The Rangers made it one of their top priorities under new management a few years ago. Now, the organization has developed one of the most productive international pipelines. The scouts in Latin America may have found another five-tool diamond in Leody Taveras, considered by Baseball America as the Rangers No.1 prospect.
The front office in Texas had their eye on the 18-year old outfielder from the Dominican Republic at an early age and officially signed him once he became eligible a couple of years ago. He is the cousin of former Major League outfielder Willy Taveras, known for his speed and defense during his career.
The younger Taveras has yet to play a full season in the organization, starting out in the Dominican Summer League before being sent to the Rookie-level Arizona League last season, where he hit .278 with a home run and 15 RBIs in 144 at-bats. He was ranked the No. 1 prospect in the AZL before being promoted to Class-A Spokane.
The scouting report on Taveras is he’s considered a well-rounded player with a short, simple swing from both sides of the plate. Taveras skilled at hitting the fastball, but is still learning how to handle the off-speed pitches. He uses the entire field with a line-drive approach and has solid strike-zone awareness.
In the field, the natural fit for Taveras is likely centerfield. He appears to play the position with ease as a plus runner with long strides and can cover plenty of ground with his speed. Taveras has sharp reads and gets a good jump on the ball.
Taveras will likely start the year at Class A Hickory, but probably has the highest ceiling in the Rangers system. The Rangers have a track record of hitting the accelerator on their most talented international prospects through the system, with Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar as recent examples. With the skill set and ability that Taveras has displayed in a short period of time, he could also move up the chain quicker than expected.