The 2020 Draft was a unique one. With just the 5 Rounds, it felt like there was going to be surprises as soon as the Orioles took Heston Kjerstad with the 2nd overall pick.
With the Texas Rangers you never know what to expect, but this year seemed even more so than normal.
We will dig a bit deeper into their picks and really break down how they may fit into the Rangers’ system.
Round 1 Pick 14 : Justin Foscue – 2B – Mississippi State University
Bat: R – Throw: R – Height: 6’0 – Weight: 203lbs
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With the 14th pick in the 2020 Draft the Texas Rangers select…….
Surprise number 1 came with their First Round pick. He wasn’t on many people’s list to be picked as high as 14th (and neither was he on my list of 7 or 8 potential picks), but the more I’ve seen of him the more I like him.
He seems like a typical second baseman, has great fielding capabilities whilst also being useful with the bat. Standing at 6’0, he has great range and agility whilst also having the build to be a decent hitter.
He has great projectable power that comes from a unique stance and swing. If he can continue to improve and make slight adjustments he could be a valuable player for the future.
Offensive: Despite being a surprise pick, his overall tools are good and there’s plenty of potential. His ability to barrel the ball so cleanly, as well as generate impressive power, earmarks his potential as a decent hitter within the organisation.
His action somewhat worries me slightly. There is huge load on to his front foot as he explodes forward to connect with the ball. This alongside his wide stance could make him more sustainable to injuries as he drives through his front foot.
It’s an initial wide stance, with pressure through the ball of his foot, before pushing off into a wider finish. This is coincided with a high kick across his body before completing his swing. There will have to be some focus on his stance to ensure there isn’t injuries down the line due to this loading.
From a hitting perspective he has decent power and timing. His quick bat speed and big force through his front foot generates significant power and allows him to pull the ball effectively. He makes regular contact and, despite being aggressive, has an impressive strike out rate.
Defensive: He seems to be a typical second baseman. He has good hands, and has the ability to make plays whilst on the move. Although there is some questions on his arm strength, the accuracy of his throws certainly make up for this. He has a high baseball IQ and knows his position very well.
College career: He hit 38 doubles, 19 HRs and 96 RBIs, with an average of .297 in University. This alongside only being struck out 57 times in 141 games shows remarkable plate discipline.
His fielding was just as impressive. A percentage of .948 with just 19 errors and 231 assists shows impressive defensive capabilities.
After going undrafted in 2017, he committed to Mississipi State, where he started off as a 3B. His freshman year wasn’t anything to write home about, with an average of .241, 3 HRs and 20 RBIs.
He shifted to 2B in his sophomore year, and this coincided with an improvement to .331 with 22 doubles, 14 HRs and 60 RBIs. He earned a call-up to the USA National Collegiate Team as well as All-SEC First Team honors.
He made just 16 appearances in 2020 averaging .302 with 2 HRs and 16 RBIs before the season came to an early end.
Overall: Not the expected pick, but there’s certainly a spot within the organisation for a projectable 2B that can be a consistent hitter. If his defensive aspect can continue to improve, then there is decent growth. He definitely makes my Top 10 of Rangers’ prospects for 2020, something that is coming soon.
Round 2 Pick 50 : Evan Carter – OF – Elizabethton HS (Tenn.)
Bat: L – Throw: R – Height: 6’4 – Weight: 190lbs
Another surprise pick by the Rangers, but this one was a lot more far fetched than the previous. He didn’t make many Top 200s or even the mock drafts. There’s a lot of intrigue around him and only time will tell whether he was worth the pick.
Standing at 6’4, the 2-way player at High School demonstrates great power when hitting, as well as impressive stature on the mound.
He was the Super 22 Player of the Year 2019, averaging .324 with 4 HRs and 27 RBIs. These stats were impressed further with a 10-2 record when pitching, and an ERA of 1.34. This led to him being Conference Pitcher of the Year and earned him first-team All-State Honors.
There’s not enough information on him to provide a reliable grading but from the little I have seen he looks a long, lean, and projectable player. He has the ability to grow into his power and has a decent swing and contact.
Overall: I wish I had more on him, but time will tell whether this pick was a steal or misguided. It’s expected that he will join as a hitter first and foremost and not a pitcher.
Round 3 Pick 86 : Tekoah Roby – RHP – Pine Forest HS (FL.)
Bat: R – Throw: R – Height: 6’1 – Weight: 185lbs
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We reached our first pick that wasn’t a massive surprise. A decent young pitcher with the ability to grow. He’s not quite there yet, but will no doubt work hard to ensure his 3-pitch mix is mastered.
The 18 year old from Pine Forest High School in Florida stands at 6’1 and has the ability to pick up consistent strikes with his easy delivery and focus to pound the strike zone.
His athletic build makes up for not being the biggest, and he has plenty of room to get stronger to ensure his velocity continues to improve.
Fastball: Works well with his curveball as a combination, and the ability to reach between 89-92mph regularly shows his impressive strength.
As you can see from this clip, he reaches 93mph with great control. He regularly finds the middle of the zone, with a sinking action. He can, however, get slightly erratic when pitching against left handed hitters, especially using his fastball.
Other than that his fastball is an above average tool, and very useful with the strength that he has.
Changeup: His worst pitch out of the 3. This is more due to the fact he hasn’t used it often but will need to be established for him to really command himself on the mound.
It isn’t regularly used but can reach between 78-80mph. If he can improve this pitch and alter his fastball slightly, then it has every potential to be at least an average tool and a consistent 3rd pitch.
When it works effectively it can create some fading action down in the zone. It will need to be used more in order for it to become more effective.
Curveball: Compliments his fastball beautifully. He can go from 93mph to 74-78mph in a blink of an eye and create great deception.
As you can see it shows great depth with its 11-5 shape. His quick arm speed releasing slightly from the side of his action enables it’s impressive spin and power to deceive the hitter.
He has much better control of this pitch and with continued work will consistently be an above-average pitch.
Delivery: His action is interesting. He isn’t the biggest so he can’t use his height to generate his power, but he uses his quick arm speed and slight whip out front to do so. His arm stays well-timed throughout the duration of the swing against right-handed hitters. Against left-handed hitters, though he struggles slightly. He isn’t able to have the whip out in front so he tries to counter this with more power, which can lead to some wild pitches.
He has great deception when it comes to his deliveries. He hides the ball right up until the last split second and this doesn’t allow the hitter to see the ball until it’s upon them.
He stays upright, with a high leg lift, before taking a short stride out front. His upper body does the majority of the work, using his quick arm speed and rotation to really generate his power.
High School Career: He has an impressive record at High School level. His first year started off slowly, ending the season with a 5-4 record, striking out 70 in 57.2 innings, with an ERA of 1.58.
He quickly improved his pitching abilities with a big year in 2019. He finished with a 7-4 record and an ERA of just 1.19. What was more impressive was his 109 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 70.1 innings pitched.
He unfortunately only made one appearance in a shortened 2020, striking out 6 in just 3 innings.
Overall: He certainly has decent potential but will need to focus on his changeup if he wants to become an effective starter. His combination of fastball and curveball is impressive, but that 3rd pitch is key to his success.
Round 4 Pick 115 : Dylan Maclean – LHP – Central Catholic School (Oregon)
Bat: R – Throw: L – Height: 6’3 – Weight: 180lbs
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This pick seemed to be an overslot. The left-handed pitcher was one of the youngest in the Draft but is another player who wasn’t expected to go as early as he did.
A super-projectable southpaw from Oregon was meant to commit to the University of Washington before being enticed into the 2020 Draft.
Although he stands at 6’3, he weighs just 180lbs, thus putting more pressure on him to add strength to such a tall frame. His tall and skinny frame was accounting for just mid-80s fastballs last year, but if he can bulk he certainly has the potential to be mid-90s come the start of any season.
He has a 3 pitch repertoire that will all need work when he starts playing pro ball. His fastball needs more velocity, whilst his changeup needs utilising more. He has the potential for 3 average pitches with the right progression.
Fastball: There was a significant jump from the mid-80s last summer to the early-90s this summer. Although there has been no baseball, he has been keeping himself fit and utilizing his time by increasing his pitching velocity.
If he can head into whatever season may come next with this velocity then he has established his fastball to be an effective tool. His fastball has drawn praise with his ability to punch the zone regularly and command all of its quadrants effectively.
Changeup: Like Roby before him, his changeup needs significant improvement before it can be classed as an average tool. From clips it looks like it stays quite high within the strike zone, and against better hitters, he will be punished more regularly.
Curveball: His curveball seems to have significant movement and depth.
Although it only reaches low-70s, its movement and ability to deceive the hitter makes it an important part of his pitching arsenal. The ability to come after a hitter with a fastball before significantly dropping the velocity will prove to be extremely beneficial moving forward.
Delivery: He has a nice, fluid action that mixes perfectly with his clean arm rotation. His arm goes well above his head to allow him to push the ball down low in the zone. This could link to why his changeup is so high in the zone. He releases the ball earlier to take the speed off it but doesn’t have the full motion to get down.
He compliments his fluid action with great deception. His hand stays hidden at all times throughout his motion and the hitter can only see the ball when it is released at the end of his arm action.
His pitching technique seems similar to Roby in the sense he has a high kick, before taking a small step off the mound. His arm action is a lot cleaner but they both show the willingness to use their long limbs and upper body to generate their velocity.
High School Career: He was named MHC Pitcher of the Year 2019 after an impressive season on the mound. This followed a 10-1 record, with an ERA of 0.51 as well as 128 strikeouts in 78 innings. He made16 appearances, completing the game 7 times with 2 saves to back his 10 wins.
He was instrumental in guiding them to the 6A State Finals, where they finished runners-up.
Overall: His pitching repertoire is very good but will obviously need some work moving forward. He has the ability to be a dominant starter but will need to fine-tune his change-up in order to be part of the rotation in pro ball. Slight surprise being overslot but the Rangers wanted him enough to pick him earlier than expected, and it could prove effective for them in time.
Round 5 Pick 145 : Thomas Saggese -SS – Carlsbad HS (Ca.)
Bat: R – Throw: R – Height: 6’0 – Weight: 170lbs
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The Rangers’ picks concluded with the 5th Round choice of Thomas Saggese. Despite being another unknown player, he has an interesting air around him. He didn’t participate in any PG Showcase Events so flew under the radar somewhat, but can create solid contact with the ball and was impressive at High School.
He was a late riser in the BA 500, and his bat is more advanced than his glove at this current time. He stands at 6’0 and weighs just 170lbs but can generate impressive power for his stature.
Offensive: His late rise in the ranks was mainly due to his advanced bat. He has a clean strike of the ball, and generates significant power. If he can bulk further, then he has the potential to have an impressive amount of power.
As you can see he makes terrific contact with the ball and, when he’s consistent, can make it look easy. He has a nice upright stance, with a high kick, that allows him to push his body forward with force. He has a strong grip on the bat throughout his swing, but could loosen his hands slightly to allow it to be a lot smoother.
Despite a lean build and not being the tallest, he has fantastic strength that could progress further with some more physical growth. He utilizes his strengths by staying upright throughout his swing and ensuring he uses his full body to create his power.
Defensive: It’s no secret that his defensive side doesn’t much up to his hitting ability but he can be a useful shortstop when needed. He has a decent arm, with accurate throwing, but will need to shore up on his defensive capabilities before he really establishes himself at that position. His biggest strength at defense is his quick hands, which allow him to get rid of the ball consistently and quickly. His glove work is natural and reliable but his athleticism is average and he can look fairly stiff.
High School Career: Saggese finished his High School career with impressive figures. His 2019 season saw him post an average of .422, with 10 HRs and 26 RBIs from 102 ABs. His 10 HRs tied the county lead and were 2 more than 2019 Draft 13th overall pick Keoni Cavaco.
At the end of the 2019 season he was named Avocado-West Player of the Year, as well as named in the First Team All-County and North All-Star.
His 2020 was just as impressive and, although he played just 7 games, he recorded an average of .440, with 3 HRs and 9 RBIs. These performances saw him shoot up the rankings and really make teams take notice.
Overall: Despite being fairly unknown, his last 2 seasons at High School had teams on notice and the Rangers took that chance by making him their last pick. San Diego is a hotbed of young talent, with thousands of players being picked over the years, now Thomas Saggese has that opportunity to prove himself at the best level.