Texas Rangers

Rangers select another TCU commit in first-round. Why it will be different than in 2009

Jon Daniels' scouting department went with right-hander Cole Winn on Monday with the 15th overall pick in the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Jon Daniels' scouting department went with right-hander Cole Winn on Monday with the 15th overall pick in the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft. The Associated Press

The Texas Rangers used their first-round pick in the MLB First-Year Player draft on a prep pitcher who is committed to TCU.

What's the worst thing that could happen?

Well ... ah, never mind.

The Rangers expect to have no issues signing right-hander Cole Winn, whom they selected with the 15th overall pick. They were shocked that he was still available to them in the middle of the first round.

"Cole is one of the higher-rated players on our board," said Kip Fagg, the Rangers' director of amateur scouting. "The three or four times I did see him this year, I thought there was probably no chance he'd get down to 15. The whole room is ecstatic."

The Rangers used the 55th overall pick on another prep right-hander, Owen White from China Grove, N.C. He is committed to South Carolina, and Baseball America says in its scouting report that White "is expected to be a tough sign."

Winn seemed caught up in the moment when asked about his likelihood to sign with the Rangers, saying he was going to just enjoy the night with family and friends in Southern California.

He spoke glowingly about TCU, which lured him away from his commitment to Mississippi State around six weeks ago. But the Rangers do not expect a repeat of 2009.

They used their first-round pick (No. 14 overall) on left-hander Matt Purke from Klein High School. He never signed with the Rangers, in part because of the financial limits imposed on them by MLB as the franchise entered bankruptcy.

Purke passed and became an All-American at TCU. The Rangers, though, expect to have Winn locked up soon. The current draft system, which sets signing bonus pools for each team and assigns values for each pick, is entirely different than it was nine years ago.

Once the Rangers lock up Winn, they will add a pitcher who already is aligned with their pitching mantra of throwing strikes. Winn said that was instilled in him by his father and grandfather when he played youth ball and then he took it upon himself after walk-heavy seasons as a high-school freshman and sophomore.

He blossomed into the Colorado Pitcher of the Year as a junior at Silver Creek High School in Longmont, which sits in the middle of a Denver-Boulder-Fort Collins triangle, but then chose to transfer to the baseball-rich Orange Lutheran High in California.

Baseball wasn't the motivating factor, Winn said, as his father's livelihood was largely based in Southern California. But, after doing some research, the improved competition didn't hurt.

"I was just ready for a new experience and just to be around some better baseball," Winn said. "The league I was in out here I feel like was one of the best in the country, and for me to compete the way I did, I was really proud of myself."

Winn was selected as the Gatorade California Player of the Year after going 8-2 with a minuscule 0.20 ERA at the same high school that produced Houston Astros righty Gerrit Cole and Double A Frisco infielder/catcher Josh Morgan, the Rangers' third-round pick in 2014.

Winn said that he throws two-seam and four-seam fastballs along with a curveball and slider. He wants to develop a changeup to give him a four-pitch arsenal.

His fastball topped out at 96 mph, according to a scouting report by Baseball America, and he could spot the heater and 12-to-6 curveball seemingly at will. That command allowed him to be one of the most consistent prep pitchers in the country.

And now his baseball future is locked into Tarrant County, either in the Rangers organization or at TCU. The expectation is that he will sign with the bonus at No. 15 slotted at $3,738,500.

"Just about the Rangers, I like the history," Winn said. "I like the pitchers that have come through, like, obviously Nolan Ryan. I think that's just awesome. I'm excited to be a part.

"About TCU, I liked the environment. I liked the part of Texas it was in, Dallas-Fort Worth. I just liked it. I like the coaches and the people there and the environment. I think Texas is just a great place."

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram