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Potential Texas Rangers Day Two targets

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Taking a look at players still on the board who the Texas Rangers could take today

Detroit Tigers v Texas Rangers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Day One of the 2021 MLB Draft is in the books. Day Two kicks off at noon Central today (and there will be a draft discussion thread posted at 11 a.m.).

Day Two starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates on the clock with the first pick of the second round, #37 overall. The Texas Rangers’ first choice of the day, #38 overall, will then follow.

After the second round will be the Competitive Balance Round B picks — there are eight in all. The Rangers’ third round pick will be #73 overall and their fourth round pick will be #103 overall. There is a compensatory pick for the Houston Astros after the fourth round for the Astros losing George Springer in free agency, so the Rangers’ fifth round pick will be #134 overall. Each subsequent pick for the Rangers in Day Two and Day Three will be the number of the team’s previous pick plus 30.

Here are the players I have previously written up who are still on the board:

Izaac Pacheco — Friendswood, TX, shortstop

Connor Norby — East Carolina University second baseman

Peyton Stovall — Louisiana HS infielder

Michael Morales — Pennsylvania HS pitcher

Robert Gasser — University of Houston pitcher

Thatcher Hurd — California HS pitcher

Joshua Hartle — North Carolina HS pitcher

Cody Morissette — Boston College infielder

Will Taylor — South Carolina HS outfielder

Steven Hajjar — University of Michigan pitcher

Dylan Smith — University of Alabama pitcher

James Triantos — Virginia HS shortstop

Caedmon Parker — The Woodlands, TX, pitcher

Spencer Schwellenbach — University of Nebraska SS/P

Jaden Hill — LSU pitcher

A few comments here on these guys...

Hurd and Parker are seen as potentially difficult signs with strong college commitments. Given the Rangers are likely paying Jack Leiter slot or close to it, I doubt they’d take Hurd or Parker, since they will likely need well above slot bonuses to sign. Taylor and Stovall could also be potentially tough signs.

Hill, a potential top ten pick before Tommy John surgery sidelined him, has been said to perhaps be returning to school to rehab and show he’s healthy for next summer’s draft to build his stock back up.

If I had to bet on who the Rangers pick at #38, I’d probably go with Robert Gasser. The University of Houston lefty has the traits that the Rangers have seemed to focus on the past few years, and he’s a college senior who was talked about as a possible late first or sandwich first round pick for signability reasons. With the team not likely to get much in the way of pool savings with Leiter, Gasser is someone who the Rangers could potentially save $500,000 or more from the $1,952,300 slot figure at #38, which would allow them to be aggressive in either signing someone above slot later today, spending more on picks after the tenth round.

Some additional names I didn’t write up but who could be in the mix today for the Rangers, and who seem to potentially fit what they’d be looking for:

Adrian Del Castillo — University of Miami catcher

One of the surprises of the draft is Del Castillo still being on the board on Day Two. The Hurricane catcher was, back in September, talked about as a potential top five pick, but his stock dropped due to a disappointing junior year that saw him slash .275/.380/.385 after putting up OPSs of 995 and 1025 in his first two seasons at Miami. There are also questions about whether he will stay behind the plate. On the plus side, Del Castillo has very good contact rates, a solid approach and a nice lefthanded swing, and his deficiencies in framing would be moot if roboumps are adopted. Of the guys I didn’t write up, he seems like the most likely player for Texas to select at 38, to me.

Anthony Solometo — New Jersey HS pitcher

High school lefty with three solid pitches and quality command. Fits the recent Rangers profile of a prep pitcher with a good mix and a low-90s fastball who is projectable. Is committed to UNC and having dropped out of the first round may not be signable.

Matt Mikulski — Fordham pitcher

Like Gasser, a lefthanded college senior who is a potential underslot sign. He touches 98 mph with his fastball and has what is described as a deceptive delivery and decent secondaries. There are questions about his command and delivery which has some thinking he is a reliever long-term.

Ky Bush — St. Mary’s pitcher

Big (6’6”, 240 lb) lefthanded pitcher with a good fastball/slider combo and decent control/command and changeup. Projectable, with a profile that brings to mind Brett Martin when he was coming out of college. There’s work to be done on the delivery and the changeup, but the upside is major league starting pitcher.

Wes Kath — Arizona HS infielder

Lefthanded hitting high school infielder who is playing shortstop but generally listed as a third baseman for draft purposes. Big (6’3”, 200 lbs.) with a good hit tool, some power projection and the arm to play third base. MLB Pipeline mentions comparisons to Tristan Casas, though more athletic and with a little less power. He’s committed to Arizona State, and I haven’t seen mention of signability concerns, though if he falls out of the second round he’s someone who could go to school.

Gage Jump — California HS pitcher

Small (5’11”) lefthander committed to UCLA. Quality four seamer and curveball, questions about the changeup, concerns about his delivery. Seen by many as a likely reliever, though MLB Pipeline says he invokes comparisons to Kolby Allard.

Tommy Mace — University of Florida pitcher

Older college senior (he turns 23 in November) who returned to school in 2021 to improve his stock. Sinkerballer with middling secondaries and command. He’s big (6’6”, 230 lbs.) and has added a four seamer after working with Driveline this past summer, though its still a work in progress. Didn’t have a great senior season (4.38 ERA in 90.1 IP). If things work out he’s a 4/5 starter who moves quickly. If they don’t he’s AAA depth.

Christian Franklin — University of Arkansas outfielder

Righthanded hitting centerfielder who draws walks and hits for power but also has a lot of Ks. Very good exit velocity metrics. Possible tweener outfielder — may not be able to stick in center field defensive, and while he has the arm to play right field, may not have the bat. Reminds me some of Josh Stowers, though Stowers had better K rates in college.

Daylen Lile — Louisville HS outfielder

Lefthanded hitting bat-only guy with a quality hit tool and approach but questions about his power potential. Louisville commit.

Alex Mooney — Michigan high school shortstop

Nice all-around righthanded hitting high school infielder who has a bunch of average tools but no carrying tool. Gets quality marks for his baseball instincts and has words like “heady” and “aggressive” used in describing him. Older (he just turned 19) high school draftee who is committed to Duke. Brings to mind 2020 Ranger pick Thomas Saggese, and is someone the Rangers could possibly pick in the third or fourth round as an overslot sign. Or he could go to school — I mean, its Duke, after all.

Jonathan Cannon — University of Georgia pitcher

Big (6’6”) righthanded strikethrower. Draft-eligible sophomore who turns 21 next week. Missed time this spring with mono, then was inconsistent. Low-90s sinkerballer with a quality changeup and three breaking balls. Seen as a potential first rounder heading into the season, but his stock dropped due to a less than great season. The projection means there mid-rotation upside, particularly if you think his illness contributed to his rough spring.

Davis Diaz — California high school SS/C

Good all around tools, no carrying tool. Similar profile to Mooney, except he also has spent time catching this year, and you know how the Rangers love them some infielders who they can move to catcher. Solid hit tool and contact ability. Great instincts, high baseball IQ, been on the national team dating back to U12 days. Vandy commit, so may be a tough sign — like Mooney, perhaps someone on their board as an overslot option in the third or fourth round if they go under slot at #38.

Luca Tresh — North Carolina State catcher

Loud exit velocities, great bat speed, questions about his pitch recognition, lots of swing and miss this year. He should stay behind the plate — MLB Pipeline praises his “leadership and ability to run a pitching staff.” That, along with the big time hard hit ability, could make him a fit for Texas in the third or fourth round.

Doug Nikhazy — University of Mississippi pitcher

Older (turns 22 in August) small college lefty. Pitchability over stuff guy with a high spin rate, good command, two breaking balls and a changeup with potential. Low ceiling/high floor potential back of the rotation guy.

Zack Gelof — University of Virginia third baseman

Quality hit tool, improved his swing and miss issues this year, raw power that he hasn’t tapped into consistently. Had a .349/.469/.746 slash line in 2020 but dropped to .312/.393/.485 this year. May have to move to the outfield or first base.

Ben Kudrna — Kansas high school pitcher

6’3” projectable righthander with the athleticism, build and clean delivery that has folks thinking he can gain velocity while retaining his current ability to throw strikes. Three quality pitches and good command make him a guy with mid-rotation upside, though he could go to school — he’s an LSU commit — and try to make himself a first rounder in a few years.

Eric Hammond — Keller, Texas, high school pitcher

6’4” projectable righthander who is a strikethrower with two breaking balls and a changeup. BA says he was sitting at 88-92 this year, which kept him from first round consideration. Mid-rotation upside if his stuff progresses. University of Southern California commit who may not be signable, but hey, he’s a local kid, so he’s worth a mention here.

Landon Marceaux — LSU pitcher

Small (6’0”) strikethrowing righthanded pitcher with “plus control and command,” per BA. MLB Pipeline says he “exudes pitchability and lacks wow velocity,” and sees him as a third round guy. He has a track record of performing well against a high level of competition, which the Rangers value. There’s also this line from the BA writeup: “teams that believe they can help a pitcher add velocity could be very intrigued by a productive, durable pitcher with present feel and command.” That screams Rangers. He reminds me of 2019 second rounder Ryan Garcia. MLB Pipeline says he’s expected to go third round.

Logan Henderson — McLennan JC pitcher

Another small (6’0”) strikethrowing righthanded pitcher. Henderson is a true freshman who turns 19 in March and is committed to Texas A&M. His fastball is 88-92, but he’s a high spin rate guy who also has a plus changeup and a decent curveball. BA describes him as having “advanced feel, plus control and [a] solid three-pitch package,” which checks a lot of the Rangers boxes.

Russell Smith — TCU pitcher

Giant (6’9”) lefthander with a nice fastball and changeup and a slider that is a work in progress. Can throw all his pitches for strikes. He’s an older senior (he turns 23 in September) and had Tommy John surgery in 2019. Seen as a high floor/low ceiling guy with back end rotation potential, and could be someone taken earlier than expected on an underslot deal.

Aaron Zavala — University of Oregon outfielder

Lefthanded hitting corner outfielder with great contact ability and pitch recognition skills, but not seen as having much power potential. Uncertain future defensive position, with corner outfield spots, third base and second base mentioned, though the arm may not play in right or at third base. MLB Pipeline says “Zavala’s data will tick off boxes in analytic departments,” so keep him in mind if he’s on the board when the Rangers pick in the third or fourth rounds.

Brant Hurter — Georgia Tech pitcher

Big (6’6”) lefthanded pitcher who had an impressive 2.42 ERA in 2019 as a sophomore before his season was cut short after Tommy John surgery. 2021 is his first season back from surgery, with MLB Pipeline saying he showed “similar stuff...but not missing as many bats.” Older college senior (he turns 23 in September) with who can throw strikes with all three pitches. Could be a value pick if his stuff ticks back up.

Tyler McDonough — North Carolina State IF/OF

Small switch-hitting college junior who was draft-eligible last year but fell due to bonus demands. McDonough has consistently had a good hit tool, and hit for more power in 2021, though with more Ks. Can play a number of positions, with MLB Pipeline says he “may profile best in a super-utility role.” Compared to Brock Holt and Adam Eaton.

Micah Bucknam — British Columbia high school pitcher

17 year old small righthander who throws a 95 mph fastball, a quality changeup and a decent breaking ball. Hasn’t gotten to pitch against live hitters much until recently due to COVID protocols in Canada. Projectable, and could be one of those guys the Rangers jump on thinking that others are sleeping on him due to lack of exposure.

Niko Kavadas — Notre Dame first baseman

Lefthanded bat-only guy who profiles at 1B or DH as a pro. No speed, no glove, big time raw power, questions about his hit tool, great exit velocities, strong plate discipline this year. Turns 23 in October so he’s old and signable. Fangraphs says he invokes comparisons to Kyle Schwarber from those who believe in the hit tool.

Ryan Bliss — Auburn University shortstop

Small infielder with great hands and hit tool but not much power. Makes contact, doesn’t strike out, has an uncertain defensive future, with most projecting him at second base.

Will Rogers — Minnesota high school catcher

This is the deepest cut on here — he’s #210 on the BA board, doesn’t show up on the other major boards — but he’s a righthanded hitting catcher who has garnered attention with what BA describes as “interesting traits and some triple-digit exit velocities off the bat.” He’s an Arizona State commit who may not stick behind the plate, but the description BA gives would potentially put him in the Rangers’ wheelhouse.