he delivered a game-tying RBI single in the series-clinching win over the Wichita Storm Chasers.


1. INF/OF Trevor Hauver
Hauver is the only one of the prospects from the Joey Gallo trade who has yet to make his MLB debut, but considering the relative success of the other three -- RHP Glenn Otto, SS Josh Smith and 3B Ezequiel Duran -- there’s hope he can also take that next step.

Hauver’s batting average of .220 doesn’t exactly jump off the page, but he got on base at a .387 clip with an .814 OPS. He’s clearly a more developed hitter than he displayed this season -- he posted a slash line of .274/.416/.473 with an .889 OPS during his professional debut in 2021.

A full year in Frisco is the perfect opportunity for Hauver to get into a groove and display the talents -- specifically on the hitting end -- that made the Rangers include him in the Gallo trade.

2. RHP Mason Englert (No. 29) 
Englert is just one of the Rangers’ plethora of arms throughout the system, and after having his professional debut delayed three years due to Tommy John surgery and the COVID-canceled season in 2020, he’s working his way back to the forefront.

The 2018 fourth-rounder posted a 3.64 ERA between High-A Hickory and Double-A Frisco, but he also thrived with a .199 opponent average, along with 136 strikeouts to just 31 walks in 118 2/3 innings. Englert also threw the first seven innings of Hickory's second combined no-hitter of the season on Aug. 11.

Englert doesn’t have the splash of a name like Jack Leiter or Kumar Rocker, but he’s no doubt put himself at the forefront of the minds of many within the organization. He is likely to start back in Frisco in 2022.


Can the Rangers develop pitching? Specifically, can Jack Leiter take a step forward?

Despite the depth of the Rangers’ organization, it was not a banner year for the headlining pitching prospects. Leiter (No. 2) had an ERA of 5.54, and Cole Winn’s (No. 10) was even worse at 6.51. Ricky Vanasco (No. 16) struggled early with High-A Hickory before leveling out to a 4.68 ERA, while Tekoah “TK” Roby (No. 14) was around the same at 4.64.

Cole Ragans and Owen White (No. 4) seemed to be the lone success stories of the pitching staff, with Ragans making his way through Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock before making his big league debut on Aug. 4 and White posting a 3.59 ERA with the Crawdads and RoughRiders. 

The lack of pitching development has long been a slight on the Rangers’ system, and if this crop of prospects doesn’t pan out once again under new leadership in general manager Chris Young and farm director Josh Bonifay, there will be more questions than answers. 

Fair or not, that barometer will likely lie with Leiter’s development and if he can take the necessary steps forward to reach his full potential.