The Texas Rangers got a rare chance on Monday night with the first round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft by having the No. 4 pick — the highest for the organization since the infant days of the Rangers version of the Senators/Rangers franchise.
With that pick, the Rangers took the first pitcher of the draft, selecting UC-Santa Barbara pitcher Dillon Tate, continuing their run of taking pitchers with their first selection and running it to three straight years.
Their 2013 first-round selection, Chi Chi Gonzalez, has 14 2/3 scoreless innings to start his big-league career, and their 2014 first-round pick, Luis Ortiz, is raising eyebrows and could very well be in Triple-A by next year.
Now, it's Tate's turn, at least that's what the Rangers hope.
Tate was undrafted out of high school making his story extra special considering he was theoretically the fourth-best amateur player in the country this year. He was a member of the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California and has worked his tail off to become what he is now.
What is he now? He's a 6-2 righty who is considered a power pitcher and has a fastball that touches 98 mph as well as what scouts describe as a plus slider and also a changeup. It's not yet certain how he projects in the big leagues, whether it's a reliever or a starter, but the Rangers are certainly hoping he can be the next in a line of those homegrown starting pitchers.
Tate was a reliever for the Gauchos, but converted to the starting rotation this past season and posted a 2.26 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings.
“There is huge value on developing your own pitching for a franchise that hasn’t done it traditionally,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told The Dallas Morning News. “Whether it’s [Derek] Holland or [Martin] Perez or Chi Chi [Gonzalez] or other guys who are now in the mix, to keep that pipeline going, it’s huge for us.”