Josh Hamilton is a Home Run Derby, Michael Young in consistent performances, and C.J. Wilson in visiting exotic destinations and trying odd things. There is something special when these people perform in their premier events.
And in early June, that's what Rangers GM Jon Daniels, Asst. GM Thad Levine, Senior Director of Player Personnel A.J. Preller, Senior Special Assistant to GM & Scouting Don Welke, Senior Director of Player Development Scott Servais, and Director of Amateur Scouting Kip Fagg get to do too.
This is there time to shine, and time and time and time again they have. Almost all Ranger fans know Daniels, and a decent amount have heard of Levine. But trust me folks, the reason these guys get that type of credit is because of guys like Preller, Welke, Servais, Fagg, and a huge host of other unnamed scouting warriors.
Now that I have gotten the forum to brag on these geniuses for a little bit, how about their first night of the 2011 MLB First Player Draft. The Texas Rangers had the 33rd and 37th picks of the draft.
History lesson, Texas received both the 33rd pick (the final pick of the 1st round) and the 37th pick (supplemental first round) when Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies, Texas forfeited their first round pick, 26th pick to Boston when Texas signed Adrian Beltre. The Red Sox used the pick to draft switch-hitting catcher Blake Swihart (Cleveland HS, New Mexico).
To wrap up the first round, the Rangers' with 33rd pick (from the Philadelphia Phillies) select Kevin Matthews, LHP from Richmond Hill HS. Although short in stature, 5'10" or maybe 5'11", I've seen both. This young man can boast a fastball that touches 94-95mph, but sits regularly 87-90mph. He has lots of room to grow and the Rangers staff has shown many times before being able to turn high-ceiling high school arms into Major League arms.
When mentioning this young man prior to the draft, two Ranger draft picks Kasey Kiker and Robbie Ross. Without a doubt, let's hope he performs more like the latter. Outside those two there has been multiple comparisons to Billy Wagner, in regards to heat and stature.
The downside to Matthews is going to be signability, but not necessarily monetary. Matthews' tweeter name is "UVAbound11." Needless to say that this young man has a strong commitment to the U. of Virginia rotation next season. There are a handful of players this year that have strong commitments to their college of choice, Matthews (Virginia), Swihart (Texas), Josh Bell (Texas), and Bubba Starling (Nebraska). Still every Major League team has seen this from nearly every single top tier high school prospect, so not too terribly concerned. Still not going to be an easy sign, but what first round high schooler is...ever.
With the Rangers second choice, 37th overall pick, in the supplemental first round (for Cliff Lee signing elsewhere), Texas selects University of Georgia outfielder Zach Cone. Cone, a junior, measures at 6'2", 205 lbs. and bats right-handed. His father is a Georgia Tech alumni and brother Kevin is a current Yellow Jacket football player.
Cone's 2011 numbers were down, but his first two years at Georgia were superb. On the plus side of Cone is that he has the body to play baseball and the tools as well. Earlier concerns are of the steps he took back this past seasonn and a potential struggle to hit right-handed pitching. But then again when has anyone ever not drafted someone without some concerns. You know even Bryce Harper has some flaws, not many, but maybe a couple.
How down of a season you ask? Well in his down year Cone started 64 of the 65 games this season, hitting .275 average and a .331 on-base pct. He drove in 35 runs, stole 13 bases and 17 of his 68 hits went for extra bases. Cone is a projected centerfielder who was perfect in all 161 chances in the field in 2011. That was his down year.
Before this season Cone, in 2010, won the team's Triple Crown, batting .363 with 10 HRs and 53 RBI, slugging .627, seven triples, and a "down" year fielding as he committed ONE error in 117 chances. And this is why it is easy to see where Cone can thrive in the Majors. Even though he struggled, one of the issues could have been some potential swing adjusts that could have occurred while playing in the Cape Cod League last summer.
As I said before, Cone has the tools and a very high-ceiling, all he needs is the right coaching to regain that command of the bat and become an everyday Major League outfielder. Thus enter the Rangers.
At first this was an odd selection in my mind, but the more I have read and watched this young man, I love his tools and the "looks like a baseball player" appeal he has, and this team can bring the best out of a man like this. But's lets face it, I sit here writing about what has actually happened, adn the Rangers front office has time and time again proven their worth in more than salt. And I say to the fans, this front office has dominated drafts multiple times...so trust in them.
It was a good first night and Texas must have been drinking some Peach Tea from Georiga. The Rangers have some very solid picks ahead of them, some sleepers, and some busts, this is just the nature of the beast. I gave and will continue to give a positive spin on these two young men, are they the next Albert Pujols or Roy Halladay...nope! But should you give this front office more than the benefit of the doubt...absolutely! Remember my friends, there is a reason we ain't in the war room, and trust in this ownership and front office they have built an incredible team, continue to do so, and will continue to hammer it out.
Like I said at the beginning, this is the front office at their best.