Georgia's Zach Cone (12) slides safely into home as LSU catcher Micah Gibbs awaits the throw in the first inning during their Southeastern Conference 2009 baseball tournament semi-final game at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., Saturday, May 23, 2009.
When Tom Hicks's tenure as owner came to an end last year, one piece of conventional wisdom was that the new ownership group would change the way the Rangers approached the draft.
The idea was that the Rangers would join teams like the Red Sox and Yankees as organizations that took talented players that were viewed as difficult to sign because of their contract demands. Throwing out that kind of coin takes players away from college and makes lower draft positions less problematic because those players fall past teams with tight purse strings.
Monday was the first day of the first draft under this supposed paradigm and the message the Rangers sent was that you shouldn't always listen to conventional wisdom. With the 33rd and 37th picks of the draft, Jon Daniels and his staff opted for a pair of players who didn't fit that bill at all.
Matthews was the best high school pitcher out of Georgia, but it was deemed a below average year for that state and Matthews isn't blessed with the kind of power arm that makes people salivate. He throws in the high 80s and his height has some people projecting him as a reliever, two things that don't stop many observers from liking the selection.
It was just surprising to see him go with the 33rd pick. The same is true of Cone with the 37th pick, although it is harder to find people who liked the choice of the University of Georgia outfielder. The reaction of a scout who was talking with Keith Law of ESPN when the pick was made is pretty much universal. He started laughing which isn't surprising when you see Cone's sub-750 OPS and resume heavier on tools than on results.
Such players can and do pan out, but taking one at such a high spot when there are both safer choices and ones with more upside is strange business. Analyzing it beyond that is impossible on the day after the draft because we're years away from seeing the fruits of Daniels's labor, but we now know that conventional wisdom isn't the one prized in the Rangers war room.