Top Rangers Draft pick from every season

July 14th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have had their fair share of homegrown talent in the MLB Draft, but the organization hasn’t knocked it out of the park every year. Mark Teixeira and Bobby Witt Sr. immediately come to mind as Texas’ most significant first-round Draft choices, but many others have gotten lost in the shuffle.

There used to be three Drafts -- June’s Amateur Draft (the primary way teams have added talent), as well as one in January and August. Since 1986, only the Rule 4 Draft has been utilized.

Here is the Rangers’ top choice from each year dating back to their inaugural season in 1972:

2021: Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt (No. 2)

Leiter was ranked the top pitcher -- and No. 2 overall prospect -- in this year’s Draft, according to MLB Pipeline. The 21-year-old righty starred for Vanderbilt as a sophomore this season, racking up 179 strikeouts over 110 innings (tied with teammate Kumar Rocker, who was drafted at No. 10 overall by the Mets, for the most in Division I). Rangers scouting director Kip Fagg said Leiter has one of the best fastballs he’s ever scouted, while general manager Chris Young called the righty the best pitcher in college baseball.

2020: Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State University (No. 14)

Foscue -- the Rangers’ fifth-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline -- was an All-SEC infielder at Mississippi State during his sophomore season in 2019, and he hit .321 with two home runs and 16 RBIs over 16 games his junior year before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down collegiate sports. The pandemic also pushed back his professional debut to 2021, when he started the Minor League season with High-A Hickory.

2019: Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech (No. 8)

The San Antonio native is the Rangers’ top-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline and is one of the most anticipated arrivals in Arlington. Undrafted out of high school, Jung was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2017 and was a three-time All-American with the Red Raiders. He’s currently slugging for Double-A Frisco and is expected to make his MLB debut sometime in 2022.

2018: Cole Winn, RHP, Orange Lutheran (Calif.) High School (No. 15)

Winn is the Rangers top-ranked pitching prospect and third overall heading into the 2021 season. He was the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year in both Colorado during his junior season (9–0, 0.73 ERA, 95 strikeouts) and in California during his senior season (8–2 record, 0.20 ERA). He’s currently commanding the pitching staff at Double-A Frisco.

2017: Bubba Thompson, OF, McGill-Toolen (Ala.) High School (No. 26)

Thompson was a two-sport athlete in high school, leading his team to a state championship in football while excelling at baseball, prompting a first-round selection by the Rangers. He got out to a hot Minor League start in 2018, slashing .289/.344/.446 with eight home runs, 42 RBIs and 32 stolen bases, but Thompson struggled with injuries in 2019. He’s currently with Double-A Frisco.

2016: Cole Ragans, LHP, North Florida Christian (Fla.) (No. 30)

Ragans was thought to be mid-first-round talent in the 2016 MLB Draft, but he ultimately fell to the Rangers at 30th overall as a supplemental first rounder. He’s spent time on the Rangers’ Top 30 prospect list, but his injury struggles -- specifically back-to-back Tommy John surgeries in 2018-19 -- have seen him fall off. In his only full professional season in 2017 at then-Short-A Spokane, he notched a 3.61 ERA. He’s currently pitching for High-A Hickory in 2021.

2015: Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara (No. 4)

Tate was the top pitcher selected in the 2015 MLB Draft, but he only spent a year with the Rangers organization before being shipped off to the Yankees in 2016 for Carlos Beltrán. Tate ultimately made his MLB debut with the Orioles on July 29, 2019. He’s since become a vital part of the Baltimore bullpen.

2014: Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger Union High School (Calif.) (No. 30)

Ortiz spent two years in the Rangers organization, peaking at Double-A Frisco in 2016. He was then dealt to the Brewers in July 2016 and again to the Orioles in ‘18. He made his MLB debut on September 7, 2018, for Baltimore but only pitched 2 1/3 big league innings that season. He signed a Minor League deal with the Rangers in December 2020, but he hasn’t appeared in a game for Triple-A Round Rock yet this season.

2013: Alex “Chi Chi” González, RHP, Oral Roberts (No. 23)

More commonly known as "Chi Chi" González, the right-handed pitcher made his MLB debut on May 30, 2015, throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. He had Tommy John surgery in 2017, ending that season and forcing him to miss 2018 as well. In November 2018, he signed a Minor League deal with the Colorado Rockies, where he is currently on the 40-man roster.

2012: Lewis Brinson, CF, Coral Springs (Fla.) High School, (No. 29)

Brinson was once the fourth-ranked prospect in the Rangers’ system, and through 100 games over three levels, he slashed .332/.403/.601. In August 2016, he was dealt to the Brewers, with whom he made his Major League debut the following season. He’s now on the Marlins’ 40-man roster.

2011: Kevin Matthews, LHP, Richmond Hill (Ga.) High School (No. 33)

Matthews never made it out of Class-A Hickory with the Rangers organization. He did not appear in the big leagues and posted 4.60 ERA across five Minor League seasons.

2010: Jake Skole, OF, Blessed Trinity HS (Ga.) (No. 15)

After seven seasons of professional baseball between the Rangers and Yankees organizations, Skole enrolled at the University of Georgia, where he was on the scout team for the Bulldogs’ football team. He had a career slash line of .227/.325/.330 in the Minors.

2009: Matt Purke, LHP, Klein High School (Texas) (No. 14)

Purke ultimately decided to enroll at TCU instead of signing with the Rangers. He was then drafted in the third round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Nationals. He made his MLB debut for the White Sox in 2016 and would only play one big league season.

2008: Justin Smoak, 1B, University of South Carolina (No. 11)

Smoak shot through the Minors, making his Major League debut in April of 2010 against the Tigers. He was soon traded to the Mariners, where he was sent back to Triple-A. He spent the majority of his MLB career with the Blue Jays and holds a career slash line of .229/.322/.419.

2007: Blake Beavan, RHP, Irving (Texas) HS (No. 17)

The Rangers drafted the DFW-area pitcher, who made it to Triple-A with the organization before being dealt to the Mariners in a package for Cliff Lee. He made his MLB debut in 2011 with the Mariners and went on to pitch 293 big league innings before moving on to Mexico’s Liga Mexicana de Beisbol.

2006: Kasey Kiker, LHP, Russell County HS, (Ala) (No. 12)

Kiker never made it past Double-A ball and the Rangers released him in 2011.

2005: John Mayberry Jr., RF, Stanford (No. 19)

Mayberry was an elite athlete with a cannon for an arm, but he never reached the big leagues with the Rangers. Instead, he made his debut with the Phillies in 2009. He played seven big league seasons with three different teams.

2004: Thomas Diamond, RHP, University of New Orleans (No. 10)

Diamond quickly rose through the Rangers Minor League system, receiving the Texas Rangers Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award in 2005 when he went 13-4 with a 3.53 ERA. He had Tommy John surgery after Spring Training in 2007 and was DFA’ed in Sept. 2009. He made his MLB debut for the Cubs on August 3, 2010, striking out 10 hitters to tie a franchise record. He pitched just 29 Major League innings.

2003: John Danks, LHP, Round Rock HS (Texas) (No. 9)

Danks was traded to the White Sox in 2006 and went on to pitch for 10 years there with a 4.38 ERA.

2002: Drew Meyer, SS, University of South Carolina (No. 10)

Meyer hit .214 in just 15 plate appearances at the big league level. The Rangers designated him for assignment in January 2007.

2001: Mark Teixeira, 3B, Georgia Tech (No. 5)

Teixeira mainly played first base at the big league level, spending parts of five excellent seasons with Texas. He received an All-Star nod in 2005 when he slashed .301/.379/.575 with a .954 OPS. He was ultimately dealt to Atlanta in the trade that brought Elvis Andrus to the Rangers, and Tex would go on to win the 2009 World Series with the Yankees.

2000: Scott Heard, C, Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) High School (No. 25)

Heard never made it past High-A, slashing .245/.341/.360 over four Minor League seasons.

1999: Colby Lewis, RHP, Bakersfield College (No. 38)

Lewis, a supplemental first-round Draft choice, spent the 2002-04 seasons with the Rangers big league club, but he’s more known for his second stint from 2010-16, when he made appearances in the club’s American League Championship pennant runs in ‘10 and ‘11. Over his second stint with Texas, he posted a 4.27 ERA.

1998: Carlos Peña, 1B, Northeastern (No. 10)

Peña made his Major League debut in 2001 with the Rangers, but he would go on to spend his 14 MLB seasons with eight different teams. He spent the longest time with the Rays, where he slashed .230/.360/.483 over five seasons.

1997: Jason Romano, 3B, Hillsborough High School (Fla.) (No. 39)

Romano was a supplemental first-round pick who spent five seasons in the Rangers Minor League system. He made his MLB debut in 2002, playing 29 games for Texas before he was shipped off to Colorado in a four-team deal. He appeared sporadically throughout MLB and Minor League affiliates but retired from baseball in 2009.

1996: R.A. Dickey, RHP, University of Tennessee (No. 18)

Rangers physicians found out Dickey was missing an ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow joint following the Draft process, and then he went on to become the first knuckleballer to win a Cy Young Award. During that 2012 season with the Mets, Dickey posted a 2.73 ERA through 33 starts with five complete games. He also led the National League with 230 strikeouts.

1995: Jonathan Johnson, RHP, Florida State (No. 7)

Johnson made his MLB debut in 1998 with the Rangers, going on to pitch 46 2/3 innings with a 7.71 ERA for the club over four seasons. He spent a season each with the Padres and Astros before retiring from baseball.

The Rangers did not have a first-round pick in 1994

1993: Mike Bell, 3B, Archbishop Moeller HS (Ohio) (No. 30)

Bell was a supplemental first-rounder who wound up playing just one season in the big leagues with the Reds. He hit .222 over 19 games in 2000. In 2017, he was named a bench coach for the Minnesota Twins.

1992: Ricky Helling, RHP, Stanford (No. 22)

Helling had two stints with the Rangers big league club, the first after making his MLB debut in 1994 through ‘96 and again from 1997-01. His best year with Texas was in ’98, when he posted a 20-7 record with a 4.41 ERA. He would go on to win a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003.

1991: Benjamin Gil, SS, Castle Park High School, (Calif.) (No.19)

Gil was mostly a Minor League journeyman, but he did break into the Rangers’ lineup in 1995 and spent two years trying to stay there. In 130 games in ‘95, he slashed .219/.266/.347 playing mostly at shortstop. He would go on to play four seasons for the Angels before bouncing around Minor League teams until his retirement in 2005.

1990: Daniel Smith, LHP, Creighton University (No. 16)

Smith pitched just 29 innings in the Majors, all for Texas in 1992 and 1994. He posted a 4.66 career ERA.

1989: Donald Harris, OF, Texas Tech (No.5)

Harris only appeared in three Major League seasons with the Rangers from 1991-93. His best was over an 18-game stretch in 1991 when he hit .375 with a 1.194 OPS.

1988: Monty Fariss, SS, Oklahoma State (No. 6)

Fariss played just 86 games for Texas over two seasons before signing with the Marlins in 1993. He hit .217 over his career.

1987: Brian Bohanon, LHP, Northshore (Texas) (No. 19)

Bohanon pitched the first five years of his big league career with the Rangers, posting a 5.61 ERA from 1990-94, mostly as an injury callup. His best seasons came in 1997-98 with the Mets and Dodgers.

1986: Kevin Brown, RHP, Georgia Tech (No. 4)

In 1989, Brown was second only to Nolan Ryan in the Rangers’ rotation, posting a 12–9 record with a 3.35 ERA and 104 strikeouts. In eight years with Texas, he compiled a 78-64 record with a 3.81 ERA. He would go on to pitch for four other clubs, winning a World Series with the Marlins in 1997 and pitching a no-hitter against the Giants on June 10 of that season.

1985: Bobby Witt, RHP, University of Oklahoma (No. 3)

Witt had two separate stints with the Rangers after being drafted in 1985. His best season with the club came in 1990, when he had a 17–10 record with a 3.36 ERA. He struggled with control throughout his career, leading the league in walks three times and wild pitches twice.

1984: Oddibe McDowell, OF, Arizona State (No. 12)

McDowell finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1985 and was the first Ranger to ever hit for the cycle. He played five of his seven Major League seasons with Texas, finishing with a career slash line of .253/.323/.395.

1983: Jeff Kunkel, SS, Rider University (No. 3)

Kunkel was mostly a career platoon guy, splitting time with Curtis Wilkerson. His best season in 1989 was also the only one in which he played more than 100 games at the big league level. That year he hit .270 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs.

The Rangers did not have a first-round pick in 1982

1981: Ron Darling, RHP, Yale University (No. 9)

Darling is still the only Rangers first-rounder to be drafted from an Ivy League school, but he never appeared in a big league game for the club. Darling would end up being a vital part of the Mets 1986 World Series team, when he posted a 15-6 record and a 2.81 ERA. He also finished fifth in Cy Young voting that year, which was the only time he received votes.

1980, Tim Maki, RHP, Carrol High School (Ind.) (No. 14)

Maki never made it to the Majors, compiling a 5.41 ERA over five Minor League seasons. He peaked in Class A.

1979: Jerry Don Gleaton, LHP, University of Texas (No. 17)

The southpaw worked mostly out of the bullpen, but he only pitched 16 2/3 innings for the Rangers before spending the rest of his 12-year career with five other teams.

The Rangers did not have a first-round pick in 1978

1977: David Hibner, SS, Howell High School (Mich.) (No. 9)

Hibner never made it past Class A with the Rangers. In six seasons of professional baseball, he finished with a .194 batting average between the Texas and Detroit systems.

1976: Billy Simpson, OF, Lakewood High School (Calif.) (No. 12)

Simpson never got past Class A, slashing .177/.276/.214 over three Minor League seasons.

1975: Jim Gideon, RHP, University of Texas (No. 17)

Gideon pitched just one game in his Major League career, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits and five walks in a win over the White Sox.

1974: Tommy Boggs, RHP, Lanier High School (TX) (No.2)

Boggs started and ended his Major League career with the Rangers, although there was a six-year stop in Atlanta between stints. The righty’s trade from Texas to the Braves was the first four-team blockbuster that included 11 players switching clubs. He finished his career with a 4.22 ERA.

1973: David Clyde, LHP, Westchester (Houston, TX) (No. 1)

Clyde is still the Rangers’ only No. 1 overall pick since relocation. He also made his MLB debut without playing a game in the Minors, hoping to boost attendance after a league low the previous season. He won his first start a month after his last high school game in front of over 35,000 fans at Arlington Stadium. He would only play three seasons for Texas before getting traded to Cleveland ahead of the 1978 season. He posted a career ERA of 4.63.

1972: Roy Howell, 3B, Lompoc (Calif.) High School (No. 4)

Howell was the very first Draft pick since the Senators relocated to Arlington. In parts of four seasons with the Rangers’ big league club, he slashed .247/.302/.364 before being traded to Toronto in 1977, where he became the everyday third baseman.