Number 4: Texas Rangers 2015 MLB Draft Preview
Picking at number four is the highest selection the Texas Rangers have had in the draft since the mid 80s when they took Kevin Brown with the fourth pick out of Georgia Tech in 1986. The Rangers could have had their third first overall pick in franchise history as they had the worst record in baseball as late as September 20th. However that late season surge lead by Tim Bogar, who was trying to give himself a head start in the managerial search to replace Ron Washington killed those dreams. The Rangers (67-95) finished with the third worst record in baseball last season finishing ahead of only the Colorado Rockies (66-96) and Arizona Diamondbacks (64-98). The reason the Rangers are picking fourth is because the Houston Astros failed to sign their number one overall pick from 2014, Brady Aiken.
Injuries killed the Rangers hope of having any chance at a half decent season in 2014, so wouldn’t it be fitting for a bunch of projected Top 5 draft picks to also get hurt? Well that is exactly what happened as Brady Aiken, Michael Matuella, and Nathan Kirby all went down with injuries. All three had projections of being off the board in the first five picks before the season.
It just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
Well, not all is lost as there are still quite a few talented players in this draft that are especially deep in the college pitching department. There are also some whispers of the Diamondbacks reaching with their number one pick as a means to spreading out their bonus pool money, meaning a very good baseball player could fall right into the Rangers lap. Now there are two ways the Rangers could go at this draft. Option one is to take the best available player on the board. Option two is to reach and draft an under slot guy so they can spread that bonus money to guys who fall due to signability concerns.
There appears to be a consensus among who the Top Four players are in this draft, at least for right now. There’s Florida High School shortstop and FSU commit Brendan Rodgers, Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson, LSU shortstop Alex Bregman, and the wild card here is flame-throwing right-hander Dillon Tate out of UC Santa Barbra.
With talk about the D’Backs reaching at 1-1, there is a slight chance Brendan Rodgers falls right into the Rangers lap. Rodgers would be a dream scenario for JD and the Rangers as he is the consensus number one talent in a draft that lacks impact talent at the top. He grades above average across the board and is expected to stick at shortstop for the long haul. It’s very unlikely he gets past the Rockies at three but maybe something finally goes the Rangers way for once.
Dansby Swanson hasn’t played shortstop for two years until he moved over from second base this season after Vanderbilt’s former shortstop was drafter by the Yankees in the 9th round last year. Scouts say he has the quickness and arm strength to stay at the position and has an above average hit tool. The power might not translate from college to the pros but that won’t matter as he will still be an above average hitter at the shortstop position.
LSU shortstop Alex Bregman came out of high school regarded as one of the most polished bats in the 2012 Draft Class but fell to the Red Sox in the 29th round due to his hard commit to LSU. Bregman won National Freshman of the Year in 2013 and now looks to go in the Top 5 picks in this year’s draft. Bregman has a plus hit tool and above average power for a shortstop. There were some questions if he would be able to stick at short coming into the season but I think he quieted those doubts, especially when he was making plays like this.
I already know Rangers fan are going to love Dillon Tate. Converted reliever is probably all I have to say to make Rangers fans lose their mind about this pick. Dillon Tate is an athletic 6’2 right-handed pitcher out of UC Santa Barbra who was in the bullpen his first two years and was moved to the starting rotation due to an injury to one of the Goucho’s starters. Tate can really gun it in there, getting his velocity up to as high as 98 mph. There is some effort to the delivery but some scouts think he is athletic enough to make the transition. Tate’s transition has been a success so far for UCSB as he has been one of the best college pitchers this year and is up for the Golden Spikes Award. Tate could turn out to be an ace if everything breaks his way, if not he may be relegated to the bullpen.
If the Rangers don’t take one of these guys they will probably be going the second route and trying to spread the wealth with their allotted bonus pool.
There are quite a few guys the Rangers could take to cut cost including one of the pitchers who suffered injury and whose stock might have dipped some. Aiken and Matuella were rated as Top Three picks before they fell to injury. They would be fairly risky considering the Rangers recent history with injuries.
You know the Rangers also have a weakness for toolsy outfielders and this draft has quite a few, including Mike Cameron’s son Daz Cameron. Cameron, like Rodgers, is committed to Florida State and is rated as above average to plus on all of his tools across the board as well. But apparently there are some whispers that Daz isn’t always giving his all and might coast sometimes, which can get you in trouble in pro ball.
Those are some names to watch for as we draw closer to the 2015 MLB Draft. Just remember not to pull a hamstring with your knee-jerk reactions. You won’t know if it’s a good draft or not after at least three or four years.
Thanks a lot Tim Bogar, that September momentum has really carried over to this season.