Right-handed pitching proved to be a theme of the Rangers' selections in the 2018 MLB Draft.After selecting high school righties Cole Winn (15th overall) and Owen White (55th overall) on Day 1, the Rangers continued the trend on Day 2.:: 2018 Draft coverage ::In the first 10 rounds of the
Right-handed pitching proved to be a theme of the Rangers' selections in the 2018 MLB Draft.
After selecting high school righties Cole Winn (15th overall) and Owen White (55th overall) on Day 1, the Rangers continued the trend on Day 2.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
In the first 10 rounds of the draft, Texas grabbed seven right-handed pitchers. Of those selections, four were high school players and three were college selections.
Of the Rangers' 40 overall selections, 22 are right-handed pitchers.
"We are very excited. We got a lot of guys we identified and did a lot of work on," said Ranger amateur scouting director Kip Fagg. "We got a lot of arms, that's for sure. We're excited to put new blood in the system."
The Rangers also added shortstop depth on Day 2. The team took high school shortstop Jonathan Ornelas with its third-round pick, and also added shortstops Jayce Easley (fifth round) and Jax Biggers (eighth round).
"Jonathan Ornelas, the kid's just a baseball player," Fagg said. "Good bat-to-ball skills. He's got a chance to develop some power when he gets a little bigger and stronger and gets his man strength. Very good defensive player. Very heady player. Very good instincts. Very excited about him."
In rounds 11-20, the Rangers grabbed four more right-handed arms, including Billy Layne Jr. in the 11th. The Rangers drafted the 6-foot-4 Layne in the 37th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, but he decided to honor his commitment to Seton Hall.
In 2015, Layne and Rangers Minor Leaguer Tyler Phillips, who was drafted by Texas in the 16th round of the 2015 Draft, threw bullpen sessions at Dr Pepper Ballpark, home of the Frisco Rough Riders, the Rangers' Double-A affiliate, shortly before that Draft. Layne and Phillips are both New Jersey natives.
This past season, Layne made 10 starts (five relief appearances), posted a 5-1 record, a 3.09 ERA and recorded 63 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings for Seton Hall. He was a 2018 All-Big East Second Team selection.
In the 14th round, Texas selected righty Theo McDowell from Salisbury School in Connecticut. McDowell also plays hockey. He was a two-time league champion and state finalist in 2015.
McDowell currently has a commitment to West Virginia. He has a 6-foot-5 frame and his fastball sits between 87-91 mph.
The Rangers drafted their first outfielder in the 15th round after selecting Cameron Simmons from Virginia. Simmons missed all of last season for the Cavaliers with a left shoulder injury. He hit .352 with 14 doubles, nine home runs, 57 RBI and nine stolen bases in his sophomore season.
In the 17th round, the Rangers drafted their first catcher in Scott Kapers. He is regarded as a plus defensive catcher with a big arm. In 50 games for Valparaiso this season, he hit .263 with four home runs and 28 RBIs.
The 17th round has paid dividends for the Rangers in recent years. Previous picks from the round include Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland and Ryan Rua.
Texas added more catching depth in the 19th round after drafting Puerto Rican native Xavier Valentin. His father, Javier Valentin, played for the Reds and Twins. Xavier was a 2018 Rawlings Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American and was on the Canada/Puerto Rico All-Region First Team.
In the 37th round, the team chose right-handed pitcher Austin Becker, who was being followed by Rangers scout Roger Coryell when he passed away in April. Fagg was flying to Ohio to watch Becker when he heard of Coryell's passing. The pick was dedicated to Coryell.
Wesley Dotson is an associate reporter for MLB.com based in Texas.