Texas Rangers: A Decade Of Hits And Misses In The 1st Round
The Texas Rangers have prided themselves in the Jon Daniels era for having one of the top farm systems in Major League Baseball. Over the course of the last decade, the Rangers have been able to select 24 separate players in the first round of the Major League draft. While some players have blossomed into becoming quality major leaguers, the majority have never fully developed into the star player that the organization has hoped. This just goes to show that it is extremely hard to project how these players will develop during the lifespan of their career.
2013- Alex Gonzalez, RHP Boca Raton Community HS (23rd Overall)
This year’s first round pick, Alex Gonzalez, may never live up to the potential of other first round picks Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray, that is not to say that Gonzalez may not develop into a quality major leaguer. So far though his brief professional career, Gonzalez has shown the ability to get batters out via the strike out (7.2 SO/9) but also is a victim of control issues (3.5 BB/9).
2013- Travis Demeritte, SS Winder-Barrow HS (30th Overall)
At age 18, Demeritte is one of the youngest players currently in the Rangers farm system. Since signing with the team, Demeritte was assigned to the Arizona League where he has become an on base machine. Through 39 games this season, Demeritte posts an OBP of .411 and has shown some pop at the plate clubbing four home runs, five doubles and three triples. While he has been hot at the plate, he can certainly improve on defense. In 24 games at short stop the teenager has already logged 8 errors in addition to the three he committed at third base.
Lewis Brinson and Joey Gallo are some of the more exciting prospects the Rangers currently have in the lower levels of the minors. Both were taken in the first round in 2012 out of high school and both have experienced success thus far into the professional careers. Both has shown promise at the plate with their power (Brinson 20 homeruns this season, Gallo 31) and Brinson has shown off a little bit of his speed, accumulating 36 stolen bases in just 170 games played. Both could work on making contact (182 strikeouts this season for Brinson 158 for Gallo). Gallo turned heads this spring training when he clubbed a massive homerun when playing with the big league team.
2012- Collin Wiles, RHP Blue Valley West High School (53rd Overall)
Wiles has made great improvement this year in his first full season in professional baseball. Through 59 innings this year with Spokane, Wiles has limited opposing offenses to a 3.36 ERA and has a strike out per nine innings ratio of 5.9. Wiles has been effectively keeping the ball in the ballpark and to date has only allowed three homes runs.
2011- Zach Cone, OF University of Georgia (37th Overall)
After struggling his first year in the minors, Cone improved his numbers quite a bit last season while playing in a career high 112 games. Cone was hoping to continue that moment into this season but after just appearing in 7 games, Cone underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles. He will likely return to Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League next season.
2011- Kevin Matthews, LHP Richmond Hill HS (33rd Overall)
Unfortunately for the Rangers, Matthews suffered the same fate as Zach Cone, the Rangers other 2011 first round pick. In April, the team announced Matthews would undergo season ending surgery to repair a formation of new bone on a bone in his shoulder. For his career Matthews is a combined 4-7 with a 3.77 ERA. He has a strike out rate of 8.4 per nine innings pitched but also a staggering 7.8 walks per nine.
2010- Mike Olt, 3B University of Connecticut (49th Overall)
Olt remains to be one of the most puzzling prospects that the Rangers have seen in a while. Coming into the season, Olt was expected to compete for the starting lineup with Rangers current first baseman Mitch Moreland. After a dismal spring training, Olt was sent back down to the minors to hone his game with the possibility of a call up just an injury away. However, this season hasn’t gone the way Olt had hoped. After a slow start at the plate, Olt went to see an eye specialist to correct his vision. After a short stint on the DL, Olt didn’t seem to have benefited from the time away from the game. Before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in the Matt Garza deal, Olt was hitting just .213 with 11 homeruns and an on base percentage of .317. After the trade, Olt is now hitting just .156 with 3 homeruns. Olt will no doubt get another shot at the big leagues at some point in his career but it is no longer guaranteed like it used to be for the former top prospect.
2010- Luke Jackson, RHP Calvary Christian HS (45th Overall)
Luke Jackson is a name that Rangers fans might start seeing pop up on the big league radars in a few seasons. Jackson has stellar numbers throughout his minor league career and has shown success at every level he has played. His professional record is 25-17 and commands as 3.89 ERA. Like most young pitchers, he could improve on his walks per nine innings (4.7) but has stellar strike out and home runs per nine at 9.7 and .6 respectively. Recently Jackson has made the jump to the Rangers Double A squad and has a .39 ERA through 23 innings pitched including 4 starts.
2010- Kellin Deglan, C R.E. Mountain Secondary School (22nd Overall)
Throughout his four season in professional baseball, Deglan has yet to show the potential that made him a first round pick back in 2010. While he is still in High A with the Rangers, Deglan has a career batting average of .226 and on base percentage of .313. He has thrown out 28% of base stealers for his career.
2010- Jake Skole, OF Blesses Trinity HS (15th Overall)
Skole is another player that has yet to fully show the potential that the Rangers front office would have liked. After logging a career best in hits in 2011 with 112, Skole has been unable to reproduce those numbers in which he hit a career high .264. Skole also has shown little pop at the plate and has just 17 home runs over 4 seasons. Although he is still young, he is still very far away from the major leagues at this point.
2009- Tanner Scheppers, RHP (44th Overall)
Tanner Scheppers undoubtedly is the best player so far that the Rangers have from the last decade worth of drafts. This season Scheppers has finally cracked the big leagues for good it would seem and has had a stellar season in his first full season in Arlington. Although he has shown signs of fatigue lately, his powerful arm in the bullpen helps give the Rangers hope as they make a push toward the post season once again.
2009- Matt Purke, LHP Klein High School (14th Overall)
The Rangers took a chance in 2009 by drafting Purke in the 1st round of the 2009 draft despite questions surrounding the prospect’s signability. Purke had made it known that he would require a large salary to forgo his college career at TCU. Despite efforts to sign Purke, the two sides were unable to agree to terms and Purke went on to play several seasons at TCU. In 2011 Purke was selected in the 3rd round by the Washington Nationals.
2008- Justin Smoak, 1B University of South Carolina (11th Overall)
There could be a lot of similarities drawn between Justin Smoak and former Ranger Mike Olt. Both were first round picks that showed promise early in their careers. Somewhere along the way, pitchers found out how to pitch to the hitters and both haven’t shown signs of being able to adjust. The Rangers rushed Smoak through the farm system and he played in 70 with the Rangers in 2010. After hitting just .209 Smoak was sent to Seattle, along with a few other prospects, for Cliff Lee. Smoak has shown signs of finally adjusting to big league pitching as he is hitting a career best of .259 with an on base percentage of .352 with Seattle this season.
2007- Blake Beavan, RHP Irving High School (17th Overall)
The Rangers took a chance on Beavan out of high school with hopes that he could become the local kid that would be able to develop into an ace for the Rangers rotation. The hard throwing righty progressed to Double AA with Texas where he posted a 10-5 record and a 2.78 ERA. After a brief stint in Triple AAA, Bevan was included in a package deal and was sent to Seattle for LHP Cliff Lee. Beavan hasn’t fully developed into an ace that many were hoping that he would become but there is still time for the 24 year-old to make the next step in his career. To date, Beavan has bounced between Seattle and their minor league system and has a major league record of 16-19 with a 4.61 ERA.
2007- Michael Main, RHP DeLand HS (24th Overall)
Michael Main is in the process of trying to rejuvenate his career away from the pitcher’s mound. After an up and down career as a pitcher, Main has since moved on from the Rangers organization and this year sign with the Miami Marlins where he converted to an outfielder. Currently Main is in Double A with Miami where he is hitting .223 with 11 RBI and an OBP of .288. Main is a career .254 hitter and as time progresses, the reality of Main ever becoming a big league player is becoming more and more of a dream for the 24 year-old.
2007- Julio Borbon, OF University of Tennessee (35th Overall)
Julio Borbon may have another shot at reviving his major league career. After spending a few seasons between bouncing back and forth between the Rangers big league and farm system, Julio was selected off of waivers from the Cubs in August of this season. The change of scenery may be good for Borbon as he was Texas’ fifth outfielder at the big league level. Borbon has struggled to hit thus far with the Cubs but may get another shot at a starting job as early as next season.
2007- Neil Ramirez, RHP Kempsville HS (44th Overall)
Neil Ramirez was the final player to be included in the trade with the Chicago Cubs for starter Matt Garza. Garza has shown flashes of brilliance at times throughout his minor league career and could possibly compete for making the Cubs opening day roster for next season. While with the minors, Ramirez had a tough time transitioning between Double AA and Triple AAA. In Double AA, Ramirez was a combined 12-8 with a 3.73 ERA and a WHIP of 1.308. In Triple AAA he struggled and his numbers were 10-11 with a 5.64 ERA and a WHIP of 1.396. If Ramirez can figure out how to start getting hitters out in the upper minor leagues, he may be ready to make the jump to the major leagues.
2007- Tommy Hunter, RHP University of Alabama (54th Overall)
Tommy Hunter, like Justin Smoak was rushed to the big leagues and made his Major League debut just a season after being drafted in 2007. Hunter has grown into an average Major League player. After two and a half seasons with Texas, Hunter was traded to Baltimore for reliever Koji Uehara. Since the trade, Hunter has mixed his time between Baltimore’s rotation and bullpen before finally transitioning fulltime to the bullpen in 2013. This season Hunter has an ERA of 2.60 through 69 innings and has recorded 4 saves and a record of 3-2.
2006- Kasey Kiker, LHP Russell County HS (12th Overall)
Kiker may have thrown his last pitch in professional baseball. After spending 7 years in the Rangers organization, Kiker compiled a career record of 23-33 with a 4.71 ERA. Kiker advanced to Double AA with the Rangers in 2009 and 2010 but his inefficiency to retire hitters earned him a demotion in 2011. After being released by the Rangers in 2012, he soon was picked up by the Phillies but was soon released. Since that time he has not appeared with any other affiliate of Major League Baseball.
2005- John Mayberry, Jr., OF Stanford University (19th Overall)
Mayberry is the son of former major leaguer John Mayberry and the Rangers took a chance on the kid out of Stanford in 2005. Mayberry advanced quickly through the Rangers farm system and in 2008 he had made his debut in Triple AAA where he recorded 16 hits in his first 32 at-bats after the promotion. Mayberry was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in November of that year for outfielder Greg Golson. Mayberry has gone on to have an average major league career with the Phillies. His power numbers have yet to translate to the big league level and his career high in home runs is currently 15 (45 for his career).
2004- Eric Hurley, RHP Samuel W. Wolfson HS (30th Overall)
Hurley is another player who appears is not destined to have a lengthy MLB career. To date, the right hander has only appeared in 5 games at the big level back in 2008 with Texas. In his five major league starts, Hurley went 1-2 with a 5.37 ERA. Since that time he has been released from three separate organizations. Hurley has yet to sign back on with another major league franchise since his release from the Twins in 2012.
2004- Thomas Diamond, RHP University of New Orleans (10th Overall)
Thomas Diamond may be one of the more disappointing prospects for the Rangers in the last decade. Diamond who many hoped would bring stability and depth to a Rangers pitching staff at the time has never blossomed into the player that scouts had hoped. For his minor league career, Diamond maintained an average 4.37 ERA but struggled once he got into the upper echelon of the minors (4.76 ERA in AA and 5.31 ERA in AAA). Diamond had a brief 16 game career with the Cubs in 2010. Since that time he hasn’t returned to the major leagues.
2003- John Danks, LHP Round Rock HS (9th Overall)
John Danks was one of three prospects of the “DVD” era (standing for Danks, Edison Volquez and Thomas Diamond) that was supposed to transform the Rangers franchise. While Danks has gone on to some big league success, none of it has been for the Rangers. Prior to the start of the 2007 season, Danks was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Brandon McCarthy. Unfortunately for the Rangers the trade did not bode well for the franchise as McCarthy was often injured and did not have a chance to have much of an impact for the team as the front office had hoped. Danks has gone on to piece together a decent career numbers of 61-70, ERA of 4.13 and a WHIP of 1.301.
BHC Pick of the Litter- Tanner Scheppers- Scheppers has become an imporant piece of the Rangers solid bullpen in his first two major league seasons.
BHC Franchise Flop- Matt Purke- The failure to waste a first round pick on a player that ultimately doesn’t sign results in earning BHC’ Franchise Flop.
Analysis- Of the 24 players selected by the Rangers in the last decade, ten of the players have at one point made their major league debut. Although none have blossomed into superstars like the franchise had hoped, players such as Tanner Scheppers and John Danks have gone on to have successful major league careers at this point. While some of the young players are still in the midst of progressing through the minor league system, it will be interesting to see if any of them will fulfill the expectations that come with being selected in the first round. Only time will tell.