It's with some amount of satisfaction that I realized this morning that the draft's a week away and I've barely written a thing about it. As demoralizing as the big club's last week has been, give me a season every time in which we grumble about every pinch-hitting decision and every bullpen move and the makeup of the bench, rather than spend weeks debating on what the club is going to do in rounds one and two because the games that count have been swallowed by a surge of indifference.
The beauty of surgically examining every moment of every game, even when it's an exercise in heartburn, is that the season has given us reason to agonize over every pitch, to care about what's happening. There have been years, some not long ago, when draft speculation began to leak into the Newberg Report before Mother's Day, rather than on Memorial Day. Not this year, I'm happy to say.
Tommy Hunter goes this afternoon for Oklahoma City, putting him line to make Saturday's start against Tampa Bay if Derek Holland isn't able to take the ball that night.
As for the draft, here's a few recent projections of what Texas might do at number 15 and number 22 in the first round a week from tonight:
Jim Callis, Baseball America (May 28): Bryce Brentz (OF, Middle Tennessee State) and Justin O'Conner (C, Cowan [In.] HS) (previous mock, May 14: Brentz and Ball State second baseman Kolbrin Vitek)
Keith Law, ESPN (May 24): Brandon Workman (RHP, University of Texas) and Kellin Deglan (C, Langley (British Columbia) HS)
Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com (May 26): Kaleb Cowart (3B/RHP, Cook County [Ga.] HS) (mock stopped at number 20)
MLB Fanhouse (May 31): Karsten Whitson (RHP, Chipley [Fla.] HS) and Cowart (previous mock, May 26: Workman and Cowart)
Obviously, with six names identified in seven guesses, there's little consensus on where Texas goes with its first two picks next Monday night. Things ought to zero in as we get closer, but we should also keep in mind that the Rangers (like most teams) are bunkered down right now, not taking time to whisper to writers what their board looks like.
Next week's draft is important. They all are. The Rangers wouldn't be where they are today and going forward if they hadn't killed it in the draft the last few years.
But it's still secondary to the next six against the White Sox and Rays, thankfully.
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(c) Jamey Newberg