The Texas Rangers Drafts Are A Problem

The Texas Rangers have been a very good baseball team for all but one injury-plagued year since 2010. They have been run very successfully by their front office and built on the backs of one of the best farm systems in baseball. All of this is fantastic and looks to continue at least into next year.

However, when success occurs there tends to be failures that become overlooked. The big one (besides ever, ever trading with the Cubs) has been the early rounds in the draft, which have produced very little for over a decade.

For the most recent example, let’s take a look at how the 2016 Rangers were put together. 52 players appeared for the team in the season. The Rangers drafted just seven of those in the first 10 rounds of the draft, one of which is Colby Lewis who was reacquired through free agency. The remaining six go by the names of Joey Gallo, Jared Hoying, Brett Nicholas, Tanner Scheppers, Luke Jackson, and Chi Chi Gonzalez. As a group, they supplied the Rangers with -1.7 WAR during the season.

Now, it is important to note that quite a few others were Ranger draftees in the middle or later rounds — a spot where the franchise has found lots of success. Those players, international and domestic free agents and players acquired through trade were the backbone of the team. It’s been this way for my entire life, and that’s fine. It’s a real statement for almost every team in Major League Baseball. Just not to the extreme of the Rangers.

Since 2000, the first 10 rounds of the Amateur Draft have supplied the Dallas-Ft. Worth ballclub with 46.7 WAR — 32.9 of that comes at the hands of Mark Teixeira or CJ Wilson, both members of the 2001 draft class. Since that draft, the leader in that category during time spent with the Rangers? Craig Gentry. In second? Tommy Hunter. Third? Julio Borbon.

Over this timeframe, the team has selected 170 players within the first 10 rounds. Just 47 have seen as much as one day of Major League service time, or 27.6 percent. Twenty-six of those never did so wearing a Rangers’ uniform. To put this into context here is a Baseball America chart showing the percentage of players who reach the majors by round.

ba

Undoubtedly, some of the players from recent drafts will reach the bigs and raise this percentage. But not only has the team not benefitted from much Major League impact from early round draftees, but they also haven’t had a significant number even make it to that level.

To this point, the lack of draft success hasn’t held the franchise back. If the trend continues, eventually it will. With AJ Preller and Gil Kim recently hired away, it will be interesting to see if Texas can maintain its successes in Latin America. Not able to spend money in free agency at the level of the Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs, or Yankees, any dip in international free agency and the effects of poor drafting will start to be felt.

2000:

1st – C Scott Heard

Supp 1 – OF Tyrell Godwin*

Supp 1 – RHP Chad Hawkins

2nd – SS Jason Bourgeois*

2nd – RHP Randy Truselo

3rd – LHP Chris Russ

4th – OF Laynce Nix

5th – RHP Greg Runser

6th – RHP Matt Meisenheimer

7th – RHP Virgil Vasquez*

8th – RHP Nick Masset

9th – 3B Edwin Encarnacion*

10th – OF Billy Montgomery

Before this article, I had never hea–scratch that, I had never known of Scott Heard. Upon review, it was for good reason as he slashed .245/.341/.360 on his way to topping out in High-A. Tyrell Godwin managed three big league plate appearances during the Nationals inaugural season. Jason Bourgeois is still bouncing around, but his major league days may be over after 317 appearances over eight seasons.

Three of these guys were involved in big trades. Laynce Nix, of course, was part of the package sent to Milwaukee for Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz. Nick Masset was a part of the infamous John Danks for Brandon McCarthy swap. And in an even worse trade, Edwin Encarnacion was shipped off alongside Ruben Mateo for Rob Bell. Bell would have a 6.73 ERA in his time in Texas. The Rangers have traded away some really great prospects, so many that you could make an All-Time Traded Team.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX86928.241.278.4140.6
Hitters Overall8865378.259.331.46430.2
Pitchers w/ TEX8.2424.151.270.1
Pitchers Overall464.13751984.401.502.4
2001:

1st – 1B Mark Teixeira

4th – RHP John Baker

5th – LHP C.J. Wilson

6th – RHP Ben Keiter

7th – OF Patrick Boyd

8th – OF Masjid Khairy

9th – RHP Gerald Smiley

10th – RHP Rob Moravek

This was by far the team’s most productive draft. After parts of five successful years (.283/.368/.533), Mark Teixeira turned into Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and the never forgotten Beau Jones. C.J. Wilson threw 708 quality innings for the franchise and was the team’s best starter over the course of their two pennant-winning seasons. Past that, not much of note in this draft.

The John Baker selected in the fourth round is not, in fact, the Catcher-Flamethrower hybrid John Baker who played for the Marlins, Padres, and Cubs, nor is he the slugging third baseman Home Run Baker who led the league in home runs in 1914 with nine.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX3006153.283.368.53321.8
Hitters Overall7931404.269.361.51044.9
Pitchers w/ TEX7086372953.601.2911.1
Pitchers Overall1430.112596023.741.3218.5
2002:

1st – SS Drew Meyer

6th – RHP John Burnett

7th – RHP Andrew Tisdale

8th – 2B Chris O’Riordan

9th – RHP Steven Herce

10th – 1B Nate Gold

This is easily the worst crop since the turn of the century. Drew Meyer played in five games and picked up three hits. No one else made it, although Nate Gold did hang around the system for a long time and probably deserved a shot given the state of the first base position for much of that time.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX150.214.214.2140.0
Hitters Overall150.214.214.2140.0
Pitchers w/ TEX000N/AN/A0.0
Pitchers Overall000N/AN/A0.0
2003:

1st – LHP John Danks*

2nd – 1B Vince Sinisi

3rd – RHP John Hudgins

4th – RHP Wes Littleton

5th – RHP Matt Lorenzo

6th – OF Adam Bourassa

7th – RHP Matt Farnum

8th – OF Jeremy Cleveland

9th – LHP Tim Cunningham

10th – 3B Adam Fox

The first of the DVD trio to appear, John Danks had a very productive career but was traded to Chicago for Brandon McCarthy before he could debut. Wes Littleton is mostly known for picking up a save in the Rangers 30 run game in Baltimore.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX00N/AN/AN/A0.0
Hitters Overall00N/AN/AN/A0.0
Pitchers w/ TEX102.155373.691.230.1
Pitchers Overall1605.211575284.331.3318.2
2004:

1st – RHP Thomas Diamond*

1st – RHP Eric Hurley

2nd – OF K.C. Herren

3rd – RHP Michael Schlacht

4th – OF Brandon Boggs

5th – C Mike Nickeas*

6th – OF Billy Susdorf

7th – OF Ben Harrison

8th – RHP Mark Roberts

9th – 1B Jim Fasano

10th – OF Justin Maxwell*

The second D in DVD was Thomas Diamond, who effectively saw his Ranger career end following his Tommy John surgery. He would later get a cup of coffee with the Cubs. Mike Nickeas would get some run as the Mets backup catcher from 2010-12. Boggs and Hurley both had relatively short and unremarkable Ranger careers and Justin Maxwell has played 441 big league games but didn’t sign following this draft.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX3608.212.317.3750.2
Hitters Overall176653.214.298.3773.0
Pitchers w/ TEX24.21395.471.420.0
Pitchers Overall53.249276.201.60-0.1
2005:

1st – OF John Mayberry, Jr.*

2nd – 3B Johnny Whittleman

3rd – C Taylor Teagarden

4th – RHP Shane Funk

5th – LHP Michael Kirkman

6th – 2B German Duran

7th – RHP Jake Rasner

8th – RHP Bradley Barragar

9th – OF RJ Anderson

10th – RHP Matt Nevarez

John Mayberry would hang around the bigs for parts of seven seasons after being traded to Philadelphia for Greg Golson. Taylor Teagarden made some decent contributions for the Rangers, mostly with his glove, after bursting onto the scene with six home runs and a 1.205 OPS in 53 plate appearances his debut season. You probably don’t want ever to read about Michael Kirkman again so I’ll just skip right over him. German Duran struggled to a 64 OPS+ his rookie year and never got another shot.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX55019.223.276.3980.4
Hitters Overall208277.226.287.4092.4
Pitchers w/ TEX106.2103554.981.450.2
Pitchers Overall109104565.281.500.2
2006:

1st – LHP Kasey Kiker

3rd – 1B Chad Tracy

4th – SS Marcus Lemon

5th – 1B Chris Davis

6th – RHP Jake Brigham*

7th – OF Grant Gerrard

8th – OF Josh Bradbury

9th – RHP Brennan Garr

10th – OF Craig Gentry

Kasey Kiker is one of the biggest misses on here. Just an absolute disaster from day one, he would post a 4.53 minor league ERA and never reach Triple-A. Chris Davis is obviously one of the biggest hits, but almost all his success has come since being traded to Baltimore for Koji Uehara. Jake Brigham just debuted in 2015, which came as a surprise to almost everyone (his 8.64 ERA did not). He is pitching for Rakuten in Japan now. As noted above, Craig Gentry is one of the most successful Rangers early round draft picks over this timeframe.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX171646.262.328.4197.0
Hitters Overall5129235.253.336.46424.7
Pitchers w/ TEX000N/AN/A0.0
Pitchers Overall16.21288.642.160.0
2007:

1st – RHP Blake Beavan*

1st – RHP Michael Main

Comp A – OF Julio Borbon

Comp A – RHP Neil Ramirez*

Comp A – RHP Tommy Hunter

2nd – RHP Matt West

3rd – RHP Evan Reed*

4th – OF Garrett Nash

5th – LHP John Gast*

6th – RHP Robert Wilkins

7th – OF Tim Smith

8th – C Jonathan Greene

9th – SS Ralph Stoneburner

10th – RHP Andrew Laughter

A significant portion of this class saw big league time, but few have had an impact. Blake Beavan was among the members of the Cliff Lee trade and became a viable back of the rotation option for Seattle for a couple of seasons, but fizzled out pretty quickly and is now out of affiliated ball. He’s still only 27! His friend Evan Reed was traded to Florida for Jorge Cantu and would later throw 55 innings for the Tigers.

Neil Ramirez was traded away as part of the Matt Garza deal and has seen some success, but struggled with three different organizations this year. Tommy Hunter would also be traded but only after throwing 266 innings in Texas. Julio Borbon managed a .283 batting average with Texas, but his low walk rates and lack of power saw him DFAd early in 2013. He saw his first major league time since 2013 with the Orioles this year. John Gast did not sign and would later be drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX7467.283.324.3581.7
Hitters Overall8748.272.317.3461.4
Pitchers w/ TEX270.1154754.391.312.6
Pitchers Overall11487252714.291.296.1
2008:

1st – 1B Justin Smoak

2nd – LHP Robbie Ross

3rd – LHP Tim Murphy

4th – RHP Joe Wieland*

5th – OF Clark Murphy

6th – LHP Richard Bleier*

7th – RHP Matt Thompson

8th – OF Mike Bianucci

9th – OF Jared Bolden

10th – RHP Kevin Castner

Justin Smoak has never really panned out as expected. Talk to scouts or writers who were at Frisco at the time, and he’s likely one of the most surprising disappointments they’ve seen. He did play a major role in Rangers history, however, as he was the headliner in the trade that brought Cliff Lee to Texas. Robbie Ross had a stellar rookie season, but eventually turned into a front of the pen guy and was shipped to Boston for Anthony Ranaudo after a starter experiment that was always bound to fail.

All-around good guy Tim Murphy saw his career end after a handful of shoulder problems. Joe Wieland is still pitching and saw an MLB start this year but hasn’t been the same since dealing with arm injuries of his own. Richard Bleier debuted with the Yankees this year despite anemic minor league strikeout rates and saw some success to the tune of a 1.96 ERA in 23 innings.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX2758.209.316.353-0.4
Hitters Overall2853105.224.308.3930.4
Pitchers w/ TEX205.2156723.981.421.6
Pitchers Overall376.13011304.231.392.2
2009:

1st – LHP Matt Purke*

Comp A – RHP Tanner Scheppers

2nd – 3B Tommy Medonca

3rd – LHP Robbie Erlin*

4th – RHP Andrew Doyle

5th – RHP Nick McBride

6th – OF Ruben Sierra

7th – OF Braxton Lane

8th – RHP Brandon Tullis

9th – OF Jabari Blash*

10th – RHP Tom Lemke

Matt Purke was a huge draft pick at the 14th overall pick, but the team failed to sign him. After three years at TCU Purke ended up going in the third round to Washington. He earned his first brief big league stint with the White Sox this year. Tanner Scheppers is still in the organization, but following a knee injury suffered at the end of a brilliant 2013 campaign he hasn’t posted an ERA under 4.00 or an innings total over 40.

Robbie Erlin still looks to have promise as a back of the rotation guy, but a bevy of injuries has limited him to 148 MLB innings so far. He was moved with the aforementioned Joe Wieland for Mike Adams in 2011. Jabari Blash is an intriguing power bat who debuted in his age 26 season this year, but like Purke he did not sign with Texas following the draft.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX00N/AN/AN/A0.0
Hitters Overall843.169.298.3240.0
Pitchers w/ TEX170.1138664.171.40-0.3
Pitchers Overall3372621134.411.361.7
2010:

1st – OF Jake Skole

1st – C Kellin Deglan

Comp A – RHP Luke Jackson

Comp A – 3B Mike Olt

2nd – RHP Cody Buckel

3rd – OF Jordan Akins

4th – UTIL Drew Robinson

5th – RHP Justin Grimm

6th – C Brett Nicholas

7th – LHP Jimmy Reyes

8th – OF Jonathan Roof

9th – RHP Zach Osborne

10th – OF Jared Hoying

I have a very violent reaction to seeing this draft class. Jake Skole is now committed to playing cornerback for the University of Georgia. Jordan Akins is currently a tight end at Central Florida. Mike Olt is back in Double-A ball because he struck out in 37% of his big league plate appearances. Luke Jackson is back in Double-A ball, and struggling there, because his mechanics fell apart and his command with it.

Cody Buckel is no longer in affiliated baseball after he got the yips and never got his stuff back. Kellin Deglan is a minor league free agent and likely won’t be resigned given his career .227 batting average and lack of fire. Justin Grimm is currently celebrating an NL pennant because he was traded for Matt Garza. Brett Nicholas and Jared Hoying are the two saviors and they have a combined 94 plate appearances.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX1112.216.297.330-0.3
Hitters Overall47118.180.261.341-1.6
Pitchers w/ TEX12190446.991.730.0
Pitchers Overall2882791164.811.421.8
2011:

1st – LHP Kevin Matthews

Comp A – OF Zach Cone

2nd – LHP Will Lamb

3rd – RHP Kyle Castro

4th – OF Desmond Henry

5th – RHP Brandon Woodruff

6th – OF Derek Fisher

7th – C Max Pentecost

8th – RHP Kyle Hendricks*

9th – OF Rashad Harlin

10th – C Joe Maloney

My reaction might be even more visceral to this class. Kevin Matthews failed miserably both on and off the field on his way to topping out at Low-A. Zach Cone slashed .241/.310/.417, but hey, at least he didn’t get arrested for DWI. Will Lamb was worked over to the tune of a 5.47 ERA in his first full Triple-A season with the White Sox this year. There were actually three splendid baseball players taken in this group.

Kyle Hendricksthe potential NL Cy Young Award winner, was traded to Chicago for Ryan Dempster, and Max Pentecost is a top prospect with Toronto after the Rangers failed to sign him away from his commitment to Kennesaw State. The team also failed to sign Derek Fisher, who is now one of Houston’s better prospects.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX00N/AN/AN/A0.0
Hitters Overall00N/AN/AN/A0.0
Pitchers w/ TEX000N/AN/A0.0
Pitchers Overall406.1341943.011.097.9
2012:

1st – OF Lewis Brinson

Comp A – 3B Joey Gallo

Comp A – RHP Collin Wiles

2nd – OF Jamie Jarmon

2nd – OF Nick Williams

3rd – C Pat Cantwell

4th – RHP Alec Asher*

5th – OF Preston Beck

6th – 1B/OF Royce Bolinger

7th – 2B Cam Schiller

8th – RHP Cody Kendall

9th – RHP John Niggli

10th – RHP Casey Shiver

Ladies and gentleman, if you look ever so slightly upwards, you’ll find the second Good Draft (TM) of this century. Lewis Brinson (now in Milwaukee), Joey Gallo, and Nick Williams (in Philadelphia) are all top 50 or better caliber prospects. Alec Asher, also in the City of Brotherly Love, has logged 12 big league starts but a PED suspension took away much of this year. Of the remaining, it’s possible Pat Cantwell and Preston Beck get MLB looks but likely only in an emergency situation.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX1397.187.281.3980.2
Hitters Overall1397.187.281.3980.2
Pitchers w/ TEX000N/AN/A0.0
Pitchers Overall2916109.311.79-0.5
2013:

1st – RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez

1st – INF Travis Demeritte

2nd – RHP Akeem Bostick

3rd – RHP David Ledbetter

4th – C/INF Isiah Kiner-Falefa

5th – OF Joe Jackson

6th – RHP Sam Wolff

7th – RHP Nick Gardewine

8th – 2B Evan Van Hoosier

9th – RHP Jose Samayoa

10th – RHP Cole Wiper

This draft class still holds promise, but very little of it still resides within the Rangers organization. The big name here is Travis Demeritte, who for reasons both on and off the field was available to be moved and was to Atlanta for Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez. Akeem Bostick still holds some promise despite some unsightly numbers in the Houston organization after being traded for Carlos Corporan. Still, in the Texas organization, Chi Chi Gonzalez has few believers remaining after he lost the feel for his slider. Isiah Kiner-Falefa looks like a potential MLB utility player.

ProductionPA/IPHR/KAVG/BBOBP/ERASLG/WHIPfWAR
Hitters w/ TEX00N/AN/AN/A0.0
Hitters Overall00N/AN/AN/A0.0
Pitchers w/ TEX77.137414.541.440.1
Pitchers Overall77.137414.541.440.1
2014:

1st – RHP Luis Ortiz

2nd – 3B Ti’Quan Forbes

3rd – SS Josh Morgan

4th – LHP Brett Martin

5th – LHP Wes Benjamin

6th – C Jose Trevino

7th – RHP Nick Green

8th – RHP Erik Swanson

9th – C Doug Votolato

10th – C Seth Spivey

We’re at the point where it’s too early to tell how a draft will go. However, early signs are of a successful crop. Luis Ortiz (now with Milwaukee), Josh Morgan, Brett Martin, Jose Trevino all look to have big league futures. Ti’Quan Forbes, Nick Green, and Erik Swanson all have their believers as well. Swanson and Green were members of the Carlos Beltran trade.

2015:

1st – RHP Dillon Tate

2nd – OF Eric Jenkins

3rd – RHP Michael Matuella

4th – RHP Jake Lemoine

5th – OF Chad Smith

6th – RHP Tyler Ferguson

7th – INF Dylan Moore

8th – RHP Blake Bass

9th – RHP Peter Fairbanks

10th – 2B Leon Byrd

Early signs here are not nearly as positive. Dillon Tate lost his mechanics and his stuff and was traded for Carlos Beltran. In 183 minor league games, Eric Jenkins is sporting an OBP under .300. Still, hope with Jenkins but it has been a very rough start. Michael Matuella is yet to be healthy, having made only one start. Jake Lemoine hasn’t even done that yet. Just a year later, the hope for this draft is already down to rounds 5-7, where Chad Smith and Tyler Ferguson both had big years for Spokane and Dylan Moore who was shipped to Atlanta for international cap money.

 

*never appeared for Rangers

**stats in tables are as of August 21st, 2016. bWAR used for all WAR numbers.

Grant Schiller
Grant is currently a student at the University of North Texas and long-term hopes to get into the world of scouting. He will spend many nights over the summer checking out the prospects around the Texas League in Frisco. When not around baseball, Grant will probably be dropping threes at the rec with no remorse.

Leave a Reply