Best Pure Hitter: In a pitching-heavy draft (seven of the team’s top 10 picks were pitchers), SS Jonathan Ornelas (3) stood out for his innate barrel awareness. While it’s not a classic, pure swing, Ornelas possesses an advanced approach and bat-to-ball skills
Best Power Hitter: The Rangers didn’t draft a 70 raw power type slugger this year. Ornelas makes consistent hard contact, with the strength projection and bat speed to grow into more power down the road.
Fastest Runner: SS Jayce Easley (5) is a plus runner who stole 22 bases in 26 attempts over 42 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Best Defensive Player: Frainyer Chavez (22) showed a good internal clock, quickness and arm strength from shortstop.
Best Athlete: In high school, RHP Owen White (2) played basketball and was the quarterback on the football team. He’s a bouncy athlete whose athleticism shows on the mound with the way he fields his position.
Best Fastball: The Rangers used their top pick on RHP Cole Winn (1), who was up to 96 mph leading up to the draft. Winn didn’t pitch in any official games after signing as the Rangers wanted to carefully the workloads of their draft picks, but at instructional league he was pumping 93-96 mph. RHP Cole Uvila (40) is a 24-year-old reliever who sits in the mid-90s.
Best Secondary Pitch: Winn’s curveball is a plus pitch. It has sharp, 12-to-6 break with good depth that should give him a swing-and-miss out pitch to pile up strikeouts.
Best Pro Debut: Three of the organization’s top four draft picks were high school pitchers—Winn, White and RHP Mason Englert (4)—who the Rangers didn’t let throw a pitch after signing. Ornelas, their third-round pick, had an auspicious debut, batting .302/.389/.459 in 48 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Most Intriguing Background: Born and raised in Venezuela, Chavez was granted religious asylum by the U.S. with his parents, brother and sister in 2014. He went to Little Elm (Tex.) HS, a 45-minute drive from Globe Life Park in Arlington, before going to Midland (Tex.) JC. The Rangers also drafted C Xavier Valentin (19), the son of Javier Valentin, who spent 10 seasons in the major leagues with the Reds, Twins and Devil Rays.
Closest To The Majors: The top of the Rangers’ draft was high-school heavy. RHP Tim Brennan (7) posted an 84-5 K-BB mark in 88 innings with St. Joseph’s, leading Division 1 baseball in strikeout-to-walk ratio. His pure stuff is fringy but his ability to locate should help him progress quickly.
Best Late Round Pick: Chavez was a pleasant surprise in the 22nd round, sticking out for his defense and performing well at the plate in his pro debut. RHP Billy Layne (11), who the Rangers originally drafted out of high school three years ago but went to Seton Hall instead before the Rangers got him again, has a starter’s delivery, a low-90s fastball and feel for both a curveball and changeup. Uvila is a wild card with a big fastball in the 40th round.
The One Who Got Away: Jonathan Edwards (16) is a 6-foot-6 RHP out of Eagle’s Landing HS in McDonough, Ga. who the Rangers tried to sign but ultimately ended up going to Kennesaw State instead.This fall, Edwards has been up to 97 mph. The Rangers took late-round fliers on RHPs Owen Sharts (32) and Austin Becker (37), ranked No. 162 and No. 65 on the BA 500 respectively, but figured both would head to college