Kip Fagg is well aware of the Texas Rangers' organizational needs and where the farm system talent depth is deep and where it is thin.
The Rangers' senior director of amateur scouting, who has been running the club's draft the past nine seasons, will keep the same philosophy. And that philosophy is simple: Take the best player available.
The Rangers pick 15th in the first round of the major league first-year player draft which begins on June 4.
Some areas where the organization is thin, including pitching in the upper levels and shortstops and third basemen throughout the minor league system, won't necessarily dictate who the Rangers select.
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"Our philosophy on the scouting end of it is we're still going to take the best player," Fagg said. "We want to strengthen every part of our minor league system, not just pitching. As it has gone here, there is a reason to go out there and develop our own, get more depth."
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the scouting staff has done a good job of identifying pitching talent in the past. Pitchers always seem to make up the bulk of each draft class. A year ago, the Rangers drafted position players with three of their first four picks but overall selected 28 pitchers and 13 position players.
"The pitching imbalance is more in the upper levels," Daniels said. "You always need more. Nobody ever has enough. But we don’t view it as an imbalance at the lower levels. We try to give these guys the appropriate time, and the downside to having patience is you have to have that gap open a little while longer."
Fagg said he senses there are varying opinions about the potential first-round picks, which he suspects won't be the strength of the 2018 draft class. The success of recent college sluggers transitioning smoothly into the big leagues — for example, the Astros' Alex Bregman, who was the second overall pick out of LSU in 2015 — has led to a premium recently on other top college hitting prospects. In the past, college pitchers have been the most desired pick. In many ways, however, pitching will always dominate the draft.
"Elite college bats are the hard ones to get if you're picking towards the back end or the middle of the first round," Fagg said. "It’s hard to predict. It could be a weird draft."
The Rangers' system, for example, is relatively deep at center field. But when it's the Rangers' time to select a player, Fagg said, it will always be a simple formula: The best player available.
"I never think that way and [Daniels] never forces me to think that way," he said. "If another center fielder ends up being who we take this year, so be it, if he ends up being the best player."
Fagg and Daniels both agree that it's better to be overstocked with top talent at one position for the potential trade down the road than to try to fill specific needs through the draft.
"I think you might lose out on a guy," Fagg said. "By the time they get there maybe we trade them or move them to another position.
I think it all works itself out in the end."
Daniels explained the philosophy this way.
"If you have a starting pitcher go 10th and a second baseman go 11th and the staring pitcher is a bust and the second baseman is a star, you don’t think, 'Well, they already had a good second baseman in place.' No, you should have taken the better player. It's the type of discipline we try to have."