Rangers sign top 5 draft picks, including 3 prep pitchers

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Cole Winn, Owen White and Mason Englert donned Texas Rangers jerseys Tuesday at the team’s ballpark, across the street from where a new stadium is under construction.

The Rangers hope the three prep right-handers, among their top five picks in last week’s draft, are foundation pieces for their big league pitching staff in the future.

”I think just drafting three pitchers in the top five rounds is going to really push us to be better,” said Winn, the first-round pick who got a $3.15 million signing bonus. ”We’re all going to push each other, so it’s going to be really exciting.”

Texas has signed all of its first five picks, including Arizona high school shortstops Jonathan Ornelas and Jayce Easley. All were introduced Tuesday before flying together to the team’s complex in Arizona.

”They got guys with all similar and positive characteristics,” Englert, the 6-foot-5 pitcher from nearby Forney who was the fourth-round pick, said about the quintet. ”I think we all have leadership skills. It’s going to be really fun to see what we can all do together.”

White, the second-round pick, got a $1.5 million bonus while Englert got $1 million. Ornelas, the third-round pick, got $622,800 and fifth-round pick Easley, the switch-hitting son of former big leaguer Damion Easley, got $500,000.

The Rangers took 10 pitchers and four shortstops with their first 14 picks. Of their 40 picks overall, 25 were college players, but the first five were straight out of high school.

”Didn’t really plan it that way,” Kip Fagg, the team’s senior director of amateur scouting said when introducing those top five picks.

Fagg said that Rangers general manager Jon Daniels asked him the night before the draft who were the top six players he wanted. Fagg said he put together two lists of six players, and that their top five picks were all on both lists.

”What separates this group right here is their makeup, their toughness, their work ethic, and all the things that go in being great baseball players,” Fagg said.

In introducing Winn, the 15th overall pick, Fagg talked about him as ”a future starter, workhorse” in the upper part of the rotation. The scouting director described White, who like Winn has a four-pitch mix, as ”one of the cornerstones of our starting rotation moving forward.”

Winn was 8-2 with a 0.20 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 70 innings for Orange Lutheran High in Orange, California. The 6-2 Winn was Gatorade’s California high school player of the year, after being Gatorade’s 2017 top player in Colorado before his family’s move to the west.

The 6-4 White, the 55th overall pick, was the Gatorade prep player of the year in North Carolina this year after going 10-1 with a 0.22 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 63 2-3 innings.

”They’ve blessed us, God’s blessed us. I think everybody should thank God for this position we’re in,” White said. ”I definitely think that we all three have the ability to be up here in the next couple of years.”

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