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2012 Draft Preview -- Hunter Virant

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Continuing with our preview of some players that the Texas Rangers could be looking at with their picks at #29, #39, and #52...

As I said last year when doing this drill, this would be a lot easier if the Rangers were picking higher, and neither of the Rangers' first couple picks were guys we'd ever talked about before the draft. Still, we'll take a look at a few of the intriguing names that could be in the mix for the Rangers, and see who might be out there...

This morning we take a look at another California high school LHP, Hunter Virant.

Hunter Virant scouting report -- Hunter Virant is a 6'3", 172 lb. lefthanded high school pitcher out of Camarillo, California. Baseball America has Virant ranked #53 in their top 500 list. Keith Law has Virant ranked #26 on his list. John Sickels has Virant ranked #44 on his top 100 list. Frankie Piliere has Virant ranked #39 on his top 100 list. Virant has a commitment to UCLA, and the consensus seems to be that if he doesn't go by the end of the supplemental first round -- or get paid an amount consistent with that level of pick -- he will pitch at UCLA, where he potentially would join Lucas Giolito, another UCLA commit who is viewed as a tough sign.

Virant hasn't been pitching for long -- he was a centerfielder until after his sophomore year of high school -- so he's on the more raw and projectable end of the scale. Like Kyle Twomey, who we profiled yesterday, Virant's fastball has mostly been in the upper-80s, though he can get into the lower-90s with it. And again, like Twomey, he's seen as someone whose fastball will improve as he gets bigger and fills out. Virant also throws a changeup, a curveball, and a slider, with the changeup projecting as his best pitch, and reports suggesting that both his changeup and his breaking ball could end up being plus pitches.

Virant is athletic and projectable, hallmarks of the prep pitchers the Rangers like to draft, and he's someone the Rangers could grab with their first supplemental pick...unless they draft players willing to take less than slot elsewhere in the first two rounds, waiting until #52 to take Virant would be risky because of the possibility they won't be able to offer him enough money to forego attending UCLA.

Video of Virant is below:

Hunter Virant pitching at the MLSB Showcase at the Urban Youth Academy (via Fidog91)