Spring training is wrapping up, opening day is next Thursday, and yet there is a new 2023 mock draft and updated prospect ratings out. Baseball America, who has long been one of the top resources for all things MLB draft and baseball in general, unveiled their latest renditions over the last week.
As a reminder, the Texas Rangers will be selecting 4th overall in the 2023 draft to be held in July thanks to the new lottery system. In previous years the Rangers would have had the 7th pick, but they beat the odds with the draft lottery back in December and moved up three spots.
While it is always good to be able to get a higher draft selection, this year is shaping out to be one that is extra nice to have a top four selection. During the pre-season mocks and even with this latest one, there is a clear-cut top four when it comes to the collegiate players. According to Carlos Collazo, "Currently it feels like a good year to have a top-four pick." Well, that is exactly what the Texas Rangers have.
Texas Rangers tabbed to select Tennessee RHP Chase Dollander in latest mock draft
Currently Baseball America has the top three prospects in the rankings and their mock as follows: 1. Dylan Crews, OF, LSU, 2. Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida, 3. Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU. A previous mock had Skenes in the fourth spot going to the Rangers, but a phenomenal start by the athletic LSU star has moved him up this board.
That brings us to Tennessee Volunteer Chase Dollander. The 6'2" 200lb power right-handed pitcher is currently Baseball America's fourth ranked prospect as well as the player that they have the Rangers selecting with the 4th pick. If this is how the draft ends up this summer, I don't think the fans will be upset.
Last year Dollander burst on the scene and dominated, earning 2022 SEC Pitcher of the Year honors. Posting a perfect 10-0 record with a 2.39 ERA, he pitched 79 innings, struck out 108, walked 13, had a 0.80 WHIP, and a batting average against of .175.
This year the numbers have been slightly off. This is mainly due to his start last week on the road against the Missouri Tigers where he got hit hard early before settling down. In the loss he pitched 5.2 innings, allowed 6 runs on 9 hits, struck out 4, and walked 1. Most of the damage came in the first inning where he gave up 4 hits (3 doubles and a triple) and allowed 4 runs.
Despite last weeks outing, Dollander still has solid numbers this year. He has a 3-2 record with a 3.90 ERA, he has pitched 27.2 innings, struck out 45, walked 6, has a 1.16 WHIP, and a batting average against of .248. The obvious difference statistically from last year to this year is the batting average against. Hitters have improved by 0.073 which is quite an increase. The thing to remember is that this is a small sample size, and that as long as the stuff remains solid, Dollander will still be considered a possible draft pick for the Rangers come July.
Before the last start, Dollander had a 2.45 ERA which was right in line with where he was in 2022. He will look to rebound this week as he is set to take the mound at home this Friday night (5:30 PM CT) as the Vols host the Texas A&M Aggies.
For fans wanting to know how Dollander compares at this point to the last two SEC power right-handed pitchers that the Rangers have selected in the top 5 the past two years, here is a quote from the Baseball America mock draft from an MLB scout. Scout, "Dollander compares favorably with several of the top college pitchers in recent classes. I’d take him over Rocker, Leiter and anyone else from the last two drafts. I’m looking to see how his slider trends the rest of the draft calendar as well as his changeup usage." Well Ranger's fans, that is exciting!
Again, all of this is extremely early, and many things can and will happen between now and draft day. For example, many of the high school kids haven't even played much this year because of their later start to the season. Injuries, slumps, and hot streaks will play a role as well. At the end of the day, the Texas Rangers have the 4th selection of the 2023 draft and that is going to be fun to follow.