With the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft in the rear view and the deadline to sign players exactly one month away, teams are trying to sign draftees sooner than later. Texas is no exception after announcing last night the organization came to terms with each of their first five selections.
In fact, at this moment, Texas has signed 15 of their first 16 picks (one exception gets a pass, more on that later). Though it is exciting to get each and every one of these draftees signed, there was something extra special about last night’s announcement.
It could have been the connotation that goes with the nickname that Rangers’ Director of Amateur Scouting Kip Fagg labeled on the top five picks, calling them the “Fab 5”. Though I wish all five the best and hope this group doesn’t have their Jimmy King and Ray Jackson, the thought that potentially three of these young men could have careers similar to Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, and Jalen Rose is incredibly exciting.
It could have been the performance last night by the Rangers 38th overall selection with the teams’ first pick in 1999, Colby Lewis. Throwing the Rangers fourth complete game of the season and his second in as many starts, Lewis got his fifth win of the season, 9-1 over Arizona. Last two starts, 1-1, 17 IP, 10 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts, and lowering his ERA from 3.50 to 3.13. Lewis career is one that has seen fast rising, some Major League success, major struggles, time pitching in Japan, and now a return toTexas and labeling as the staff’s workhorse the past three seasons.
It could have been the offense last night scoring nine runs against a very hot Diamondbacks team, and chasing their 2011 21-game winner Ian Kennedy before the sixth inning was over. Texas scored six runs on ten hits (five for extras bases) off of Kennedy, with all the runs coming with two outs in their innings. In fact, Texas' first eight runs of the game all came with two outs, don’t ever overlook that stat.
But I think the biggest contributing factor to the excitement last night for me would be that all five were together. All five arrived together…all five took physicals together…all five signed together…all five watched the Big League club together…and all five arrived in Arizona this morning to begin their professional careers.
OF Lewis Brinson (29th overall), scholarship to his home state school Florida, signed for $1.625M. 3B Joey Gallo (39th overall), Nevada State Player of the Year and a scholarship to LSU, signed for $2.25M. RHP Collin Wiles (53rd overall), Kansas High School Player of the Year and a scholarship to Vanderbilt, signed for $975K. OF Jamie Jarmon (83rd overall), Delaware Player of the Year in baseball and football with a scholarship to South Carolina, signed for $602K. OF Nick Williams (93rd overall), skips out on a scholarship to Texas A&M and signed for $500K.
The attention so far has been on these five and now carrying the label “Fab 5” will get plenty of attention in the Rangers’ farm system. But the excitement continues as you look at the Rangers selections and signees further in the draft. Of the draft picks in the first 13 rounds, the only remaining player not to sign yet is 3rd rounder Patrick Cantwell. Patrick, a catcher, at Stony Brook will make the schools first appearance in the College World Series on Friday afternoon. Once his college season is over and collegiate career is over, fully expect Cantwell to sign quickly and join the others in Arizona.
4th and 5th round selections RHP Alec Asher and OF Preston Beck (Bishop Lynch Friars…oh yeah!) both signed, are in Arizona for some instructs, and then will join the Short-A season Spokane Indians roster.
The Rangers have some other solid prospects outside the top five, like Asher and Beck, but the attention of the 2012 draft will be on those five picks. It was only five years ago that Texas had five of the top 54 picks, six of the top 80, and in 2007 they turned those picks into Blake Beaven, Michael Main, Julio Borbon, Neil Ramirez, Tommy Hunter, and Matt West. That’s an interesting combination of success, failure, and trade value (Beaven used in Cliff Lee deal, Main for Bengie Molina, and Hunter in the Koji Uehara deal).
Rangers’ Senior Director of Player Personnel A.J. Preller has mentioned more than a couple times the importance that was placed on this 2012 draft, having five of the top 93 selections. Similar to 2007 six of the top 80, and more recently in 2010 when Texas selected five times in the first 72 picks (Jake Skole, Kellin Deglan, Luke Jackson, Mike Olt, and Cody Buckel). Add in the fact that after draft day, Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels spoke about excitement of getting five players in the organization’s Top 50 from the draft class. Texas strategy with these picks and a farm system already incredibly deep, was to take high-ceiling, teenage prospects. Success and signed!
Five teenagers you wanted, five teenagers signed, and five teenagers fore-going SEC baseball to join the two-time defending AL Champs deep farm system. The future was already bright in the Rangers world…but no reason not to get a little brighter. The Fab 5 have arrived and pro ball awaits them.