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The Texas Rangers hold a 1.5 game lead over the Colorado Rockies for the first draft pick in next year’s draft. The Houston Astros are 10 games behind the Texas Rangers with 13 games left on Texas’s schedule. This is frustrating for Rangers fans after a rough weekend that saw the young Rangers win three times against the Atlanta Braves, including a convincing 10-3 blowout in the series finally. This mean the Rangers need a combination of 12 Rockies wins and Rangers losses to guarantee the first draft pick.
That the season is lost was long ago a given. The team has done an excellent job properly using these meaningless games to give rookies and role players opportunities. Wins mean nothing now to anyone but Tim Bogar. The team is on pace for a 62-100 record, which should be good enough for the first pick. It almost goes without saying that losing games is better than winning games for the rest of the season.
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Hopefully, the team will manage to hold onto the bottom spot in the standings. As much as it hurts to have to hear that the Rangers are the worst team in baseball, improving to the second worst team is not realistically any better. Consider how valuable a top draft pick is for recent franchises. The most notable case is that of the Washington Nationals. They are currently running away with the NL East, thanks in small part, to the sweep the Rangers recently completed of the Braves. Two of the Nationals key players are Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper who are the 2009 and 2010 first drafts picks respectively. Other recent first draft pick successes include, Joe Mauer, Justin Upton, David Price, and Gerrit Cole, all of whom rose to success with the team that drafted them. Each of these five players rose to the majors quickly. Mauer debuted in 2004, three years after his draft. Strasburg and Price were called up one year after being drafted. Cole, Harper and Upton all graduated to the show after two years in the minors.
There have definitely been some misses, slow developers and under performers among the crop of first draft picks, but the track record of one-one draft picks has been quite good. Top picks not only often work out to be stars, but often rise to big leagues quickly. Imagine this team adding a future David Price or Justin Upton in the coming draft.
The 2015 draft appears to have more starting pitchers and middle infielders than power prospects as has become the norm in this day and age. The Rangers love to use their top draft picks on pitchers, consider Luis Ortiz and Alex Gonzalez in the last two drafts, and their second picks on shortstops; consider Ti’Quan Forbes and Travis Demeritte. However, those picks were in the twenties and thirties (except Forbes), not the single digits. It is riskier to use your top pick on a pitcher instead of a position player but true aces are hard to come by. The Rangers are fortunate that they will be in a position to simply take the best player off the board. It is not immediately clear whether they will need another top of the rotation pitcher or a middle of the order bat more in two or three years. Joey Gallo and Jorge Alfaro will probably have a lot to say about that. Personally, I want to see the team select a power bat to go between Fielder and Gallo in the future but the best players at the top of the draft are going to be pitchers and shortstops. Either way, if the Rangers hold off the Rockies and land the top draft pick it could propel this team back into World Series contention very quickly.