Texas Rangers Draft Recap: Day 1 Picks Show Change in Philosophy
By Kenneth Nash
The Texas Rangers have finished their Day 1 picks for the MLB Draft and the selections could show a possible change in philosophy.
Day 1 of the MLB Draft has come and gone for the Texas Rangers who had the luxury of 3 Top 50 selections. The Rangers opted for perhaps a different route than the one us fans have become accustomed to in recent years, passing on raw talent and athleticism in exchange for refined collegiate standouts. Are the days of taking a Bubba Thompson or Cole Winn gone or is this a case of finding the best organizational fit?
Pick #8: 3B Josh Jung (Texas Tech)
With the 8th overall pick, the Rangers went with Texas Tech standout 3rd baseman Josh Jung. Jung is a pure hitter who has the discipline to shine at the big league level and projectable power that could turn him into a 25+ homer guy. Defensively he’s not a lock to stay at 3rd base but he’s not a lock to move to 1st base either. He’s a high floor player that could quickly rise up the organizational ladder. This season for the Red Raiders he hit .340 and is just a year removed from his 2018 campaign where his .392 average was one of the best in the country. He instantly jumps in as the #3 prospect in the system to me behind Hans Crouse and Leody Taveras, just ahead of Cole Winn. He probably beats those players to the Majors if you ask me as well.
Pick #41: 3B Davis Wendzel (Baylor)
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The Rangers doubled down on the hot corner taking another Big 12 standout in Davis Wendzel from Baylor. Wendzel is the co-Big 12 Player of the Year alongside Jung and is considered one of the most defensively versatile collegiate players in this year’s draft. Wendzel is coming off a year where he hit .367 for the Bears and had a 1.094 OPS. He’s not a big power guy and unlike Jung, he doesn’t probably have the upside to develop into one, but he’s good enough at the plate to get him to the big leagues in the future. He probably sticks in the Majors as a sort of everyday utility man similar to Isiah Kiner-Falefa last season or Logan Forsythe this year.
Pick #50: RHP Ryan Garcia (UCLA)
With their final pick of the evening, the Rangers opted for their first pitcher of the draft in Ryan Garcia. The 6’0″ right-hander from UCLA really stands out with his ability to locate his pitches. It’s noted that he has at least an average grade on all 4 of his pitches and paired with that plus-command, is a real candidate to stick as a starter. Smaller pitchers like Garcia sometimes struggle with durability but he seems to have a very efficient delivery.
While stats aren’t everything, they also don’t lie and Garcia’s jump off the page. In 2019, Garcia went 10-0 for the Bruins posting a 1.39 ERA. Despite a low-90’s fastball he managed to generate a lot of swings and misses racking up 107 strikeouts in just 84.1 innings and held opponents to a .159 average. Garcia may not generate a lot of headlines now but I think he could quickly climb up organization prospect rankings and possibly make it as a back-end of the rotation starter for Texas in the future.
That Dang Philosophy…
To me, there clearly was a shift in the Rangers philosophy this year at least with their early picks. Like mentioned above, Texas went away from their norm of taking toolsy prep players with above-average athleticism and instead went for polished college guys who all have good character reviews. And it wasn’t necessarily a case of best player available either but rather looking for culture fits that also can be impact players in Arlington more quickly than a high school player.
Overall, I think this was a fantastic day for JD and the Rangers organization. I think realizing that their true competitive window probably starts in 2021, Texas went with players who could be at or near the big leagues by that time. I’m particularly excited about Jung who is one of the best pure hitters I’ve watched at the college level. Day 1 seems successful and we’ll see what Day 2 has in store come tomorrow.