Rangers select Florida OF Wyatt Langford at No. 4

July 10th, 2023

SEATTLE -- Three years ago, Wyatt Langford went undrafted out of high school, choosing to attend his hometown college, the University of Florida, about 30 miles outside of his hometown of Trenton, Fla. He played just four games for the Gators during his freshman season in 2021 before becoming one of college baseball’s most dangerous hitters over the next two years. 

Dangerous enough that the Rangers selected the outfielder with the fourth overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft Sunday night in Seattle.

“His story, I mean, this is a kid that grew up right outside of Gainesville,” said Rangers scouting director Kip Fagg. “He was kind of a kid that came on and didn't play at all his freshman year and worked his tail off to get himself in better shape. He came in there as a catcher, and they didn't have room for his catching, so he moved to the outfield and the kid made himself a really good outfielder. And obviously the bat was there, and he proved that in his two years.”

Langford is a five-tool talent who emerged over the past two seasons as perhaps the most well-rounded hitter in college baseball.

The No. 3 Draft prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Langford posted a .373/.498/.784 slash line this spring with more walks (56) than strikeouts (44) as well as 21 homers among 52 extra-base hits in 64 games.

His 2023 campaign saw him ranked among top SEC hitters in runs (2nd, 83), walks (2nd, 56), on-base percentage (2nd, .498), slugging percentage (2nd, .784), total bases (3rd, 185), hits (6th, 88) and batting average (7th, .373) en route to earning First Team All-SEC and Second Team All-American honors.

“It's a powerful, powerful middle-of-the-lineup bat,” Fagg said. “He’s got a very good approach and power to all fields, and he’s a good defender. Very athletic, probably a plus runner, good defender in the corner. We think we got a both-sides-of-the-ball baseball player here that's going to hit in the middle of the lineup for the Texas Rangers.”

When we last saw him on the diamond, Langford was guiding the Gators to within one victory of a national championship. His performance in Game 2 of the College World Series Finals was arguably the best of his career, and he also launched the longest home run in the history of Charles Schwab Field during the Gators’ stay in Omaha.

In three College World Series games against LSU, Langford went 7-for-13 (.538) with two home runs, three doubles and 8 RBIs. 

Langford’s fabulous 2023 followed a sophomore season in which he recorded a 1.166 OPS and tied the single-season record at Florida with 26 home runs. That mark was first reached in 2005 by former top-10 MLB Draft pick Matt LaPorta.

Langford’s 65-grade power, which is his top tool, took a significant leap after the right-handed hitter transformed his physique in the weight room following a 2021 freshman season in which he received only four at-bats. 

“I don’t know if I’ve seen a player change his body and change the athleticism as much as [Langford] has,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said last year. “... He’s a really, really good player, but he’s a self-made player.”

“I just kind of started taking baseball and everything that comes with it a lot more seriously,” Langford said. “I just dedicated myself to becoming better.”

The 6-foot-1 Langford is now a muscle-bound 225 pounds and can do just about anything on the field. He was successful in nine of his 10 steal attempts this season, showcasing his increased athleticism and plus speed.

Langford entered college as a catcher and third baseman, but as the Gators had more experienced players occupying those spots, Langford was shifted to left field, where he played exclusively and committed only one error over the past two years. He also made a fair share of highlight-reel catches. But Langford might provide even greater defensive value as a pro. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo said during a May episode of the MLB Pipeline Podcast that some believe Langford could succeed as a center fielder.

“I don't know if he's the center fielder that Leody [Taveras] is that we have here in the big leagues, but he can go out there and play center field,” Fagg said. “We probably see him as more of a corner guy at the end of the day, but I don't think we're going to limit him to that either. If we can go out there and we get our arms around, the guy can play some center field. The more the merrier.”