Sparkling young players key in deals
Rangers' haul huge in exchange for pair of veterans
ARLINGTON -- Jon Daniels wants the Rangers to become a powerhouse in drafting and scouting. He received four quality players to add to their farm system Tuesday after unloading two All-Star caliber players in Mark Teixeira and Eric Gagne.Daniels views the deals as an opportunity to build a consistent team that contends for a title every season. The Rangers acquired eight players in both trades, and Daniels is optimistic about the four young players the Rangers will add to their farm system -- two 18-year-olds, a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old. The Braves gave up shortstop Elvis Andrus, left-hander Beau Jones and right-hander Neftali Feliz in part of the deal for Teixeira, while the Red Sox gave up outfielder Engel Beltre as part of the deal for Gagne. "It was the single biggest opportunity to bring an infusion of young players with upside and makeup to complement what we're doing in the Draft and to complement what we're doing in Latin America," Daniels said. "There are a number of young players that will give the system some meat and give us the opportunity to be opportunistic and for us to go out and be the buyers." The prospect Daniels is most intrigued by is Andrus. Andrus is just 18 years old but Daniels is impressed by his ability to hold his own at high Class A this season. On top of that, Andrus is hitting .296 on the road. "For him to be going on the road and perform at that clip says a lot," Daniels said. "In two years he taught himself English. He is an extremely mature guy. I'm not going to put a timetable on him or expectations on him, but he has the ability to be a good player." While Daniels spoke with enthusiasm about the young players the Rangers acquired, he made it clear that the Rangers are not in a rebuilding mode. Daniels used the Cleveland Indians this season as an example of a team which made a quick turnaround. Daniels believes with veterans such as Michael Young and Kevin Millwood the team can accelerate quickly and become a contender again. One thing is for sure: the Rangers restocked their farm system with several young and talented players with high ceilings. "That is the consistent theme that we want to be a strength of this organization," Daniels said. "We're going to draft and acquire and mix them into the core. "Bottom line is we're ecstatic about the players we brought in. We think they'll help us for a long time and we're looking forward to getting into this chapter with the Rangers." Here is a closer look at each of the Minor Leaguers the Rangers acquired:
Elvis Andrus: Andrus is a highly touted shortstop out of Venezuela. He is ranked as the No. 65 prospect in 2007 by Baseball America, and is hitting .244 with three home runs and 37 RBIs at Class A Myrtle Beach. He has 25 stolen bases. Andrus is scouted as a plus defensive player, although he has 25 errors so far this season. Royals general manager Dayton Moore, who worked in Atlanta's front office before, compared Andrus to Derek Jeter. The 6-foot, 185-pound 18-year-old has also drawn comparisons to fellow Venezuelan shortstop Omar Vizquel. The Rangers assigned Andrus to Class A Bakersfield.Engel Beltre: Beltre is in his first year of professional baseball after signing with the Red Sox as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2006. The 18-year-old outfielder is hitting .215 (26-for-121) with three doubles, three triples, five home runs and 13 RBIs in 22 games for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox. He also has six stolen bases. The Rangers will assign Beltre to the Arizona Rookie League. Neftali Feliz: Feliz is a 19-year-old left-hander who was 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in seven games, including six starts, for the Braves' Rookie League team in Danville, Va. The 6-3, 180-pound Dominican Republic native is holding hitters to a .178 average and has 28 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings. Feliz is projected as a power pitcher with his above-average fastball, but needs to develop his secondary pitches. The Rangers have assigned Feliz to Class A Spokane. Beau Jones: Jones has split the 2007 season between Class A Myrtle Beach and Class A Rome with the Braves. At Myrtle Beach, he went 0-0 with a 15.26 ERA in five games, one start. At Rome, he went 5-0 with a 2.96 ERA with three saves in 21 games. He has 46 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings. The Rangers will assign him to Class A Clinton. Jones was selected 41st overall in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. Entering the season, he was ranked as the Braves' No. 14 prospect by Baseball America.
Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.