It's MLB Draft week. Here's what to know as the Rangers select No. 2 overall
Mock drafts from industry publications don't have a consensus on who the Rangers will pick
Teams don’t want to be picking at the top of the MLB Draft. Doing so is an indication of a problem the previous season or seasons, intentional or unintentional, and oftentimes the need for a change in direction.
The Texas Rangers have the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft, which begins Sunday and runs through July 13 in conjunction with the All-Star Game. They will have their choice of all but the one draft-eligible player selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the first pick.
Complicating matters is that there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut No. 1.
Two prep shortstops have been speculated as going first for about the past month, but a third is entering the picture. Then there are the Vanderbilt pitchers, a refined college catcher and a prep pitcher.
So, the Rangers have had to cast large net as their preparations wind down. They have narrowed things down but are still discussing who they will take depending on what the Pirates do.
There’s risk with every pick, something the Rangers know all too well on the injury front with prep draft choices (Cole Ragans and Alex Speas, 2016; Chris Seise, 2017; Owen White and Mason Englert, 2018). They even had experience with a prep draft choice who didn’t sign, Matt Purke in 2009, though in part because the team was in bankruptcy.
The assigned slot value for the second overall pick is $7,789,900. The Rangers have a draft pool of $12,641,000.
The Rangers also have a history of signing their picks below the slot values to create flexibility in case another draftee has some negotiating leverage, like a college commitment.
A lot of balls are in the air. The Rangers can’t afford to drop this one.
2021 MLB Draft
When: Sunday-July 13 (Round 1/Competitive balance A, 6 p.m. Sunday; Round 2-10, noon Monday; Round 11-20, 11 a.m. Tuesday)
TV: MLB Network (Sunday only)
Rangers draft choices: No. 2, No. 38, No. 73, No. 103, No. 135, second in each remaining subsequent round
Past five Rangers first overall picks: 2020, 2B Justin Foscue (14th overall), Mississippi State; 2019, 3B Josh Jung (eighth overall), Texas Tech; 2018, RHP Cole Winn (15th overall), Orange (Calif.) Lutheran HS; *2017, OF Bubba Thompson (26th overall), McGill-Toolen Catholic (Mobile, Ala.) HS; 2016, LHP Cole Ragans (30th overall), North Florida (Tallahassee) Christian HS.
* Rangers also selected SS Chris Seise (West Orange HS in Winter Garden, Fla.) with the 29th overall pick in 2017.
Top draft prospects
Jordan Lawlar, SS, Dallas Jesuit HS
No prep shortstop from Texas has been the first overall choice, but Lawlar could buck that. He is considered a five-tool prospect, but some scouts believe he isn’t as good as former Colleyville Heritage shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. The Kansas City Royals selected him second overall in 2019. Lawlar has committed to Vanderbilt and continues to say college could be in his plans. Multiple mock drafts, including Baseball America, peg Lawlar as the Rangers’ choice.
Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS, Chula Vista, Calif.
Two recent mock drafts have Mayer going first overall to the Pirates. He’s a slick-fielding shortstop who can hit the left side and should develop above-average power as he develops 6-foot-3, 185-pound body. Mayer, ranked by MLB.com as the top prospect in the draft, is committed to USC.
Khalil Watson, SS, Wake Forest (N.C) HS
Yet another prep shortstop who could land with the Rangers, though Watson is built differently than Lawlar and Mayer. He’s only 5-foot-9, but the left-handed hitter generates more power than his frame would suggest. He also has above-average speed that would make him a threat on the bases. His season started late because of COVID, which allowed him to hop into the spotlight. He is committed to N.C. State.
Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
MLB.com has the Rangers selecting Leiter, the son of former big-league pitcher Al Leiter. Jack features power stuff with a fastball that has touched 100 mph and a plus-curveball. His slider is on its way to being third plus-offering if it isn’t already. Leiter comes with some durability questions after not logging a ton of innings as a high-school senior or in 2020 after COVID-19 nixed the college season.
Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
The consensus No. 1 prospect entering draft season, Rocker’s stock has fallen after a successful season but one with red flags. The biggest was a velocity drop, which could have been the by-product of fatigue or an undisclosed non-arm injury he was pitching through. That raised concerns about his durability and his future role in the big leagues. He is expected to go in the top 10, but might be too risky at No. 2.
Henry Davis, C, Louisville
Davis is regarded as the best catcher in the draft and the most advanced hitter. He combines a strong arm behind the plate with advanced pitch recognition and the ability to put the barrel on the ball. The Rangers’ No. 2 prospect is a catcher, Sam Huff, one of four catchers on the 40-man roster. Each one is under contractual control. The MLB Draft, though, is often about selecting the best player available regardless of positional depth in the organization.
Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City) HS
The Rangers’ track record shows that they are suckers for prep pitchers, and Jobe is the best of the bunch. He opens eyes with the spin rates on his slider, which some say is the best slider in the draft, and his four-seam fastball. He went 9-0 with a 0.13 ERA this season. He is committed to Ole Miss.