The fourteenth part of my draft preview series focuses on the Texas Rangers and their scouting director Kip Fagg. This will be Fagg’s first draft as scouting director, so I will focus on his three years as the Rangers’ national crosschecker.
Owner: Tom Hicks, bought club in 1998. Entering owner is Chuck Greenberg.
General Manager: Jon Daniels, first season was 2006
Scouting Director: Kip Fagg, first draft will be 2010
2007 Draft: National Crosschecker with Texas
1. Blake Beavan, RHP, Irving HS (TX), #17 Overall: Beavan had an incredible history of success as a prep, topping it off with a huge performance against Team Cuba with Team USA, similar to 2010’s Jameson Taillon. He featured good stuff with some mechanics issues, but he was a legitimate mid first-rounder. Following players selected: Pete Kozma, Joe Savery, Chris Withrow. Signing bonus: $1,497,500.
2. Michael Main, RHP, Deland HS (FL), #24 Overall: Main was an incredibly athletic two-way player in high school, and many teams preferred him as a center fielder with plus-plus speed. He was a true first-rounder on the mound, however, featuring a plus fastball and improving command. Great pick with big upside. Following players selected: Aaron Poreda, James Simmons, Rick Porcello. Signing bonus: $1,237,500.
3. Julio Borbon, OF, Tennessee, #35 Overall: Borbon had a rough start to his draft year, breaking his ankle before games even started. He came back fairly well, but he was a true two-tool player before that, featuring a plus hit tool and speed. He was thought of as a first-rounder, so this was solid value, though Borbon signed a Major League contract as a Scott Boras client. Following players selected: Clayton Mortensen, Travis d’Arnaud, Brett Cecil. Signing bonus: $800,000*.
4. Neil Ramirez, RHP, Kempsville HS (VA), #44 Overall: Ramirez had elite stuff, but had major mechanical flaws that showed up in strange, inconsistent performances. He also had a Georgia Tech commitment that was thought to be a signability concern, though he was a solid supplemental round arm. Following players selected: Justin Jackson, Drew Cumberland, Nathan Vineyard. Signing bonus: $1,000,000.
5. Tommy Hunter, RHP, Alabama, #54 Overall: Hunter was a draft-eligible sophomore that was thought of as a third to fifth round prospect. He had solid stuff, but it wasn’t considered top of the line or anything higher than back of the rotation caliber. He was picked here more for the idea that he’d sign for slot and that he could move fairly quickly. Following players selected: Nick Hagadone, Tryston Magnuson, Mitch Canham. Signing bonus: $585,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Tim Smith (7th), Arizona State, $98K bonus; 1B Mitch Moreland (17th), Mississippi State
2008 Draft: National Crosschecker with Texas
1. Justin Smoak, 1B, South Carolina, #11 Overall: Smoak was considered an almost sure-fire top ten talent in the 2008 class, and he fell to the Rangers as a matter of pure chance. This was an excellent pick, as Smoak had plus hit and power tools. He looked like one of the most polished bats in the entire class. Following players selected: Jemile Weeks, Brett Wallace, Aaron Hicks. Signing bonus: $3,500,000.
2. Robbie Ross, LHP, Lexington Christian Academy (KY), #57 Overall: Ross was a borderline first-round talent that was hard to gauge in the scouting community. His smaller stature turned some teams off, though his stuff was top-level quality from the left side. His Kentucky commitment was supposedly expensive, but this was a quality pick by the Rangers. Following players selected: Tyson Ross, Shane Peterson, Tyler Ladendorf. Signing bonus: $1,575,000.
3. Tim Murphy, LHP, UCLA, #89 Overall: Murphy had slowly slid down draft boards as his junior season went along, as his above-average natural stuff from the left side had gradually eroded to average. However, as an athletic pitcher, some teams saw something that could be corrected, and he was a solid third round pick. Following players selected: Petey Paramore, Niko Vasquez, Bobby Lanigan. Signing bonus: $436,000.
4. Joe Wieland, RHP, Bishop Manogue HS (NV), #123 Overall: Wieland could have gone as high as the second round to a team that believed in his projectability. He had good stuff in addition to the projectability, making him an attractive prospect over the more projectable, but less refined pitchers comparable to Wieland. Following players selected: Anthony Capra, Scott Gorgen, Danny Ortiz. Signing bonus: $263,000.
5. Clark Murphy, 1B, Fallbrook HS (CA), #153 Overall: Murphy was a solid fourth to sixth round option as a prep bat with above-average raw power. However, he had timing problems at the plate that were a deeper issue than simple mechanical re-works. He also wasn’t very athletic, bringing him down to the fifth round. Following players selected: Jason Christian, Jermaine Curtis, Nick Romero. Signing bonus: $200,000.
Other Notable Selections: None.
2009 Draft: National Crosschecker with Texas
1. Matt Purke, LHP, Klein HS (TX), #14 Overall: Purke had top of the rotation stuff as a prep arm from the left side, making him a top ten option for some teams. However, his signability questions made him hard to gauge, and when the Rangers fell into financial problems, they couldn’t offer enough to sign Purke away from TCU and a re-entry in the draft as a sophomore in 2011. Following players selected: Alex White, Bobby Borchering, A.J. Pollock. DID NOT SIGN.
2. Tanner Scheppers, RHP, St. Paul Saints, #44 Overall: Scheppers hadn’t signed as a second-rounder of the Pirates in 2008, and he came with a lot of questions about shoulder problems. He had plus-plus stuff that was top-ten caliber, and this was an excellent pick of a top-level arm. Following players selected: Mike Belfiore, Matt Bashore, Kyle Heckathorn. Signing bonus: $1,250,000.
3. Tommy Mendonca, 3B, Fresno State, #62 Overall: Mendonca became famous for his defensive exploits on the national stage when Fresno State went to the College World Series. He also featured plus power, but a minus hit tool and inconsistent arm made him a 2nd-4th round prospect. Following players selected: Jason Kipnis, Marc Krauss, Garrett Gould. Signing bonus: $587,700.
4. Robbie Erlin, LHP, Scotts Valley HS (CA), #93 Overall: Erlin had good current stuff, but like Robbie Ross, there were lots of questions about his small frame, and he also didn’t face a lot of stiff competition in high school. He was a solid 3rd-5th round prospect, though, and the Rangers got another good value in the third round. Following players selected: Joe Gardner, Keon Broxton, Brett Wallach. Signing bonus: $425,000.
5. Andrew Doyle, RHP, Oklahoma, #124 Overall: Doyle was similar to the Rangers’ 2007 draftee Tommy Hunter in that he was seen as a low-upside, but solid prospect with back of the rotation potential. He had a big, strong frame that looked able to eat up innings, and most teams thought he wouldn’t need a whole lot of seasoning in the minors. Following players selected: Kyle Bellows, David Nick, Angelo Songco. Signing bonus: $234,000.
Other Notable Selections: C Vin DiFazio (12th), Alabama.
The Rangers’ front office underwent a fairly significant change this past offseason, and Kip Fagg’s promotion was just a piece of the puzzle. The changes weren’t necessarily in terms of firings, but actually in terms of strategic hiring and promotion. Ron Hopkins, who had run the Rangers’ drafts back to 2003, was promoted to the role of special assistant to general manager Jon Daniels, and he will still be a part of the greater scouting system in place in the Texas organization. As one of the best individual evaluators in the game, having Hopkins in that role is a nice advantage for an increasingly improving scouting group in Arlington. Fagg was part of Hopkins’ inner group of scouts, and he has scouting roots on the West Coast. That’s interesting, but it’s not the end-all, be-all of where Fagg will be looking in 2010. Fagg’s direct boss will be A.J. Preller, the man responsible for the Rangers’ success in Latin America over the last number of years. Another great scouting mind, Preller will also shape the strategy of the coming draft as the head of all of the Rangers’ scouting efforts. All in all, combined with more strategic hires at the crosschecker and pro scout levels, the Rangers have greatly improved their scouting department this offseason. Since Fagg will undoubtedly change some trends in his own way, looking at trends over the last three years isn’t necessarily prudent, but we’ll do so anyway. In terms of pitchers, athletic pitchers were greatly preferred, in addition to a general willingness to take smallish pitchers, as well. For hitters, raw power is a key trait, and athleticism isn’t necessarily a big factor at all. Defensive ability has been a key to all except for Clark Murphy. These are all very high-level trends, but I will stick to that instead of diving into the trends of a scouting director who no longer has that role.
Since the same people are at the top of the front office are the same, looking at draft budgeting should theoretically work. Knowing the financial issues of soon-to-be former owner Tom Hicks, the 2009 budget can kind of be thrown to the wind, as the front office was completely willing to meet Matt Purke’s $6 million price tag, only to be stopped by the Commissioner’s office, which controlled the Rangers’ books as of the August signing deadline. Since $6 million to one player is higher than the total that the Rangers paid in total for their 2009 draft bonuses, we can simply throw that draft out. So, looking at 2005-2008, the Rangers are in the top ten in terms of draft spending, coming in at 9th overall. They’re flanked by the Braves on the top end and the Nationals right below them. This is very encouraging for Ranger fans that were disheartened by the 2009 draft’s outcome. The average amount spent on those drafts is $5.55 million, a healthy number with which to fill a system. Looking at where the 2010 budget may be, we can see that the Rangers own picks 15, 22, 45, 49, 72, 103, 136, and every 30 picks after that, giving them an extra first-round pick for not signing Matt Purke a year ago, plus two picks in the supplemental first round. That should lead to some solid draft spending. I’m predicting spending somewhere in the area of $7-8 million, which should be in the top ten for the 2010 draft. This is excellent news for depressed Ranger fans that are tired of an owner that lacked financial resources to spend in 2009.
Connecting the Rangers to particular players is tough, as the uncertainty with the budget, and the fact that they absolutely have to sign their 15th overall pick, cloud where they might be looking. My latest mock draft has the Rangers going for a safer college arm with that #15 pick, the particular name being Alex Wimmers of Ohio State. With their second pick in the first round, I have them taking Bryce Brentz, who fits the power bat mold of traditional Texas drafting. Other names I can see them tracking are Stetson Allie, Zack Cox, Josh Sale, Brandon Workman, and Kaleb Cowart. The supplemental first round names I connected to them were Taijuan Walker and Micah Gibbs, two names that make logical sense, but could easily change, as well. Brett Eibner fits them fairly well in that range, as do Kris Bryant, Michael Choice, Robbie Aviles, Brian Ragira, and Aaron Sanchez. Later names I think make sense for them are Michael Lorenzen, Rob Segedin, Dixon Anderson, Brett Weibley, Cole Green, and Michael Fuda. All these names are speculative, as the college season starts today, but keep these in mind when thinking about the Rangers as the season goes along.
*Bonus information came from BA.
What do you guys think? What will the Rangers do?