Draft Preview - Texas Rangers

Here is the fifth part in my series, this time focusing on the Texas Rangers and their scouting director Ron Hopkins.

Owner: Tom Hicks, bought club in 1998
General Manager: Jon Daniels, first season was 2006
Scouting Director: Ron Hopkins, first draft was 2003

Looking Back

2003 Draft: $5.5 Million Budget

1. John Danks, LHP, Round Rock HS (TX), #9 overall: A legitimate top ten option entering the draft, the Rangers took no flack for calling this in-state prospect's name with their first pick.  Hopkins was serving as coordinator of scouting at this point, so he had less power than the usual scouting director, meaning this was almost assuredly not his final call.  Following players selected: Ian Stewart, Michael Aubrey, Lastings Milledge.  Signing bonus: $2.1 million.
2. Vince Sinisi, 1B, Rice, #46 overall: Sinisi was a draft-eligible sophomore whose signability concerns dropped him a full round below where he ought to have been drafted as far as talent was concerned.  There were rumors of Sinisi going to the Rangers at the #9 slot, so that tells you how far he dropped.  Following players selected: Scott Beerer, Javi Herrera, Abe Alvarez.  Signing bonus: $2.07 million.
3. John Hudgins, RHP, Stanford, #76 overall: This was an overdraft by about a round, though taking polished Friday starters from large college programs is defensible.  Hudgins did nothing but win during his junior campaign, showing good command and durability despite overuse.  Following players selected: Aaron Marsden, Ryan Garko, Jacob Stevens.  Signing bonus: $490,000.
4. Wes Littleton, RHP, Cal State Fullerton, #106 overall: This was another very solid pick by Hopkins, as Littleton was a projected second rounder that fell in the Rangers' laps in the fourth.  A starter at Fullerton, he had been suspended for six weeks in the middle of his junior season, raising enough questions to drop.  Following players selected: Rick Guarno, Ben Harrison, Shane Hawk.  Signing bonus: $315,000.
5. Matt Lorenzo, RHP, Kent State, #136 overall: This was about where Lorenzo was expected to go in the draft.  He raised his stock during his junior year, but remianed Kent State's #2 starter behind famous BA non-prospect diarist Dirk Hayhurst.  Following players selected: Christian Colonel, Juan Valdes, Corey Coles.  Signing bonus: $210,000.
Other Notable Picks: SS Ian Kinsler (17th), Missouri; RHP Scott Feldman (30th), San Mateo JC (CA), draft and follow


2004 Draft: $5.0 Million Budget

1. Thomas Diamond, RHP, U. of New Orleans, #10 overall: Diamond stood out as an early first round possibility from his sophomore season on.  Some reports leading up to the draft had Diamond possibly going to the Indians sixth overall, but he fell far enough for the Rangers to draft him tenth.  Following players selected: Neil Walker, Jered Weaver, Bill Bray.  Signing bonus: $2.025 million.
2. Eric Hurley, RHP, Wolfson HS (FL), #30 overall: Having secured an additional first round pick, Hopkins went a different direction than his operating norm, going for a top prep righty.  Hurley played himself into mid first round possibilities, but Texas called his name when he fell this far.  Following players selected: JP Howell, Zach Jackson, Justin Orenduff.  Signing bonus: $1.05 million.
3. K.C. Herren, OF, Auburn HS (WA), #51 overall: A disastrous overdraft, this is where Hopkins picked his first high-round prep bat.  Herren was widely considered a prospect ranging anywhere from the sixth to twelve round, and he had his name called in the second.  There were signability issues.  Following players selected: Brian Bixler, Wes Whisler, Erick San Pedro.  Signing bonus: $675,000.
4. Michael Schlact, RHP, Wheeler HS (GA), #81 overall: A very tall prep righty at 6'7'', Schlact was considered a solid third round pick.  Some saw projection, others didn't, but a third rounder isn't a huge investment, and signing a tall, lanky prep right than can hit 92 is rarely a bad thing.  Following players selected: Eddie Prasch, Adam Lind, Ian Desmond.  Signing bonus: $455,000.
5. Brandon Boggs, OF, Georgia Tech, #111 overall: Boggs has filled in every way his draft projection from 2004.  Widely considered a solid player with a nice mix of tools and skills, most saw him as an eventual fourth outfielder with a few years of starting mixed in.  This was also about where most expected him to be drafted.  Seems he always meets expectations.  Following players selected: Joe Bauserman, Patrick White, Colin Balester.  Signing bonus: $300,000.
Other Notable Picks: 3B Travis Metcalf (11th), Kansas; 2B Tug Hulett (14th), Auburn; LHP Zach Phillips (23rd), Galt Union HS (CA), draft and follow


2005 Draft: $3.9 Million Budget

1. John Mayberry Jr., Stanford, #19 overall: Mayberry was widely considered a first round pick, but he really had some questionable results at Stanford.  His numbers regressed greatly between his sophomore and junior years, but the Rangers called his name anyway.  His tools and physical size allowed scouts to dream on his power potential.  Following players selected: Mark Pawelek, Cliff Pennington, Aaron Thompson.  Signing bonus: $1.525 million.
2. Johnny Whittleman, 3B, Kingwood HS (TX), #67 overall: A considerable overdraft, perhaps by as much as four rounds, Whittleman's big question was his ability to stick in the infield.  He was a prep shortstop, and there was no way he was going to stick there.  Overall, Hopkins pulled the trigger too early.  Following players selected: Donald Veal, Jared Lansford, Josh Wilson.  Signing bonus: $650,000.
3. Taylor Teagarden, C, Texas, #99 overall: Teagarden was in the running for a first round selection, and he likely would have been had he not signed on with Scott Boras.  He was an all-glove catcher back then, but still had the batting eye and pop he has now.  Solid in-state selection here.  Following players selected: Mark Holliman, Vincent Mazzaro, Jensen Lewis.  Signing bonus: $725,000.
4. Shane Funk, RHP, Arnold HS (FL), #129 overall: Another tall prep righty like Michael Schlact, Shane Funk was a falling draft prospect when June 2005 rolled around.  Hopkins overdrafted him here by a few rounds, though not by a whole lot.  He was inconsistent over the duration of his prep career.  Following players selected: Dylan Johnston, Jimmy Shull, Ben Copeland.  Signing bonus: $250,000.
5. Michael Kirkman, LHP, Columbia HS (FL), #159 overall: Kirkman improved greatly during his senior year, and he had climbed draft boards nationally.  Most thought he'd be off the board well before Shane Funk.  However, he fell below what was expected, and Hopkins drafted him here.  Following players selected: Scott Taylor, Scott Deal, Daniel Griffin.  Signing bonus: $163,000.
Other Notable Picks: 2B German Duran (6th), Weatherford JC (TX), $90K bonus; RHP Jacob Rasner (7th), Earl Wooster HS (NV), $250K bonus; RHP Doug Mathis (13th), Missouri; SS Renny Osuna (32nd), New Mexico JC, draft and follow


2006 Draft: $4.3 Million

1. Kasey Kiker, LHP, Russell County HS (AL), #12 overall: This was a bit of surprise at the time, as Kiker was considered a late first round pick at best entering the draft.  However, it seems the Rangers liked his attacking mentality and strong fastball velocity for a lefty.  Following players selected: Tyler Colvin, Travis Snider, Chris Marrero.  Signing bonus: $1.6 million.
2. Chad Tracy, C, Pepperdine, #88 overall: Without a second rounder, the Rangers were forced to wait the equivalent of two and a half rounds between picks.  However, Tracy was widely considered a second round talent, so his slide worked in the Rangers' favor.  His defense was considered sub-par, but his bat was a plus.  Following players selected: Clayton Tanner, Torre Langley, Stephen King.  Signing bonus: $427,500.
3. Marcus Lemon, SS, Eustis HS (FL), #118 overall: Though Lemon wasn't considered a top talent, his makeup was universally praised.  He had a solid skillset, combined with the ability to make the best with it.  He was also known for a keen batting eye, and though he had signability issues, this was around where he was expected to go.  Following players selected: Whit Robbins, Brandon Magee, Glenn Gibson.  Signing bonus: $1 million.
4. Chris Davis, 1B, Navarro JC (TX), #148 overall: This was an overdraft of a couple rounds by Ron Hopkins, but Davis wasn't an unknown JUCO prospect.  Having transferred out of Texas and securing a commitment to Arkansas in two short years, he was well-known.  His power potential was considered his best tool.  Following players selected: Jeff Samardzija, Luke Hopkins, Cory Van Allen.  Signing bonus: $172,500.
5. Jake Brigham, RHP, Central Florida Christian Academy (FL), #178 overall: Brigham was garnering early first day consideration before a bumpy senior year that resulted in relatively poor results due to shaky mechanics.  He fell to the Rangers in the sixth round here, and Hopkins got good value.  Following players selected: Josh Lansford, Brian Jeroloman, Zech Zinicola.  Signing bonus: $200,000.
Other Notable Picks: LHP Derek Holland (25th), Wallace State CC (AL), $200K bonus, draft and follow, LHP Danny Ray Herrera (45th), New Mexico


2007 Draft: $6.6 Million Budget

1. Blake Beavan, RHP, Irving HS (TX), #17 overall: Beavan was widely considered a mid first round prospect, having dominated all competition in high school.  Another tall prep righty, Beavan featured one of the best fastball-slider combos in the prep ranks.  Following players selected: Peter Kozma, Joe Savery, Chris Withrow.  Signing bonus: $1.4975 million.
2. Michael Main, RHP, Deland HS (FL), #24 overall: A second first round pick, Main was an athletic prep righty with electric velocity.  Physically, he was the complete opposite of Blake Beavan, being six inches shorter and a very fast runner.  This was right where most expected Main to go.  Following players selected: Aaron Poreda, James Simmons, Rick Porcello.  Signing bonus: $1.2375 million.
3. Julio Borbon, OF, Tennessee, #35 overall: A first round candidate entering the year, Borbon broke his ankle early on, missing about a month to start the season.  His results afterward were below what was expected, causing him to drop to the supplemental first round.  Following players selected: Clayton Mortensen, Travis D'Arnaud, Brett Cecil.  Signing bonus: $800,000, Major League contract.
4. Neil Ramirez, RHP, Kempsville HS (VA), #44 overall: Considered anywhere from a supplemental first round candidate to a third round candidate, Ramirez only hurt himself with a questionable senior year.  His mechanics were a concern even then, causing him to lose velocity and command.  Following players selected: Justin Jackson, Drew Cumberland, Nathan Vineyard.  Signing bonus: $1 million.
5. Tommy Hunter, RHP, Alabama, #54 overall: Hunter was an overdraft by a couple of rounds, as most had the draft-eligible sophomore going anywhere from the third to the sixth round.  He was a solid pitcher for the Crimson Tide, but opinion was split over his long-term role as either a starter or reliever.  Following players selected: Nick Hagadone, Trystan Magnuson, Mitch Canham.  Signing bonus: $585,000.
Other Notable Picks: 3B Matt West (2nd), Bellaire HS (TX), $405K bonus; OF Tim Smith (7th), Arizona State, $98K bonus; RHP Kyle Ocampo (13th), Poly HS (CA), $250K bonus (overslot); 1B Mitch Moreland (17th), Mississippi State


2008 Draft: $7.4 Million Budget

1. Justin Smoak, 1B, South Carolina, #11 overall: The Rangers were the luckiest team in the draft a year ago, as Smoak, a surefire top ten talent, fell into their laps with the 11th pick.  Smoak showed plus power, hitting, and fielding potential to go along with an advanced batting eye.  Following players selected: Jemile Weeks, Brett Wallace, Aaron Hicks.  Signing bonus: $3.5 million.
2. Robbie Ross, LHP, Lexington Christian Academy (KY), #57 overall: Ross was a possible supplemental first round talent, but he fell to the Rangers due to signability concerns.  He mixed good stuff with good pitchability, a rare combo for a prep lefty.  Following players selected: Tyson Ross, Shane Peterson, Tyler Ladendorf.  Signing bonus: $1.575 million.
3. Tim Murphy, LHP, UCLA, #89 overall: Murphy started out well to begin his junior season, but fell quickly for late first round consideration to mid first day consideration.  Hopkins stayed with Murphy as his pick, despite concerns over Murphy's lack of polish for a college pitcher.  Following players selected: Petey Paramore, Niko Vasquez, Bobby Lanigan.  Signing bonus: $436,000.
4. Joe Wieland, RHP, Bishop Manogue HS (NV), #123 overall: Wieland was considered a second or third round prospect entering June, but fell to the fourth for unknown reasons.  A pitchability prep righty, Wieland had advanced command for a pitcher his age.  Following players selected: Anthony Capra, Scott Gorgen, Danny Ortiz.  Signing bonus: $263,000.
5. Clark Murphy, 1B, Fallbrook HS (CA), #153 overall: This Murphy performed similarly to Tim Murphy, disappointing most scouts with his draft year performance.  He was in consideration for a second or third round pick, but fell due to injury and performance issues.  Good power, bad speed and fielding.  Following players selected: Jason Christian, Jermaine Curtis, Nick Romero.  Signing bonus: $200,000.
Other Notable Picks: OF Mike Bianucci (8th), Auburn, $175K bonus; LHP Corey Young (12th), Seton Hall; OF Joey Butler (15th), U. of New Orleans


Those are the drafts that Ron Hopkins has undertaken since taking on the duties as scouting director.  He was the Coordinator of Scouting from 2003 to 2005, then Director of Scouting from 2006 on.  As scouting coordinator, he essentially had the same duties as a scouting director, but had less say on the early round picks than most scouting directors do.  Since becoming a true scouting director, it's been Hopkins' show to run.  He came over from Oakland during the Grady Fuson tenure, so that explains the early run on college products to an extent.  In general, Hopkins' early round picks have been solid, and his drafts haven't relied entirely on the first round selection.  Especially in recent years, Hopkins has found great value in his other picks, with last year's haul being the highlight of the bunch.  Without any additional compensation picks, Hopkins managed to get at least five players that had been in consideration for at least a second round draft slot, with Smoak, Ross, Tim Murphy, and arguably Clark Murphy having at one time or another been on boards as a possible first rounder.  All had great debuts, with the exception of Ross, who signed too late to pitch in 2008.  As far as draft value is concerned, Hopkins has always done a good job handling that side of the job, with few exceptions of true overdrafts.  I think he learned his lesson with KC Herren.  As I said, last year was an exceptional draft, getting value without having to overdraft one bit.

It should be encouraging to Ranger fans that the organization has gradually upped the draft budget three years in a row now, with 2008 being their highest-budgeted draft.  Smoak and Ross took a good chunk of that, but Smoak himself accounted for less than 50 percent of the club's total bonus money, a good sign that a scouting director has the money to go after a well-rounded bunch rather than a single impact player.  If the first rounder accounted for less than 50 percent due to the fact that they were overdrafted, it would be a different story.  However, it seems the Rangers are in the forefront of getting maximum value out of the draft.  Holding the #14 overall pick this year, as well as #44, 62, 93, 124, and every 30 picks after that, I'd expect the Rangers to bump $6 million again this year.  They were at $7.4 million last year without any supplemental picks, but I wouldn't expect a $3.5 million talent to fall all the way to #14 this year.  I'd say they have $2-2.5 million budgeted for the first pick, though more if some unexpected opportunity pops up.  For that reason, I'd say I expect the club to go for players that fall due to signability concerns in later rounds, with possibly multiple second day draftees receiving $500K+ bonuses.  Expect a well-distributed draft across a wide geographical area.

As for the players themselves, I expect to see the Rangers target the usual wide range of available players.  Prep pitchers seem to be the favorite lately, though college pitching is also a strong option for the first pick and beyond.  There are few prep bats worthy of the #14 slot, and fewer college bats, so I expect a pitcher at that slot, and I'm 75% certain of that.  The supplemental first round pick is trickier, but I do expect a college bat of some sort there, with the other alternative being pitching again.  My current mock has Ben Tootle there, but in-state prep outfielder Everett Williams would be a nice choice, too.  Beyond that, expect a nice blend of projectable arms, college bats, and college relievers in the later rounds.  If Hopkins shies away from anything, it's prep bats.  His results there have been less than dazzling, and I'm not sure we should expect anything but a 3rd-5th round type of prep bat.

All bonus information came from BA, and writeups on draft status going into the draft were a mixture of BA and PG.  Go to their sites for draft coverage.  They're awesome.

What do you guys think?  What do the Rangers do?


Previous Draft Previews:

Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Dodgers
Detroit Tigers
Philadelphia Phillies

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