My half-full glass tendencies notwithstanding, I was a little concerned that yesterday’s annual Newberg Report event, this year benefiting Puerto Rico hurricane relief efforts and our buddy Devin Pike’s personal siege on cancer, wouldn’t have the momentum it usually does, since my failure to get my act together in the summer meant we were gathering in the off-season, well before the Winter Meetings get baseball adrenaline cooking again, rather than as a pregame event.
I was happily wrong.
Tepid & Levi & Will were awesome, JD pulled the curtain back spectacularly as always, Bret anchored the auction in a way I just can’t imagine anyone else could, Devin produced and directed masterfully like it was nothing, and your generosity was on remarkable display.
Through registrations for the event, raffle ticket and book sales, and auction proceeds, we’ve raised nearly $30,000 for Puerto Rico and for Devin.
Super proud to be part of this community.
The Rangers and the other 29 teams must decide by tomorrow which minor leaguers who meet specified service time thresholds they’ll add to their 40-man rosters in order to shield them from the upcoming December 14 Rule 5 Draft.
Two years ago, I was off by one when I predicted Texas would add Nomar Mazara, Yohander Mendez, and Connor Sadzeck to the roster, leaving Jose Leclerc off. (As it turned out, Texas traded Spencer Patton on deadline day, creating more roster space, and added Leclerc along with the other three.) Last year I got it right — as did just about everyone else — when I speculated that “first baseman Ronald Guzman will be the only internal addition to the 40-man roster on November 18 — aside from Drew Robinson, who was added two weeks beforehand.”
This year may be the most difficult 40-man roster decision I can recall for the Rangers. While there aren’t the slam dunks that Mazara and Guzman were, there are more players with legitimate upside who might also be considered legitimate risks to leave exposed to the draft than in any year I can remember.
To me there are 11 players (out of more than 50) that I had trouble comfortably ruling out. Now, even though the roster is down to 30 at the moment — and could conceivably be pared down even further by a player or two — there are obviously far too many big league needs on the roster to start plugging in nine or 10 prospects.
But I’m going to guess there will be six: catcher Jose Trevino, righthanders Jonathan Hernandez and Ariel Jurado, lefthanders Joe Palumbo and Brett Martin, and Swiss Army knife Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
At some level I wanted to find room for five other righthanders — Sam Wolff, Scott Williams, Jairo Beras, Edgar Arredondo, and Emerson Martinez — but ultimately couldn’t. Maybe, in some cases, Texas will.
As always, there will be a 5,000-plus-word chapter in this year’s Bound Edition (“The 40-Man Roster Conundrum”) taking you through that process — how Rule 5 works, the state of the Rangers’ 40-man roster as the off-season got rolling, which Texas prospects are draft-eligible this winter, and an analysis of which players have probably been at the forefront of the internal discussion, and why — followed by the prediction above.
Preorders for the book should open up in the next day or two.
The book will also include, as it does each year, write-ups on 72 prospects in the Rangers system, ranked by position (and overall). Here’s a sample, a righthander who is four years from being Rule 5-eligible but who may very well be in Arlington before that — number 55 for the Arizona League Rangers, righthander Hans Crouse:
Hans Crouse, RHP (Number 4 overall) (2nd round/2017)
“He’s got a little different chemistry about him. But he’s got the right makeup. I don’t know if he fears anybody when he’s playing. He doesn’t fear anybody when he’s pitching.” — Tom Faris, Crouse’s coach at Dana Hills High School (Doug Miller/MLB.com)
The repertoire is electric and the debut numbers were insane, but I’m not sure anything has me any more excited about Crouse’s upside than his demeanor. Nearly every draft report on the 18-year-old made reference to an overly competitive approach that apparently rubbed some wrong, but by all accounts he was a star among Rangers teammates and coaches for the exact same character traits that had apparently raised red flags for others. After signing for $1.45 million in a $926,500 slot as the next-to-last pick in this summer’s second round, Crouse blew through the Arizona League over 11 carefully allotted appearances, allowing one earned run over 20 regular-season innings while holding hitters to a .109/.216/.188 slash line (seven hits, 30 strikeouts, and seven walks) before getting seven of his 11 outs on strikes in the Rangers’ season-ending playoff loss to the Giants’ AZL squad. His fastball sits 96–99 (potentially a “true 80-grade pitch on the 20–80 scouting scale with added strength and size,” according to Baseball America), with a wipeout curve that scouts believe will be a plus offering as well (and that he’s already shown aptitude for adding and subtracting off of). When it comes to starting pitchers, the stuff comes first, but give me a Clemens/Lee/Scherzer/Sale/Bumgarner/Stroman personality on top of that, and it’s time to roll. I’m really, really fired up about this player.
Scott or I will send an update out when the Rangers announce tomorrow’s roster boost.
Thanks again for making this year’s event one of the coolest we’ve had.