Coming into this year’s draft, the Rangers knew exactly what their intentions were for 2020: developing the young talent within the farm system.
Out of the Rangers’ five picks, four are prep players out of high school, except for first-rounder Justin Foscue.
Here’s a recap of the five new members of the Texas Rangers.
Round 1, Pick 14: 2B Justin Foscue, Mississippi State
The Rangers kicked off the 2020 draft by snagging an All-American second baseman from a surging Mississippi State program in Justin Foscue. He began his collegiate career as a third baseman in 2018, where he hit .241 with three home runs and 20 RBI.
During the 2019 season, Foscue started 31 games at third base and 36 at second base, showing a bit of versatility. In those 67 games, he hit 14 home runs, drove in 60 runs, and posted a .331 average. This performance earned himself First-Team All-American honors from the College Baseball Foundation, Second-Team All-American honors at second base from the American Baseball Coaches Association, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, and DI Baseball, along with Third-Team All-American honors by Baseball America.
The Huntsville, Ala. native’s numbers helped the Bulldogs reach the College World Series in 2018 and 2019.
Foscue also showcased his talent overseas, where he was the starting second baseman for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer and tied for the team lead in doubles with three.
Baseball America said: “scouts believe Foscue will be an above-average hitter and love his baseball IQ. What’s less clear is his power potential and long-term defensive home.” MLB.com has compared Foscue’s game to Jeff Kent’s since he utilizes a “pull-heavy approach to generate more power.”
Foscue poses average defense for a second baseman, but his instincts and glove make up for his average range and arm. He will likely either play second or third base and has the potential to develop in both within the Rangers’ farm system, including replacing Rougned Odor within the next couple of years.
Round 2, Pick 50: OF Evan Carter, Elizabethton High School (TN)
With their second-round pick, the Rangers selected outfielder Evan Carter, a prep player out of Elizabethton High School in Elizabethton, Tenn.
This pick surprised many baseball fans, scouts, and analysts, especially that Carter is not ranked in Baseball America’s Top 500 prospects nor MLB.com’s Top 200. However, Perfect Game listed him as the No. 90 outfielder in the US. The Duke commit is a big guy at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds and is also a right-handed pitcher. During his junior season in 2019, Carter earned First-Team All-State honors and was named Conference Pitcher of the Year and Super 22 Player of the Year.
On the mound, he finished with a 10-2 record, 1.34 ERA and six complete games, while hitting .324 with four home runs and 27 RBI. According to Sports Illustrated, Carter confirmed that he will play in the outfield due to his passion for hitting.
He also plans to sign with the Rangers over attending Duke.
Selecting an unranked 17-year-old prep player in the second round is questionable, but there is no doubt that Carter’s speed and size will help him grow in the Rangers’ farm system for several years.
Round 3, Pick 86: RHP Tekoah Roby, Pine Forest High School (Fla.)
The Rangers utilized their third-round pick with another prep player, this time on the pitching end by selecting Tekoah Roby out of Pine Forest High School. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Pensacola, Fla. native was a 2020 Preseason First-Team All-Region and ranked No. 77 from Perfect Game’s Top 500.
During the 2019 National Perfect Game Showcase, Roby’s delivery was described as a “high leg lift delivery, stays tall over the rubber, compact and quick arm action from a 3/4’s arm slot, short stride out front with very good direction to the plate.”
During his junior season in 2019, the Troy commit finished with a 7-3 record, 1.19 ERA, and struck out 109 batters while only recording 10 walks.
What stood out to scouts was the Troy commit’s fastball: 89-93, with a peak at 94 miles-per-hour and solid velocity and spin rate (2,300-2,500 rpm range according to SI.com). Roby’s pitching mix also includes a 76-78 mile-per-hour curveball and 80-81 on his changeup.
Roby’s pitching mix is a good starting point, along with his impressive junior year stats, but with the COVID-19 pandemic taking away many exposure opportunities for prep players, only time will tell and see if he pans out professionally.
Round 4, Pick 115: LHP Dylan MacLean, Central Catholic High School (Ore.)
The Rangers went with another prep pitcher in the fourth round, this time selecting southpaw Dylan MacLean out of Central Catholic High School with the 115th pick.
During the 2019 season, MacLean led all Oregon 6-A pitchers in strikeouts, ERA, and wins, while leading Central Catholic to the 6-A championship game.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Portland, Ore. native was on Baseball America’s “10 Sleepers Who Could Pop Up This Spring” list before the pandemic shut down the 2020 season. Even without a lot of run this season, he gained an advantage as Rangers Senior Director of Amateur Scouting, Kip Fagg, was able to see MacLean pitch while watching Phillies’ first-rounder Mick Abel.
MLB.com notes that the University of Washington commit (No. 195 from MLB.com’s Top 200 Prospects) threw in the mid-80s at the Area Code Games last summer, but touched 92 on film. They also note that MacLean’s low-70s curveball “has some depth and his changeup gives him a third future average pitch.”
MacLean will easily require several years of work and growth in the minors but has a chance to shine in the big leagues as a number five starter or reliever if he gets stronger.
Round 5, Pick 145: SS Thomas Saggese, Carlsbad High School (CA)
The Rangers completed the 2020 Draft Class by selecting shortstop Thomas Saggese out of Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, Calif., with the 145th pick.
Baseball America and ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel both described Saggese as a “late-riser” since his draft potential quickly increased to third round potential. According to prepbaseballreport.com, the 6-foot, 170-pound Pepperdine commit has a “throwback style on the field and showed an average athleticism, quick hands, some lower half stiffness and the ability to stay at short.”
Saggese struck out 10 percent of his at-bats and walked 14 percent during the 2019 season, which demonstrates his high bat-to-ball skills. He hit .422 with 10 home runs, 26 RBI in 102 at-bats, and seven stolen bases. He was also named Most Valuable Player of the San Diego Avocado West League. Before the pandemic, he was batting .440 with three home runs, nine RBI, three triples, and scored 10 runs in seven games.
His future is still uncertain as he told The San Diego Union-Tribune that he would consider the pros, but that “everything is still up in the air.” Regardless of what happens, Saggese has huge potential with his speed and high contact rate but must improve his defensive abilities, whether it is in the farm system or with Pepperdine.
The Rangers shocked the baseball world during the second night of the draft but are confident about their draft class. The team does have some pressure to improve their system as they have limited success in developing prep players within the last several years. However, drafting a prep player heavy class can give the Rangers an advantage in the long run due to the lack of overall exposure from the rest of the league.