Winter Meetings are just around the corner. Plus: they are virtual, so, Rangers are not expected to be big players this offseason.
They will sign some free agents and probably pull off a trade or two. The Jon Daniels era has been one with major highs and lows. From two American League Championships to well…COVID.
Seeing that the offseason might no be exciting, I thought we might take a look at all the first-round picks of the Jon Daniel era.
Daniels replaces John Hart n October of 2005. That means his official first draft was in 2006.
Let’s take a look at who the Rangers took in the first round from 2006 to 2020.
We will also pick out the best pick from that season if the top pick didn’t pan out. You will notice that the top pick didn’t pan out in most situations. As a defender of Jon Daniels, I can’t sugarcoat this fact. The Rangers do not have a great history with their top choices under his tenure.
LHP Kasy Kiker // 12th Overall Pick
Kiker never fulfilled the promise he had coming out of Russell County High School in Seale, AL. His best season came in 2007 when he went 7-4 in 20 starts with a 2.90 ERA at 19 years old for the Clinton Lumberjacks. It was downhill after that.
Kiker never got above AA for the Rangers and he was released after the 2011 season where he was back in A ball playing for Myrtle Beach. He played one more year of the independent ball before hanging them up.
Best Pick of 2006
The Rangers selected Chris Davis in the 5th round that year. They also selected Craig Gentry in the 10th round.
RHP Blake Beavan // 17th Overall Pick
Beavan was highly regarded coming out of Irving High School in Irving, TX. He never played for the Rangers but did spend 4 years in the big leagues with the Mariners. His biggest contribution to the Rangers was that he was a part of the trade that brought them Cliff Lee in the 2010 World Series year. Beavan is back in Texas since retiring and coaches select baseball and gives pitching lessons.
Best Pick of 2007
The Rangers selected Mitch Moreland in the 17th round.
1B Justin Smoak // 11th Overall Pick
Smoak was very highly regarded coming out of The University Of South Carolina. He has cobbled together a nice 11-year career with only 70 games as a Texas Ranger. He was however a big contributor to the 2010 World Series team. Smoak was the key piece of the Lee trade. In fact, it was Smoak that sealed the deal for the Mariners, who had just nixed their deal with the Yankees three days earlier over the health status of the player they were including. Once Daniels included Smoak, Mariners pulled the trigger.
Best Pick of 2008
Hard to argue that Smoak wasn’t the best pick. Not just for his inclusion on the Lee trade, but he has lasted 11 years in the big leagues.
LHP Matt Purke // 14th Overall Pick
Purke was thought to be a top 10 talent out of Klein High School in Klein, TX. He turned down the Rangers bonus offer to sign and instead ended up at TCU. Turns out that was a bad mistake for him and a blessing in disguise for the Rangers. He ended up with injuries and was drafted again in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft by the Nationals. He only played 12 games for the White Sox in 2016 and hasn’t been back in the show since.
Best Pick of 2009
Turns out the Rangers’ 2009 draft wasn’t all that impressive. They did however get Tanner Scheppers in the supplemental round with the 44th overall pick.
CF Jake Skole // 15th Overall Pick
Skole never lived up to the hype. Coming out of Blessed Trinity HS in Roswell, GA, he was a two-sport athlete who turned down football scholarships to play baseball. Skole never got out of AA and decided to hang up his spikes in 2016. He went back and played football for 3 seasons at the University of Georgia.
Best Pick of 2009
This is up for debate. If you want a contributor to the Rangers then I guess maybe Brett Nicholas who played two years for the Rangers. But Mike Olt and Justin Grimm were part of the trade that sent the Rangers Matt Garza from the Cubs. Maybe it’s Luke Jackson who although he didn’t have a great career with the Rangers, has had success out of the Braves bullpen.
LHP Kevin Matthews // 33rd Overall Pick
The Rangers had other guys on their mind, including Josh Bell who they could have taken with this pick. But they had decided that they would only spend about $950,000 for this pick and Bell ended up signing for $5 million to play for the Pirates and forgo his commitment to The University Of Texas. Matthews was about the 4th guy on their board they could afford, and the only one left when the pick arrived. He never got out of A ball.
Best Pick of 2011
This was actually a decent draft class after Matthews. I say that in the fact that there were a lot of eventual big leaguers in that class. The one who played the most for the Rangers was Ryan Rua who was taken in the 17th round. The best overall talent might have come in the 48th round with Carl Edwards Jr who they traded to the Cubs in the Garza deal.
OF Lewis Brinson // 29th Overall Pick
Brinson has carved out an ok career in Miami. The Rangers used him to headline a trade for Jonathan Lucroy from Milwaukee after Lucroy refused a trade to Houston earlier that year. The Brewers, in turn, flipped Brinson and others to the Marlins for Christian Yelich. Brinson has played ok for Miami and is a nice piece to have on a National League team. If the National League adopts the DH, it might hamper Brinson. He seems to fit nicely on an NL team.
Best Pick of 2012
This one is undisputed. After the Rangers took Brinson at 29, they went over slot ten picks later to take Joey Gallo. Gallo signed for more than Brinson to forgo his commitment to play at LSU. You know the rest.
RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez // 23rd Overall Pick
Taken out of Oral Roberts University, Gonzalez only pitched in 17 games for Rangers. He was granted free agency after the 2018 season and ended up signing with the Colorado Rockies. He was in their rotation for part of the 2019 and 2020 season. He wasn’t stellar, but he did have some success.
Best Pick of 2013
Joe Palumbo would jump out at you since he was taken in the 30th round and looks to have legit stuff. But for me, the best pick seems to be the SS from Hawaii, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa taken in the 4th round.
RHP Louis Ortiz // 30th Overall Pick
Ortiz was drafted out of High School in Sanger CA. He has been used twice in trades before finally making his major league debut in 2018 for the Orioles. He was one of three players sent to Milwaukee in the Lucroy deal. The Brewers eventually moved him to Baltimore for Jonathan Schoop. He only started 3 games in two years of big-league service.
Best Pick of 2014
There are a few candidates who are actually in the big leagues now. In the 4th, 5th and 6th rounds of the draft, the Rangers selected Brett Martin, Wes Benjamin, and Jose Trevino. All three are current Rangers.
RHP Dillon Tate // 4th Overall Pick
This is probably the worst first-round pick in the Jon Daniels era. Not because of his failures, but because he was taken 4th overall. The Rangers had their eyes one of three shortstops. All they needed was for one to fall to them. But Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, and Brendan Rodgers went 1, 2, 3 leaving them with who was their 4th best prospect. Second-guessing is always fun. Especially when the 5th pick was Kyle Tucker of the Astros.
Best Pick of 2015
Scott Heineman has played the most games as a Ranger. He was taken in the 11th round. But they also to Pete Fairbanks in the 9th who they traded for Nick Solak.
LHP Cole Ragans // 30th Overall Pick
Ragans isn’t a bust yet, but he has had bad luck with injuries. He is in the middle of his second Tommie John surgery. He was stellar in a rookie ball right out of high school. This has the Rangers excited to see him have a healthy season. He will most likely miss at least half of 2021 recovering.
Best Pick of 2016
I guess you have to say Sam Huff taken in the 7th round. Although Kyle Cody turned a lot of heads in the rotation at the end of the 2020 year. He was taken in the 6th round out of the University of Kentucky.
CF Bubba Thompson // 26th Overall Pick
The book is still open on Thompson who was a dual-sport athlete out of Mobile AL. He turned down football scholarships to play baseball. He struggled in 2019, but that was because of an injury he suffered to his hamate bone. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts but has shown he can hit the ball. Defensively he is an above-average center fielder. The Rangers still see him as a future contributor at the major league level. He could also be used in a trade.
Best Pick of 2017
Only one player has made it to the major leagues from the 2017 class. That player is John King, who was taken in the 10th round out of the University of Houston. However, there were other picks in this draft class that have been impressive. Hans Crouse was taken in the 2nd round and Jake Latz in the 5th. But Chris Seise in the supplemental round may be the best of them all, as long as injuries don’t derail him.
RHP Cole Winn // 15th Overall Pick
So far this has been a great first-round selection by the Rangers. Winn has lived up to the hype and continues to impress as he climbs up the system. Coming out of Orange, CA where he was the California Gatorade Player Of The Year. In his junior year he lived in Colorado and was the Gatorade Player Of The Year there. Winn has an outside chance of making his debut in 2021. He should start at Down East and end the season in Frisco.
Best Pick of 2018
Until we see something different, Cole Winn gets this honor also. Cole Uvila is another name to watch. Especially since he was taken in the 40th round.
3B Josh Jung // 8th Overall Pick
Big 12 Player Of The Year out of Texas Tech, Jung has been as promised so far. He has hit the ball well in the limited time he has gotten to play. He was very impressive at the alternative site during the 2020 season. He has been impressive in the fall instructional league. In fact, there are some who feel there is no doubt he will make his major league debut in 2021. But he will most likely start out in AA.
Best Pick of 2019
Again, you have to go with Josh Jung so far. Davis Wendzel was the 41st overall pick and Co-Big 12 Player Of The Year with Jung out of Baylor. SO we have to pay attention to that name also.
IF Justin Foscue // 14th Overall Pick
Coming out of Mississippi State, this was an under slot pick that the Rangers took. Not much to report on Foscue as he enters his first full season in 2021. He projects to play middle infield.
Best Pick of 2020
Justin Foscue is the name to watch, although Evan Carter has been the talk of fall instructs. The Rangers took him 50th overall and stunned the talking heads of the draft. He wasn’t on anyone’s top 100 list. He has however shown what the Rangers saw him. Rangers head of scouting Kipp Fagg says he is a 5 tool guy. He might be the steal of the draft.
Picking on Jon Daniels for first-round picks is sort of a cheap shot. Unless you get a top 10 picks, most teams don’t have great success either. Being a projected talent and actually becoming a talent are two different things. The Rangers have proven they can find talent in other rounds. I have to give credit where credit it due. For the first time during Jon Daniels’ tenure, pitching talent is starting to make its way to the major leagues.
Joe Palumbo, Jonathan Hernandez, Brett Martin, Cole Winn, etc….. Hopefully, the second pick of the 2021 draft will lead to a legit ace or franchise-type player.
Whatever the case, this was a fun one to put together.
Featured Image: Nathan Giese/Planview Herald