The philosophy in the Texas Rangers’ draft room is to take the best player available, and it just so happens that the best player available for their top 10 picks of the 2012 draft wasn’t always a pitcher.
The Rangers’ first two picks, center fielder Lewis Brinson and third baseman Joey Gallo, and eight of the first 10 were position players before six straight pitchers were selected.
Not since 2009 have the Rangers had a pitching-heavy draft among their top 10 picks. The problem that year is that two of them, including top pick Matt Purke, didn’t sign contracts.
So, pitchers could be targeted by the Rangers early and often Thursday night and the next two days during the First-Year Player Draft. But the organization’s philosophy takes precedence with the two first-round picks at No. 23 and No. 30 as well as the second-round pick at No. 62 overall.
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“I think pitching is going to be what’s most on your board,” said Kip Fagg, the Rangers’ director of amateur scouting. “I think this is a deep pitching draft with a lot of left-handed pitchers. There are some players, too, probably a little light on the top-end-type player, but the depth is in the pitching.”
Lately, athletic players who play premium positions have fit that mold. Even left-hander Kevin Matthews, the Rangers’ first-round pick in 2011, got high marks for his ability to perform 360-degree dunks at 5-foot-11.
Brinson is speedy, 6-foot-4, and profiles to hit for power. Many believe that no one in the minor leagues has as much raw power as the 6-foot-5 Gallo. Both are still teenagers and both are in the first full year of pro ball.
Impact bats are hard to find in free agency, not to mention expensive. It’s also not easy to draft, sign and develop power hitters. The Rangers certainly are giving it a shot, especially with prep players and recent international signings
“As an organization, we want impact players,” Fagg said. “Sometimes that’s where it’s been for us and where we felt those players are. It’s all about my philosophy and the organization’s philosophy, which is the best player available. That’s how we’ve gone about it with our scouting group.”
Fagg declined to talk about any specific player the Rangers might be targeting. The abundance of mock drafts have the Rangers taking anything from a prep pitcher to a prep shortstop, to a junior college shortstop to a college starting pitcher.
Even Fagg admitted that predicting who might fall to the Rangers is too hard to do.
But the Rangers are going to be seeking pitching. That, he said, is a guarantee, but not necessarily with their three picks Thursday night.
“You’re always going to need pitching,” Fagg said. “That’s probably where the depth in this draft is, and we’re going to get pitching in this draft. Trust me.
“It’s just the players are sometimes harder to find. We won’t say we won’t take a pitcher with the first one, either. It all depends on which player we deem we like the best.”