The MLB Draft will kick off Monday, June 6 at 6 p.m. To prepare, I spoke with Jason Parks, a scout and writer for Baseball Prospectus and Texas Farm Review. We also delved into the Rangers’ current minor league system.
“Nobody really knows what’s going to happen yet.”
Jason Parks’ answer to the first question was pretty close to what was expected. The Major League Baseball draft isn’t known for predictability or stability; it’s an exercise in the abstract. Teams are drafting players who will likely take three to five years to don a major league uniform, if at all. As good as scouts may be, much of a team’s draft record is defined by guesswork and good fortune. But Jason tells me the Rangers have a good philosophy in place.
“The Rangers have always been willing to open it up,” he said. “If a player falls to them, they won’t hesitate to pay over [MLB’s recommended] slot.”
Talented athletes often slip in the MLB draft due to financial demands, school commitments or, occasionally, teams drafting for need. The Rangers have shown little hesitation in taking projectable players without a high degree of certainty in their profile. And that’s where they will likely look with their first two selections in this draft, #33 and #37.
The team can’t set its sights on individual players, as it’s hard to predict who will be there. Parks is convinced the early picks will set off a chain reaction.
“Watch for the run on pitchers,” he said. “This is a very deep draft, especially when it comes to pitching … the run on that position will have a big impact on how the draft shakes out.”
We touched on a few of the players projected to the Rangers by industry experts like Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein, ESPN’s Keith Law and Baseball America’s Jim Callis. Here are notes from the conversation with Parks and a few reputable scouting reports:
Outfielder, Dallas Jesuit HS
It can be argued he has the second highest offensive ceiling in the draft class. But he’ll be limited to the corner outfield in the pros.
He may be using a UT commitment to exercise leverage and manipulate teams into paying more.
Shows signs of player who wants to go to college, but he may just be looking for an offer.
Going to school would be a gamble on his part, as hard slotting (a set dollar amount for draft picks) is likely on the way in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Red Sox might take him at 26. Rays might do so at 31 or 32, even knowing they won’t sign him. (If a team fails to sign a first round pick, it receives a selection one pick later in the next year’s draft.)
Good chance Bell gets to Rangers. Low chance they’ll take him there.
Six million (speculation on what he’d ask for) is steep for him. Whichever team selects Bell needs to have a good idea they can sign him, or leave the pick until late where there’s less to lose.
Right Handed Pitcher, Alhambra HS (Calif.)
Good stuff (92-94 MPH fastball, promising curve.)
Could go in the 20s, but profiles right around Rangers’ pick.
Projectable (stuff could improve) with a live, loose arm.
Drew some comparisons to Matt Garza.
Thought to have excellent makeup.
Right Handed Pitcher, Bishop O’Dowd HS (Calif.)
Brother of Oakland’s Tyson Ross, but “much better” in Parks’ eyes.
Cleaner delivery, better chance to stay in rotation.
Wants to sign.
Makes sense for Dodgers, but if he slides could be great selection.
Throws a fastball that has been clocked as high as 96, power curveball and changeup.
Outfielder, Cheyenne East HS (Wyo.)
His high school does not have a baseball team. There are unknowns with his skill set, as teams haven’t gotten as thorough a look at him as most prospects.
Projected to go around where the Rangers pick.
Has been linked to the team by multiple sources.
Rangers have an affinity for this type of player; he’s a big, athletic guy with projection.
Will have some power.
Can run and has a strong arm.
Left Handed Pitcher, Oregon State University
Teams may snag him in the 20s because he threw a no-hitter in front of a bunch of scouts.
Underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010.
92-95 mph fastball, good changeup.
Parks doesn’t see Rangers going that route.
He’s unlikely to be the best talent available, though he may be the best present player. Doesn’t have huge upside, as he’s almost maxed out.
More plausible at 37 than 33.
He may be able to move quickly, but signability is a factor.
Kevin Goldstein says his sources continually bring up Rangers’ interest in Osich.
Left Handed Pitcher, Texas Christian University
Direct quote from Jason Parks: “The Matt Purke the Rangers drafted [in 2009] is dead until he isn’t.”
Purke looked like a top 5 selection at the start of the year. But he’s struggled and had to visit Doctors Andrews and Yocum, two renowned specialists who deal with arm issues.
Won’t get big offer unless he pitches somewhere else (probably the Cape Cod League) in the summer. Team can pop him and wait on results. A lot of evaluators don’t know what to think about him.
May go in the first round, may go in the sixth round. But he won’t get a big offer unless he shows he’s healthy.
When he was on his game, Purke 90-94, topped out at 97 with a biting slider and good changeup.
Parks does not believe there’s any secret handshake agreement or that Rangers feel bad about not being able to pay him the agreed-upon 6 million dollar signing bonus after drafting him in 2009 (the team reportedly offered 4 million, which he declined.)
Rangers have a good relationship with Purke’s family. Down the line, it’s possible things may work out. There’s no problem taking a flier on a 1st round talent in rounds 3 or 4.
He could go back to school, show health and come into the top tier of next year’s weaker class.
Right Handed Pitcher, Texas A&M University
Good arm… can touch 98 with the fastball.
Most likely a reliever in the majors. Has issues repeating his delivery.
Sustained a serious labrum injury to his throwing shoulder.
A lot depends on medicals. Some teams think rehab/basic surgery would be fine for him, as opposed to seriously cutting the arm.
Bad timing for Stilson, who was sneaking into supplemental or first round in some mocks.
One report estimates his recovery at six weeks. Others are less optimistic.
Teams will occasionally take local kids who slide. This makes Stilson more likely for Rangers.
While the highlighted players are on the Rangers’ radar, there’s a strong possibility none of them endup being drafted by the Rangers. Regardless of what happens during the draft, the wisest thing fans can do is wait before judging a selection.
As Parks pointed out, third baseman Mike Olt wasn’t a well-regarded pick when the team took him in last year’s Supplemental First Round. But he may now be the organization’s top positional prospect.
Another important thing to keep in mind: Don’t get upset if the Rangers draft a player at a position that doesn’t appear to need help. Draftees aren’t meant to contribute to the major-league club for years and a lot can happen in that time.
Keep in mind three years ago, the team boasted three excellent catching prospects in Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Max Ramirez and Taylor Teagarden. One was traded, the other released and the third is in AAA Round Rock.
Much thanks to Jason Parks for agreeing to do this interview. Be sure to check his site Texasfarmreview.com for in-depth Rangers minor league reports. You can also read his work on Baseballprospectus.com.
Be sure to check back to CBSDFW.COM soon for the fruits from the second half of the interview – a rundown of the Rangers’ minor league system.