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Quick Draft Review, Part Two: 2002-2006

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GM
2002-2005 John Hart
2006 Jon Daniels - current

Scouting Director
2002-2004 Grady Fuson
2005-2006 Ron Hopkins - current (Hopkins was technically also SD in '03 and '04)

These drafts have been much more talked about around here than the five that preceded them, as Grady Fuson's drafting prowess has been a major point of contention, and since these are the drafts that should be currently supplying the team with the talent needed to win or at least rebuild.

2002 Draft

Major Leaguers
1.10 Drew Meyer
15 Sam Narron
20 Kameron Loe

Still prospects (to some degree at least)
10 Nate Gold
42 Jesse Chavez

Other High Picks
Only had the one pick in the first five rounds.

This draft was pretty much a disaster and probably went a ways toward cementing Fuson's departure, since it gave his rivals in the leadership team ammo. Loe has been the benchmark player, the guy to take some of the heat away from the Meyer pick, but he's losing luster as we speak and the hope that he can be a long term part of the rotation, even at the back end, is fading. Narron was a part of a John Hart roster fiasco in 2004, but those 2.2 innings have been his only ones in the majors. He's currently in AA with Milwaukee and not looking anything like a major leaguer. As for Meyer, not to beat a dead horse (okay, to beat a dead horse hopefully for the last time), but the following players were among those ranked higher by Baseball America and were available at #10: Scott Kazmir (ranked #2), Cole Hamels (#9), Jeremy Hermida (#13), Joe Saunders (#17), Joe Blanton (#18), Jeff "Frenchy" Francoeur (#22), and of the fifteen picks after Meyer around twelve are usable major leaguers or better (and of course much better in some cases): 11-Hermida, 12-Saunders, 13-Khalil Greene, 14-Russ Adams, 15-Kazmir, 16-Nick Swisher, 17-Hamels, 19-James Loney, 22-Jeremy Guthrie, 23-Francoeur, 24-Blanton, 25-Matt Cain. No player in this draft was ever regarded highly enough to make a BA Top 100 list, and to be honest, not many Rangers top ten lists were even affected much by it.

2003 Draft

Major Leaguers
1.9 John Danks
4 Wes Littleton
17 Ian Kinsler
30 Scott Feldman

Still prospects
13 Emerson Frostad

Other High Picks
2.46 Vince Sinisi
3.76 John Hudgins
5 Matt Lorenzo

Pretty darn solid draft, largely based on Danks and Kinsler, two guys who look like quality starter or better players for years to come. Littleton looks like an asset as a 7th inning type, and Feldman, despite his rough start in 2007, can be a major league pitcher. Going into the draft, Danks and Sinisi were ranked the 11th and 12th best players by BA, and Littleton was considered a value, as he had been ranked 51st. Players from this draft continued to be well thought of as prospects, as Danks made several lists (ranked 80 after his short-season debut, then 59, 59 and 56), and Kinsler scratched it at 98 after his breakout in 2004.

2004 Draft

Major Leaguers
None yet

Still prospects
1.10 Thomas Diamond
1.30 Eric Hurley
2.51 KC Herren
3.81 Michael Schlact
4 Brandon Boggs
5 Mike Nickeas
7 Ben Harrison
9 Jim Fasano
14 Tug Hulett
23 Zach Phillips
36 Jesse Ingram

Between the 2003 and 2004 drafts, the page is turned between past/present and the future, as not a single player drafted by Texas since 2004 has made his major league debut, yet even the 2004 draft still contains many guys who are still considered prospects, unlike 2003 and earlier. The Diamond pick was much more well received than the Meyer one, yet is still victim to scrutiny because the first round of that draft turned out much better than expected...and because the Rangers made the financial decision to stay away from elite talents who slid because of price tags, namely Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew (the 1st and 3rd ranked prospects in the draft by BA), both of whom did sign after lengthy hold-outs. Like Danks, Diamond went about where he was supposed to, as he was ranked #11 by BA. Hurley (ranked #15), on the other hand, was a value, much like his other HS pitching colleagues (namely Scott Elbert, Philip Hughes, Gio Gonzalez and Yovani Gallardo) because it had become so vogue to take college pitchers. Since that draft, Diamond and Hurley have seen their prospect statuses cross. In 2005, Diamond was the top ranked Rangers prospect and was #52 on the BA list. Hurley didn't make it. In '06, Diamond slipped a bit, to third on the Rangers and 72nd overall, and Hurley still didn't make it. Hurley emerged as a top prospect in the 2006 season and debuted at 68 on the most recent list, while Diamond fell completely off. And today, Diamond is rehabbing a seriously injured elbow, while Hurley is building a case as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. After those two the results have been mixed, as KC Herren, taken as a tough sign and somewhat of a reach (unusual combo) is finally showing signs of being a hitter, but of all of those college positional picks only Hulett is knocking on the door of the major leagues. Injuries have delayed Harrison's progress repeatedly, but some still regard him highly. Nickeas, though likely to never be a key major leaguer, brought in trade Victor Diaz, who is making a contribution this season.

2005 Draft

Major Leaguers
None yet

Still prospects
1.19 John Mayberry
2.67 Johnny Whittleman
3.99 Taylor Teagarden
6 German Duran
7 Jake Rasner
13 Doug Mathis
14 Steve Murphy

Other High Picks
4 Shane Funk
5 Michael Kirkman

Yet another hotly debated first pick, Mayberry was also ranked reasonably closely by BA to his selection, standing at 24th, just ahead of Teagarden who was at 26. The player sandwiched by those two in the rankings at 25, Jacoby Ellsbury, was the consensus pick among message board fans. The series of raw teenaged arms that began with Shane Funk has not yielded positive results, as not one of them (there were six taken in the first twelve rounds) has pitched in the Rangers system this season. Whittleman and Teagarden are in the middle of breakout seasons and rank among the top five prospects currently. Duran, Mathis and Murphy have progressed quickly to the upper levels (all are on the AA team currently) and could very well see the majors at some point. No player from this draft has yet made a Top 100 list, but Teagarden and Whittleman have shots at it this winter with continued success.

2006 Draft

Major Leaguers
None yet

Still prospects
1.12 Kasey Kiker
3.88 Chad Tracy
4 Marcus Lemon
5 Chris Davis
6 Jake Brigham
45 Daniel Herrera

This was Jon Daniels' debut draft, and early reviews are mixed. Kiker would rank in the top five prospects in the system for me, and I think most everyone will agree on that by the end of the year. He is also the fourth player with a legitimate shot at making top 100 lists. Tracy has had two uneven stints thus far, hitting for modest power and not dominating low level leagues after elite college experience at Pepperdine. Lemon had a promising debut but has been downright disappointing this season, as one of his positive attributes was supposed to be polish. At least the gamble to draft him wasn't a complete bust, as the effort to sign him did work out. Davis joins Mayberry as a classic boom/bust prospect with his major power and propensity to swing and miss, although his experiment at 3B could raise his ceiling further. Brigham's full season debut still hasn't happened, but I have a feeling that the organization is interested in how he fares this summer, as only a senior slump caused him to drop out of the first few rounds. Several players drafted between Brigham and Herrera have shots at becoming prospects; it's just a little early to make some of those calls.

One of the things that jumps out at me in reviewing the drafts is how much progress the club could make by hitting on several of its high picks this season. They will pick six times before the point that they made their second picks in '05 and '06. They have the opportunity to make five picks, then pick in areas where they previously chose guys like Teagarden, Littleton, Davis, etc. June 7 will be a big day for this organization.