The biggest moment of the Texas Rangers’ season is one month away.
The 2021 MLB Draft is scheduled for July 11-13, to run in conjunction with the All-Star weekend. The Rangers have the No. 2 overall pick, and the second pick in 19 the subsequent rounds.
They have the opportunity to acquire a franchise player or pitcher with their first choice, a chance teams don’t get very often. However, based on the way things are going this season, the Rangers may find themselves with a similar opportunity next year.
That’s to be determined, but here’s what is known:
The Rangers absolutely, positively, cannot afford to miss with their pick.
“Time will be the ultimate judge of the draft,” said general manager Chris Young. “We are excited about the access to talent that we do have with the second overall pick, and we’re doing our due diligence to make sure we get the right player for the Texas Rangers.”
There’s a handful of premium players at the top of a draft that is thought to be shorter on talent than in recent years. There is no clear-cut No. 1 pick, a selection that is held by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Rangers are weighing if a college player who might be the best player now is going to be better in the long run than a prep player. A college player might be the safer pick, but the reward of selecting a prep player could be worth the risk.
Yet, highly regarded Dallas Jesuit shortstop Jordan Lawlar might be available if the Pirates don’t select him with the first pick.
There are two other prep shortstops who could potentially land with the Rangers, as well as a college catcher who might be the best hitter in the draft.
Here’s a look at each of them.
Jordan Lawlar, SS
No prep shortstop from Texas has ever been selected first overall, but Lawlar is the favorite to be chosen 1-1. Scouts consider him to be a five-tool prospect, though he might not be as good as former Colleyville Heritage star shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. He was selected second overall in 2019 by Kansas City. Lawlar has more speed than Witt, but there’s some question if Lawlar will stick at shortstop.
Marcelo Mayer, SS
Two of the latest mock drafts from industry outlets have the Rangers going with Mayer, a slick-fielding shortstop from Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, California. He can hit, from the left side, and the belief is that he will grow into above-average power as he adds to his 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame. MLB.com ranks him as the top prospect in the draft.
Brady House, SS
This kid is bigger than than Lawlar or Mayer, at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. As such, he already has terrific power that could become elite as he develops. House also has a quick bat that allows him to handle velocity and wait on off-speed pitches, and that has some scouts believing he will be a quality hitter and not just a power threat. MLB.com believes House will move to third base as a pro.
Jack Leiter, RHP
He has the pedigree, as the son of former MLB pitcher Al Leiter, and he has power stuff. But Leiter’s stock seems to have fallen some as the college season has dragged on. His fastball has touched 100 mph, and his curveball grades out as a plus offering as well. And he throws a slider that can also be devastating. There are durability concerns after throwing a limited amount of innings in his senior year of high school and his COVID-19 shortened freshman season at Vandy. His control can also be lacking at times.
Kumar Rocker, RHP
Rocker entered the college season as the No. 1 overall prospect, but his stock has fallen with some inconsistent velocity readings on his four-seam fastball. It seems to have held steady late in the season, perhaps suggesting he had arm fatigue, but it also has made some wonder if he can handle a starter’s workload in the majors. He’s imposing on the mound (6-foot-4, 255 pounds) and has more than just his fastball. Most of his strikeouts come on breaking balls.
Henry Davis, C
Louisville has been cranking out pro prospects of late, with Rangers second baseman Nick Solak being one of them. Davis is the best catcher in the draft, gifted with a powerful arm that can control running games. He’s also regarded as one of the best hitters in the draft, if not the best, with an advanced ability to recognize pitches and barrel balls. The thinking is he will hit for average and could pop 20 homers a season.