SDI Prospect Rankings – #4 Dillon Tate

Dillon Tate Spokane

For the second year in a row, the Rangers decided to take a pitcher with their first overall draft pick. In 2015 the Rangers took Dillon Tate with the fourth overall pick last summer. It was the teams highest draft pick since Texas picked 3rd overall in 1985.

The California native played his college years at the University of California in Santa Barbara. Initially Tate was a reliever, but after his sophomore year Tate transitioned into a starting role and blossomed. Because of the huge innings jump from 2014 to 2015, the Rangers severely limited his innings in his first professional season.

Though the pro sample size wasn’t big, every big prospect site took notice. Baseball America had him lowest of any site on their top 100 (69), Baseball Prospectus had him 59, and MLB Pipeline had him at 46. MLB Pipeline also had Tate listed as the eighth best right-handed pitching prospect and named his slider the best in the minors. They aren’t the only ones to think highly of that pitch.

His slider sits around 82-88 but it has touched as high as 92 and was in the 90s several times last year. The spin on that pitch is tight and the break on it is late and sharp. This isn’t the only eye popping pitch in Dillon’s arsenal. Tate’s fastball sits 92-96 and touches 98 with regularity. His fastball has excellent late arm-side movement. Both of these pitches come from the same arm slot and work well to complement each other along with Tate’s emerging change up. Some have suggested that Tate’s changeup could be a third plus pitch in his arsenal. This year Dillon will be working more to use that pitch more frequently. Tate also has a rarely used curveball that could become an average MLB pitch in the future.

Last year Tate finished the season pitching in the playoffs with the Hickory Crawdads. Hickory is likely where he will be starting 2016. He could have a similar timetable to Chi Chi Gonzalez, but with extra time spent in low A and hopefully skipping High Desert all together. Don’t be surprised if you see Dillon Tate on the bump in Frisco by the time 2016 is done.

If all goes well in Tate’s development, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see him in Arlington at some point in 2017. He’s got a great head on his shoulder even though he’s only 21. Tate is a hard worker and has all the physical tools required to be a dominant starting pitcher in the majors. True top of the rotation pitchers are unicorns, and the Rangers have themselves one in Dillon Tate.

Pitching prospects in general are a finicky group, so normally I avoid expectation and excitement around them. Dillon Tate has forced me to abandon this notion, even if it’s just for him. I suggest you join me delighting in this unicorn, because they don’t come around too often.

Brice Paterik
Brice is a Junior Journalism major at Texas Tech University in pursuit of a career in Sports Journalism. Growing up in Dallas his whole life, Brice has been a Rangers fan since before he batted against a machine. He's a sucker for a high ceiling athletic prospect without a hit tool or 20 year olds who throw 100 mph and can't hit the zone. He over values every prospect and is a hopeless romantic for baseball. She's broken his heart a million times but he will always come back for more.

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