The Texas Rangers agreed to terms with six of their top draft picks, including first-round selection Dillon Tate.
The right-hander from UC Santa Barbara signed for $4.2 million, about $825,000 less than the slotted $5,026,500. That is likely to help the Rangers sign third-round pick, Duke right-hander Michael Matuella.
Matuella was considered one of the top prospects in the draft, a potential No. 1 pick and certainly a first-rounder before having a back issue and then Tommy John surgery in April. The Rangers considered his availability in the third round to be a steal.
Tate spoke to the media, along with Rangers senior amateur scouting director Kip Fagg, before Friday’s game at Globe Life Park. Tate’s parents, Anthony and Lenora, were also on hand.
“I’ve really had a lot of help getting here so I’d like to really thank everybody who has helped me along the way,” said Tate, who is from Claremont, Calif., about 40 minutes east of Los Angeles. Tate was calm and seemed poised beyond his 21-years. His head has been spinning since Monday’s draft, especially during Friday’s meet and greet with Rangers players and personnel.
“I think it has been, but things have been slowing down, and I feel at home so I think that’s why I feel so comfortable right now,” he said.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels continued to be impressed with Tate’s maturity.
“I’ve been to a bunch of these and that’s about as impressive and well-spoken as I’ve seen,” Daniels told Lenora Tate. “To have a young man like that say fastball command is the No. 1 thing he wants to work on? You don’t get that a lot. We’re obviously very excited to have him.”
Daniels said Tate will be given a similar path to that of 2013 first-round pick Chi Chi Gonzalez during his time with Class A Spokane. He’s likely to only make four or five starts before going to instructional league this fall.
“We’ll let him learn the pro program, the pro routine, the whole deal,” Daniels said. “He’s not going to pitch every fifth day. [He’ll throw] 20 innings or so this summer, give or take.”
Other players who agreed to terms include fourth-round selection Jake Lemoine, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Houston, who signed for the slotted bonus of $528,000.
Shortstop Dylan Moore (seventh round), right-handed pitcher Blake Bass (eighth), right-handed pitcher Peter Fairbanks (ninth), shortstop Leon Byrd (10th), and center fielder Ledarious Clark (12th) also all agreed to terms. Fairbanks, a right-hander from the University of Missouri, signed for $100,000, about $65,000 less than the slot for the 258th pick.
Five of the six players have been assigned to Spokane Indians of the Northwest League. Lemoine has been assigned to the Arizona Summer League but will eventually join the others in Spokane.
Left-hander Martin Perez said he felt great the day after his first rehab start Wednesday at Double A Frisco. He threw 45 pitches. It was his first game since Tommy John surgery in May 2014.
“My arm is good, my body is good,” he said. “It was real nice, no pain. Felt like a new arm.”
Perez said he’ll throw a bullpen session for Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux before Saturday’s game at Globe Life Park, and then make his second rehab start Tuesday at Triple A Round Rock. He looked in fine form Wednesday, but needs to refine his curve ball.
“I feel positive,” he said. “I just want to go step by step and be 100 percent when they call me.”
Perez is expected to join the Rangers before the All-Star break.
Holland aims for late July
Left-hander Derek Holland (left shoulder inflammation) doesn’t consider his less-than-100 percent clean MRI last Friday as a setback. He’s throwing from 90 feet but won’t go higher or throw from a mound until a clean MRI (his next is due June 19).
“After that we’re going to stretch it out when they tell me I’m good to go,” he said. “Nothing really got pushed back. It’s still going to be mid- to late-July. That’s what I’m sticking to until I hear from them.”
Daniels said earlier this week that Holland’s return could be as late as early August. Holland doesn’t want to contemplate that scenario.
“Let’s just stick with the last of July, not even get into August because I’m going to do everything I can to get back before that,” he said. “I feel great throwing, no setbacks. Nothing at all has bothered me; the ball is coming out of the hand really good. I feel great.”
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760