Leiter and Zavala picks show refreshing change in Texas Rangers’ strategy
By Seth Carlson
So far, so safe for the Texas Rangers in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Safe in this context is a good thing for the Rangers, who in the past have been known to take gambles on higher risk players in the early phases of the draft (see Dillon Tate, Collin Wiles, Travis Demeritte, Luis Ortiz and others).
In going with Vanderbilt ace Jack Leiter and Oregon OF Aaron Zavala in the first and second rounds, respectively, of the 2021 MLB Draft, GM Chris Young appears to be exerting his influence over a revamped Texas Rangers draft process in the best way.
The Texas Rangers selected OF Aaron Zavala in the second round of the 2021 MLB Draft
Albeit, the Rangers have not gone the cheap route in securing more polished players, as Leiter will require nearly his entire slot, if not more. Zavala could be at or just below his slot, leaving little room to manuever going forward in the draft.
Still, the price is well worth paying, as Leiter and Zavala are the types of impact prospects that can help the Rangers by their goal to contend in 2023.
Zavala, a former Pac-12 Player of the Year, grades as an above-average hitter with excellent bat-to-ball skills and great pitch recognition with no real holes in his game. He’s the kind of pick that won’t come off as sexy, but the 21-year-old can mash and is likely to be a productive MLB’er. His player comp is New York Mets’ OF Brandon Nimmo, who we might say is pretty good.
Between Leiter and Zavala, the Texas Rangers have capitalized on their advantageous draft position in 2021, something the organization knew it had to do going in. They’ll only have one more chance at drafting this high at the beginning of every round, that being in 2022, assuming 2023 goes swimmingly.
With Chris Young in the Rangers’ draft room, it looks like Texas’ draft approach is changing for the better. And that can only mean great things ahead for the future of this franchise.