As Jon Daniels prepares for the 10th anniversary of his first draft as the Rangers’ general manager, we look back at the best and worst of his picks from the first decade. In rating drafts, particularly baseball drafts, a few things stand out.
First, the first rounder who is a discount jerseys
home run pick for the organization is a rarity. Second, the “best” picks seem to always be lower round picks who succeeded. And the worst, high picks that failed. So with that in mind, here’s our look at the worst:
Where to start on this pick? It was made at the height of the Rangers’ financial problems when the team had to run financial decisions by an MLB overseer, giving it less latitude to negotiate. Then the Rangers thought they had a deal negotiated between Nolan Ryan the Purke family. Then it fell apart and MLB would not approve more money. Then he went unsigned. And they chose Purke over fellow Texas high schooler Shelby Miller, who has gone on to have a solid major league career. Oh, should we mention Mike Trout went in that first round, too, 11 picks later? We shouldn’t? OK. Never mind.
Kevin Matthews, starting pitcher (first round, 2011)
An undersized lefty taken with the 33rd overall pick as part of the compensation package for Cliff Lee signing with Philadelphia, he was plagued by shoulder injuries, missed all of 2013 and never advanced beyond low Class A. Post surgery, he had a 7.28 ERA in 29.2 innings and almost as many walks (21) as strikeouts (23) before being stopped and charged with driving while under the influence last year. He was released. The Rangers released the other player, Zach Cone, who represented the second compensation pick received for Lee last week. No players from the top 10 rounds of the 2011 draft remain in the system, but the Rangers did strike it big in international scouting in 2011 with Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman.
Jake Skole, outfielder (first round, 2010)
Wanna know what makes the Purke pick look even worse? Skole was the compensation pick they got for not signing him. Skole, the 15th overall pick, was hit with a 50 game suspension for amphetamine use in 2012. He hit .228 over six seasons in the Rangers system and never reached double figures in homers. He has caught on with the New York Yankees, but is 24 and is an old player for the Class A Florida State League.
Kasey Kiker, starting pitcher (first round, 2006)Jon Daniels first’ pick as GM was something of a letdown. The Rangers had their hearts set on Tim Lincecum, but San Francisco took him two picks ahead of Texas. The Rangers were left to choose between Kiker and right hander Kyle Drabek, son of former pitcher Doug Drabek. Both came with rumored off the field issues. The Rangers chose Kiker, partly because he was left handed. While the remainder of the first round didn’t produce any stars, the Rangers got nothing out of Kiker. He’s been out of baseball since 2012.