Texas Rangers

Rangers’ help wanted: Throw hard, hit far, high character

Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo, selected 39th overall in the 2012 draft, is an example of a high-character player taken by Texas with its first pick.
Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo, selected 39th overall in the 2012 draft, is an example of a high-character player taken by Texas with its first pick. Star-Telegram

For the first time in more than a decade, the Texas Rangers have a top-10 selection in the First-Year Player Draft.

The Rangers have the No. 4 selection in Monday night’s draft, which begins at 6 p.m. on the MLB Network with the first and second rounds, along with the compensation picks Competitve Balance A and B rounds.

It’s the highest draft spot for the Rangers since 1986, when they selected right-hander pitcher Kevin Brown. The Rangers’ selection should come around 6:30 p.m.

They also have the No. 45 overall pick early in the second round, which should come around 9:45 p.m.

The Rangers’ strategy? Pick the best player available.

This year, however, there’s no clear-cut favorite. Projections from reputable draft analysts are all pretty much eyeing the same crop of five to 10 players.

But no one seems to have a handle on which team is leaning toward which player, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies, who pick 1-2-3 before the Rangers.

With no obvious selections, at least not ones shared publicly, the Rangers’ No. 4 pick will generally be regarded as one of the top prospects in the nation. The Rangers, however, will lean toward the best player available who also comes with the best makeup, mental maturity and character.

“It starts at the ground level with the area scouts and them having relationships,” said Kip Fagg, Rangers senior director of amateur scouting. “This happens a year or more before the player becoming eligible.”

Rangers scouts and crosscheckers get to know most of the top 30-40 prospects well, which includes talking with their teachers, friends and family.

“Anything we can get our hands on and then we make an assessment at the end of the day,” Fagg said.

Two recent examples of high-character, top selections are pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez (No. 23, 2013) and slugger Joey Gallo (No. 39, 2012), both currently on the big league roster.

The hope is, Fagg said, to find those players who have the work ethic and drive to do what it takes to fulfill their athletic promise. If two prospects are equal in terms of their baseball athleticism, they’re going to lean toward the one they deem with more aptitude.

Fagg credited general manager Jon Daniels with instilling that philosophy in the organization.

“A lot of times I’ve been guilty of maybe passing a guy that maybe we thought was a little bit more talented than the other guy, but maybe we didn’t have the comfort level that we had with the other guy … in terms of makeup, knowing the kid, et cetera,” said Fagg, who is in sixth year as amateur scouting director. “That’s a huge part of the process we have. I have a hard time taking a guy, pulling his name and feeling comfortable if we don’t really know the kid, know what he’s about.”

So whomever the Rangers take at No. 4 and No. 45, and throughout the rest of the three-day draft, for that matter, rest assured the Rangers will have a good idea of who they’re getting.

“I always tell the guys when he walks through this door and is a Texas Ranger there’s not going to be any secrets we didn’t know about,” Fagg said.

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @StevensonFWST

Five candidates

Five potential candidates the Rangers could take with their No. 4 overall pick on Monday (listed alphabetically):

SS Alex Bregman, LSU: The junior is one of four finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, which honors the nation’s top collegiate baseball player after batting .318 with nine homers and 22 doubles and a .414 on-base percentage this season.

LHP Tyler Jay, Illinois: Had a 0.60 ERA in 29 appearances this season, going 5-1 with 14 saves. The junior struck out 70 and walked just seven in 60 1/3 innings. Batters hit just .151 against him.

SS Brendan Rodgers, Lake Mary (Fla.) HS: The 6-foot-1 slugger has scouts drooling about his smooth swing and tremendous bat speed. Baseball America had the Rangers taking him in one of its mock drafts.

SS Dansby Swanson, Vanderbilt: Batting .348 with 14 homers, 22 doubles, six triples and 61 RBI. Has 42 walks and 43 strikeouts in 247 at-bats in 2015.

RHP Dillon Tate, UC Santa Barbara: Has a 2.26 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings this season with an electric fastball clocked in the upper 90s and an effective slider in the high 80s.

Other possibilities: RHP Kyle Funkhouser, Louisville; RHP Carson Fulmer, Vanderbilt; OF Daz Cameron, Eagle Landing Christian Academy (McDonough. Ga.); RHP Walker Buehler, Vanderbilt; OF Kyle Tucker, Plant (Tampa, Fla.) High School; OF Garrett Whitley, Niskayuna (NY) High School; LHP Brady Aiken, IMG Academy; SS Kevine Newman, Arizona; RHP Jon Harris, Missouri State.

Four on the floor

The past 10 No. 4 picks in the First-Year Player Draft, and where they are now:

Year

Pos. Players, Team

Currently

2005

3B Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals

Nationals roster

2006

RHP Brandon Morrow, Mariners

Padres Double AA

2007

LHP Daniel Moskos, Pirates

Released by Dodgers Triple A, May ’14

2008

LHP Brian Matusz, Orioles

Orioles roster

2009

C Tony Sanchez, Pirates

Pirates Triple A

2010

SS Christian Colon, Royals

Royals roster

2011

RHP Dylan Bundy, Orioles

Orioles Double A DL

2012

RHP Kevin Gausman, Orioles

Orioles DL

2013

RHP Kohl Stewart, Twins

Twins High A

2014

C Kyle Schwarber, Cubs

Cubs Double A

Rangers’ Top 10 picks

The Rangers’ top-10 picks since the club moved to Arlington:

Year

Pos., Player

Selection

2004

RHP Thomas Diamond

No. 10

2003

LHP John Danks

No. 9

2002

SS Drew Meyer

No. 10

2001

3B Mark Teixeira

No. 5

1998

1B Carlos Pena

No. 10

1995

RHP Jonathan Johnson

No. 7

1989

OF Donald Harris

No. 5

1988

SS Monty Fariss

No. 6

1986

RHP Kevin Brown

No. 4

1985

RHP Bobby Witt

No. 3

1983

SS Jeff Kunkel

No. 3

1981

RHP Ron Darling

No. 9

1977

SS David Hibner

No. 9

1974

RHP Tommy Boggs

No. 2

1973

LHP David Clyde

No. 1

1972

3B Roy Howell

No. 4

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