UYA product Tate picked fourth by Rangers
UC Santa Barbara ace becomes first pitcher taken in 2015 Draft
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers made one thing clear after they selected UC Santa Barbara right-handed pitcher Dillon Tate with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 Draft Monday.
They took him as a starter even though there are some who suggested he might be better off in the bullpen. Tate was a reliever for the Gauchos as a sophomore before moving into the rotation this season. He was also a reliever on the national team last summer.
"He started all year and we believe that is what he is," Rangers scouting director Kip Fagg said. "We're very confident he'll be a starter. Great makeup ... we've got a power pitcher who is going to be a starter."
The Draft continues Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 12 p.m. CT.
Tate, who is 6-foot-2, was 8-5 with a 2.26 ERA in 14 starts this season. In 103 innings pitched, he allowed 66 hits and 28 walks and struck out 111. He has a plus fastball clocked at 92-98 miles per hour and a sharp slider. His changeup is also improving.
"This is a huge honor," Tate said. "Texas is a great organization. I'm really fortunate to be in this spot. A lot of kids don't get this opportunity."
Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy was instrumental in making it happen and developing an undrafted high school pitcher into the top pitcher taken in the Draft. Tate went to Claremont (Calif.) High and did not get drafted.
Only Santa Barbara and Oral Roberts showed interest in him. But Tate attended the Urban Youth Academy after his freshman year and said that experience accelerated his development. He is the highest player from the Academy to be drafted.
"That was pretty big for me," Tate said. "They really helped me take big steps in the right direction. I was able to get a lot of [innings] there, develop my pitches and get me more in the [strike] zone."
Fagg said the Rangers are "very confident" that they will be able to sign him. Southern California scout Todd Guggiana and West Coast crosschecker Casey Harvie did much of the scouting work.
Rangers special assistant Michael Young also went to UC Santa Barbara. He did not scout Tate personally but helped with the background check through his school sources.
The Rangers considered Tate, Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer and Illinois left-hander Tyler Jay. Those three were viewed as the top pitchers in the Draft.
"I think they are all very talented kids," Fagg said. "They all have very good makeups. It was a tough call but we feel we got the best guy for the Texas Rangers."