Draft coverage has always been an intentional weak spot for me. Sadly, I only have so many hours to devote to baseball, and I don’t want to devote them to guys who’ll never be Rangers. I have no personal insight to add to those to follow the draft on a professional basis. Nevertheless, I do like to preview some of the players who Texas might select with the #8 pick in the 2019 draft. Texas also has today's 41st and 50th picks.
3B Josh Jung, Texas Tech, 6’2”, 215, 21 years / 4 months -- Jung has emerged as a consensus prediction recently. The Red Raider has a solid resume, perhaps lacking quite as much power as you’d like but with very strong contact ability and plate discipline. Tech put him at shortstop this season, but he’ll enter the professional ranks as a third baseman, perhaps moving to first or a corner OF slot in time.
3B Brett Baty, Lake Travis HS, Austin, 6’3”, 210, 19 years / 7 months – Possibly the best high school hitter available to Texas, with a special combination of power and contact. He’ll have to work to stay at third. The downside: Baty is exceptionally old for a high schooler. He’ll be eligible for the Rule 5 draft after four seasons instead of the usual five if left off the 40-man roster (not an issue, I would hope.) Jonathan Ornelas, currently shining in Hickory, is five months younger
than Baty. Research on previous drafts has shown that relative age within a high school or college level does matter. It’s not a deal-breaker for Texas, which drafted a fairly old Bubba Thompson (19 years / 0 months) two years ago, but it does knock him down some. He could be had for less than slot money, per some experts.
OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State, 6’5”, 210, 20 years / 10 months – Bishop appeared on some early mock drafts and the most recent one from MLB.com. After a dicey sophomore season, Bishop has exploded in 2019, batting .342/.479/.748 with 22 homers in 57 games for the Sun Devils. He’s playing CF this season and has a chance to stick, but you’re safe calling him a athletic corner power bat, something Texas lacks on the farm.
OF Corbin Carroll, Lakeside HS, Seattle, 5’11”, 160, 18 years, 10 months – Don’t hold the size against him. Carroll doesn’t hit for power, and I’ve seen varying reviews on his arm, but his contact and zone-judgment skills are rated among the best in the draft, and he’s a true CF with game-changing speed.
LHP Alek Manoah, West Virginia, 6’6”, 260, 21 years / 5 months – It’s a weak draft for pitching, and I haven’t seen a mock draft with a hurler leaving the board before the 6th pick. Manoah fits the Texas profile: huge, blazing fastball (mid-to-upper 90s). He also offers a plus slider and in-progress change that he hasn’t used as much. Manoah has improved his control substantially in 2019, although he does add a sizable number of hit batters to his walk total. After two seasons as a swingman, Manoah was used as heavily as any highly regarded pitcher. Per Gerald Schifman of Baseball Prospectus, Manoah threw 110 or more pitches in 44% of his starts.
RHP Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto JC, 6’8”, 240, 20 years / 2 months – Another big boy. Rutledge switched to San Jacinto after an injury cut his freshman season at Arkansas short, and he’s rapidly developed two quality breaking pitches and upped his fastball velocity to the mid-90s with room for a little extra.
LHP Nick Lodolo, TCU, 6’6”, 185, 21 years / 4 months – Lodolo was selected 41st overall by the Pirates in 2016 but didn’t sign. Baseball America, MLB.com and FanGraphs all rate him the best pitcher in the draft, and of everyone I’ve previewed so far, he’s the most likely to be gone when Texas picks. Lodolo doesn’t throw as hard as Manoah or Rutledge, but he offers three average pitches that could all rate plus in the future, and he still has some physical projection.
RHP Matthew Allan, Seminole HS, FL, 6’3”, 210, 18 years / 2 months – If Texas wants another high school arm, Allan is the consensus top choice. He’s already throwing in the mid-90s with a spiffy curve. As expected, he hasn’t bothered much with a changeup, but it seems to be functional and promising.
SS C.J. Abrams, Blessed Trinity HS, Roswell, GA – I hadn’t planned to mention him until he started sliding in the most recent mocks. Every online service I follow ranks him higher than anyone I’ve mentioned. He might move to second or center eventually, but he can run like almost no one else and has terrific contact skills.
3B Kody Hoese, Tulane, 6’4”, 200, 21 years, 11 months – A candidate if Texas wants to save some slot money for later picks. Hoese hit 23 homers and batted .391 with more walks than strikeouts in a mid-major conference. He’s risen from obscurity, if not out of nowhere. He was undrafted following high school and then rejected a chance to join the Royals after being picked in the 35th round as a draft-eligible sophomore.
Other ranked near Texas’s spot but not linked to the Rangers as far as I know:
UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott, Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers, Kentucky LHP Zack Thompson Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 2 June Box Scores AAA: at Nashville 4, New Orleans (MIA) 7
Record: 22-35, 11.5 GB
SP Seth Maness: 6 IP, 8 H (1 HR), 3 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 4.24 ERA
Nashville received the customary performance from Seth Maness. The Sounds did find themselves down early, extending an awful season-long trend. In 57 games, Nashville has been outscored by 71 runs in the first three innings.
Texas assigned catcher Scott Kapers to Nashville. Kapers was last year's 17th-round pick and played for short-season Spokane. It's assuredly a temporary assignment. AA: at Frisco 4, Corpus Christi (HOU) 6 (7)
AA: at Frisco 1, Corpus Christi (HOU) 2 (7)
Record: 29-27, tied for 1st, down on percentage points
SP1 Tyler Phillips: 3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 9.19 ERA
SP2 Joe Palumbo: 4 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 1 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 3.38 ERA
RP Demarcus Evans: 1 IP, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Joe Barlow: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 3.86 ERA
RP Emmanuel Clase: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 SO, 7.04 ERA
2B/SS Christian Lopes: 3-5, walk, SB (8), HBP, .231/.360/.363
2B/DH Charles Leblanc: 1-5, 2 walks, .281/.330/.352
RF Preston Beck: 1-5, 2 walks, .259/.338/.438
Phillips was knocked around again. I wouldn't worry. He already knew how to throw strikes in abundance. Now that he's reached AA after only a few high-A starts, he's learning how to put those strikes in the right place. Demarcus Evans manhandled his side in the first game. I had to choose between the draft preview and watching Palumbo, Barlow and Clase in the second game, so I hope to have more info on them later.
Amarillo has played two fewer games (that won't be made up) and leads Frisco by percentage points. High-A: Down East 1, at Lynchburg (CLE) 5
Record: 39-18, +7 G
Magic Number 7
SP Reid Anderson: 3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 1 SO, 4.10 ERA
RP Josh Advocate: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 2.70 ERA
LF Leody Taveras: 2-4, SB (18), .310/.374/.405
Early in the season, nobody could hit Reid Anderson, so he produced a low ERA despite unprecedented control issues. Lately, the walks are coming home. I'd never have predicted Anderson would lead the Carolina League in walks, but here we are.
A reader asked whether I was concerned about Leody Taveras's power, which hasn't progressed much well into his third year of full-season ball. Yes and no. He has additional power that's not showing up in games, and after this amount of time I'd hope to see some of it. On the other hand, Taveras can still be valuable without it. A comparison, which you may not like, is Leonys Martin. Martin didn't pan out as hoped, but in 2013-2014, he batted a vanilla .268/.319/.374 but was still 6.5-8.0 wins above replacement because of his defense and running. Taveras has the range, arm and wheels to to provide two wins above replacement without hitting much, and in better years he could be in the three-to-four range.
Incidentally, the Cuban Martin was 8,459 days old when he signed with Texas. Taveras won't reach that point until November 2021. Low-A: Hickory 3, at Kannapolis (CHW) 4
Record: 35-21, 7.5 GB
Elimination Number 7
SP Tai Tiedemann: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 4.13 ERA
1B Sherten Apostel: 2-4, double, HR (5), .242/.314/.396
LF Pedro Gonzalez: 1-3, walk, SB (6), .270/.321/.494
2B Jax Biggers: 2-4, .231/.333/.308
Consecutive walk-off losses for Hickory, although this one at least didn't include any late miscues. With the score knotted at three and one out into the 9th, Amado Nunez took newcomer Lucas Jacobsen deep. Jacobsen is 2016's 27th-round pick out of Long Beach State. Now 23, he's fanned 40 in 25 career relief innings in short-season ball. He hadn't pitched since August 2017.
Hans Crouse has been skipped through the rotation for a second time. If he returns and pitches on schedule, he'll still be on course for about 100 innings, slightly but not too much below what many similarly aged prospects have reached in their first full seasons. Texas is being careful. Five Years Ago Yesterday
Nomar Mazara began to become the Nomar Mazara you know now. After batting .214/.282/.318 through 41 games in his second year in Hickory, he batted .256/.356/.538 in May's last ten games and .303/.402/.555 from June onwards. Today's Starters:
AA: Esmerling Vasquez
High-A: Jason Bahr
Low-A: Ronny Henriquez