Rangers not simply looking for talent in Draft
Good character, makeup also important when evaluating players
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, like the other 29 clubs, will be operating under new rules going into the 2012 First-Year Player Draft on Monday. But they will be operating under the same philosophy they have been using the past several years."We're about taking the highest-ranked player with good character and makeup," Rangers scouting director Kip Fagg said Wednesday while taking a break from his Draft preparations. The Rangers, as always, will be looking for pitching. They will also be looking for athletic, high-ceiling position players who can play in the middle of the field at either catcher, shortstop or center field. They will also try to make sure they have their own backyard covered in the state of Texas.
Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, at 5 p.m. CT on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
The Rangers go into the Draft with five of the first 93 picks. They have the 29th overall pick in the first round, plus two picks in the compensation round. They have the 39th overall pick for losing C.J. Wilson to the Angels and they have the 53rd overall pick as compensation for losing Darren Oliver to the Blue Jays. They also get the 83rd overall pick in the second round from the Angels as additional compensation for Wilson. Their own second-round pick is 93rd overall.Fagg said it is a good Draft to have so many picks in the opening rounds. "Overall, depth-wise, it's a very good Draft," Fagg said. "I wouldn't say there are more high school or college players. We'll have a lot of options, player and pitcher, high school and college. But it's not just talent we're looking for, it's also character and makeup." There is also the new complicated slotting system. No longer can teams pay whatever it takes without impunity to sign a player. Teams only have so much to spend over the first 10 rounds. Once they start going over the limit, they starting running into penalties. It begins with a tax and then spills over into losing future Draft picks. Clubs have only a certain amount of money to sign a pick. If they fail to sign a particular pick, the club loses that money and can't use it elsewhere. But if they do sign a player for less than "slot money," it can be applied elsewhere. "Our goal is to sign every player we take in the first 10 rounds," Fagg said. They have until July 15 to do so. Another change under the new CBA is the signing deadline has moved up a month. The Rangers have have a total of $6,567,400 to sign 13 players from the first 10 rounds, including $1,625,000 for the 29th overall pick. "Regardless of the new rules, it's a relationship business," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We rely on our scouts in the field. These are the guys who scout the players and get to know them and their families. We place a high value on the information from our scouts. It's a talent-starved industry and it's highly competitive." Here's a glance at what the Rangers have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
The Rangers like big arms for pitchers and athletic, multitalented position players. But they also put extra work in getting to know potential Draft picks and evaluate them on the basis of character and makeup. Look for a balance between pitchers and position players with those first five picks, followed by a run on pitchers.
The Rangers say they prefer to take the best player available. More often than not, the best available player when their pick rolls around is a high school pitcher and they have had some success with them of late. Some high school pitchers to watch are left-handers Hunter Virant and Kyle Twomey and right-handers Ty Hensley, Lucas Sims, Shane Watson, Zach Eflin and Ty Buttrey.
The Rangers like to look hard in Texas. They like athletic outfielders and can use more offensive firepower. Texas Tech center fielder Barrett Barnes has right-handed power with speed and the ability to take a walk. He hit .325 for the Red Raiders with nine home runs, 49 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 55 games. He walked 32 times with 37 strikeouts. He could be an attractive option if the Rangers don't take a pitcher, either in the first round or as a compensation pick.
rangers' bonus pool
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
Pitching is always at the top of Texas' list and it remains the strength of its farm system. The Rangers have also done a better job of adding offensive firepower into the system in the past few years. They like shortstops and catchers. They don't go by need, but if they did, they could use a first baseman or two who could hit the ball out of the ballpark.
Rangers' recent top picks
|2011||Kevin Matthews||LHP||Class A Hickory|
|2010||Jake Sole||CF||Class A Myrtle Beach|
|2009||Matt Purke||LHP||Did not sign|
One thing the Rangers aren't afraid to do is take a chance on a pitcher coming off injury. They did so with Tanner Scheppers in 2009. Lucas Giolito is a high school pitcher in Southern California who was a premier prep pitching prospect -- possibly the best on the list -- until he sprained his ulnar collateral ligament in March and was lost for the season. He also has a scholarship to UCLA. He is the kind of pitcher Texas isn't afraid to run from in the Draft.
Recent Draft History
Justin Grimm was a fifth-round selection out of the University of Georgia in 2010 and is off to a terrific start at Double-A Frisco, going 7-3 with a 2.05 ERA in his first 10 starts. In 57 innings, he had 11 walks and 51 strikeouts.
Outfielder Joey Butler was a 15th-round pick out of the University of New Orleans who has been overlooked on the prospect lists, but keeps getting better each year. Through 52 games at Triple-A Round Rock, he was hitting .301 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .532 slugging percentage. He also had 13 doubles, 10 home runs and 35 RBIs.
In The Show
The Rangers haven't had much luck with second-round picks over the years, but Robbie Ross, who was drafted in 2008, made their bullpen out of Spring Training and is their only left-handed setup reliever.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.