If you weren't convinced the Rangers were broke before the night began, you probably have reason to be today. Welcome to the "...considering the limitations" draft.
- With their first pick (15 overall) the Rangers selected OF Jake Skole
Skole is a late fast-riser whom some teams (most notably Atlanta) had begun whispering they were hoping to see him fall to them. However, those teams were picking in the late first round or supplemental round. The Rangers selected the center fielder from Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, Ga., for his upside and because they can sign him quickly at slot money. The persistent comparison for Skole is of Grady Sizemore. Skole is rumored to be close to signing with the Rangers already and would be turning down a scholarship to play football and baseball at Georgia Tech to do so.
That's what happens when you go from a potential third round pick to a top-15 pick, with a million dollars waiting for you, in a matter of hours.
There's nothing not to like about Skole, really. He's a good prospect and it isn't beyond reason to pick him where the Rangers picked him. The issue is, there were better prospects available. There were some interesting names falling like Josh Sale (whom the Tampa Bay Rays took two picks later at 17), or Kaleb Cowart. They would have been expensive and risky, however. The Rangers just could not afford to take the risk monetarily, or because, as the 15th pick was the compensation pick for Matt Purke, the team would not be protected if they could not sign the selection. So, you know, considering the limitations, you can see the logic.
- With their second first round pick (22nd overall) the Rangers selected C Kellin Deglan
Deglan, out of British Columbia, Canada, is another player selected earlier than maybe some people would have taken him. Again, why the Rangers were on him here is because he is going to be a quick sign (rumored to already have a deal in place) and has the upside of that of a player who, if he hits, could be a big league catcher. He projects to be a plus defender with a plus arm behind the plate. He also projects to be an average to above average hitter with raw power. The comparisons I've seen -- as they all are these days for tall catchers -- is to Joe Mauer. He isn't going to be Mauer, but the Rangers drafted him here with the hopes he could help them at catcher someday. Considering the limitations, that would be a nice asset to have.
- With their first compensation-round pick (45th overall) the Rangers selected RHP Luke Jackson
Not to sound like a broken record, but again, the selection here was of a kid maybe projected to go in the second or third round. And like the first two picks of the draft, he shouldn't be too difficult to sign. Also like the first two players, Jackson, from Calvary Christian, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he has a good amount of upside. He throws hard, topping out at 96, sitting at 91-94, and sporting a big 12-6 curve. The 6'2" prep is committed to the University of Miami but put out feelers that he was interested in signing to play professional ball. And, considering the limitations, that might just be enough for the Rangers.
- With their second compensation-round pick (49th overall) the Rangers selected 3B Mike Olt
Olt, a junior at UConn this season, differs from the first three picks in that while he was picked before where many had projected (I was seeing him going in the third round at the earliest), and he should be an easy, cheap sign, his upside is limited to as far as his power will take him. His projections defensively are pretty lukewarm, there's questions about whether he will be able to hit, but he does have raw power potential. The scouting reports have him profiling as a solid power-hitting third baseman but there are red flags in his strikeout and contact rates. Of the four picks, this one really has the look of a reach but when you get near the 50th pick, the crapshoot that is the MLB draft becomes even crappier. This is where you can start to just gamble on guys your scouts have been fighting for. So, considering the limitations, that slap fight in the war room must have been hilarious.
So, overall, after day one, I would like to mention that while I trust the work of the Rangers scouts, and make no mistake, they've had some pretty decent to good drafts in the last few years, if I am being honest, it just feels like they were drafting with one arm tied behind their backs and a nickel for every quarter most of the other clubs had to work with.
I feel disappointed not in the work the scouts and scouting department have put in. I trust them. I trust their ability to find and secure talent. I feel disappointed not so much in the return because I don't know what we have here yet. I just feel disappointed in the fact that this is the situation the Rangers were faced with. The MLB draft is more of a lottery after the first few picks than nearly anything that exists in sports, and it feels like the Rangers were given worse odds to win because they could only afford a couple of the cheaper scratch-offs.
As Kevin Goldstein said of Skole in his Baseball Prospectus chat during the draft, "Great, great tools, but a bit raw, smart pick @ 15 considering their limitations."