Texas Rangers: Kip Fagg
Rangers director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg said last week that the draft board is deep in pitching, particularly left-handed pitching.
"I think pitching is going to be what's most on your board," Fagg said. "I think this is a deep pitching draft with a lot of left-handed pitchers. There are some players, too, probably a little light on the top-end type player, but the depth is in the pitching."
Here's what to watch for in the draft:
The 23rd pick: The Rangers have leaned toward high school pitchers in the early rounds of the draft since Jon Daniels became general manager in 2006. They have taken 10 high school pitchers among their 25 picks in the first, supplemental and second rounds.
ESPN Insider Keith Law's draft board is heavy with high school pitchers right around the Rangers' first of two picks. Law has right-hander Hunter Harvey (Catawba, N.C) at No. 22 on his board and left-handers Rob Kaminsky (Montvale, N.J.) and Matt Krook (Hillsborough, Calif.) at No. 24 and 25.
Law has the Rangers pegged for Winder, Ga. high school shortstop Travis Demeritte. The Rangers drafted state of Georgia products with their top selections in 2010 and '11 -- outfielder Jake Skole and left-handed pitcher Kevin Skole.
The Rangers also could look to shore up their catching depth at the minor league level. Law has three catchers ranked from No. 21-27, both high school players -- No. 21 Nick Cuiffo (Lexington, S.C), who Law writes is the best receiving catcher in the draft, and No. 27 Jon Denney (Yukon, Okla.).
For what the Rangers' draft needs are, they sit in a good spot at No. 23.
The 30th pick: The sentimental pick would be to grab Plano West High School outfielder Billy McKinney, a left-handed hitter with great bat speed.
They might find right-hander Kyle Serrano (Farragut, Tenn.) sitting there, as well as Denney or another high school arm.
The Rangers got this pick when the Los Angeles Angels signed Josh Hamilton, adding insult to injury to the Angels.
Does first-round success matter?: The Rangers have two first-round draft picks on their current 25-man roster, neither of whom they drafted -- designated hitter Lance Berkman and left-fielder David Murphy.
Berkman was the 16th overall pick by the Houston Astros in 1997. Berkman, who played at Rice University, obviously was a big draft hit with a .296 career batting average with 360 home runs.
The Rangers had the foresight to trade for Murphy. He was the 17th overall pick by Boston out of Baylor in 2003.
The Rangers have one supplemental first-round pick on the current roster -- setup man Tanner Scheppers, who has had a breakthrough season and deserves All-Star consideration. Scheppers was the 44th pick in the 2009 draft out of Fresno State.
Finding pitching: Don't fall asleep on the second day of the draft. Two-fifths of the Rangers' current rotation is made up of college pitchers selected after the first round in 2010.
Justin Grimm, who leads American League rookies with five wins, was a fifth-round pick in 2010 out of Georgia. The Rangers met with him before the draft to discuss some mechanical issues with his delivery.
"It was a special arm," Fagg said of Grimm. "It was a great makeup kid. He was a competitive kid. It was an easy choice to make, personally."
Right-hander Nick Tepesch, who has four wins, slid because of signability issues and was picked in the 14th round out of Missouri. The Rangers snatched him after a poor junior season.
"We took a chance," Fagg said. "We knew the makeup. So we thought it was a steal where we got him."
Reviewing the 2012 draft: The Rangers selected high school outfielder Lewis Brinson with the 29th overall pick of last year's draft. The Fort Lauderdale product is batting .246 with 11 home runs and 24 RBIs in Class A Hickory. He was batting .354 with four stolen bases over his last 10 games entering Thursday.
Third baseman Joey Gallo, a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds, has 14 home runs and 29 RBIs. Gallo's batting average has dipped to .210 with six hits in his last 37 at-bats.
Left-fielder Nick Williams, a second-round pick, is batting .308 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs. He homered and had three RBIs Wednesday night and fell a triple shy of the cycle.
The Hickory Crawdads, loaded with the the club's top young prospects, have hit 80 home runs, 30 more than any team in the South Atlantic League.
Kip Fagg, the Rangers director of amateur scouting, was a guest on Rangers Magazine this past Sunday (ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM), and he reflected on the three-day event.
|Director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg joins Rangers Magazine to discuss the MLB draft, early pick Joey Gallo and more.
One of those players selected near the top of the draft and in the supplemental portion of the first round was third baseman Joey Gallo. He was taken 39th overall with the compensation pick the Rangers received when the Angels signed for C.J. Wilson.
“Joey is a very decorated player. Scouted him a lot over the last few years,” Fagg said of the 2012 Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year with 65 career home runs. “Big, big power. Joey’s got a good approach at the plate. Set a Nevada state record for home runs in his career. Very athletic kid for his size. We will start him at third base and think he has a chance to stay there. He’s a middle-of-the-order, run-producing bat.”
Gallo is a left-handed batter and a right-handed thrower who measures 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds. Baseball America tabbed him as the best power hitter and third best arm among high school draft prospects.
When it comes to signing players, Fagg does not view MLB’s new budgetary plan as a challenge for the Rangers. He emphasized how relationships can ease the process.
“From the ground floor, our scouts Frankie Thon knowing Lew Brinson, Todd Guggiana knowing Joey Gallo, Dustin Smith knowing Collin Wiles, and you get in and have a relationship with these people. They trust you. You trust them. And, it all works out in the end if you do the work,” Fagg said.
Fagg also discussed drafting high school players who are committed to major college programs, if position matters in a draft, when they knew who would be their first draft pick, life inside the draft room, scouting in the state of Texas and more. Listen to the podcast.
Bryan Dolgin is the Rangers radio pre and postgame show host on the Texas Rangers ESPN radio network. He also is the host of Rangers Insider and Rangers Magazine on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Follow him on Twitter @RangersRadioBD.
* The Texas Rangers have pick No. 29 in the first round, but thanks to compensation picks, they also have five of the first 93 picks. And they'll make all of those selections before the Los Angeles Angels pick for the first time in the third round.
* There are new rules for the draft, which is now 40 rounds instead of 50. You need a degree in draftology to understand it, but here's a quick look from ESPN.com's Buster Olney on how it could impact things. Basically, teams have a certain amount of money they can move around if there's a player with high bonus demands that they want. But it also puts a premium on signing picks from the top-10 rounds or risk losing that slot money from the pool. And teams have until July 15 to get those players signed, a shorter window than previously.
"I think with this new system there’s more pressure put on us in the organization, the scouts, to sign the players because if you don’t sign them in the top-10 rounds, you lose the value of that slot," said Kip Fagg, Rangers director of amateur scouting. "We have to trust what we did in the past and our process of getting to know the players and agents. We fully intend on signing our guys."
* The Rangers aren't going to change their approach, which is to draft the best all-around player regardless of position as long as he has "good character and good makeup," according to Fagg.
* Fagg likes the depth of the draft, saying it's split well between college and high school players. He doesn't believe one position is head and shoulders ahead of another one.
* The Rangers have added a third area scout to Dallas-Fort Worth and feel like they've got Texas well covered.
"We have area guys and crosschecker guys and we know them," Fagg said.
* If you want to bet on something, bet on the Rangers taking a high school player in the first round and likely a pitcher or someone up the middle. That seems to be their early pattern. It also seems like they hit the Atlanta suburbs hard, though Fagg said that is coincidence.
"We want good athletes with good makeup and character and we don't care where they're from, really," Fagg said.
"Growing up, everybody would say how I'm a smaller guy and I would use that to prove people wrong," Matthews said. "For me, it's never been a problem. I go to workouts and I'm the smallest guy and I've been where the pitchers are all 6-4 and I'm always the shortest guy. I always laugh that I'm hanging out with the trees. I don't think size matters. As long as you get the job done and do what you're supposed to do, the shortest guy is just as good as the tallest guy."
The Rangers sure aren't worried about his size.
"There are always exceptions to a rule and I think this kid is," said Kip Fagg, Rangers' director of amateur scouting. "This kid pitches with a chip and I like that."
Matthews has been clocked in the low 90s and throws a slider and changeup in addition to the fastball. He was 4-2 with a 1.68 ERA in 10 games for Richmond Hill as a senior and had 94 strikeouts with just 14 walks, giving up 18 hits in 42 innings. He said he wants to develop his changeup more and that will be a main focus as he starts his professional career, along with "managing the game better." Matthews and the Rangers don't expect this to be a protracted negotiation process.
"I want to sign and get started as soon as I can so I can get used to the guys and get used to the program," Matthews said. "I think the sooner I start, the better."
Matthews confirmed he can dunk a basketball, proving the Rangers' belief that he's a very good athlete. Fagg is not only impressed by Matthews' stuff, but his character.
"He's very athletic and a kid whose makeup is special," Fagg said. "We see big upside with him in a small frame. He's got athleticism, three-pitch mix, strikes, competitiveness. There are a lot of things you can say are special with this kid.
Fagg said he fits the Robbie Erlin, Robbie Ross, Martin Perez group of pitching prospects currently in the Rangers' system.
"We feel very comfortable that this kid is going to come right in and fit in with what we've got with the Rangers," Fagg said.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.