Mark Teixeira, the #5 overall pick in 2001, was the last top draft pick to make a significant impact while playing for the Texas Rangers.
The MLB 2011 First-Year Player Draft field is being touted as one of the richest in terms of baseball talent in recent memory.
Top college hurlers such as UCLA's Gerrit Cole, Virginia's Danny Hultzen, and Texas' Taylor Jungmann abound, as well as elite high school arms like Dylan Bundy and Taylor Guerrieri. This draft is loaded with pitching talent that should allow teams to stockpile arms over the course of the 50 rounds of draft picks.
Not only are there elite pitchers available, but Rice's 3B Anthony Rendon and high school outfielder Bubba Starling headline a talented crop of position players who will compete with the arms for high draft pick status.
As far as the Texas Rangers are concerned, they won't be able to cash in on the top names in the draft, as their strong finish in 2010 moved them down in the overall selection order. They also forfeited their top pick at number 26 to the Red Sox, in order to sign Type-A free agent Adrian Beltre to play third base. As part of the same signing, they also forfeited their number 40 pick to Boston.
Thankfully, not all hope was lost, as the Rangers were able to recoup two draft slots at numbers 33 and 37 from the Phillies as compensation for losing their own Type-A free agent Cliff Lee in the off-season. Following the 37th pick, they won't make another selection until number 83 in the second round.
In order to assess the Rangers' needs and determine a sound strategy for the 2011 draft, let's take a look at their 2010 draft results, some of their top prospects already in the system, and some options that they might have as they prepare to delve into the talented pool of players represented in this year's first-year player draft.
When evaluating the ideal draft strategies for a franchise, it is prudent to examine the upper echelon of the prospects throughout their minor league system to determine where their needs lie.
Most of the top prospects within the Ranger system are still young and a few years away from making an impact in Arlington, but many experts agree that the team possesses one of the top farm systems in baseball. Of the highest regarded prospects on the farm, only Scheppers (24) and Kirkman (24) are above double-A.
The Rangers are stocked with talent in the lower levels, however. Martin Perez and Robbie Erlin are highly-regarded lefties who have tantalized with their massive talents.
Texas' infield, though set for now, holds bright hopes for the future with Profar, Sardinas and Olt primed to make serious impacts in a few years.
Engel Beltre, while significantly talented, has recently had character questions arise, following his bizarre altercation with fans in which he threw a trash can at fans after a game-winning home run. He is currently serving a 15-game suspension for the incident. Beltre was recently joined at double-A Frisco by electric OF, Cuban defector Leonys Martin.
According to Baseball America, the Rangers' Top 10 prospects prior to the 2011 season are:
|1.||Martin Perez, LHP
|2.||Jurickson Profar, SS|
|3.||Tanner Scheppers, RHP|
|4.||Robbie Erlin, LHP|
|5.||Engel Beltre, OF|
|6.||Michael Kirkman, LHP|
|7.||Mike Olt, 3B|
|8.||Luis Sardinas, SS|
|9.||Jake Skole, OF|
|10.||Miguel de los Santos, LHP|
In 2010, the Rangers had a fruitful draft, owning four of the first 50 selections. This year, they don't have the same luxury, since they forfeited numerous draft picks as compensation for free agent signings in the offseason. Texas will only have two picks in the first 50 slots as a result of losing those draft choices.
Here is a look at the results of the Rangers' draft last June. The team drafted 25 high school players and 28 college players. There were 31 pitchers selected, five catchers, 10 outfielders and seven infielders.
|Round||Ovl #||Player Name||Pos||Age||Drafted From|
|1||15||Jake Skole||CF||18||Blessed Trinity (Roswell,GA)|
|1||22||Kellin Deglan||C||18||R.E. Mountain (Langley,BC)|
|1||45||Luke Jackson||P||18||Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale,FL)|
|1||49||Mike Olt||3B||21||University of Connecticut|
|2||72||Cody Buckel||P||18||Royal (Simi Valley,CA)|
|3||103||Jordan Akins||RF||18||Union Grove (McDonough,GA)|
|4||136||Drew Robinson||SS||18||Silverado (Las Vegas,NV)|
|5||166||Justin Grimm||P||21||University of Georgia|
|6||196||Brett Nicholas||C||21||University of Missouri|
|7||226||Jimmy Reyes||P||21||Elon University|
|8||256||Jonathan Roof||SS||21||Michigan State University|
|9||286||Zach Osborne||P||22||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|10||316||Jared Hoying||SS||21||University of Toledo|
|11||346||Christopher Hanna||P||18||Stratford (Goose Creek,SC)|
|12||376||Josh Richmond||RF||21||University of Louisville|
|13||406||Andrew Clark||1B||22||University of Louisville|
|14||436||Nick Tepesch||P||21||University of Missouri|
|15||466||Ryan Rodebaugh||P||21||Kennesaw State University|
|16||496||Ryan Strausborger||CF||22||Indiana State University|
|17||526||Anthony Haase||P||20||Cochise College|
|18||556||Garrett Buechele||3B||20||University of Oklahoma|
|19||586||Brett Weibley||P||21||Kent State University|
|20||616||Sam Wilson||P||18||Eldorado (Albuquerque,NM)|
|21||646||Joe Van Meter||P||21||Virginia Commonwealth University|
|22||676||Ben Rowen||P||21||Virginia Tech|
|23||706||Andres Perez-Lobo||P||18||Columbus (Miami,FL)|
|24||736||Jacob Cole||P||18||Sahuaro (Tucson,AZ)|
|25||766||Kendall Radcliffe||CF||17||Morgan Park (Chicago,IL)|
|26||796||Chase Johnson||P||18||Fallbrook (Fallbrook,CA)|
|27||826||Alexander Claudio||P||18||Isabel Flores (Juncos,PR)|
|28||856||John Kukuruda||P||18||East Nicolaus (Trowbridge,CA)|
|29||886||Trae Davis||P||18||Mexia (Mexia,TX)|
|30||916||Brian Ragira||CF||18||Martin (Arlington,TX)|
|31||946||Justin Earls||P||22||University of Georgia|
|32||976||Steven McKinnon||P||18||Cowichan Secondary (Duncan,BC)|
|33||1006||Matthew Hill||P||21||Georgia Perimeter College|
|34||1036||Kevin Rodland||SS||22||University of Nevada|
|35||1066||John Lieske||P||18||Harlem (Loves Park,IL)|
|36||1096||Jason Kudlock||OF||22||Cal State Bakersfield|
|37||1126||John Pustay||CF||18||Pine Creek (Colorado Springs,CO)|
|38||1156||Carson Vitale||C||21||Creighton University|
|39||1186||Ryan Woolley||P||22||University of Alabama-Birmingham|
|40||1216||Travis Meiners||CF||22||Dallas Baptist University|
|41||1246||Colby Killian||P||22||Emporia State University|
|42||1276||Kevin Johnson||P||22||University of Cincinnati|
|43||1306||Christopher Roglen||RF||18||Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins,CO)|
|44||1336||Shawn Stuart||P||21||Merced College|
|45||1366||Johnathan Moore||C||22||Houston Baptist University|
|46||1396||Daryl Norris||P||19||Fairhope (Fairhope,AL)|
|47||1426||Dan Ward||P||18||Garfield Heights (Garfield Heights,OH)|
|48||1456||Forrest Koumas||P||17||Lugoff Elgin (Lugoff,SC)|
|49||1486||Juan Gomes||C||18||Southridge (Miami,FL)|
|50||1516||Trevor Teykl||P||18||Kempner (Sugar Land,TX)|
Draft results table courtesy of Baseballcube.com
When the Phillies signed Cliff Lee over the off-season, the Rangers were able to recoup the two draft picks they lost in order to sign Adrian Beltre.
- Forfeited the No. 26 pick to Boston as compensation for signing free agent Adrian Beltre
- Received the No. 33 pick from Philadelphia as compensation for the Phillies signing Cliff Lee
Compensation Round A
- Received the No. 37 pick from Philadelphia as compensation for the Phillies signing Cliff Lee
- Forfeited the No.40 pick to Boston as compensation for signing free agent Adrian Beltre
- Forfeited the No. 54 Pick to San Diego as compensation for signing free agent Yorvit Torrealba
- No. 83
- No. 113
Compensation Round B
- No Picks
- No. 144
- No. 174
- No. 204
- No. 234
- No. 264
- No. 294
- No. 324
The draft will continue through 50 rounds or until each of the 30 teams passes on making a selection.
The Rangers, since they will not have a draft pick until No. 33 this year, will have to opt for either a diamond in the rough hurler who falls to them at this point in the first round, possibly a risky option due to injury history, or a superior athlete who they believe can transform into a well-rounded baseball player due to his athleticism.
They'll miss out on the elite players in the draft, but will have to be savvy in order to fortify their system and find the next star who will ascend to the big leagues in the next few seasons. With no chances at the Gerrit Coles, Anthony Rendons or Bubba Starlings of the draft, the Rangers will have to rely on the quality of their scouting and maybe a little luck to succeed in the 2011 draft. Thankfully, as we have seen over the years, baseball stars come from many various levels of the draft—they're certainly not all first-rounders.
According to Baseball America's MLB draft experts:
33. RANGERS (Jim Callis): "Expect Texas to grab the best remaining athlete on the board at this point. Even with Fisher and Nimmo gone, that leaves Miami-Dade JC outfielder Brian Goodwin, Farragut HS (Knoxville, Tenn.) catcher/third baseman Nicky Delmonico, New Trier HS (Winnetka, Ill.) outfielder Charlie Tilson and Central Catholic HS (Modesto, Calif.) outfielder Billy Flamion. Assuming the Rangers believe he can remain in center field, their pick is Goodwin, who wouldn't have been eligible for the 2011 draft had he not transferred from North Carolina."
Since it is widely expected that the Rangers will opt for a top athlete like Goodwin or Brandon Nimmo with their first-round pick, they may look to find a hurler with their next pick which comes to them only a few slots later at No. 37, in Compensation Round A.
There may be some quality arms still available at that point; someone like Zach Cone of Georgia or high schooler Tyler Beede. However, the Rangers realize that left-handed pitching is an asset in their home ballpark, so they may hope to load up on LH talent if there is some available to them at pick 37.
Virginia's Danny Hultzen and Georgia Tech's Jed Bradley figure to be gone by then, but Texas could hope to go after high schoolers Daniel Norris or Henry Owens and, if they're gone, potentially Gonzaga's Ryan Carpenter. Thankfully the Rangers have a stock of highly-regarded LH arms in their system already, with Martin Perez headlining the crop, and with Robbie Erlin not far behind.
Of course, left-handed pitchers, while desirable, aren't absolutely imperative so, if a promising right-handed arm falls to the Rangers, they'll likely opt for him. There are raw, but significantly potential-laden, arms like 6'8" high school hurler Hawtin Buchanan that teams may be willing to take a chance on.
It's not likely that the Rangers will seek too many middle infielders high in the draft since they have Elvis Andrus currently manning SS, and have uber-talented infielders Jurickson Profar and Luis Sardinas progressing through the minors.
However, if a superior athlete falls into your lap, you're often willing to select him, regardless of his position.
Following their two picks at number 33 and 37, the Rangers won't select again until No. 83 in the second round, No. 113 in the third round, then No. 144 in the fourth, and every 30th slot after that.
With few draft picks high in the selection process, the Rangers will need to rely on being savvy and potentially other teams passing on highly regarded prospects due to either injury concerns or doubts about signability.
This is where teams need to be creative and intelligent, scouting for tools rather than finished products. If you can find superior athletes who are maybe a little rough around the edges, you jump at the opportunity and count on your minor league coaching staffs to turn those diamonds in the rough into well-rounded baseball players.
The same philosophy can be applied to pitching. Clearly, the elite pitchers will be gone, but if you can find hurlers with impressive arms who possibly project well as they mature, you can take a chance, then strive to turn them into polished pitchers.
Arms like Louisville's Tony Zych or El Paso high schooler Ricardo Jacquez may intrigue teams with their power arms.
Another pitcher with potential who has yet to harness his abilities fully is Stanford lefty Brett Mooneyham. Though he is currently out for the year with a finger injury, his large 6'5" frame and left arm have intrigued scouts for a few years.