Early draft predictions: Who will the Texas Rangers take with No. 2?

Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Brown and catcher CJ Rodriguez, left, congratulate freshman pitcher Jack Leiter (22) after he strike out all three South Alabama batters during the first inning at Hawkins Field Feb. 18, 2020.Nas Vandy Baseball Home Opener 019
Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Brown and catcher CJ Rodriguez, left, congratulate freshman pitcher Jack Leiter (22) after he strike out all three South Alabama batters during the first inning at Hawkins Field Feb. 18, 2020.Nas Vandy Baseball Home Opener 019 /

The 2021 MLB Draft is still months away, but it’s never too early to wonder who the Texas Rangers will take with the second overall pick.

The Texas Rangers are no strangers to drafting high-risk, high-reward type players in the draft.

Aside from Josh Jung and Davis Wendzel last season, every other player drafted by the team in 2020 was out of high school.

Over the last decade in general, the Rangers have focused primarily on high school players, but will this year be different?

After going 22-38 in 2020, Texas holds the second overall pick in the 2021 draft.

This will be their highest selection since 2015 when they drafted right-hander Dillon Tate fourth overall.

So, what can we expect from the Texas Rangers in the 2021 MLB Draft? Here’s my take.

Texas Rangers: College pitchers to consider

Could Texas Rangers take Kumar Rocker in 2021?
Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports /

The presence of Kumar Rocker is something to keep an eye on.

He is the cream of the crop when it comes to young, college-aged pitchers.

He has the potential to be an ace with his wipeout slider and electric fastball, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have the first overall selection, meaning Rocker could be off the board.

With Rocker possibly going to Pittsburgh, who could be left of interest?

I’d say Jack Leiter, Rocker’s rotation mate at Vanderbilt, or pitcher Jaden Hill out of Louisiana Sate University (LSU).

Leiter is small for a starter, standing at 6 foot even and weighing in at 195.

There is a lot to like about the right-handed Leiter, though.

He has a big league pedigree, with his father Al and his cousin Mark Jr. pitching in the major leagues.

He also has good stuff, but needs to polish his control after walking eight in 15.2 innings last spring.

Jaden Hill could also be a possibility for the Rangers.

The right-hander has been compared to Rocker in many ways, but has a more polished changeup instead of a slider.

Some consider Hill to be a better all-around athlete and is similar physically to Rocker.

He is projected to go fifth, but the Rangers could like his services at number two.

Texas Rangers: College bats to consider

There are several very good hitters to look at at the college ranks, but it’s hard to imagine the Texas Rangers making a play for them.

If they did, however, catcher Adrian del Castillo from the University of Miami is one to consider, as well as Jud Fabian from the University of Florida and Matt McLain from UCLA.

del Castillo projects to be the best combo of power and patience in the draft.

He had 39 extra-base hits and 43 walks in 77 games with Miami. He also only struck-out 32 times over those two seasons.

del Castillo could peak the interest of the Texas Rangers early in the draft, if available.

Fabian is considered a polarizing prospect in this draft.

He has a lot of useable power and plays centerfield, but only hitting .250 won’t cut it in the big leagues. He has also struck out 22% of the time over his tenure at the University of Florida.

Therefore, Texas would likely pass on the young outfielder considering their draft slot.

Lastly, shortstop Matt McLain of UCLA was drafted several years ago by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but opted to go to college instead.

Coincidentally, McLain is projected to go sixth overall to the Diamondbacks this year, too, according to some sites.

He has great bat-to-ball skills, similar to White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal, but with better power numbers.

Texas has a glut of infielders in their minor league ranks, meaning they’d likely pass on McLain as well, though nothing is out of the question.

Texas Rangers: A high schooler to consider

The Texas Rangers are very familiar in the high school ranks, but may have an opportunity to pluck an especially good right one right out of their own backyard.

Jesuit Prep (TX) shortstop Jordan Lawler is currently projected to go to the Texas Rangers second overall by some mock drafts.

He has a similar traits to KC Royals farmhand Bobby Witt, Jr. but is considered a more advanced hitter.

Lawler has a quick, compact swing and has a good eye at the plate. He also possesses plus speed and good bat speed that should translate to big power numbers once he fills out.

The 6’2 shortstop is definitely one the Texas Rangers should take a serious look at during the 2021 Draft.

Texas Rangers’ 2021 draft options: Final Thoughts

I believe that the Texas Rangers must strike gold in this draft.

They have to find an organization-shaking prospect that will change the direction of the franchise in the near future, as the status of their big-league roster is rather bleak at the moment, with not much immediate help on the way.

Keep in mind that without a full 2020 season, many numbers will be skewed.

Also, anything can happen during the 2021 season.

A players’ stock can rise and fall, and unknown players will emerge, much like Detroit Tigers’ top pick Spencer Torkelson and Texas’ Evan Carter did last season ahead of the 2020 draft.

There are a lot of great players available for the Texas Rangers at number two next season, some known and some unknown.

I think we may all be surprised as to who the Rangers select, but those types of players can prove to be difference makers within the organization.