Rangers' Day 2 crop led by Ducks OF Zavala

July 12th, 2021

The Rangers got their guy on Day 1, drafting Vanderbilt star Jack Leiter with the No. 2 overall pick. On Day 2, which includes Rounds 2-10, the goal was to further replenish the farm system.

The Rangers, who came into the season with the No. 21 farm system per MLB Pipeline, will have the second pick of every round for the remainder of the MLB Draft.

Of the Rangers' nine selections on Monday, three were recent high school graduates with commitments to high-major colleges -- shortstop Cameron Cauley (Texas Tech), catcher Ian Moller (Louisiana State), left-hander Mitch Bratt (Florida State) -- but senior director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg said there's no concern about the team's ability to sign those players.

Fagg also discussed the "weird" nature of this year's draft, which was the second to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic. College players were granted an extra year of eligibility due to the cancelation of the 2020 college baseball season, resulting in an increase in the average age of draftees.

"I think we're going to be dealing with this for a couple years now with college baseball because of COVID," Fagg said. "They just gave an extra year of eligibility because they missed that one year, so it's going to take a few years for us to get back to the right age."

Round 2, 38th overall: Aaron Zavala, OF, Oregon

Notable Skill: Zavala emerged as one of the Draft's best pure hitters. In 2021, Zavala had a .392 batting average across 199 at-bats while only striking out in 12.1 percent of his plate appearances. Along with his bat-to-ball skills, Zavala also showed improved plate discipline in his final season at Oregon, posting a career-high 19.6 percent walk rate.

Fun Fact: Zavala had six All-America honors for his play in 2021, being honored by ABCA, Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, D1 Baseball, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America and Perfect Game. Zavala became the second player in Oregon history to have all six All-America honors in the same year.

Quotable: "Aaron is really driven," said father David Zavala. "There's times that I've told him, 'Hey, maybe you should take a day off or two and just relax,' and he's been like, 'Eh, I've gotta keep grinding, gotta be ready.'"

Round 3, 73rd overall: Cameron Cauley, SS, Barbers Hill High School (Mont Belvieu, Texas)

Notable Skill: Cauley runs very well, recording a home-to-first time of 4.2 seconds and stealing 52 bases in 53 attempts as a senior. The shortstop has also been lauded for his on-field swagger.

Fun Fact: Cauley helped lead Barbers Hill to its first state title, hitting five home runs during the team's postseason run. Cauley's dad, Chris, also played baseball at TCU and spent three seasons in the White Sox Minor League system. 

Quotable: "I feel like it's really important, because with baseball, you have to be a really good athlete if you're going to be a great player, so you're able to move and make plays and steal bags, run fast and hit the ball far. You have to be an athlete, and playing all those sports as a kid, you grow up having to be multidimensional and being able to do a lot of things," said Cauley, who also was a wide receiver in high school.

Round 4, 103rd overall: Ian Moller, C, Wahlert Catholic High School (Dubuque, Iowa)

Notable Skill: Moller's calling card is his power, with enough pop to potentially rack up 20-homer seasons.

Fun Fact: Moller was born just after Barry Bonds hit a home run in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series. He is also the great-grandson of a Negro Leagues baseball player. 

Quotable: "I want to be a Major Leaguer, the best of all time, so the attention is going to come with it," Moller said.

Round 5, 134th overall: Mitch Bratt, LHP, Georgia Premier Academy (Statesboro, Ga.)

Notable Skill: Bratt, who is committed to Florida State, features a dominant 12-6 curveball that's emerged as one of his better pitches.

Fun Fact: Bratt was the youngest player in the MLB Draft League

Quotable: "He saw the opportunity to pitch in the United States, to get seen by more scouts because he wanted to play," Fagg said of Bratt, a native of Newmarket, Ontario, in suburban Toronto. "He spent the majority of the spring down here and not going back to Canada."

Round 6, 164th overall: Chase Lee, RHP, Alabama

Notable Skill: Lee manages to create deception with his unique sidearm pitching motion. Similar to the Giants' Tyler Rogers, Lee's fastball seldom tops 90 mph, but his delivery makes for uncomfortable at-bats for hitters.

Fun Fact: Lee was nicknamed "The Viper" by Alabama baseball fans because of his pitching motion. The sidearmer's 1.87 ERA (17 earned runs across 82 innings) is also the lowest in program history.

Quotable: "My plan, Lord willing, is to get drafted after this season and then go play professional baseball for a little while and see kinda where that takes me," Lee said. "I actually didn't enjoy engineering as much as I thought I would."

Round 7, 194th overall: Bradford Webb, RHP, Virginia Commonwealth

Notable Skill: The right-hander excelled in college at keeping hitters in the ballpark. In 119 1/3 career innings at both Hampden-Sydney College and VCU, Webb only allowed seven home runs (0.53 home runs per nine innings). Webb also cut his free passes in his last two years in college, allowing just 2.11 walks per nine innings.

Fun Fact: Webb graduated magna cum laude with a degree in economics & business at Hampden-Sydney College prior to transferring to VCU.

Quotable: "Even though he's an older guy, he's definitively a starting pitcher," Fagg said. "Thought this guy was under the radar."

Round 8, 224th overall: Larson Kindreich, LHP, Biola University

Notable Skill: Kindreich has been a strikeout machine since stepping on campus, punching out 199 batters across 136 2/3 innings (13.1 per nine innings).

Fun Fact: The southpaw began 2020 with 25 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, setting an NCAA-era program record.

Quotable: "He's a robot. We call him 'Cyborg,'" said high school teammate Trae Frodge.

Round 9, 254th overall: Liam Hicks, C, Arkansas State

Notable Skill: Hicks flat out knows how to get on base, leading the Sun Belt Conference with a .464 on-base percentage as a junior. Part of that is a function of his ability to avoid strikeouts; Hicks struck out only 18 times as a junior, the seventh-fewest times in the conference. 

Fun Fact: The backstop was added to the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award watchlist in his junior season with the Red Wolves.

Round 10, 284th overall: CJ Widger, LHP, Rowan College at Gloucester County

Notable Skill: Widger excelled as both a starter and a reliever in 2021, particularly the former. In six starts, Widger allowed just three earned runs across 34 2/3 innings (0.79 ERA).

Fun Fact: Widger's father, Chris, played 10 seasons in the Majors as a catcher, winning a World Series with the White Sox in 2005.

Widger Quotable: "Even though he's a little older too, he's still projectable," Fagg said. "It's a loose arm. I think he's a late developer."