Rangers to give top talent a look in big league camp

Gallo, Alfaro among youth who will get opportunity to impress

Rangers to give top talent a look in big league camp

ARLINGTON -- Spring Training always means the unveiling of some of an organization's top prospects, even if it's unlikely they will make the team.

The Rangers will have an impressive group in Surprise, Ariz., among the 61 players coming to Major League Spring Training. But remember, just because a player is not in big league camp doesn't mean they are forgotten. Players can always be brought over from Minor League camp at a moment's notice.

In the countdown to Spring Training, here are some of the top prospects to watch in Rangers camp.

3B Joey Gallo: After hitting 82 home runs over the past two Minor League seasons, everybody is eager to see the Rangers' prized power prodigy in his first big league camp. The No. 9 overall prospect as ranked by MLB.com, Gallo is not expected to make the team -- he still strikes out too much -- but he certainly could cause a spring feeding frenzy.

Top Prospects: Alfaro, TEX

C Jorge Alfaro: Ranked No. 45 overall by MLB.com, Alfaro is one of the top catching prospects in the game, although he is still refining his offensive and defensive skills. He is only 21 and may be the Rangers' best catching prospect since Ivan Rodriguez.

P Luke Jackson: He seemed headed to Arlington last September until he went 1-3 with a 10.35 ERA in 11 games at Triple-A. He will be back in Round Rock, but the Rangers still expect his struggles there last season only to be a slight bump on his way to the Major Leagues.

Top Prospects: Gonzalez, TEX

P Alex Gonzalez: The Rangers' No. 1 pick in 2013 and No. 5 prospect in the organization as ranked by MLB.com may have the best feel for pitching of any prospect in camp. The consensus is he'll pitch for the Rangers at some point this summer if not at the beginning of the season.

P Alec Asher: A fourth-round pick in 2012, Asher isn't overpowering, but he has a good four-pitch repertoire with the prerequisite necessary command. The No. 14-ranked prospect in the organization, he just keeps pitching well as he climbs through the system.

P Jerad Eickhoff: A 15th-round pick in 2011, Eickhoff has an excellent sinker with a curve to go with it. He is still developing other pitches. He led the Texas League in strikeouts last season and cut down his walks by 25 percent. The Rangers liked him enough to add him to the 40-man roster this winter, but he can be erratic at times.

Top Prospects: Kela, TEX

P Keone Kela: A 12th-round pick in 2012, Kela could be one of the most interesting pitchers in camp. He may be the hardest thrower, with a fastball that can hit 100 mph. He also has a hard slider. While some of the other pitchers are still developing as starters, Kela is a reliever with a kind of arm that clubs aren't afraid to use in the bullpen. He could be a future closer.

OF Jared Hoying: He has been around big league camp for the past few years, and now he gets rewarded for his dedication with an official invite for the first time. Hoying is a left-handed hitter coming off a strong Triple-A season and is among the many candidates for a spot in the outfield.

C Patrick Cantwell: A third-round pick in 2012, Cantwell is an excellent defensive catcher with a reputation for calling a game and working well with his pitchers. The offensive production just hasn't been as good as expected from a third-round college pick.

IF Hanser Alberto: The next good young Rangers infielder, Alberto could be important, with Luis Sardinas traded to the Brewers and Jurickson Profar still trying to come back from shoulder surgery. Alberto is an excellent defensive shortstop and good contact hitter even if he swings at everything. In four Minor League seasons, he has 86 stolen bases and just 77 walks.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.