Rangers pleased with draft haul so far
Texas Rangers director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg couldn’t have drawn up the first two day of the first-year player draft any better.
The Rangers completed the first 10 rounds of the draft Tuesday with eight more picks and capped the 10 rounds by nabbing four players Texas had on the top 20 of its draft board.
"This is probably one of the better days I’ve had in one of those rooms downstairs," Fagg said in a teleconference. "The first four guys were on the top 20 on our board. Very rarely do you get a chance to have four guys in your top 20. I can’t ever remember that happening in my career."
Their first pick Tuesday, which came in the third round, was the most notable in Duke junior right-hander Michael Matuella. Matuella was listed as a top 20 pick by several draft services but he slid to the Ranger because of injury concerns.
Matuella had a back issue in the past which he said he’s completely over with. But he also had Tommy John surgery April 14 after pitching in just six games for the Blue Devils. Matuella doesn’t think the elbow will be an issue and he was happy to get the draft call on the eight-week anniversary of his surgery.
"I’ve been making good progress," he said. "The range-of-motion came back pretty quickly. I’m able to do a lot of exercises essentially every week. I’m really happy with the way rehab is going."
Matuella said he’d rather sign with the Ranger than return for his junior season. That’s good news for Texas which would like to see what kind of pitcher they have in a guy who had a 2.78 ERA as a sophomore and struck out 10.6 batters per nine innings.
Fagg thinks he can be something special.
"If this guy gets healthy you have a chance to have a front of the rotation guy," Fagg said. "He’s that kind of arm, that kind of stuff."
The fourth player the Rangers had in their top 20 was Houston pitcher Jake Lemoine, who was their fourth-round pick. Lemoine only made five starts for the Cougars this year because of a shoulder issue but the Rangers still liked him. They also drafted him out of Bridge City High School in 2012 in the 21st round.
Lemoine was one of three Texans drafted by the Rangers Tuesday. The club also selected Angelo State senior right-hander Blake Bass in the eighth round and Rice junior shortstop Leon Byrd in the 10th round.
Six of the first 10 picks by the Rangers were right-handed pitchers, with two outfielders and two shortstops rounding out the class so far. The draft concludes Wednesday.