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WHO TO WATCH: Rangers prospects

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The are an upper-tier system. They have a very nice collection of hitters — some of whom are already at the highest level — and the trade with the added some quality depth to the system. What Texas really needs is arms, and they have a few quality pitchers in the hopper. They've had high-ceiling arms before, but they have an ugly history of not being able to develop them. The arms are here once again, but will the organization be able to cultivate them, unlike in years past? Overall ranking: 14th

Top 10 prospects

1. , INF/OF, Age: 22
Teixeira, a Georgia Tech product, was the fifth overall pick of the 2001 draft, but he was widely regarded at the best available hitter. With good reason. He's an incredibly polished hitter. He hits for average and power, he commands the strike zone and he's also a legit switch-hitter. His minor-league numbers are highly impressive at every stop. Presently, he's toiling for the . His season hasn't been impressive on its surface, but it's a respectable showing for a 22-year-old rookie. The appear to have settled on him as a left fielder. Wherever they stick him, he's a future star. ETA: Now. 2. Jose Dominguez, RHP, Age: 20
Haven't heard of Dominguez yet? You will. He has exceptional strikeout abilities and good control, and he's thriving despite being young for the league at every stop. This year, he's become a starter on a full-time basis. He's been dominant at stops in the Cal League and Texas League this season, and just recently earned a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma — all before his 21st birthday. He's shown very good command and posted strong K rates in the high minors. If he succeeds at Triple A despite his age, look out. If he stays healthy, he could be a very special pitcher, which is something the desperately need. ETA: 2004. 3. , 1B, Age: 21
Gonzalez comes to the ' system as part of the thoroughly insane trade with the . Thoroughly insane on the ' part, that is. Anyhow, Gonzalez, the first overall pick of the 2000 draft, shows solid hitting skills, including good plate discipline and power to the gaps. He'll need to develop more power to be a productive first baseman, but that's likely to happen once his body matures. How he fares in the high minors will be critical, but the base of offensive skills is certainly there. He's also excellent with the glove. He's coming off a wrist injury, which is no doubt hindering his production. But he continues to play well despite being younger than his peers. ETA: Late 2004. 4. , OF, Age: 22
Nix began showing up on prospect lists after his impressive showing in the Florida State League last season. This year, he had a solid showing at Double-A Frisco. His walk rate dropped a bit after his promotion, but he still has a strong offensive skill set. He's capable of playing center, but he's better suited to a corner outfield position. Right now, he's in Arlington, but he's looked a bit overmatched in the early going. He needs additional seasoning. His upside is probably somewhere in territory, and that's quite a compliment. Whether he achieves that promise is left to question. ETA: Now. 5. , RHP, Age: 23
Lewis, who has a truly great name for a pitcher, sports a blazing, mid-90s fastball and a plus curve. He can also throw his change for strikes. He posted high K rates and showed solid control throughout the minors. On the downside, he's been worse than a Renny Harlin film in two trials at the major league level. Growing pains are to be expected, but improved performance needs to happen soon. It may be that he's better suited to relief work at the highest level, but it's too soon to pigeonhole him just yet. In any event, he's a live arm with strong minor-league numbers. He'll probably be fine. ETA: Now. For more about check out the . 6. Kameron Loe, RHP, Age: 21
Loe was a 20th-round selection in 2002 out of Cal State-Northridge. He had a strong showing in the rookie-level Appalachian League, but that's nothing special for a college-trained pitcher competing against generally younger hitters who are using wooden bats for one of the first times. This year, he was dominant in the Midwest League and just recently earned a promotion to the high-A Cal League. He's showing good strikeout abilities and very good control. So far, there's lots to like, but he'll need to stay healthy and do it at the higher levels. ETA: 2005. 7. Justin Echols, LHP, Age: 22
The nabbed Echols in the 11th round of the 1999 draft out of a Phoenix high school. In the past, he's posted excellent K rates but struggled with his control. More of the same this year. He struck out a batter per inning in the Cal League, which isn't easy to do, but his control still caused him problems. This isn't unusual for hard-throwing left-handers, and he may grow out of it. His lack of the third pitch may confine him to bullpen work at the higher levels, but his devastating slider could mean he'll be dominant in that role. His low hit rates bode well for the future, whatever his role. His control needs improvement, but I like him. Just recently promoted to Double A. ETA: Late 2004. 8. , LHP, Age: 27
Ramirez is obviously too old to be an elite prospect, but he does have a promising future as a major-league reliever. In the minors, Ramirez put up good K rates and showed outstanding control. He's particularly tough on left-handed hitters, which is why he'll have a lengthy career as a lefty specialist. He's presently with the and pitching OK. He'll get better as he adjusts to major-league hitters. ETA: Now. 9. Jason Bourgeois, 2B/SS, Age: 21
Bourgeois has the arm strength to play short, but the seem to be settling on him as a second baseman. Before this season, he hadn't done much with the bat above rookie ball. This year, however, he put up some nice numbers in the Cal League. But that's a very accommodating circuit for hitters. He earned a midseason promotion to Double-A Frisco, and his numbers have dropped accordingly. However, he is showing an interesting boost in raw power. He's still young for Double A, so if he holds his own he'll merit further attention. He's not a future star, but it's possible he could be a regular at the highest level. ETA: Late 2004. 10. Will Smith, OF, Age: 21
Smith is another part of the haul from Florida. He's put up solid numbers despite generally being young for his league. He does show good gap power, which may mean more homers down the road. This year, he's struggled a bit in his first taste of Double A, but that's not a grave indictment at his age. He'll need to put up the numbers eventually, but youth is in his corner. Probably not a future star, but he's one worth watching. ETA: 2006. Dayn Perry can be reached at his e-mail address: daynperry@yahoo.com.
Tagged: Rangers, Marlins, Colby Lewis, Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez, Laynce Nix

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