Ragans Catches Rangers’ Eye

ARLINGTON—Never ones to shy away from the risk that comes with nabbing a prep pitcher with their first pick in the draft, the Rangers dipped back into the high school ranks Thursday by using the 30th overall selection on Cole Ragans.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound lefthander from North Florida Christian High in Tallahassee caught the Rangers’ eye with quality stuff, including a potentially devastating curveball and a tireless work ethic.

“We loved the kid’s stuff,” said Kip Fagg, the Rangers’ scouting director. “We love the pitchability, lefthanded, size, projection, and we loved the kid, the family. It’s a kid that really wants to be good. He works his butt off to be that good.”

And Ragans might look familiar.

He changed his delivery as a junior, bringing his hands over his head, and along the way started looking at video of Rangers pitcher and fellow lefty Cole Hamels.

“I’ve watched countless times of videos of him just trying to throw like him,” Ragans said. “I just want to be like him. Oh, my gosh. I don’t even know what I’m going to do when I meet him.”

Ragans, 18, became the fourth consecutive pitcher selected by the Rangers with their first overall pick (2015, Dillon Tate; 2014, Luis Ortiz; 2013, Chi Chi Gonzalez).

The Rangers haven’t had much success with prep lefties in past drafts (2011, Kevin Matthews; 2009, Matt Purke; 2006, Kasey Kiker), and they weren’t deterred by Ragans’ commitment to Florida State.

Ragans, who went 9-2, 0.90 with 104 strikeouts in 90 innings, said that he intends to sign with the Rangers, who used the 63rd overall pick on prep righthander Alex Speas (McEachern High, Powder Springs, Ga.).

Speas, an Auburn commit, was rendered nearly speechless when the Rangers took him.

“I was sitting in here in my living room with my family and we were watching it,” said Ragans, who tossed five shutouts and a no-hitter. “It got to about pick 26, and my phone started ringing. It was my adviser, and as soon as it starting ringing I started getting nervous. It’s just awesome. It’s a dream come true.”


• Second baseman Andy Ibanez, who left Cuba in 2014 and signed as an international free agent last July for a bargain price of $1.6 million, was promoted June 7 to Double-A Frisco after a torrid two months at low Class A Hickory. Ibanez, 23, batted .324 with seven homers, 18 doubles, 35 RBIs and a South Atlantic League-leading .546 slugging percentage.

• Outfielder Jared Hoying finally reached the major leagues in May, when the Rangers purchased his Triple-A contract. Hoying, 27, was the Rangers’ 10th-round pick out of Toledo in 2010 and was at big league spring training in 2015, but he didn’t break through until Shin-Soo Choo and Drew Stubbs went on the disabled list May 23.

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