The Rangers drafted Mississippi State infielder Justin Foscue yesterday. and the thinking seems to be he will sign a below slot deal. That means the Rangers have additional pool money to go over slot at #50 or a later pick — though presumably, #50 is where the Rangers would grab their above-slot guy. Theoretically the Rangers could try to grab below-slot guys in rounds three through five to give them even more bonus pool money, but given the structure of this year’s draft and the limitations on signing undrafted free agents (teams can’t offer more than a $20,000 bonus to UDFAs this summer), that seems unlikely.
Foscue isn’t expected to go way under slot, so teams like the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles are going to have more ability to moneywhip players who have dropped. Still, Texas should be in position to pay over slot in the second round to get someone better than expected at #50.
Here are some guys who are still on the board who I would think would be in the mix at #50 for the Rangers:
Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler
Dingler was generally expected to go in the first round, and was considered at one point to be a candidate to go to the Rangers at #14, so him still being on the board is surprising. He’s an older college junior (he turns 22 in the fall) and so does not have much negotiating leverage compared to some other players who have dropped. I don’t expect him to be there at #50, but if he is, he’s someone the Rangers would be happy to grab, I think.
You can read our write-up of Dingler here.
University of Georgia righthanded pitcher Cole Wilcox
Wilcox dropping out of the first round is less unexpected — he was considered a first round talent in 2018 out of high school but fell to the 37th round because of bonus demands, and as a redshirt sophomore this year, he was seen as a potentially difficult sign who was a candidate to drop, and potentially not get selected (since it is only a five round draft).
Wilcox seems like someone who likely would go to a team, like Boston or Baltimore, that has a lot of extra pool money due to a well-below slot deal with their first round pick, and I don’t think he’s a likely candidate for Texas at #50. However, he is one of the top talents still on the board, and a possibility, so he’s worth mentioning.
You can read our write-up of Wilcox here.
Refugio, Texas, righthanded pitcher Jared Kelley
Kelley is the type of guy you’d have expected the Rangers to grab at #14 in prior years — big, hardthrowing, projectable high school pitcher. Teams have gotten much more leery in general about high school pitchers in recent years, and were generally expected to be more conservative in 2020, so Kelley dropping out of the first round, despite generally being ranked as a first round talent, isn’t surprising.
Kelley is a University of Texas commit, but an above-slot deal at #50 could buy him out, and despite the shift in emphasis in amateur talent acquisition of late, he could be someone the Rangers target.
You can read our write up Kelley here.
University of Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin
I did not write up Martin, as he did not seem to be someone the Rangers were looking at at #14, but he’s still on the board and would be a fit at #50. Martin is a smallish (5’11”, 175 lb.) shortstop who has plus speed, arm, and power, but who has a problematically aggressive approach at the plate and is questionable to stay at shortstop long-term.
Martin has slashed .310/.389/.542 in college, but also has 165 Ks in 684 plate appearances, and given the analytics emphasizing contact rate currently, that likely has contributed to his drop. He does not fit the profile the Rangers have prioritized with their position players of late, but the tools are there, and at #50, they may see him as having dropped enough to be worth grabbing there.
DeSoto, Mississippi, third baseman Blaze Jordan
Blaze Jordan is a guy I’ve seen mentioned as being linked to the Rangers in this draft. Originally in the 2021 draft class, Jordan reclassified for 2020, and is one of the youngest players in the draft, not turning 18 until December.
Jordan is a big (6’2”, 220 lbs.) righthanded power hitter who has tremendous raw power and great bat speed but also swing-and-miss issues. He’s not expected to stick at third base, and is viewed as a likely first baseman as a professional. He generates a big split in opinions on the rankings, but the Rangers supposedly really like the bat, and he’s a legitimate candidate to be taken at #50.
LSU outfielder Daniel Cabrera
If you want a college player who fits the Rangers’ recent preferred profile at the plate, Cabrera is your guy. He was well-regarded coming out of high school but couldn’t be bought out of his commitment to LSU, where he has shown good plate discipline, a good approach, solid contact ability, and a quality hit tool, slashing .305/.392/.518 in his three years there.
Cabrera struggled some as a sophomore, but was dealing with a wrist injury at the time, and was back on track as a junior before the season was canceled. He’s a corner outfielder who is going to have to hit for more power than he has exhibited thusfar to be a major league regular, but if the Rangers are looking for another contact/approach/solid hit guy, he would be good value at #50.