Cody, Guzman named Rangers Prospects of the Year

Cody, Guzman named Rangers Prospects of the Year

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers believe they are close to seeing a group of highly-talented young pitchers emerge from the lower depths of their farm system. Kyle Cody could lead the way.

The 6-foot-7 right-hander may have been the best pitching news in the Rangers' farm system this year as he went from relative obscurity to their No. 18 prospect.

Rangers Prospects of the Year
2017 Ronald Guzman Kyle Cody
2016 Joey Gallo Yohander Mendez
2015 Lewis Brinson Ariel Jurado
Year Hitter Pitcher

"Among our starting pitchers, you could make the case that he was our most improved pitcher from the start of Spring Training to where he finished up," Rangers farm director Jayce Tingler said.

That improvement is why Cody joins Triple-A Round Rock first baseman Ronald Guzman as the Rangers Prospects of the Year by Bigger things are ahead for him if the improvement continues.

Cody was taken by the Twins with the 73rd overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, but did not sign. Instead he went back to the University of Kentucky and was taken in the sixth round by the Rangers in 2016. He pitched at Class A Spokane, going 2-5 with a 5.13 ERA in 12 games, including nine starts.

This year, the Rangers made Cody focus on his fastball command, a philosophy instituted throughout much of the system. It seemed to work well.

"He had some early struggles and then he started to figure out he could get outs with his fastball," Tinger said. "Once we did that, we added other weapons."

He was 6-6 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 18 starts at Class A Hickory and that merited a promotion to Class A Advanced Down East. He made five starts for the Wood Ducks and was 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA, striking out 35 in 30 2/3 innings with a sharp slider and a changeup that improved through the summer.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors, appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list and played the entire year in the organization.

Guzman, 22, holds a distinction in the Rangers' organization. He was signed on the same day -- July 2, 2011 -- out of the Dominican Republic as Nomar Mazara and was considered at least Mazara's equal as a prospect.

Mazara moved more quickly through the system, but Guzman is gaining ground. He spent this past season at Round Rock and batted .298 with 22 doubles, 12 home runs and 62 RBIs in 125 games. He had .375 on-base percentage and a .434 slugging percentage.

"I saw a lot of consistency on offense and it carried over to defense," Round Rock manager Jason Wood said. "He was able to maintain a .300-plus average for most of the year, hitting the ball all over the field. He had a great attitude, he really matured a lot this year. It's just a matter of getting a few more at-bats. Time will tell on his offense, whether he is a power threat or a guy who hits the ball all over the field."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.