Monday Newsletter time: That surging Texas Rangers farm system? It got even better Saturday.
The international signing period produced two top-30 players, including one ranked as high as No. 6 by industry publications.
The Texas Rangers’ farm system finished out 2021 ranked No. 11 in the majors after opening the year at No. 24. Their work Saturday could ensure a top-10 ranking to open 2022.
The Rangers opened the international signing period by landing 17 players from Latin America. Chief among them is Venezuelan outfielder Anthony Gutierrez.
MLB Pipeline ranked Gutierrez as the No. 6 player available. Baseball America pegged him at No. 13. The Rangers believe he was one of the three best prospects available.
Gutierrez is big (6-foot-3), hits for power and is athletic enough to play center field now, though he might grow into a right fielder. His instincts and makeup also stand out, and the whole package could help him come quickly to the majors.
How quickly? Well, he turned 17 in November and will likely spend at least part of his first professional season in the Dominican Summer League. Leody Taveras was just shy of his 22nd birthday when he debuted in 2020.
That’s pretty quick.
Another outfielder, Jose de Jesus from the Dominican Republic, was ranked No. 27 by MLB Pipeline (No. 35 by Baseball America). The 16-year-old is a speedy switch-hitter whose power is developing.
Gutierrez reportedly scored a $2 million bonus, while de Jesus agreed for $1.2 million.
Pushing for little brother
Speaking of player acquisition, the Rangers will have the third overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft in July, and top prospect Josh Jung has been scouting hard and working the phones this offseason from his home in Lubbock.
That’s also where his younger brother, Jace, lives and plays baseball at Texas Tech. Jace is one of the top prospects for the draft, and Josh wants the Rangers to unite him with his brother.
For instance, during fall practices, Jung would send texts to amateur scouting director Kip Fagg from the Red Raiders dugout.
“I send them just messing with them,” Josh said. “I know baseball. It's whatever happens is going to happen. They're going to take the best player. But, yeah, I'm always just messing with them.
“I send them video like, 'Hey, he just hit a tank. I've never seen someone hit one that far.' Just messing with them. Always put it in the back of their mind, though, like, 'Hey, he's available.'"
Jace, a left-handed hitter, might have more power than Josh, but Josh is thought to be the better all-around player. One problem: Jace is a second baseman, and the Rangers have no shortage of those.
One of them is Marcus Semien, who is locked up for seven years and $175 million. Another is Justin Foscue, the 2020 first-round pick.
But having the Jung brothers in the organization might be too hard to resist.
It’s hard to believe that spring training should be getting under way in just about month. A lot has to happen for that to actually happen, but it’s time to start jumping back into Rangers news. There’s been something every day at the Newsletter. Here’s our latest, in case you missed it.
The Sunday Read: No need to rush with surplus middle infielders
Texas Rangers Baseball Podcast: with shortstop Josh Smith
I wish my kids would conquer their food fears like this. Enjoy. See you Tuesday.