You've probably noticed the lack of draft preview coverage here this year, and that owes to a couple of different things, foremost of them being the Rangers not picking until No. 29 overall, this not being an especially strong class, and baseball's new caps on draft spending greatly diminishing the odds of higher-priced, upper-tier talents being snapped up by Texas.
The Rangers do have the luxury of picking five times in the first 93 picks, with picks No. 29, No. 39, and No. 53 all being expanded by Texas before we go to bed tonight and picks No. 83 and No. 93 waiting for the Rangers tomorrow morning, but I think you can understand why I'm more inclined to pour time and energy into writing about kids that the Rangers have actually drafted, and not just kids that they might draft.
With that said, however, we have four significant mock drafts out there right now from four different draft gurus, and here is where each of them see the Rangers going with pick No. 29, where the slot money is $1.625 million:
Keith Law, ESPN.com: Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon (Ohio) H.S.
Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus: Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon (Ohio) H.S.
Jim Callis, Baseball America: Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon (Ohio) H.S.
Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com: Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood (Georgia) H.S.
The snapshot scouting profile of Smoral paints him as a big, tall (6' 7", 225 lb.) lefty who brandished a low-to-mid-90s heater and a "hard out-pitch slider" before succumbing to a stress fracture in March, meaning that he pitched in only one game during his senior season; this, as you might expect, had the effect of sending his draft stock plummeting from potential top 10-15 status down towards the bottom of the first round, as scouting directors have little more to evaluate Smoral on than his athleticism, upside, and projectability. The best-case scenario here would be somebody like Madison Bumgarner, whom Law evoked in stating that Smoral and Bumgarner share "a number of similarities."
Sims, meanwhile, is someone seen as being less projectable than Smoral, but someone also equipped with more in the way of "right-now stuff," as he boasts an above-average fastball/slider/curve and good athleticism and arm action; the issue, of course, is that there's less to dream on there, as he registers at 6' 2," and, per Goldstein, there are questions about how much room for improvement is left.
We'll get the live chat humming along tonight at some indeterminate point before the Rangers make their first pick, and then figure things out from there. I would, however, advise everyone to keep this in mind as we go about deciding how much we like or don't like the Rangers' picks over the next couple of days:
Even the most competent online expert cant accurately predict the developmental process of an amateur player. Takes years to grade a draft— Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks) June 4, 2012