I realized yesterday that Matt Treanor and I have two things in common, neither of which has anything to do with volleyball, and neither of which I'd expect anyone to know, so don't even bother guessing. I'm dropping this into the book just as a shout-out to a very small number of people.
The next report will hold a much more useful place in the book, as tonight the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft gets underway. The league will conduct the first and supplemental first rounds tonight, televised on MLB Network, whose studio crew will include the great Peter Gammons (along with draft experts Jonathan Mayo and Baseball America's Jim Callis, plus John Hart, Harold Reynolds, and Greg Amsinger).
Texas selects at 15 (the unprotected pick awarded as compensation for the club's failure to sign high school lefthander Matt Purke a year ago), 22 (its own pick), 45 (compensation for the loss of Marlon Byrd via free agency), and 49 (compensation for the loss of Ivan Rodriguez via free agency).
An unidentified NL general manager was surely speaking hyperbolically when he said to Gammons regarding the quality of the draft pool after catcher Bryce Harper, shortstop Manny Machado, and righthander Jameson Taillon: "After that, there's virtually no difference between the fourth and 44th picks." Don't turn the TV off before the Rangers' picks at 45 and 49. While the 2010 draft class may not be as deep as those of 2007 and 2009, Texas popped Tommy Hunter with the 54th pick three years ago, and Tanner Scheppers with the 44th pick last summer.
The news was better on Saturday for Hunter, who threw the game of his life in Arlington, than it was for Scheppers, who landed on the seven-day AAA disabled list with a minor left hamstring strain, but on Draft Day they're reminders that the supplemental first round, in a sport where the draft class includes both college and high school players, is critical.
The Rangers had the opportunity to take Hunter in 2007 because they couldn't keep Mark DeRosa the winter before, and to take Scheppers in 2009 because they'd let Milton Bradley find work elsewhere, taking differing degrees of risk offering salary arbitration to each. Good scouting and an aggressive front office plan factored in, and now those two 23-year-old righthanders are key parts of this club's future, while DeRosa is on his fourth team since leaving Texas, Bradley his second.
According to one local report, despite the constraints in place with the sale of the team in limbo as bankruptcy proceedings continue, the draft budget that the Rangers submitted to and had approved by the league over the winter has in it between $1 million and $2 million for the organization to use to pay over slot to its draft class if it so chooses. Because the pick at 15, as compensation for last year's non-signing of Purke, carries no 2011 compensation should it not convert this year, the likelihood is that the Texas may get more aggressive with a signability risk at 22 or 45 or 49.
If you're one of those relied on to forward Newberg Report email news flashes to friends, today's a good day to tell them to sign up for the reports themselves (easy instructions at the bottom of this report). We'll send flashes out tonight as the Rangers' first four picks are made. The estimate is that Texas will make its pick at 15 at about 7:30 Central, and at 22 at around 8:05 Central. Once the first round ends, the picks in the supplemental first will be announced at one-minute intervals.
Rounds 2-30 will be conducted tomorrow, and rounds 31-50 will take place on Wednesday, both starting at 10:00 Central. But the big impact stands to come tonight, when the Rangers' four picks will keep them busier than any organization other than the Angels (five) and Blue Jays (four).
As you're watching former 30th-rounder Scott Feldman take on former fourth-rounder Cliff Lee tonight, keep an eye on your email for news flashes and Twitter blasts (@NewbergReport and @scottrlucas) on each of the Rangers' Monday selections.
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(c) Jamey Newberg