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 Texas Tech righthanded pitcher Clayton Beeter.
Clayton Beeter is a 6’1’, 205 lb. righthanded pitcher at Texas Tech. A redshirt sophomore, attended high school at Birdville High School in North Richland Hills. Beeter was undrafted out of high school and not ranked in the 2017 Baseball America top 500 draft prospect rankings. Beeter ended up blowing out his elbow in the fall of his freshman year at Tech, and redshirted the 2018 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Beeter was used conservatively in a relief role, throwing 20.2 IP in 21 innings. He struck out 40 of the 93 batters he faced, a remarkably high rate. He also walked 20 of the 93 batters he faced — also a remarkably high rate.
Beeter moved back to starting in 2020 and was Tech’s Friday night starter before the season was canceled. He was dominant in that role, allowing 7 runs (5 earned) in 21 IP over 4 starts, allowing 33 strikeouts against 4 walks and allowing 3 home runs before the season was shut down.
Beeter’s stuff is electric, as he throws his fastball in the upper-90s and has a hammer curve that is seen as being a potential plus pitch — if not better — in the majors. The change up is, as is often the case, a work in progress, but having two really impressive pitches to work with is a good starting point.
Baseball America has Beeter at #80 on their pre-draft top 500, raving about the stuff he showed this year but noting that he hasn’t shown he can maintain his control over the long term. MLB Pipeline has Beeter at #51 in their pre-draft rankings, also noting the great stuff and concerns about the lack of track record. Fangraphs has Beeter at #19 on their board, while Kiley McDaniel has Beeter at #43 on his board for ESPN. Keith Law puts Beeter at #24 on his board, and calls his curve “grade-80.”
Keith Law has Beeter going in the first round to the New York Yankees at #28 in his mock draft. Jonathan Mayo’s mock draft also has the Yankees taking Beeter at 28. Kiley McDaniel’s mock draft has Beeter falling out of the first round, as does the most recent Baseball America mock draft. In his latest version, Jim Callis mocks Kelley going to the Washington Nationals at #22.
There has been talk about how the lack of a 2020 season and the lack of the ramping up of scouting 2020 draft eligible players that normally occurs in the months leading up to the draft means that team’s boards likely look much different from each other (even moreso than they usually do — MLB boards, particularly after the top 20 picks or so, apparently have a great deal of variation from team to team). Beeter is someone who is likely going to be ranked very highly on some boards, and potentially not even appear on other boards due to the unknowns surrounding him.
The consensus is that the stuff last year was terrific, but he couldn’t control it, and the stuff this year was terrific, and he could control it. The problem is that being able to maintain control over four starts isn’t the season as being able to show that consistency over the course of a season, and teams are going to have to worry whether Beeter will be able to maintain that level of control and command going forward. If he were to pitch the rest of the season like he did his first four starts, he’s probably a top half of the first round pick. Because he has less than 50 innings of college ball and wasn’t a top guy out of high school, though, there’s not been an opportunity to get much of a look at him.
As a redshirt sophomore, Beeter does have more leverage than the average college player, and he could decide he would like to go back to Tech and establish himself as a top of the draft guy for 2021. That being said, Beeter turns 22 in October, and there’s no telling what the landscape will look like next year.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Rangers spent a good deal of time scouting Texas Tech last year, when they had Josh Jung on their radar and ended up picking him...and of course, he pitched high school ball here in the Metroplex. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers have seen Beeter more than most have, and he certainly could be someone the Rangers target, whether in the first round or in the second round.