The Texas Rangers currently have five picks, and while it is possible they could trade for a competitive balance pick from another team, it appears most likely they will have just their regular selections in each round. Their first pick is at #14 overall, and then they pick at #50, #87, #117, and #147.
In the run up to the draft, we will be highlight some players who are potential Ranger draft picks. Last year no one aside from Josh Jung that we wrote about was actually picked by the Rangers, as we mostly looked at prep players for their later picks, and they went college-heavy early in the draft for the first time in years. This year, the uncertainty over whether they will emphasize college players again or go back to prep players would make it hard to narrow down the list of potential prospects even in a normal year — the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic having shut down amateur play creates even more uncertainty about potential picks.
On the plus side, the lack of games and actual new scouting going on means that there’s going to be a lot less updated information, so a write-up I do now will likely still be more or less valid a month from now.
In any case, in the coming days, we will be doing write-ups of potential Texas Ranger draft picks. Today we take a look at Harvard-Westlake high school outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong.
Pete Crow-Armstrong is a 6’0”, 175 lb. lefthanded hitting and throwing center fielder out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles, California. Crow-Armstrong’s parents are actors — they are in the photo above — and his mother was in Little Big League, playing Billy Heywood’s mom. Crow-Armstrong has been a presence on the United States U18 national team as well as starring for Harvard-Westlake, an expensive private prep school in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Crow-Armstrong is viewed as a quality defender in center field, with his glove, speed and arm all above average, as well as good instincts. Unlike a lot of the toolsy outfielders who the Rangers have pursued in the past, Crow-Armstrong has a quality hit tool — the questions about him center around whether he will hit for enough power.
Reading about Crow-Armstrong reminds me a little of reading about Brice Turang a couple of years ago — like Turang, Crow-Armstrong is a high school position player who has been on the radar for years, and who was generating buzz as potentially the top high school player in the draft at one point, but who lost some of his luster as it was questioned how good his tools really are and how much growth potential is there. It could be a matter of scouts realizing he’s a refined player who doesn’t project to improve as much as others in his class, or it could be that, after watching a player for so long, you inevitably start focusing in more on flaws.
Baseball America has Crow-Armstrong at #17 on their pre-draft top 500 currently. MLB Pipeline has Crow-Armstrong at #20, saying he reminds some folks of Grady Sizemore, which is, of course, high praise. Fangraphs has Crow-Armstrong at #27 on their board. At ESPN, Kiley McDaniel slots Crow-Armstrong at #24, while Keith Law has him at 19.
Keith Law last week had Crow-Armstrong going to the Rangers at #14 in his mock draft, saying he hadn’t heard Crow-Armstrong going any higher than at 14. Jonathan Mayo’s mock draft has Crow-Armstrong going to the Milwaukee Brewers at #20. Kiley McDaniel’s mock draft has Crow-Armstrong at #18, to the Arizona Diamondbacks, as does the Baseball America mock draft — both places note that the D-Backs tend to target outfielders of his mold, with Corbin Carroll being a similar player who they picked with their first pick last year. Jim Callis also mocks Crow-Armstrong to the D-Backs at #18.
Crow-Armstrong could go in the top half of the first round, or not be drafted at all — he’s a Vanderbilt commit, and Vanderbilt guys have tended to be a little harder to sign generally. With a five round draft, a team isn’t going to burn a pick on a player unless they know they can sign him, and there could be some signability issues with Crow-Armstrong, particularly if he doesn’t go in the top 20-25 picks. Crow-Armstrong could spend three years at Vandy, see if he can raise his stock, and come out in 2023, when the deferrals on draft bonuses will (presumably) be gone and there should be a little more normalcy in the professional baseball world.
I expect there would be carping if the Rangers took Crow-Armstrong here, about them going back with toolsy guys with questions about their bats and taking someone too high. Crow-Armstrong, however, does get strong marks for his instincts and makeup, which we know the Rangers prioritize, and he’s someone who a year ago was expected to be off the board by #14. He seems to be an even more polarizing player than most — reports indicate that some teams don’t even have a first round grade on him, with the biggest split seeming to be on whether he’ll hit for enough power to be a regular — but he’s got the profile of a player it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rangers grab with their first pick.