The Texas Rangers have made their first round selection of the 2015 MLB Draft. Previous mock drafts have been all over the board with what the Rangers might do with their pick as the team has several needs. It was also unknown whether the Rangers would prefer a college or prep player. The top of the draft played out as some had anticipated, with the top 3 picks of the draft being the shortstops Dansby Swanson to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Alex Bregman to the Houston Astros, and Brendan Rodgers to the Colorado Rockies. With the shortstops off the board, the Rangers turned to the top college pitcher on the board.
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With the Fourth Overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, the Texas Rangers select: Dillon Tate, RHP UC Santa Barbara.
What are the scouts saying about Tate?
According to MLB.com, Tate was the fifth overall prospect in the draft and the second pitcher behind Vanderbilt RHP Carson Fulmer.
"Noting Tate’s projectable frame and easy arm action when he was working in the upper 80s as a high school senior in 2012, scouts figured he could make a big velocity jump after moving on to UC Santa Barbara. He pitched just three innings as a freshman before taking that huge step forward in 2014, putting him in position to become the first Gaucho ever drafted in the top two rounds. His stock took another leap in 2015 as Santa Barbara’s ace, becoming one of the best college arms in the Draft class. Tate showed the best stuff in the U.S. collegiate national team’s stellar bullpen during the summer. He pairs a 92-98 mph fastball with a sharp 86-87 mph slider. He mixes in a fringy curveball and his changeup has the chance to be above-average as well. Tate missed more bats in 2015 than he had previously. Though there’s considerable effort in Tate’s delivery, it also provides deception and he’s proven to scouts this year he can start, with his athleticism translating into durability, missing just one start because of a minor trapezoid muscle injury.-MLB.com"
FB: 70 | SL: 65 | CB: 45 | CH: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55
How does he fit with the Rangers?
Tate has had an electric year for UC Santa Barbara in his first year starting after being in the bullpen for his entire sophomore season in 2014. In 2015, Tate moved to the rotation and started in 14 games and had a 2.26 ERA in 103.1 innings. Tate struck out 111 batters and managed to increase his strikeouts per 9 innings which is not an easy task as pitchers typically have a higher K/9 in the bullpen.
A concern for many college pitchers drafted early in the first round is the amount of innings they have already thrown. When a team drafts a high school pitcher, they will typically monitor a pitcher’s innings for the benefit of the future and try to prevent injuries. Colleges, on the other hand, are trying to win as many games as possible and therefore are at risk of overusing a pitcher especially if they are a first round talent. Tate has had the benefit of pitching in college and developing with college coaches but has not been overused as he was not a starter until this season so has few.
Tate is not a finished product and will likely not climb through the system like the last college pitcher the Rangers took in the first round, a guy named Chi Chi Gonzalez. Many believe that Tate started to lose some of his effectiveness due to increasing his workload by 60 innings from his sophomore to junior season. The Rangers will likely take a year or two to stretch him out into a starter for the future. A team would not take a pitcher with the fourth pick with the plan to make him a bullpen arm so they are expected to keep Tate as a starter. Tate could be next in line of young starters for the Rangers including Gonzalez and Jake Thompson to have success and be a part of this team’s future.
Let us know what you think of this pick in the comments below.