We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher

So it seems the Rangers were listening before they began the draft. Four high school and two college pitchers in the first nine picks. Two CFs, one college, one high school, and one high school shortstop round out the first day.

From the reports I heard, the Rangers got the first three guys that they wanted. #1 pick Blake Beavan out of Irving HS, #2 Mike Main from a Florida HS, and #3 Julio Borbon CF from the University of Tennessee. All three should be signable, although Borbon is only a junior so could go back to college for one more year, but a) you’ve got to assume they checked whether he wanted to go pro, and b) is he likely to go much higher and would it be worth the extra year lost? He’s reportedly similar to Kenny Lofton, and with luck he’ll race through the system and fill the gap in CF we’ve had for years. The same might apply to the college pitchers we took, especially if the likes of Scott Boras advise them to hold out for more money. I’ve never quite understood that though, because surely holding out for a year for an extra million isn’t worth the extra year on your career when you could be earning several million. Of course, you’re not guaranteed to make it that far, are you? Plus, your agent wants his money now, not in ten or fifteen years.

I was concerned to see Beavan at the Ballpark today, for a couple of reasons. First, he saw a poorly pitched Ranger game, although since he’s from Irving he knows all about the Ranger pitching woes. But more importantly, I’m quite sure he would have met pitching coach Mark Connor, and that’s going to taint his ability to perform. Connor has clearly lost it as pitching coach, or never had it, and I’d advise the Rangers to keep their prospects well away from him.

The last high school pitcher draftee of the Rangers to make it to the majors was John Danks, drafted in 2003, traded over this last winter for Brandon McCarthy, then made his debut this year. Nick Masset, drafted in 2000, made his debut in 2006, before being traded in the offseason to the White Sox as the other part of the McCarthy deal. Prior to Masset it was Andy Pratt, drafted in 98, and traded in 2002 to Atlanta, where he made his major league debut that same year. And before that, Sam Marsonek, drafted in 96, dealt to the Yankees, and made his debut in 2004. So, based on these numbers, first of all it is rare for a high school pitcher to make it to the majors after being signed by the Rangers, rarer still for them to play for the Rangers, and even if they do make it at best they’re four years away, and potentially a lot more than that. So, don’t bet the farm on seeing Beavan or Main in a Rangers uniform, and even if they do, count on it being 2011 before you do. Which, fortuitously, would be just about the time that the Rangers are starting to win again, if you believe my analysis from the other day. Maybe they’ll join last year’s top pick Kasey Kiker in the rotation?

I don’t have my Baseball Prospectus Annual in front of me, but I think of their top 100 prospects only two were Rangers.  This is a system that is in clear need of overhaul, and maybe by getting a bunch of high picks – and getting them signed – can help out.  Next year, with luck, the Rangers will have the first overall pick, and get in another good  young arm.  Remember, you can get anything as long as you have pitching prospects.  But also remember, TANSTAAPP – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect.  If you believe Jamey Newberg (and I think too often I do), the Rangers have a hundred stars just waiting in the minors for their chance.  In reality, if two or three of them pan out we’ll be lucky.

Is there anything to say about today’s game?  Ron Washington says they’re not going to take Kam Loe out of the rotation.  This is a good thing, I think.  Let him take his knocks, and learn how to pitch.  I’m working on a piece on how long it takes to determine someone’s value for the long term.  So far, Greg Maddux is my poster boy, in that it took him a couple of years and three hundred innings to show his ability properly.  Can you imagine if someone had given up on him after ten or twenty starts?

Did I mention the number of injuries to Ranger pitchers this year?  They’ve all spent time either sore or on the DL.  McCarthy has skipped a start recently, and now Padilla is apparently hurting too.  Here’s the money quote: “Connor said he had no idea who would start in Padilla’s spot if he couldn’t go on Sunday”.  Yes, you read that right, the pitching coach said he has no idea.  Is it because he’s clueless?  Is it because he’s the problem?  Is it because something he’s doing, whether it’s his training regimen or warmups or something else, that’s what’s causing the ineffectiveness and the injuries?

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