In this week's Minor League Mailbag, we discuss fourth outfielders, the 2015 draft, and Monty Python.
@unlikelyfanatic Rangers on course for high draft pick. How is next year's draft rated by the experts?
According to sources in amateur evaluation, 2015 isn't a particularly deep draft, and there's better talent coming out of high school than college. So if the Rangers have to pick any year to have a top-ten draft position, next year's not a bad year.
And yes, I think the Rangers will be in the top ten picks, barring an absolute miracle.
@unlikelyfanatic I got another MiLB mailbag question. I haven't heard much about Condor since Spring Training. How's he doing this year?
Not well. Ronald Guzman is hitting .218/.295/.326 in 70 games with Hickory, far worse than last season's numbers (though last season he only played 49 games with the team). According to Mark Parker (@crawdadsbeat), 'He started the season really well at the plate, but has not been the same player since April.' Opposing pitchers have figured out that Guzman struggles with pitches away, and he hasn't yet figured out how to track at attack these pitches. There's also some suggestion that he's guessing at pitches, not able to identify the spin in time to get his bat on them.
Defensively, he's matured a bit, but being limited to first base is some cause for concern if he can't figure out the hitting. As this is Guzman's first true stop in full-season ball, he is a bit behind fellow J2 signee Nomar Mazara, and he could still break out later this season or even next season without it being a giant cause for concern.
@unlikelyfanatic Is Joe Jackson a real prospect? What is his bat's name (Black Betsy)? Does he like wearing shoes?
Well, right now, Joe Jackson's a bit of a man without a position. He's moved around for Hickory, while hitting .319/.395/.460, so if he could find somewhere and stick, he could very well turn himself into a prospect. He was drafted as a catcher, though this season he's only played 11 games at the position, spending more time in left and at DH. As for the bat and shoes, I'm not really sure.
@unlikelyfanatic ...So Gallo playing first base... What's up with that?
Most likely, nothing more than a 'half-day' for Gallo, as it was both a getaway day for Frisco, and the team had the next day off. Jon Daniels later said that it's wasn't an indication of developmental intent, and Gallo has much higher value at third than he does at first. Of course, if Adrian Beltre is still playing third next season, and Gallo looks ready for major league action at some point, he could play a little first/outfield to get his bat in the lineup. However, with his current strikeout issues in AA, I'm not sure Gallo will start 2015 in the majors. It's possible that he could be in Round Rock, figuring out that pitching, and then come up as either injury or a mid-season upgrade, especially if he kills AAA pitching for the first half of the season.
No matter what happens, it would be a crime to waste that arm at first.
@unlikelyfanatic what position is the most likely for Joey Gallo to spend most of his Major League career at if he continues to mash in MLB?
With Gallo's athleticism and work ethic, I really believe he could hold down a major league third base position for a good amount of time. If the bat is ready for the majors next season, he may, as I said above, start his career in the outfield or at first, but once Adrian Beltre has relinquished the Rangers' hot corner, I think it's Gallo's until he either absolutely can't play there or a defensive whiz moves up through the minors. It's possible that Gallo will need to move to the outfield after his age 28 season or so, but a permanent move to first isn't anywhere in the near future.
@unlikelyfanatic Might be better suited for the mailbag, but: Smo[linksi] or Engel Beltre, who is better suited for a fourth OF spot?
That's a question perfectly suited for the mailbag! Engel Beltre's defensive prowess is such that he's better off playing an everyday centerfield position, which makes him good for that, but not as good in the corners. Smolinski has experience at every outfield position, and first base (and technically second, though that was years ago), and can back up his utility nature with a bat that's not lacking in pop. Beltre's played most of his career in center, and could be a tradeable asset, as it looks like Leonys Martin's locked up the Rangers' centerfield for the foreseeable future.
Chris Garia and his 80-grade speed. Dude can fly around the bases.
@unlikelyfanatic If you were forming the Knights of the Round Table with Texas prospects, why is Gallo Arthur and who is the rest?
I'm not up enough on my proper Arthurian legends, so we'll do this Monty Python style. Gallo has a mythical weapon in his bat, though whether or not it was given to him by a strange woman lying in a pond is unknown. As for the rest? Well, I'm sure that minor leaguers, much like the knights of Camelot, eat ham and jam and Spam a lot.
@unlikelyfanatic How does Joey Gallo feel about the RG3 statue?
He probably doesn't care at all.
Finally: As of this week, the Minor League Mailbag will be moving to a once-every-two-weeks schedule. If you have questions, feel free to send them in to me on twitter (@unlikelyfanatic) any time.