There’s the NFL Draft. The NBA Draft. And then, way down there on the ladder of significance, it’s the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. One of the longest, most confusing sporting events on this planet, baseball’s draft last 40 rounds. That’s f-o-r-t-y. Football drafts seven; the NBA only two.
This year’s saga gets underway Thursday with the Rangers owning the 30th pick as compensation for losing Nelson Cruz to free agency. (They forfeited their own first-round pick by signing free agent Shin-Soo Choo.) After that Texas will have picks 59 and 95 before drafting 21st in, get this, rounds 4-40.
None of the Rangers’ all-time 65 first-round picks have started as Rookie of the Year or ended up in Cooperstown in the Hall of Fame. But there have been some notable names on Texas’ list.
The Rangers have had the No. 1 overall pick twice in their history, taking Jeff Burroughs in ’69 and David Clyde in ’73. Burroughs won AL Most Valuable Player in ’74 and Clyde, just 20 days after graduating high school in Houston, pitched for the Rangers at old Arlington Stadium as an 18-year-old.
Unlike the NFL and NBA, baseball draftees take time to blossom. At the time they were anonymous kids, but eventually the likes of Tom Grieve (’66), Kevin Brown (’86), R.A. Dickey (’96), Colby Lewis (’99), Mark Teixeira (’01), John Danks (’03), Tanner Scheppers ('09) and Mike Olt (’10) paid dividends at the big-league level.
For those who have time, patience and even more patience, the draft will be televised over three nights on MLB Network.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.