DALLAS - The Texas Rangers have built their farm system through investments in the International market and high upside draft picks. Texas prefers athletic players with loud tools as an organizational philosophy. Through the years, the Rangers have had a reputation for finding and developing sluggers, especially from Latin America, while struggling to develop starting pitching.
Though the system has been plundered recently through trades to help the big league club, the Rangers still have several enticing prospects we will be featuring through the coming days.
In addition to having arguably the coolest name in the Rangers’ system, Yeyson Yrizarri is quickly becoming known as another in a long line of formidable middle infield prospects to come out of the Rangers’ farm system.
After signing as a 16 year old free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, Yrizarri has begun his climb through the ranks, making his debut in US pro ball during the 2014 Rookie Ball season as a 17 year old.
While his arm strength is his calling card, his quickness and instincts give him the range to stick at shortstop if necessary, although he has seen time at second and third during his time with the Rangers as well and in a Rangers system chock full of infield talent, that flexibility could be key for him.
Yrizarri is a line drive hitter at the plate. His swing and aggressiveness can lead to solid contact, however that aggressiveness is part of his biggest growth opportunity as a hitter, putting together better at bats. For lots of prospects that usually means adjusting to breaking balls and striking out less, but for Yrizarri that’s not the case.
Yeyson strikes out an average amount, nothing to be worried about, he just simply doesn’t walk. He has yet to crack double digit walks in either of his full pro seasons, averaging walks on about 2% of his at-bats during that time. He did get hit by a pitch a remarkable eight times to just nine walks in his 2016 campaign, spent entirely in Low-A Hickory.
This odd K/BB ratio leads you to believe that he has above average bat-to-ball skills (meaning he’s good at getting the ball in play) but he’s often making weak contact on pitches out of the zone he probably should have taken.
Yrizarri is behind a few middle infielders in the system but after a rash of injuries during the 2015 season Yrizarri was rushed from short-season Spokane all the way up 4 levels to AAA Round Rock for fill-in duty. He held his own there as an 18 year old, batting .273 (9-33) and keeping steady at shortstop during that time.
After a full year at Hickory in 2016, Yrizarri looks like he may make the jump to become a member of the inaugural roster for the newly formed Down East Wood Ducks, the Rangers’ new High-A affiliate in Kinston, NC.
Don’t be surprised though, with the Rangers’ habit of pushing younger players up a few levels, to see Yrizarri (and attempt to hear the PA man pronounce his name) at AA Frisco before too terribly long. There aren’t many full-fledged middle infield prospects above Yeyson on the pecking order but it’s crowded at the very top.
Besides the Major League regulars of Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor, Jurickson Profar and Hanser Alberto are on the fringes of the MLB roster and could each see time in AAA while players like Doug Bernier and Drew Robinson provide organizational depth and are likely to land in AAA to serve as reinforcements.
The roster at AA Frisco will start to fill out similarly and may leave Yeyson squeezed out for the whole year but as we know, and as Yeyson learned in 2015, things can change quickly.
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