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Rangers Top Prospects: #9 Christian Villanueva
02/22/2012 6:13 PM ET

Rangers Top Prospects

#9 Christian Villanueva, 3b

The versatile Mexican infielder joined the organization in the fall of 2008 after impressing the Rangers’ brass while playing for Team Mexico at the 2008 Junior World Championships. After getting on base at a high percentage in a year-and-a-half of rookie ball, Villanueva had a solid 2011 with Class-A Hickory of the South Atlantic League. 

In his short minor league career, the 20-year-old has done everything asked of him and more. A shortstop in Mexico, Villanueva moved to third base and has thrived at the position defensively. His bat has begun to fill out as well. He hit .278 with 17 home runs and 84 RBIs on 130 hits in 126 games with the Crawdads. He also showed his speed as he managed to swipe 32 bags in 38 tries.

Scouts love to tell the story of how Villanueva developed his toughness and determination. While in Mexico, he was an infielder on a team with all eight of his brothers. The team traveled around to play adult competition, and he played multiple positions while trying to stand out among his siblings.

Third base is a position the Rangers are not lacking in from top to bottom in the organization. With Adrian Beltre entrenched in Arlington and prospect Michael Olt positioned higher in the system, Villanueva may have to wait to ride his athleticism and versatility to a spot on the 40-man roster in a few years. Although he has been groomed exclusively at third so far, his profile as a doubles hitter can be played in all four corners of the diamond.

Look for Villanueva to see significant time at Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach in 2012. 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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