By Ben Gellman
The Texas Rangers have put a lot of resources over the past decade into restocking their farm system, and here in Hickory, we get to see the benefits of that. Crawdads fans cheer on some of the top prospects in the game as they pass through, and today I’ll start to take a look at the top prospects at a few positions for the Rangers by examining catcher and first base.
Catcher: When will the Rangers be ready to trust Taylor Teagarden? The backstop has been waiting to take the reins behind the plate for Texas for a number of years, but a series of other catchers have blocked his way. His defensive skills are well-regarded, and he can provide a little pop with the bat as well. Teagarden is now behind Yorvit Torrealba, Matt Treanor and Mike Napoli, and there’s no telling when he’ll get a chance at the job. Expect Teagarden to spend most of the 2011 season playing with the Triple-A Round Rock Express, unless he gets used as a trade chip.
First Base: People forget how highly touted Chris Davis was for a very long time. Before Justin Smoak and Mitch Moreland climbed the first base depth charts, Davis was exciting Rangers fans with his light-tower power potential. Davis is versatile, able to man the hot corner as well, but the signing of Adrian Beltre puts Davis in limbo once again. He may eventually become a designated hitter by default for the Rangers, though he’ll need to cut down on his strikeouts and improve his pitch selection before he’ll get consistent at bats in the big leagues. Despite a terrific spring, Davis may start the 2011 season in Triple-A Round Rock.
Ben Gellman is in his first year as Broadcasting Assistant with the Hickory Crawdads.