ARLINGTON -- They are five young, talented high school players with a long road ahead of them. Each one turned down a scholarship from a major university to sign with the Rangers.On Tuesday, the Rangers introduced pitchers Cole Winn, Owen White and Mason Englert, and shortstops Jonathan Ornelas and Jayce
ARLINGTON -- They are five young, talented high school players with a long road ahead of them. Each one turned down a scholarship from a major university to sign with the Rangers.
On Tuesday, the Rangers introduced pitchers Cole Winn, Owen White and Mason Englert, and shortstops Jonathan Ornelas and Jayce Easley as a big part of the franchise's future. They were the Rangers' top five picks in last week's MLB Draft, and the club was creative on the financial side to get deals done with all five.
"I remember sitting in [general manager Jon Daniels'] office the night before the Draft and he said, 'Give me your top six guys you want in this Draft,'" Rangers scouting director Kip Fagg said. "I wrote down the names. I did two lists of six guys and five of these guys were on both lists. That's not me, that's on the scouts, the work they did identifying these kids. Not just talented players, but what separates them is their makeup, their toughness, their work ethic and all the things that go into being great baseball players."
This group is going to be together for many years, first playing with each other up through the Rangers' farm system, and hopefully at some point on the same field in Arlington.
"Baseball is part of a brotherhood, and we've all come together and bonded the past couple of days." White said. "They definitely put the weight on our shoulders to be up here in the next [few] years. I definitely think we have the ability to be up here. I'm excited as can be. The great bond that we've built … I think we are in great situation."
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Next stop for the five is Surprise, Ariz., where they will begin working out in the Rangers' extended spring program. Their first team will likely be the Arizona Rookie League Rangers, although the club will take it slowly with its young pitchers.
"We'll get them to Arizona and evaluate that," Fagg said. "They'll probably be on a specific plan because of the innings. We'll leave that up to the development group, but we'll have a plan for all of them."
Winn was the Rangers' top Draft pick, and he helped other deals to get done. He agreed to a signing bonus of $3.15 million, which was well below his $3,738,500 slot value for the 15th overall pick. Winn, who was 8-2 with a 0.20 ERA at Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High School, walked away from a scholarship at TCU.
"Just talking to my family and friends, the position I was put in, I was fortunate enough to be drafted by the Rangers," Winn said. "I'm ready to start my pro career. I feel like I have been ready and planned for this my senior year. It was hard turning down college, but I feel blessed to be in this position."
White, taken in the second round, was 10-1 with 0.22 ERA at China Grove (N.C.) Jesse Carson High School and was the North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year. He had committed to South Carolina, but agreed to a $1.5 million signing bonus, higher than the designated $1,257,500 slot value for the 55th overall pick.
Ornelas played at Raymond Kellis High School in Glendale (Ariz.), not far from the Rangers training facility in Surprise. He hit .464 with six home runs and 31 RBIs in 29 games and had a chance to play at Tennessee. He agreed to a signing bonus of $622,800, which was right at his slot.
"College is a good decision to make, but for the most part we were all ready," Ornelas said. "We know the Texas Rangers are a great organization, and they're going to take care of us. The fact we got [drafted] by an amazing organization was a factor."
The Rangers went extra to get Englert, who is from Forney, Texas, an hour east of Dallas. He received a $1 million signing bonus to turn down a scholarship to Texas A&M. That was well higher than his $464,700 slot value in the fourth round, but the Rangers think he could end up being a premium pitching prospect.
Englert was 14-2 with a 0.57 ERA and set a Texas High School record with a 55 1/3 scoreless-innings streak. He broke the record of 55 held by Texas high school legend and former Rangers No. 1 pick David Clyde.
"I don't think it's more pressure. It makes it more exciting for me," Englert said, about being drafted by his hometown team. "I think it's a really cool opportunity to play for where I am from. It's a special thing wearing Texas across my chest, because that's the team I've always looked up to."
Easley was the fifth-round pick who agreed to a $500,000 signing bonus that exceeded the slot value of $347,100. He played at Sandra Day O'Connor High School in Phoenix, and hit .400 with eight doubles, four triples, one home run and 31 RBIs in 29 games. Easley, who had committed to Oregon State, is the son of former Major League infielder Damion Easley.
"He was huge," Jayce Easley said, of his father. "Ever since I was a little kid he has always been teaching me the game and how to play the game. I can't thank him enough for everything he has taught me."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.