After the dust settled following the signing deadline on July 12 for players taken in the June first-year-player draft, as well as the July 2 signing date for international players, Major League Baseball Pipeline made its midseason adjustments to the prospect rankings for all 30 teams.
Five current members of the Hickory Crawdads are among the top-30 list for the Texas Rangers, led by third baseman Josh Jung.
Jung, a native of San Antonio, Texas, was the Rangers’ first-round pick (eighth overall) out of Texas Tech and is already tabbed the club’s top overall prospect. Jung led Texas Tech to the College World Series in June before joining the Rangers’ rookie league team in Arizona in mid-July. He went 10-for-17 in his four games there before receiving a two-level promotion to Hickory. Because of his highly regarded hitting tools and a strong arm at third, Jung is also the No. 5 minor league prospect at his position and the No. 60 prospect overall in the minors.
Along with Jung, the Crawdads also have one other prospect among MLB’s top-100 minor league prospects, right-hander Hans Crouse. The Rangers’ second-round pick in 2017 out of Dana Hills High in Dana Point, California, is currently No. 83 on the list and the No. 3 Rangers prospect. With a top-notch fastball and slider combination, Crouse has struck out 59 and walked 13 in 65 innings this season with a 4.29 ERA in 15 starts. Crouse missed a month before the Rangers announced he would have surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow following the season. However, according to several published reports, doctors assured the Rangers Crouse could pitch in limited action the remainder of this season.
Crouse’s fellow starting pitcher Cole Winn is right behind on the prospect list at No. 4. Winn, the Rangers’ first-round pick (15th overall) in 2018 out of Orange Lutheran (California), impressed the Rangers so much at instructionals last fall and at extended spring training this season that the club had him make his pro debut with Hickory on May 16. He has shown promise with a mid-90s fastball but is working on command of his repertoire (31 walks in 47 innings), which includes a curve and changeup.
A third member of the Crawdads’ rotation, right-hander Ronny Hernandez, is also among the Rangers’ top-30 prospects at No. 19. The native of Banao, Dominican Republic, started the season at extended spring training. However, the Rangers saw enough of the then 18-year-old at last year’s Dominican Summer League team (1.55 ERA, 79 strikeouts, 8 walks in 58 innings) to bump Henriquez up two levels to Hickory. He started the year at No. 30 but has opened eyes with his pure ability. Small in stature (5-foot-10, 155 pounds) Henriquez often clocks the radar gun in the upper 90s with a sharp slider and a developing changeup.
The Crawdads’ youngest position player is shortstop Jonathan Ornelas, who is the Rangers’ No. 17 prospect, which is a bump up from the No. 18 slot at the start of the season. Originally brought in to play several positions in the infield and outfield, the Rangers’ third round pick in 2018 out of Kellis High in Scottsdale, Arizona, was moved to shortstop on a regular basis after the season-ending injury to starter Chris Seise. The 19-year-old has held his own in his first full-season with a slash line of .255/.315/.383 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) after 90 games through Aug. 5.
Other names on the top-30 list from this year’s team included catcher Sam Huff (2), LHP Brock Burke (7), 3B Sherten Apostel (10), SS Chris Seise (20), RHP Yerry Rodriguez (21) and OF Julio Pablo Martinez (25). Huff, Apostel and Martinez are all at high-A Down East. Burke, who made an injury rehab start for Hickory, is at AA Frisco (Texas) Seise (torn labrum in left shoulder) and Rodriguez (right elbow sprain) are currently on the Crawdads’ injured list and out for the season.
Thursday: Charleston (South Carolina) at Hickory, 7 p.m. (Thirsty Thursday, Llamas de Hickory night, Cornhole Tournament)
Friday: Charleston at Hickory, 7 p.m. (Postgame Fireworks, Hero Night featuring Heroic featuring Heoric Ventures, Silent Auction)
Saturday: Charleston at Hickory, 5 p.m. (Friends)
Sunday: Charleston at Hickory, 5 p.m. (Church Bulletin Sunday, Purr in the Park)
Hickory Crawdads (team rankings by MLB.com) (Texas Rangers affiliate): 3B Josh Jung (1), RHP Hans Crouse (3), RHP Cole Winn (4), SS Jonathan Ornelas (17), RHP Ronny Henriquez (19).
Charleston RiverDogs (New York Yankees affiliate): RHP Yoendrys Gomez (8), RHP Roansy Contreras (13), RHP Luis Medina (21), LF Canaan Smith (26), SS Oswald Peraza (30).