Texas Rangers

Rangers’ system deeper at third base with this player to be named later in Kela trade

No one can be faulted for assuming that Josh Jung is the Texas Rangers’ future third baseman.

They used the eighth overall pick on the former Texas Tech star this year in the MLB draft, and he found success in his first taste of professional baseball.

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When the Rangers dropped him into the lineup at Low A Hickory, another third baseman had to be moved out of the way.

That third baseman is the Rangers’ No. 10 prospect in the Star-Telegram’s second annual top 10 rankings.

No. 10 Sherten Apostel, 3B

Age: 20 (March 11, 1999)

Bats/throws: Right/Right

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 200 pounds

How acquired: 2018 trade with Pittsburgh

It might be assumed, but it’s not always true, that a player to be named later in any trade isn’t a quality prospect.

When the Rangers unloaded Keona Kela on the Pittsburgh Pirates the night before the July 31 trade deadline in 2018, the headliner coming back was Royse City left-hander Taylor Hearn.

He was the Pirates’ No. 7 prospect and was chewing up the Eastern League. Hearn is tall and throws hard, and was pitching with power and polish when he departed Double A Altoona for the pitching-starved Rangers’ farm system.

The Rangers were given three weeks to identify a player to complete the deal, and on Aug. 17 settled on a third baseman from Curacao who had played only 41 games in the United States.

In those 41 games, though, Sherten Apostel had collected 14 extra-base hits, half of them homers, and had consistently put together quality at-bats and shown good plate discipline for a 19-year-old.

Those traits came together for him in only 12 games after the trade, in which he batted .351 and posted a .929 OPS for Short Season Class A Spokane.

Apostel showed in 2019 that his first stateside season wasn’t a fluke, and the Rangers see the potential for a capable MLB corner infielder. He has the size and ability to do it.

“He’s a monster,” High A Down East manager Corey Ragsdale said. “The impressive thing about Sherten this year was he struggled to start both levels. I don’t know if it was added pressure or whatever, but at the end of the year he was our best hitter. At the toughest time in the playoffs, he was the guy that was locked in.”

Third base is a priority for the Rangers this season, and they won’t be able to fill it with someone in the system. Apostel and first-rounder Josh Jung don’t have the experience and need more time to develop.

The top prize would be landing Anthony Rendon, a native Texan who can be a free agent after this season. He’s currently tied up with the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series, and another future free agent, Josh Donaldson, is playing in the other NLDS with the Atlanta Braves.

The Rangers might be tempted to get a seat filler for Jung or Apostel. Prospects on the way to the majors will factor into the Rangers’ free-agent planning, general manager Jon Daniels said.

Apostle showed that he can handle third base, even though he might eventually be shifted across the diamond to first base. The Rangers need help there, too.

“We’re trying to keep him away from there as far as possible,” said Ragsdale, who also serves as the Rangers’ minor-league field coordinator.

Apostel’s primary focus during the Rangers’ Futures Camp was continuing to work on his footwork at third base, and that will continue throughout the off-season.

He was happy with his season, overcoming the sluggish starts at each new level. He batted a combined .251 with 19 home runs and a .779 OPS at Low A Hickory and Down East, with the majority of his at-bats at Hickory.

He’s eager to improve everything this off-season and jump feet first into 2020.

“I had a good season, thank God,” Apostel said. “I’m proud of what God has put in front of me and what he blessed me with.

“Of course, you can’t stop. It’s motivated me to have a better season next year. It’s difficult to keep working when you have a good season. Some guys get complacent. Now it’s a challenge to keep working. I need to stay hungry, keep working hard and not take anything for granted.”

Top 10 Rangers prospects

No. 10: Sherten Apostel, 3B

No. 9: Thursday

No. 8: Friday

No. 7: Monday

No. 6: Tuesday

No. 5: Oct. 16

No. 4: Oct. 17

No. 3: Oct. 18

No. 2: Oct. 21

No. 1: Oct. 22

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This story was originally published October 9, 2019 6:30 AM.

After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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