The Rangers have slowly but surely rebuilt their farm system over the last three years under general manager Chris Young, and it’s shown with the competitiveness of the on-field product last season.
Texas boasts maybe the deepest prospect group across baseball, putting the big league club in perfect position in the long term. With just over a week of Minor League games down, here are prospects to keep an eye on at every level throughout the Rangers' farm system.
Triple-A Round Rock -- LHP Cody Bradford (No. 27)
2022 stats (Double-A Frisco): 118 2/3 IP, 5.01 ERA, 124 K, 33 BB
The Express are loaded with talent, but after a week of games, Bradford has stood out after an impressive debut. The lefty took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, allowing just one hit overall and one walk. He struck out four in six scoreless innings.
Bradford struggled much of the 2022 season with Double-A Frisco, but he peaked at the right time when he posted 2.63 ERA in his final seven starts, including six scoreless innings in the Texas League semifinals. If he continues on an upward trajectory, the southpaw could see big league action this season.
Double-A Frisco -- Everyone?
It may be easier to point out who not to keep an eye on in Frisco. The RoughRiders feature four of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects, and there’s no shortage of talent to keep an eye on between Jack Leiter, Evan Carter, Owen White and Luisangel Acuña as the 2022 Texas League champions look to defend their title.
Entering Sunday, Carter has yet to notch an extra-base hit, but still logged a .308 average. Acuña is hitting just .214, but has come up with clutch hits early in the season and his average should level out to career numbers soon.
Leiter and White started the first two games of the season for Frisco, both coming away with a no-decision. Leiter went 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs but striking out five, while White produced three scoreless innings in his debut.
“With Jack, there were some real positive sides,” Young said. “The fastball looked lively. It was really good, but there were a couple of mistakes. Jordan Lawler raked one over the wall and certainly there were a couple of walks there that we're still continuing to refine. I think he had Spring Training where he walked maybe one or two guys all spring.
“So, you know, opening night with the nerves, I think he got out of his delivery a little bit. I think the thing we're seeing with Jack, and certainly we saw this spring, is that competitiveness and the commitment to improving and getting better. I know he's not satisfied with last night, but there were a lot of positives and we know there's better in there.”
Rocker was originally slated to start Friday’s game against the Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox affiliate), which was then postponed to a doubleheader on Saturday that also got washed out.
The right-hander pitched professionally in the independent Frontier League for the Tri-City ValleyCats last summer before the Draft, but whenever the weather allows it, he’ll make his full-season Minor League debut. With the ValleyCats, Rocker posted a 1.35 ERA with a 32/4 K/BB ratio in 20 innings.
After an impressive stint in big league camp during Spring Training, the Rangers and Rocker are both eager to get his career with Texas off and running.
Single-A Down East -- RHP Brock Porter (No. 6)
The second half of the 2022 MLB Draft one-two punch, Porter was selected in the fourth round after Rocker. The 19-year-old made his professional debut against the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, but allowed one run in 2/3 of an inning. He only gave up one hit, but walked four as he struggled with his fastball command.
“With his first professional outing, I’m sure there were some nerves there,” Young said. “I read the reports and watched the video and he just lost control of the strike zone there. He's been traditionally a pretty good strike-thrower. The pitch count got him in the first inning, and we're going to be overly cautious with him and not push him.”