ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' farm system is still one of the best in the game, but is also in a state of transition. The Rangers rebuilt their system during the first years of Jon Daniels tenure as general manager around pitching, and that has been the strength.
That may no longer be the case now, and won't be in the next few years. The Rangers, through their draft and international amateur signings, are headed toward being an offensive powerhouse within their farm system.
Infielders Jurickson Profar and third baseman Mike Olt are the most obvious examples, currently at Triple-A Round Rock. But there is more -- far more -- in the lower levels of the system.
The Class A Myrtle Beach team includes three players drafted in the first round over the past few years: outfielders Zach Cone and Jake Skole and catcher Kelly Deglan, as well as infielder Luis Sardinas, Drew Robinson and Roughed Odor. Class A Hickory includes infielder Joey Gallo, catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielders Jordan Akins, Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara. Among those left behind in extended spring include first baseman Ronaldo Guzman and outfielders Jairo Beras and Jamie Jarmon.
where to watch
Where the Rangers' Top 20 prospects are starting the season:
Click here for the complete Top 20 list on Prospect Watch.
There are still plenty of pitching prospects. The Rangers still expect left-hander Martin Perez to be at the top of the list once he recovers from a broken left arm. The Rangers are hoping he'll be pitching in games at the end of May for Triple-A Round Rock.
Others worth watching include right-hander Justin Grimm at Round Rock, Cody Buckel and Wilmer Font at Double-A Frisco and right-handers Luke Jackson, Victor Payano and Will Lamb at Myrtle Beach.
As is usually the case in any organization, the Rangers have some pitchers trying to come back from injury. Right-handers Justin Miller, Matt West and David Perez are all still in Arizona in various stages of coming back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.
Kevin Mathews is also still in Arizona. The left-hander was the 33rd overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Richmond Hill (Ga.) High School, but is dealing with a shoulder impingement.
There are always others who could emerge. One year ago, few people in the organization thought that Nick Tepesch would be the Rangers' fifth starter to open the 2013 season.
Minor League Baseball is under way, and you can keep track of the Rangers' top prospects throughout the season on MLBPipeline.com and Prospect Watch. Get scores, stats, news, schedules, tickets and more for all of the Rangers Minor League teams on MLBPipeline.com/Rangers.
Stacked squads: Both of the Class A teams appear loaded. Myrtle Beach should be especially good with the pitching there, and if Cone and Skole have big years. This is a big season for both of those former No. 1 Draft picks. Hickory fans should see some serious offensive firepower from the Crawdads this season.
Big years for: Triple-A outfielder Engel Beltre and catcher Jose Felix, and Double-A pitcher Neil Ramirez. They have been considered prospects for several years but now it's time for them to show they can be options at the Major League level.
2013 debuts: The Rangers are eager to get Beras in a real game. The 18-year-old power prodigy is serving a one-year suspension for misrepresenting his age during the signing process. The suspension is up July 1.
The Baseball Team: Double-A Frisco has fewer "prospects" than any other team in the system. What the Roughriders do have are a bunch of good baseball players. These are guys who may not have jaw-dropping physical ability, but they love the game and know how to play it right.
Guys like infielders Guilder Rodriguez, Brett Nicholas and Hanser Alberto, and outfielders Jared Hoying and Ryan Strausborger have probably played in more intrasquad games, B games and late-inning Cactus League games than just about anybody in the Minor Leagues, not to mention being early spring morning fodder for Major League pitchers throwing live batting practice.
Tireless catcher Zach Zaneski probably leads the world in pitches caught, counting everything from bullpen sessions and live batting practice to actual games.
If you just like baseball without worrying about who will be in Arlington, the Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco is the place to be.
Teams on TV Round Rock, Frisco and Myrtle Beach are among a growing number of teams whose games are available on MiLB.TV. The 2013 MiLB.TV package will include more than 3,500 Minor League games streamed live, as well as games archived for on-demand streaming soon after completion.