The MLB Draft isn’t about addressing the immediate needs of the big-league clubs, as almost all of the players selected this week won’t be debuting in the majors for at least two seasons.
But if the goal of all 30 MLB teams is to draft and develop big-league pitchers, more specifically starting pitchers, the Texas Rangers, at the very least, gave themselves a large crop of potential rotation candidates down the road.
The Rangers selected 28 pitchers during the three days and 40 rounds, 22 of those pitchers on Wednesday, the third and final day of the annual Rule 4 First-Year Player Draft. It wasn’t necessarily by design, as premium hitters were hard to come by in this year’s draft, but the Rangers say they like every pitcher they have selected.
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“It was a tough draft to acquire bats,” said Kip Fagg, the Rangers’ senior director of amateur scouting. “But you can never have enough pitching.
“It wasn’t something we set out to do, but it was kind of the way it fell,” he said. “We like these pitchers, and we just continued to draft them.”
The Rangers took at least five pitchers in a row three times Wednesday during the draft’s final 30 rounds. Included were several pitchers who might be tough to sign.
Their 29th-round pick, Blaine Knight, has been vocal about his intentions of returning to the University of Arkansas. Jordan Fowler, the 26th-round pick from a Tennessee high school, is committed to Mississippi; South Carolina prep Corey Stone, the 27th-rounder, has committed to South Carolina; and 31st-rounder Griff McGarry is committed to Virginia.
Fagg said that there is some financial flexibility to take a run at those players and others who have committed to big-time programs.
“I don’t foresee we’re going to sign all of these guys,” Fagg said. “But there are a few we are going to sign. There are some guys committed to big schools. Some of them are going to sign, and some of them probably are not going to sign.”
Despite all the arms the Rangers piled up, they started the day by selecting Obie Ricumstrict, a prep shortstop from Michigan. He is committed to Cincinnati, but Fagg expects the three-sport star to sign with the Rangers.
The Rangers knew that the draft was thin on hitters, so they grabbed position players Monday with their first two picks (outfielder Bubba Thompson, 26th overall, and shortstop Chris Seise, 29th overall) and three more Tuesday on Day 2.