This week, we’ll take a look at three lesser-known brothers in the Rangers’ system. None of these guys have the most sky-scraping of ceilings, but all have something to offer, and still have the time to develop.
Angelo Leclerc’s younger brother Jose is the one you’ve probably heard of, the Myrtle Beach closer with the fastball and the excellent curveball. Leclerc the elder is currently starting for the Hickory Crawdads, though he began the year in the bullpen and would probably be benefited by returning there in the future. In his 31.1 innings this season, he’s put up a 2.87 ERA, despite allowing a career high of three homers. In his 13.1 innings of relief, Leclerc only allowed one walk while striking out 13, whereas he’s walked 11 in his 18 innings as a starter, suggesting that the longer outings make it difficult for him to consistently find the strike zone.
As a starter, Leclerc’s fastball sits 90-92 mph consistently, with the possibility that he could find an extra mile-per-hour or two out of the bullpen. The pitch occasionally has some decent movement on it, but would be served well by, yet again, the lesser usage out of the 'pen. His breaking pitch looks like a curveball from 76-79, with more vertical break, but when thrown at 80-81 looks a bit more like a slider. If he could pick a velocity range and work on it, the pitch could even become an average weapon. His changeup shows some sink but not much horizontal movement, but he does use it to its best advantage, mixing it in later in the outing.
An underrated part of any system is the amount of depth it holds, not just the number of prospects. While Leclerc’s ceiling is probably that of an Double- or Triple-A pitcher, the fact that he throws strikes and has a smooth, repeatable delivery could give him a nice career. If he improves the offspeed pitches and finds a bit more velocity, his three pitches put him higher in the organization than many with higher velocity but worse command.
Though Jurickson Profar’s spent all of 2014 on the shelf with a shoulder injury, his younger brother Juremi has hopped all over the system, seeing time with Hickory and Round Rock, and landing in Spokane, at a level appropriate for his age. The 18-year-old wasn’t regarded as a prospect last season, drawing concern about his body type and ability to hold down a position.
This year, however, Profar’s displayed both a higher level of athleticism and the work ethic to possibly turn himself into a prospect, adjusting to the three levels he’s been thrown into (as much as he could with his few games with the Crawdads and the Express). In a more regular role with the Indians, Profar is hitting .295/.333/.318 through 24 games, spending time at shortstop and second, though it’s suggested that he would be better suited for third base. If Profar shows a continued ability to hit, and can find a position that he can field consistently, he could turn himself into a prospect.
The Rangers took both of the Ledbetter twins in the 2013 draft, picking David with their 3rd round slot, and adding Ryan in the 19th round. Though the two pitch with extremely similar mechanics and have similar stuff, and their results so far have been alike, the spread between the two picks makes Ryan the “less well-known” one by default.
Though he’s now in Spokane, Ryan Ledbetter started the season with Hickory, like his brother. While with the Crawdads, Ryan pitched 5.2 innings across three games before being put on the disabled list, and then was sent out to Spokane at the beginning of June to join the short-season team. In his brief time with the Crawdads, Ryan allowed three earned runs, seven hits, while walking five and striking out seven.
In one appearance with Hickory, Ryan showed a fastball that ranged between 88-92 mph, along with a nice curve in the low 70s. His delivery, eerily similar to his brother’s, is clean and easy, though it provides no deception, a problem for a pitcher without fireballing numbers and the ability to consistently keep the ball down in the zone.
Though Ryan Ledbetter probably also has an organizational depth future, that’s good value for a 19th round pick. If he can capitalize on some sinkerballer ways, and perhaps find a way to incorporate deception into his delivery, he could see several years as a bullpen option around the organization.