Texas' top prospect rising to occasion in red-hot June

June 19th, 2024

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 -- works best when responding to a challenge.

With that in mind, it shouldn’t be shocking that after a short adjustment period with High-A Hickory, Walcott looks exactly like the player the Rangers expected him to be.

Walcott, the Rangers' top prospect per MLB Pipeline, started his professional career with high expectations after signing a $3.2 million bonus, the sixth largest in the 2023 international class.

He spent just nine games in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League before making his U.S. debut last summer at age 17. He burst onto the scene in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League and proceeded to slash .273/.325/.524 in 35 games. The shortstop received a late-season promotion to Hickory, where he finished the season.

But Walcott struggled with that late promotion, which carried over to the start of the 2024 season. On May 31, he was slashing just .195/.326/.315 with three homers and seven doubles.

As the calendar flipped to June, so did a switch for Walcott. In 14 games this month, the 18-year-old has slashed .339/.387/.554, raising his season average to .234 and his OPS to .722.

“We knew we were challenging him from the get-go,” said Rangers assistant general manager for player development Ross Fenstermaker. “Being 18 years old, we thought it was gonna be a challenge and we believed in him.

“He has the mental capacity and ability to acclimate to the level and grow and progress. He's done exactly that. Every month has been better than the last. In terms of his offensive performance, which is even better than we expected, we just wanted to make sure that he was trending at or above the level, and it's been really positive.”

A natural shortstop, Walcott has started playing third base this season with Hickory, as well as getting a number of designated hitter at-bats. External projections indicate that he could be a plus outfielder as well, but the Rangers are intent on keeping him in the infield at the moment.

At 6-foot-4, he’s bigger than most shortstops, but Rangers infielder coordinator Kenny Holmberg has worked to open Walcott up to different styles of play on the infield dirt, similar to taller shortstops like Corey Seager and Carols Correa.

“The fun thing about Sebastian is the natural gifts in terms of the arm strength -- it's top of the scale,” Fenstermaker said. “But to also watch him gain better body control and utilize his footwork better. There's actually a realistic shot that he could grow into this position. I think we’re going to continue to go down this path and see if we can carry it forward.”

Walcott is still a long way from big league consideration, but he’s clearly made an impact in a short time in the system. And for being so young, he’s quickly acclimated himself to professional life, both on and off the field. He’s proven to be a player the Rangers have their eye on down the road.

“Don't get too high, don't get too low, just try to stay as even-keeled as possible,” Walcott said during Spring Training. “I started off really hot to begin, and then I slowed down at the end and things weren't going so good. I learned you gotta stay even-keeled no matter what. You have to stay happy throughout the good days and happy throughout the bad days as well.”

Triple-A Round Rock: RHP Jack Leiter (No. 5)
Leiter dealt maybe the best start of his Minor League career on Tuesday, when he tossed seven scoreless innings in a win over Sacramento. The right-hander allowed five hits and no walks, while striking out eight.

Double-A Frisco: Emiliano Teodo (No. 14)
The Rangers’ most electrifying pitching prospect, Teodo has continued to thrive with Frisco this season, most recently with five scoreless innings against Amarillo. He lowered his season ERA to 1.88 through 11 starts. Across 52 2/3 innings this season, Teodo has 64 strikeouts compared to 28 walks.

Single-A Down East: RHP Alejandro Rosario (N/R)
The Rangers’ fifth-round pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, Rosario has been named the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week twice already. Most recently, the right-hander threw six scoreless innings with just one hit and seven strikeouts against Charleston on Saturday.

Rosario has a 1.49 ERA with 63 strikeouts over 42 1/3 innings this season.