With the 2013 first-year player draft approaching quickly, the Texas Rangers only have a few more days before deciding which direction they will go in with their pair of first-round selections.
The Rangers own the No. 23 overall pick based on their record from last season, and the No. 30 overall pick as a result of Josh Hamilton signing with the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason.
In a draft in which there is no clear-cut first overall pick, there are numerous ways that the board could fall.
With the both of the Rangers' picks coming later in the first round, it's more difficult to predict who will still be available. Remember, many people thought Mark Appel was going to be the first overall selection in last year's draft. Instead, the Houston Astros decided to select shortstop Carlos Correa with the first overall pick, as Appel watched himself slip all the way to the No. 8 overall pick.
First Round: No. 23 Overall Selection
Doug Mead—Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga
Keith Law—Travis Demeritte, SS, Winder-Barrow HS (Winder, Ga.
Jim Callis—Hunter Green, LHP, Warren East HS (Bowling Green, Ky.)
Prediction—Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State
Though I agree with Mead and Callis that the Rangers will select a left-handed pitcher with their first selection, I don't agree that it will be Gonzalez or Green.
Sean Manaea may wind up being the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in this draft.
He was once looked at as a potential first overall pick after his strong showing in the Cape Cod League in which he posted a 1.22 ERA against some of the best players in the country. Manaea possesses a plus fastball that reached 96 mph last summer and has been able to throw all three of his pitches for strikes.
However, after a junior year in which his velocity dipped, some scouts started to wonder who the real Manaea was. Many writers, including Mead, believe that his velocity issues are as simple as a mechanics tweak, and who better than Mike Maddux and the rest of the Rangers farm system coaches to be able to assist Manaea with his mechanics.
It may be a gamble for the Rangers at No. 23 (neither Law nor Callis have him in the first round), but it will be hard to pass up on a talented arm like Manaea's if he is still available for Texas.
First Round: No. 30 Overall Selection
Doug Mead—Billy McKinney, OF, Plano West HS (Texas)
Keith Law—Cody Reed, LHP, Northwest Mississippi CC
Jim Callis—Riley Unroe, SS/OF, Desert Ridge HS (Mesa, Ariz.)
Prediction—Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State
With the Rangers selecting a pitcher with the first of their two first-round selections, expect the front office to turn its head toward an outfielder with a middle-of-the-order bat; enter Aaron Judge.
Judge possesses arguably the most raw power in the draft. In 2012, he was the winner of the TD Ameritrade College Baseball Home Run Derby with 16 homers in three rounds.
He is also one of the biggest players in the draft as well.
Standing at 6'7" and weighing 255 pounds, Judge is more than capable of putting out his fair share of home runs but hasn't necessarily done so during his collegiate career. Judge only hit 12 home runs during his junior year at Fresno, but those same 12 home runs were a career high for him.
Judge wasn't all about power, as he was able to hit .369 for the Bulldogs as well.
His problem moving forward will be his approach at the plate and finding a way to not let his size be used against him. Sure, Judge will crush the ball when he makes contact, but he also finished second on the Bulldogs in strikeouts with 53 in 56 games played.
With Nelson Cruz most likely leaving for free agency, and with A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman both being toward the end of their careers, the Rangers will be looking for a power source within the next few years. Expect that power source to come from Aaron Judge.