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 Imperial, Pennsylvania, high school outfielder Austin Hendrick.
Austin Hendrick is a 6’1”, 192 lb. lefthanded hitting outfielder out of West Allegheny High School in Imperial, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. He is currently committed to Mississippi State.
Hendrick is a hitter — he’s described as having “light tower raw power” together with a strong hit tool, great bat speed and quick hands that have him viewed by some as the best high school hitter in this draft class. He plays center field currently, but likely ends up in a corner outfield spot long-term, and is seen as having the arm strength to play right field.
Hendrick, like a lot of guys with big power, generates some concern about his contact issues, and he reportedly tinkered with his swing during the summer while struggling. There are some concerns about whether consistency will be able to be maintained with the new swing. In addition, as a Pennsylvania high schooler, he didn’t face top competition during the high school seasons, and played shorter seasons in high school than his peers, which means fewer reps and fewer opportunities to be seen.
The other concern with Hendrick is that he turns 19 on June 15, 2020, meaning he’s older than most high school draftees. We talked about this at length last year in the context of Brett Baty, who was 19 1⁄2 when he was drafted, and who was linked with the Rangers — older players are going to be dinged by many teams compared to younger players, even if it is simply a matter of months. Hendrick is going to be lower on some boards due to his age.
Baseball America has Mitchell at #9 on their pre-draft top 500, saying that the age and lack of eyes on him this spring are an issue, but that he’s still a top pick. MLB Pipeline puts Hendrick at #13 on their board, as do the folks at Fangraphs, who also note Hendrick’s swing and miss concerns this summer. Over at ESPN, Kiley McDaniel has Hendrick at #8 on his board. Keith Law puts Hendrick at #11 on his board, saying he’s the best pure power bat among high schoolers this year.
Keith Law has Kendrick going to the New York Mets at #19 in his latest mock draft, noting that his being draft-eligible as a sophomore in two years increases his leverage. Jonathan Mayo’s mock draft today has the Arizona Diamondbacks taking Kendrick at #18. Kiley McDaniel’s mock draft has Kendrick off the board when Texas picks, going to the Cincinnati Reds at #12. Mitchell goes to the Chicago Cubs at #16 in the most recent Baseball America mock draft, while the latest version of the Jim Callis mock draft has Hendrick going to the Reds.
Hendrick is not a name I’ve seen linked to the Rangers so far, but he’s a quality high school bat with enormous power, he’s generally ranked above where the Rangers pick, and he is being mocked to go mid-first round, so he would seem to be a possibility.
In a draft where high school players may slip due to teams being more conservative, Hendrick could fall, relative to where he would be expected to go normally. The Rangers don’t usually jump on bat-first guys, but the power and upside Hendrick offers could be tempting enough for them to pull the trigger.