The instant reactions to the Texas Rangers 2020 draft were not the kindest. After taking a few days to ponder the picks, how does the draft look now?
To say the Texas Rangers had an interesting 2020 MLB Draft would be a bit of an understatement. In what has already been a crazy year for the game of baseball, a game which we have yet to actually see played in 2020, the Rangers embraced the strangeness of a five round amateur draft by taking players that were miles off the mock draft radar. Initial reactions were not kind to Texas, with many outlets who grade drafts slapping C’s and D’s galore on the newest draft class. However, after giving it a few days to simmer, how does the Rangers draft class look now and what does it signal about the club in the future?
Round 1, Pick 14: INF Justin Foscue, Miss. State
With the 14th pick in this year’s draft, the Texas Rangers opted for polished infielder Justin Foscue out of Mississippi State. The pick was received with mixed reviews considering Texas had a number of notable players available to them at that spot. Foscue’s polished bat is the selling point with this pick and while he doesn’t necessarily have the elite upside that other players picked around him did, he has a floor that should see him contribute as a big league regular fairly soon. He garnered player comps to a number of noteworthy second basemen including Texas’ own Nick Solak.
Takeaway: While Foscue isn’t a sexy pick in the traditional sense, Nick Solak wouldn’t be either. Yet I’m fairly confident Rangers’ fans would love to end up with another Nick Solak on their hands.
Round 2, Pick 50: OF Evan Carter, Elizabethton HS (TN)
The curveball of perhaps the entire draft for any team came in the second round when the Texas Rangers took prep outfielder Evan Carter at 50th overall. Entering the draft, Carter was not in Baseball America’s list of the Top 500 draft eligible prospects. The 6’4″, 210-pound outfielder has the frame of a big league prospect, but his lack of development had him well off the draft radar, especially in this year’s five round format. Texas however seems to like how the Duke-commit could progress and he’s still three months shy of his 18th birthday.
Takeaway: This is the pick that’s hardest to judge. Jeff Passan of ESPN reported on the draft broadcast that Texas liked Carter and were confident he wouldn’t be available at their third round selection if they passed at #50. On paper though, this pick looks like a long shot to be a evaluated as a success down the road.
Round 3, Pick 86: RHP Tekoah Roby, Pine Forest HS (FL)
The second of what would be four consecutive high schoolers to finish out the Rangers draft, Tekoah Roby might be one of, if not the only, pick that is looked at as a timely selection. The Pensacola native stands at 6’1″, 185 pounds per his Perfect Game bio which isn’t necessarily considered a projectable frame in the big leagues, but does leave some room for physical development. Turning 19 later this year, Roby should be able to fill out some and already features a fastball in the low-to-mid 90’s. The Troy commit was ranked 144th among draft prospects by MLB.com but Texas seems confident in his ability to develop into a starter.
Takeaway: As with all high school players, it’s hard to evaluate. However Roby’s selection was met with much more confidence by analysts and evaluators than Carter’s. He’ll be one to watch over the long-term but could represent a savvy selection by the Rangers.
Round 4, Pick 115: LHP Dylan MacLean, Central Catholic HS (OR)
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Texas dipped back into the well of relatively surprising picks taking prep pitcher Dylan MacLean in the fourth round. MacLean was ranked as the 195th draft prospect but he features a textbook projectable frame. At 6’4″, 180 pounds there is plenty of room for MacLean to add muscle and continue to build his velocity that already jumped from the mid-80’s in his junior season to the low-90’s this offseason. He was considered the second best arm in Oregon behind first round pick Mick Abel and already has a feel for pitching that should only be highlighted by further upticks in velocity.
Takeaway: I’d be lying if I said I have any personal knowledge of MacLean’s ability. However, for anybody who is a sucker for a projectable frame, MacLean should have you excited. A lefty who already sits in the low-90’s with room to improve carries an inherent amount of value. If Texas can sign him away from his Washington commitment this could be a fun player to watch.
Round 5, Pick 145: SS Thomas Saggese, Carlsbad HS (CA)
The Rangers rounded out their 2020 draft with a prep shortstop from California, Thomas Saggese. The Pepperdine commit put up big offensive numbers in his junior season hitting .422 with 10 home runs and was off to a hot start in his senior campaign before COVID-19 ended the season. Baseball America had Saggese as the 280th ranked player in this draft class but ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel noted just prior to the draft in a piece with San Diego Union Tribune that Saggese was a late riser in the class with some “talk that he could go as high as the third round.”
Takeaway: Operating under the assumption that Texas can sign him away from his college commitment, Saggese looks to be a solid hitting infielder that carries value even if he has to eventually move away from short.
What Do We Make of the Draft as a Whole?
Expectations are that Texas will land all five of their picks from this year having likely saved money on the Foscue and Carter picks to dole out extra cash to the other three in order to pull them away from their college commitments. The Rangers feel confident in their selections with Senior Director of Scouting Kip Fagg insisting that they felt these players were only undervalued because of the lack of a spring season.
It’s nearly impossible to truly judge an MLB draft immediately following the picks. Unlike other leagues, picks in the MLB can’t be traded meaning there is no moving back to get the guy you want at a more desired spot in the draft. Plus, the majority of these players are a few years away from reaching the Major League level at best. However, what we do know is that the Texas Rangers opted to zig a bit when everybody else zagged. The Rangers are clearly betting on their scouting and player evaluators, a decision which will either pay off and land this draft in franchise lore, or backfire and cause these selections to live in infamy.