2017 Texas Rangers draft prospects review
[Hello, LSB. It’s your best friend, Coylio. With the regular season coming to a close for all of the Rangers’ Minor League affiliates I wanted to keep yall updated with how the kids fared in 2017. I’ll be posting these sporadically over the next couple-few weeks. I plan on being pretty casual with it; they’re not going to be in any particular order, I’ll be grouping some together, and I’ll be mixing in the more serious prospects along with guys who are just fun to read and write about, or ones whose seasons contained some intrigue. Today we’ll be taking a look at the Rangers 2017 draftees and how they fared in their first few months of professional baseball.]
I suppose the best way to get into this one is just to go in order, so let’s start with the Rangers first rounder, 19-year-old outfielder Bubba Thompson.
Thompson was a standout in both baseball and football in his hometown of Mobile, AL, and contemplated playing both at what I assume would have been an SEC school before being drafted by the Rangers with the 26th overall pick. Before the first night of the draft was over, Bubba was already telling media folk that he planned on signing with the Rangers in lieu of playing college ball. You’re not gonna believe this, but Thompson, the highly-drafted outfielder for the Texas Rangers, is a premiere athlete with loud tools. He’s not, however, what you would call “raw,” as most reports make note of a good mind for the game and a solid approach at the plate. Thompson is 6’2”, 180 pounds, with 70-grade speed and an above average arm in centerfield. He plays CF well and looks like he’ll stick there as he climbs up the ladder.
I think the most notable thing about Thompson’s first dip into pro ball was the way he was handled by the organization. He was played at a rate that I would call “a bit more than sporadically.” He played 30 of the rookie team’s 56 games. He started the first two games of the season, then again a couple days later, then he spent the next couple weeks at the team facility in Peoria. He only played 6 games in July. Then in August through the end of the season the team had him playing three days, then sitting three days, then playing another three days, etc. There could be a number of reasons why Thompson was handled this way, and I think of the realistic possibilities, the least likely is that he showed up to Arizona out of shape and in need of conditioning drills in extended spring training.
In the 30 games he played Bubba put up respectable offensive numbers, slashing .257/.317/.434 with 3 homers. Pre-draft there were questions about his power but now it’s being graded as a 50 by many parties. He was also 5 for 5 stealing bases and played a decent CF. Bubba won some folks over with a few charming interviews after the draft and looks like he’ll be a fun guy to watch over the next few years. I expect him to be held in Arizona to start next season then shipped off to Spokane when the short-season fires up.
Three picks after Thompson the Rangers selected SS Chris Seise out of West Orange HS in Winter Garden, FL, alma mater of Kole Enright, blegh. Tall and lean, Seise is another good athlete who should stick at the position the Rangers drafted him. Unlike Thompson, however, the Rangers challenged Seise in his rookie season, playing him in 51 games with a promotion to Spokane midway through. Seise dominated the Rookie League, posting a .336 average with a .904 OPS. Upon his promotion things got a little harder, and Seise’s slashline was all in the 2’s for Spokane, but it’s a league where he was over 2 and a half years younger than the average player. He should get another spin through Spoke in 2018.
With their second rounder the Rangers selected RHP Hans Crouse and signed him for about 500k over-slot. Crouse pretty much immediately proved to be steal and a favorite, at least for the time being, due to his stuff and the results and the fact that he seems like he’s kind of a weirdo.
Described as “animated” and “openly competitive” on the mound (maybe just a little), Crouse brings the noise with a mid-to-high 90s fastball that should tick up a few more mph as he matures and adds muscle. Simply put, he was way, way better than the rookieball competition he faced. In 20 innings he allowed 7 hits and 1 earned run, striking out 30 of the 74 batters he faced. Overpowering.
He’s got work to do, though. The curveball, at times, is a lights-out big bender, and at other times it’s a slow slider without much movement that would get crushed at the upper levels. He’s got a changeup that’s not out of the developmental stage. And the delivery needs work, as it’s wild and at times flailing, with a big leg kick and a lot of whipping action. The command should improve as he wrangles that in. Overall he’s an exciting arm and could already be the Rangers #2 pitching prospect with a profile that carries a ton of upside.
Those are the big 3, and I think it’s being widely agreed upon that they all had fairly promising campaigns their first time around. But the Rangers, for the 3rd year in a row, signed all of their top 20 picks (well, they missed out on their 20th rounder in 2015), and there were a few other stirring performances among the rookies.
In the third round they took catcher Matt Whatley out of Oral Roberts (with whom they have a history of drafting catchers) and, like Seise, he crushed rookieball and was sent to Spokane, where he continued to crush and was a major piece down the stretch in the Indians’ playoff berth. Fourth-rounder Ryan Dease (not Drese) pitched 22 solid innings in the AZL. Noah Bremer and Alex Eubanks (sixth and fourteenth rounds, respectively) both appeared in one game for the Rookies before moving to Spokane, where they both allowed averages against in the .100s out of the bullpen. Eighth rounder Tyreque Reed flashed a ton of power for the Rookies, blasting 5 homers and 13 doubles in 35 games. Seventeenth rounder Tyler Ratliff, 3B prospect chosen between 5 straight RHPs and 5 straight RHPs, was sent to Spokane and held his own. And Tanner Gardner, ninth round outfielder out of Texas Tech, skipped 2 levels and went straight to the Hickory Crawdads, where he had a rough go but didn’t totally drown.
Oh and they drafted a kid named Obie Ricumstrict. He hit .225 for the Rooks but I’m not sure I care.
Overall it looks like the 2017 draft will be, if nothing else, a fun one to look back on along the likes of the 2012 draft, as it’s full of projectable players with a lot of upside but serious questions about if they’ll ever get there. Keep in mind the 2012 draft was the Brinson/Gallo/Williams draft, and it’s taken 5 years for those guys to start getting settled into the Majors. So there’s a long road ahead before we’ll see any of these guys in Rangers uniforms (and it’ll probably be in a new ballpark), but, for the time being, the kids look promising.
Thanks for reading. Here’s some video of McGill-Toolen HS quarterback Bubba Thompson to close things out.