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.
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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.”