The 2019 MLB Draft is still nine months away, but the Texas Rangers are in last place in the American League West right now, and having a generally lousy season, so what else are we going to talk about right now?
If the season ended today, the Rangers would have the 8th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. The 8th spot is a key position, because the Atlanta Braves will have the 9th pick in the draft as a compensatory pick for not signing righthanded pitcher Carter Stewart, their first round pick (8th overall) in the 2018 draft. If the Rangers slide back one spot in the 2018 winning percentage order from where they are now, they would have the 10th pick, rather than the 8th, as a result.
The recent slide by the Rangers has given them some breathing room, as far as that goes. A week ago, it looked like the Rangers might surpass Toronto, the Mets or the Twins in winning percentage, possibly putting them as far back in the draft as the 12th spot. Texas is now 4 back of the Blue Jays, however, and 4.5 games back of Minnesota and New York, so barring both a big hot streak from Texas in the last three weeks, and one of those teams going into a tail spin, the Rangers likely won’t be any worse than eighth overall.
Texas currently is just a half-game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds in the overall standings, however. Cincy started off the season looking like a 100-loss team, but they’ve been respectable over the last few months, and at 61-83, they could easily end the year with a better record than the currently 61-82 Rangers. Texas is two games better than Detroit, so could conceivably move up to sixth overall, but the next team is the Marlins, at 4.5 games back of Texas, and then the ChiSox and Padres at 5 games back, so its unlikely they’ll get a better pick than #6 overall.
If you are expecting the #8 pick to result in a star, well...that’s not likely. Todd Helton, in 1995, is the best #8 overall pick ever, with 61.2 bWAR and a legitimate Hall of Fame case. Since then, the only other legitimate star to have been drafted at #8 overall is Francisco Lindor, who was snagged by the Indians at #8 in 2011. Otherwise, its mostly useful players — Delino DeShields, Mike Leake, Drew Stubbs, Paul Maholm, Felipe Lopez — or guys who never really pan out. Wade Townsend was drafted #8 overall twice, and never made the majors. John Van Benschoten was a highly-regarded pick, but injuries plagued him. Mark Appel didn’t sign as the #8 pick in 2012, then was picked #1 overall in 2013, but his career appears to be over.
The last five #8 picks in the draft have been Kyle Freeland, Carson Fulmer, Cal Quantrill Adam Haseley, and Carter Stewart. Freeland has had a breakout year and looks like a stud for the Rockies, Fulmer has been awful this year and appears likely to be a reliever, Quantrill hasn’t regained his mojo since undergoing Tommy John surgery in college, Haseley is a nice prospects in the lower minors for the Phillies, and Stewart, of course, didn’t sign.
So the Rangers will have one of the higher picks they’ve had in the last couple of decades in 2019, but in the 6-10 range, you still have a very good chance of ending up with a non-contributor. Its a numbers game, ultimately, but at least picking in the top 10 gives Texas a better chance of getting a quality player than if they were picking at the end of the round.