2015 Texas Rangers First Round Pick Dillon Tate
The Texas Rangers came into the 2015 draft with the number 4 pick. It was the first time the Rangers were in the top 5 since 2001 when they drafted Mark Teixiera. That was a home run pick in that it gave them a productive first baseman and then they traded him for what would be some of the core pieces of the World Series teams in 2010 and 2011.
The Rangers finished the 2014 season much stronger than they should have. For most of the year, they had one of the worst records in baseball and looked like they were going to have a top 3 pick. Ron Washington resigned in September and Tim Bogar took over on September 5th. The team was 53-87 at that point in what had been a nightmare season of injuries. Bogar took over and the team went on a run. They finished the season 14-8 including a stretch that saw them win 13 of their last 16 games. That dropped them from picking two or three to picking four.
The top tier of the draft was 3 players as considered by all the draft experts. It was Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, and Brandon Rogers. The Rangers at pick four decided to go with Dillon Tate out of the University of California Santa Barbara. He was a right-handed pitcher who had a good draft season starting but was projected as a future reliever. Again this was not a good evaluation. Kyle Tucker was taken by the Astros with the next pick. They also could have had Ian Happ, Walker Buehler, or Ke'Bryan Hayes.
The Rangers did not miss just with that pick but with the draft as a whole. The Rangers took three players in that entire draft that have made a significant impact in the majors. They picked Dylan Moore in the 7th round, Pete Fairbanks in the 9th round, and Jeffrey Springs in the 30th round. Notice a common thread between those three. None of them made an impact with the Rangers. Dylan Moore was traded for international bonus slot money to the Braves. The Rangers were trying to acquire more money to sign Shohei Ohtani and sent Moore to the Braves. He eventually found his way to Seattle. Fairbanks and Springs now are both star pitchers for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Lets gets back to Tate. He did sign with the Rangers and pitched for both Low-A Spokane and High-A Hickory in 2015 and did very well. Then in 2016 he went back to Hickory and had a 5.12 ERA in 16 starts. The Rangers were so spooked by those numbers that they included him in the Carlos Beltran trade to the New York Yankees. Beltran was a flop in Texas as they were swept in the first round. Tate pitched two seasons in the Yankees organization and then was traded to Baltimore in the Zach Britton trade. Tate has now carved out a place in the Orioles bullpen. He pitched in 67 games for the Orioles last season and had a 3.05 ERA. He has been on the IL all season with a forearm injury and is now on a rehab assignment trying to work his way back.
The Rangers trading their first-round picks in 2014 and 2015 certainly did come back to bite them. Those 2017-2020 had very little homegrown talent. Nothing to call upon if players got injured. It forced the Rangers organization to reevaluate their draft strategy and overhaul it completely.
In two weeks the Rangers will be making another pick again at number four. They have a chance to really draft a difference maker for maybe the last time this decade. Kip Fagg and Chris Young are in the process of figuring out who that player will be. Lets hope come July 9th that the player they draft will never belong on this list of worst first round picks.