The 2010 MLB Rule 4 draft is scheduled to take place on June 7th, 8th and 9th, with the first and supplemental rounds being televised during the evening of June 7th. The Rangers are slated to make four picks on the first day of the draft -- two first-round selections (No. 15 and 22) and two supplemental first-round selections (No. 45 and 49). Before considering whom the team might select, it is worth considering how recent draft picks in the mid- to late-first round and supplemental round have fared.
From 1996 to 2005, 110 players were drafted in slots No. 15 through 25. Seventy-nine of those players have spent time in the major leagues, 50 have been more productive than replacement-level players, and 15 have been worth at least 10 wins above replacement. Lance Berkman, CC Sabathia, Chase Utley, Scott Kazmir, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Matt Garza, Chad Billingsley, Nick Swisher, Brad Lidge, Jacoby Elsbury, Matt Thornton, Adam Kennedy, and James Loney were all selected among picks No. 15-25 during this ten-year period.
Breaking the draft picks down based upon position and whether they were selected out of high school or college reveals that college hitters (especially infielders) and high school pitchers provided the greatest return to teams selecting in the mid- to late-first round (see table below). The worst performing group was the high school position players, with only five out of 22 players selected during this ten-year period developing into at least replacement-level players.
More than 50 percent of the college pitchers failed to develop into replacement-level players, and many of those who did succeed in making it to the majors did so as relief pitchers (Matt Thornton and Brad Lidge top the list) or mid-rotation starters (Joe Blanton, Eric Milton, Jeremy Guthrie). Among the 35 college pitchers selected, only Matt Garza profiles as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. In contrast, CC Sabathia, Scott Kazmir, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Phil Hughes, Chad Billinglsey, and Chris Volstad were among the 29 high school pitchers who were selected.
• Columns No. 3-5 indicate the number of draftees who are projected to earn the indicated number of wins above replacement during their major league careers.
• "Oops" indicates the number of draftees who failed to develop into at least replacement-level major leaguers.
• Success rate is the percentage of draftees who developed into at least replacement-level players.
• Avg. WAR is the average number of career wins above replacement earned thus far by draftees who developed into at least replacement-level players.
Based on past performance, it would appear that the Rangers would be best served by focusing upon high school pitchers and college hitters for their two first-round selections. Thumbnails of five high school pitchers and five college hitters who might be available to the team are provided below.
High School Pitchers
Karsten Whitson, RHP, 6'4", 190 lbs | Video
90-95 mph fastball and a plus slider
Considered an elite prospect entering 2010, Whitson's mid-season struggles caused him to drop to the mid- to late-first round in many mock drafts. A dominant showing in the recent Florida Baseball Classic might have pushed him back out of the Rangers' reach. Whitson's 80-84 mph slider rates as the best secondary pitch among high school draftees.
Stetson Allie, RHP, 6' 4", 225 lb. | Video
Mid- to upper-90s fastball and upper-80s slider
Generally regarded as having the second best stuff in the draft, Allie is likely to be a top-10 pick. Concerns about his control, his ability to develop into a major league starting pitcher, and his demands for a high signing bonus might cause him to drop to the middle of the first round.
A.J. Cole, RHP, 6' 5", 190 lb. | Video
90-96 mph fastball, occasionally plus curveball, and decent change-up
Like Whitson, Cole entered 2010 as one of the top high school pitchers in the draft but a relatively poor senior season has caused his stock to drop. Expected to add velocity as he fills out. When he is pitching well, Cole's curveball has a late, tight break and his change-up has nice fade.
Dylan Covey, RHP, 6' 2", 200 lb. | Video
93-96 mph fastball, excellent 81-82 mph slider, and developing curveball and change-up
Advanced feel with potential for a plus fastball and three other average or better pitches. Baseball America projects him to develop into a No. 2-3 pitcher. Signed with the University of San Diego, but he appears likely to turn pro.
Zach Lee, RHP, 6' 4", 195 lb. | Video
90-93 mph fastball, sharp slider, and promising change-up
Relatively inexperienced, though surprisingly polished pitcher could likely improve quickly if and when he decides to focus on baseball. Signed to play quarterback at LSU, thus a well-above slot bonus will likely be required to sign him.
College Position Players
Yasmani Grandal, catcher, 6'2" 215 lb. | Video
Switch-hitting catcher with excellent power and walk-rate. Average defensive skills.
Highly recruited catcher as a high school senior has been a three-year starter for very good teams at the University of Miami. Failed to hit up to expectations until 2010 when he switched from being a pull hitter to taking an all-fields approach. Grandal ranks among the nation's leaders in on-base percentage (.552). His walk-to-strikeout ratio improved each year and currently sits at 52 walks to 32 strikeouts. An average receiver with an average arm, Grandal projects to play well enough defensively to stick at catcher.
Christian Colon, SS, 6'0", 200 lb. | Video
Excellent hitter with power. Could be very good defensive 2B
Superior bat speed and barrel awareness contribute to low strikeout rate (16 K in 277 PA in 2010) and excellent power for a middle infielder (15 doubles, 14 home runs in 2010). 11 percent walk rate. Hands and footwork of a shortstop, but limited range and arm will likely necessitate a switch to second base.
Kolbrin Vitek, 2B/OF, 6' 3", 195 lb. | Video
Above average hitter with average to plus power. Switch from infield to outfield likely.
A three-year pitcher/3B/2B for Ball State is expected to play the outfield as a professional. Baseball America rates his starting speed as a 55 and his underway speed as 60-65 on the 20-80 scale and suggests that Vitek might be able to play center field as a professional. Vitek was an excellent collegiate hitter (.389/.465/.736 in 2009 and .361/.445/.691 in 2010) who could improve rapidly as a professional since he will be able to focus exclusively on his hitting. 36 strikeouts against 33 walks in 268 plate appearances as a junior suggest that he will need to improve his plate approach.
Jedd Gyorko, SS, 5' 10" 195 lb. | Video
High OBP hitter with decent power. Limited range on defense.
Outstanding college hitter had a 1.062 OPS as a freshman, 1.145 OPS as a sophomore, and 1.222 OPS as a junior. Excellent strike zone management (9.5 percent strikeout rate vs. 11.8 percent walk rate in his college career) contributed to a remarkably consistent OBP (.450, .487, and .472 in three seasons at West Virginia). Hit well in the Cape Cod League in 2009 (.323/.390/.488), suggesting that his transition to wooden bats will go well. Played shortstop in college but will likely have to play second or third base as a professional. Gyorko would be a bit of a reach if he was selected with either of the Rangers' two first round picks, but he is unlikely to last to their first pick in the supplemental round.
Bryce Brentz, OF, 6'0" 185 lb. | Video
Power-hitting outfielder with enough arm and bat to play right-field as a professional.
An outstanding sophomore campaign (.465/.540/.930) had Brentz near the top of many mock drafts entering the 2010 season. Injuries and a questionable plate approach in 2010 (30 strikeouts vs. 25 walks in 184 at-bats) have likely dropped Brentz to a mid- to late-first round selection. His outfield defense projects as major league average, so his ultimate value will depend upon the development of his offensive game.
Supplemental First Round
The supplemental first round is a bit of a crapshoot, producing the occasional All-Star (David Wright, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Aaron Rowand, and Huston Street) amongst a lot fringe and non-prospects. Among the 131 players selected in the supplemental first round during the 1996-2005 drafts, less than half have appeared in the major leagues (65) and only 28 have developed into at least replacement-level major leaguers. A review of the performances of the supplemental draft picks according to their experience level and position is provided in the table below.
Performances of Players Selected in Supplemental First Round
Based upon the data from the 1996-2005 drafts, position players are a better bet than pitchers to develop into productive major leaguers. The exception to that rule appears to be relief prospects such as Huston Street, J.P. Howell, Joba Chamberlain, Aaron Heilman, and Jimmy Gobble who were all selected in the supplemental first round. More recently, the Rangers have struck gold in the supplemental round by drafting Tommy Hunter and Tanner Scheppers, both of whom were likely considered relievers by most clubs.
In considering the Rangers draft, it is fun to consider a Scheppers redux that would result in the oft-injured and Boras-advised Anthony Ranaudo falling to the Rangers at pick No. 45. Likewise, an interesting college hitter like Gyorko, Brentz, or Vitek could fall to the end of the supplemental round. If neither of these extraordinary events actually occur, the Rangers will likely find themselves choosing from among an interesting assortment of high school pitchers and position prospects and college pitchers who project as relievers. The picks of the litter might include:
High School Position Players
Garin Cecchini, 3B, 6'3" 195 lb. | Video
Excellent left-handed hitter with power and the arm and hands to stick at 3rd base.
Entered 2010 as one of the nation's best high school hitters after leading the US 18U team in hitting (.529 OBP/.708 SLG). A torn ACL had to be surgically repaired during the spring, preventing him from moving into the first round. A large signing bonus will likely be required to keep Cecchini from attending LSU.
Kellin Deglan, catcher, 6'2" 200 lb. | Video
Left-handed hitter with power potential and solid defensive skills
Advanced defensive catcher with good feet and a strong arm. Despite youth, displays strong leadership qualities. Occasionally long swing generates significant power but also causes problems with making solid contact. Canada native does not have track record of many other high school players. Expected to sign.
High School Pitchers
Ryne Stanek, rhp, 6'4", 180 lb. | Video
91-96 mph fastball, potentially plus curveball, slider, change-up
Fastball velocity increased between junior and senior years. Delivery will likely need to be altered slightly. Stanek is part of a deep class of high school pitchers who have the raw stuff to develop into very good major league pitchers. With an excellent development program in place, the Rangers appear to be ideally suited for converting this pitching potential into mound production.
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, 6' 4", 190 lb. | Video
91-94 MPH fastball, advanced change-up, under-developed slider and curveball
Very good arm whose cold-weather location (Illinois) might have contributed to the lack of development of a breaking pitch. Fastball could add pace and change-up has plus potential, making Foltynewicz an interesting relief prospect at the very least. Committed to pitch at the University of Texas.
Tyrell Jenkins, rhp, 6' 4" 180 lb. | Video
92-93 MPH fastball, curveball, slider, change-up
Multi-sport star could develop quickly if and when he focuses on pitching. Signed to play quarterback at Baylor, but considered to be signable. Excellent athlete with a quick arm that produces fastballs up to 95 mph. Secondary pitches will need to be developed, though he has shown some aptitude for a curve.
Cam Bedrosian, RHP, 6' 0", 200 lb. | Video
92-94 MPH fastball, power slider, fringe-average curve and change-up
Son of Steve Bedrosian projects as a closer. Relatively short right-hander has good arm strength. Another in a seemingly endless list of LSU recruits.
Chance Ruffin, RHP, 6'1", 185 lb. | Video
90-93 MPH fastball, excellent slider, and late-breaking curveball
Son of Bruce Ruffin become a full-time reliever for the University of Texas in 2010. Fastball/slider combo was deadly in college and could allow Chance to be the first 2010 draftee to play in the majors.
Jordan Swagerty, RHP, 6'1" 175 lb. | Video
92-94 MPH fastball and an 84-86 MPH 12-to-6 curveball
A plus fastball and a curveball that Baseball America claims grades as a 70 on the 20-80 scale have made Swagerty one of the best relievers in college baseball. Two advanced pitches could allow him to move quickly through the minors.
Perci Garner, RHP, 6'2", 225 lb.
92-94 MPH fastball and power curveball
Backup quarterback at Ball State chose to focus on baseball in 2010 and went from bullpen arm to staff ace. Occasionally inconsistent delivery should improve as he focuses on baseball. Fastball has movement Curveball is average. Slider and change-up also exist but will require substantial development. Draft-eligible sophomore is considered to be a relatively easy sign.