It’s that time of year again!  When we see young men in suits at Studio 42 smile and begin dreaming of the players they could possibly be playing beside. 

When Mock Drafts get mulled over for weeks and then tossed out quicker than a March Madness bracket. 

When well-oiled machines...war rooms…front offices put together amazing draft strategies and the Angels wait 50-plus picks to start their draft.

Well as always Ranger fans, you are in great company.  Though we don’t have the most early picks, like 2007, the Rangers again have four picks before the 100th selection and two 1st round selections.  I’m not diminishing the later picks, especially not from this front office.  Because you don’t have to look far for success: Keone Kela (2012 – 12th Round), Justin Grimm (2010 – 5th Round), Mitch Moreland (2007 – 17th Round), Craig Gentry (2006 – 10th Round), Derek Holland (2006 – 25th Round), and Ian Kinsler (2003 – 17th Round). 

But I do want to focus today on the earlier rounds for two reasons.  One, it’s the picks that people can relate to.  Learn the kids’ names, talk about them tomorrow morning and your baseball IQ at the office goes UP!  Two, let’s be perfectly honest, predicting the first couple rounds can quickly become a crapshoot, so predicting the latter rounds is like Wile E. Coyote catching the Road Runner, it’s just NOT going to happen…EVER!

In 2013, the Rangers will be selecting 23rd (our own pick) and 30th (compensation for Josh Hamilton donning Angel wings).  After the first round the Rangers will also select 62nd tonight and start tomorrow with the 99th overall pick.  Final draft note, Rangers first two picks this year are actually seven and nine spots, respectively, better than 2012 when they took Lewis Brinson and Joey Gallo (excited face).

With those picks, the Rangers will do two things the next few days.  One, that they will draft the best player available.  Even with Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, and Jurickson Profar all potentially around for at least the next four years, and middle infield prospects like Leury Garcia, Luis Sardinas, Hanser Alberto, Rougned Odor, Luis Marte, Odubel Herrera, and Ryan Rua, the Rangers will NOT hesitate to take a shortstop or second baseman.  Draft the best player available and worry about too many successful options later (#GoodProblem). 

Those names above lead into the second point, draft up the middle.  I’ve preached on this for at least the past five years.  The Rangers will FOCUS their efforts on pitchers, catchers, middle infielders, and center fielders.  Yes, I know Joey Gallo is a third baseman and will one day be a first baseman (#1 – Best Player Available).  But for the bulk of the draft you will see young men who play “Up the Middle.”

Finally before we start the music tonight, here are a few names of players that I can see the Rangers targeting.  Some will be there for the team to select, some will already be gone, but these are the young men that Jon Daniels and his Super Friends have done their extensive homework on. 

Dominic Smith, 1B/OF – Bats: Left – Serra HS (CA) – Ht: 6’0”, Wt: 195, Age: 18

OK…I’m partially dreaming on this one a little, I fully expect Smith to have already been selected before #23, BUT if for some “Joey Gallo dropping to #39” reason he is still there, I expect the Rangers to pounce on him.  Smith is a pure hitter, great swing, very fluid, and projects as a 25-30 HR type power hitter in the Majors.  He is a solid first base defender, but his draft position will completely depend on how a team sees his power developing.

Tim Anderson, SS/OF – Bats: Right – East Central CC – Ht: 6’1”, Wt: 180, Age: 20

I only make a Billy Hamilton comparison to him, because truthfully everyone is and it’s incredibly similar.  Anderson is a pure athlete, like Hamilton, whose speed and contact hitting are his strengths.  Currently a SS, his drafting team may look into CF down the road.  I’m good with both of those, and like Smith, if Anderson is still available look for the Rangers to nab him.

Hunter Harvey, RHP – Bandys HS (NC) – Ht: 6’2”, Wt: 168, Age: 18

Hard throwing high school arms, one can never really have enough of these, and the Rangers are no exception.  Last year they took a big stock of offensive weapons early, this year we could see some Arms Loading.  Harvey fits right into that plan, plus-plus fastball at 94mph and good curve and change.  Plus to say that this 168-pound teenager has room to add strength would be an understatement.  (Father, Bryan, was a former All-Star closer)

Billy McKinney, OF/1B – Bats: Left – Plano West HS (TX) – Ht: 6’1”, Wt: 195, Age: 18

This selection just plain makes too much sense, the selection that Texas wasn’t able to do with Michael Choice.  The local hero can quickly become a new face of the farm system, and this face has a bright future ahead.  McKinney might be the best high school bat in this year’s draft (you know like some kid named Gallo), and he hasn’t been too shy about his desire to be a Ranger.  Baseball makeup & IQ are plus-plus, as is this corner outfielders’ power.  YES PLEASE!!!

Hunter Green, LHP – Warren East HS (KY) – Ht: 6’2”, Wt: 200, Age: 18

MLB Draft words you need to know…Projectable or Projectablity…Definition: Hunter Green.  The Texas Rangers love projectable, teenage, high-ceiling talent.  Green’s fastball sits in the low 90s, it WILL get higher.  He has a sinking changeup, one of the main reasons my hitting career ended (and many others).  Plus his biggest issue is his delivery; well that’s what extended spring training in Arizona is for.  Would love to see this kid pitching down there next month.

Other names to be on the listen for when the Rangers make their three selections today: Nick Ciuffo-C (South Carolina), Robert Kaminsky-LHP (HS – New Jersey), Travis Demeritte-3B (HS – Georgia), Blake Taylor-LHP (HS – California), JaCoby Jones-2B/OF (LSU), A.J. Puk-LHP (HS – Iowa), Chris Kohler-LHP (HS – California), and Riley Unroe-SS (HS – Arizona).

Either way, I’m very excited for this draft, like all Ranger drafts lately, and will have something up tomorrow detailing a little more about the three newest additions.

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