The Texas Rangers currently have five picks in the 2020 MLB Draft, 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 Thompson’s Station, Tennessee, high school outfielder Robert Hassell III.
Robert Hassell III is a 6’2”, 190 lb. lefthanded hitting and throwing outfielder out of Independence High School in Thompson’s Station, Tennessee. Called the best pure high school hitter in the 2020 class, Hassell is a bat-first player who has enough athleticism and other tools that he’s seen as possibly being able to stick in center field, and would be a solid defensive right fielder if he ends up needing a position switch. Hassell has pitched as well as playing the outfield, so the arm is obviously good.
While the hit tool is expected to play, how Hassell progresses will depend in large part on how his power progresses. His swing isn’t geared towards power, and there are reports that he has struggled when he has tried to hit for more power in games. He gets praise for his approach and strike zone judgment, with the question on him mainly being whether he will develop average power, and how he maintains his speed and athleticism as he matures.
Baseball America has Hassell at #16 on their pre-draft top 500, while MLB Pipeline slots Hassell at #16 in their pre-draft rankings as well. Fangraphs has Hassell at #15 on their board. Over at ESPN Kiley McDaniel has Hassell at #10 on his board. Keith Law, meanwhile, has Hassell at #12.
Keith Law has Hassell going to our old friend A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres at #8 in his mock draft. Jonathan Mayo’s mock draft has Hassell going to the Philadelphia Phillies at #15, one pick behind the Rangers. Kiley McDaniel’s mock draft has Hassell slotted to the Colorado Rockies at #9. Hassell is mocked to the Padres at #8 in the Baseball America mock draft, while at MLB Pipeline Jim Callis mocks Hassell going to the Anaheim Angels at #10.
Hassell fits the direction the Rangers started going last year on the position player front — quality hit tool, quality approach, power that’s a question mark but could be tapped into, and some defensive ability and versatility. Two reports indicated that Hassell was drawing Drew Waters comparisons, though I think that’s probably more body type and defense than at the plate, given Waters is a high-K guy and Hassell doesn’t fan that often.