Rule 5 Draft: Major League Phase
With the 5th pick, the Detroit Tigers selected Texas RHP Reed Garrett. He may lack the ceiling of some of Texas's other R5-eligible pitchers, but he's inarguably the most MLB-ready. His was the one name I mentioned Wednesday night on Twitter, and, regrettably, I was right. Given his experience in AAA and the current state of the Tigers, Garrett has a good chance to make the club. Best wishes to him.
Picking 8th, Texas selected RHP Chris Ellis from St. Louis. The Rangers soon traded him to Kansas City for cash and then sent some cash to the White Sox to acquire the 3rd pick, ex-Jay RHP Jordan Romano. Toronto drafted him in 2014's 10th round from Oral Roberts, where he teamed with current Texas catcher Jose Trevino. Romano missed 2015 after elbow surgery, but in 2017-2018 he amassed 275 innings between high-A and AA. Last year, he had a 4.13 ERA with a 125 strikeouts against 41 walks in 137.1 innings. Although he's been employed almost exclusively as a starter, his best bet in the near term may be in relief. He can touch 96 and offers a nice slider. I've seen the fastball described as "heavy," but video I've found shows a willingness (and, so far, ability) to work up in the zone. As with Carlos Tocci last year, I think the Rangers can afford to abide a weaker performance if they see potential for better down the road.
From the Yankees, Arizona selected the unprotected RHP Nick Green, whom you may remember as the final piece of the Carlos Beltran trade. So, potentially, Green could pitch in the Majors before the more highly regarded Dillon Tate and Erik Swanson, the others in that deal.
In Baseball America's draft preview, two Rangers ranked among the top ten draft prospects: RHP Reed Garrett and RHP Jairo Beras. Beras has more upside but hasn't pitched above high-A and is erratic. Given the choice, I'd have selected Garrett, mostly because I didn't see Beras sticking at the top level in 2018. BA's expanded list included Mike Matuella, Wes Benjamin and Brett Eibner (a converted position player). All but Garrett remain Rangers. Minor League Phase
Texas drafted RHP Jeffeson Medina, who had just joined Baltimore after playing out his contract with Seattle. Medina spent nearly all of 2015-2017 at Texas's former low-A destination of Clinton, and last year he posted a 3.73 ERA with 34 walks and 66 strikeouts in 72 innings for high-A Modesto. I think he throws a mid-90s fastball and curve, but don't hold me to it.
St. Louis claimed righty John Fasola, Texas's 31st-round pick in 2014. Fasola always pitched well and became a legitimate relief prospect in 2016. Sadly, he missed 2017 after Tommy John surgery and tore his ACL in a fluke incident last July.
Neither is subject to any roster requirements. Other News
The Rangers traded lefty Alex Claudio to Milwaukee for its competitive balance draft pick in next year's draft, which I've seen could be anywhere from 38th to 41st overall. I'll miss Claudio, but that's a good return.
Texas traded utility man Drew Robinson to the Cardinals for 27-year-old 3B/1B Patrick Wisdom. In many respects, his career mirrors Robinson's. Both were omitted from the 40-man roster on multiple occasions, ignored in the Rule 5 draft, and on the cusp of minor league free agency when they finally broke through. Drafted 52nd overall in 2012, Wisdom ranked in the teens among St. Louis prospects in his early years but dropped out when AA proved troublesome. In 2016, his already respectable power improved even more, resulting in 31 homers in 127 AAA games. What's held him back is lack of contact, but last year he improved to .288/.363/.480 in AAA and batted .260/.362/.520 with four homers in 32 MLB games. I assume Texas is counting on more from his bat than Robinson, because he lacks the latter's positional flexibility. Wisdom is essentially a third baseman who can play first if needed. He has all of his options.
Speaking of options, I've been writing about LHP Yohander Mendez's lack of them entering 2019 for a long, long time. As it turns out, he has a fourth option, which can be granted when a player either expends them early in his career or doesn't amass enough service time (at any level, not just MLB). With certain players who missed a large chunk of time (Wilmer Font, Matt West), I've been able to foresee a potential fourth option and ask the front office in advance. In Mendez's case, it never occurred to me. He'll enter spring training in the hunt for a fifth-starter/longman role or maybe even an "opener," but Texas can send him back to AAA yet again as a depth option. I understand if you react to this news with something less than unfettered joy, but 2019 is an ideal year for giving someone an extra chance.
28-year-old Danny Santana signed a minor league deal. Santana made a splash as a rookie in 2014, batting .319/.353/.472 in 101 games with the Twins. That was an anomaly even relative to his minor league stats, and he hasn't hit much since, although he did mash a career-high 16 homers. He can play 2B and any outfield spot.
Recently retired RHP Brandon McCarthy joined the Rangers as a special assistant to the GM. As you've seen with Michael Young, among others, this is no sinecure. McCarthy was one of the earliest adopters of advanced pitching analysis and will assist in development throughout the system.
Chi Chi Gonzalez signed a minor league deal with Colorado. Texas had cut him the previous winter then re-signed him to a minor deal as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery.
Former Texas RHP Jake Thompson has signed with Korea's Lotte Giants. Thompson was optioned to AAA six times over the course of 2018 and finally designated for assignment in early September. Milwaukee acquired and outrighted him soon after.
Righty Tayler Scott, the return for Jeremy Jefress when Texas traded him back to Milwaukee, has signed with Seattle.
The Rangers and their new AAA affiliate will play an exhibition in Nashville on Sunday 24 March.
I hope you enjoy (or successfully navigate, or endure, as the case may be) the upcoming holiday season. Best wishes for 2019.