This time of year is always an interesting one, as MLB teams must solidify their 40-man roster in advance of next month's Rule 5 draft, which exposes prospects who have too much service time to be held in the minors and are open for other teams' taking.
On Thursday night, the Rangers placed four prospects on the 40-man roster, giving them a pay bump and meaning they'd be in big-league spring training if it were to begin today. It also symbolizes the team's confidence in the players because it protects them from being picked up by another team.
The group was highlighted by pitcher Luke Jackson and catcher Jorge Alfaro, who is one of the club's top prospects alongside Joey Gallo in the entire organization. Gallo, and other top prospects, don't yet have the time to allow them to be claimed in the Rule 5 draft, hence them not being added.
The two were joined by shortstop Hanser Alberto, a defensive-minded shortstop who won the minor-league equivalent of the Gold Glove, and pitcher Jerad Eickhoff.
Jackson struggled 10 starts after a midseason promotion to Triple-A Round Rock, but at Double-A Frisco he was one of the best pitchers in the Texas League as he was 8-2 with a 3.02 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings.
Alfaro had a short stint at Frisco after spending much of the season at High-A Hickory, and he hit .261 with 17 homers and 87 RBIs combined in the two leagues. He showed some rawness behind the plate with 13 errors but is still widely considered one of the top catching prospects in the game.