Rangers Ease Top Draft Picks Into Pro Routine
High school righthanders Cole Winn and Owen White weren’t given much to do on the field last summer after being selected with the Rangers’ first two picks in the draft.
The goal was to let them rest their pitching arms while also putting on some strength and learning some of the ropes that come with being a professional ballplayer, even if their time was limited to only the Rangers' complex in Surprise, Ariz.
Their leashes will be longer in 2019, the season in which they will make their pro debuts. But by the time the big league club broke camp, Winn and White had only just thrown their first sessions of live batting practice.
A longer leash in their case means around 100 innings, 30 of which will come in extended spring training. Winn was selected 15th overall out of California's Orange Lutheran High, while White was taken in the second round out of North Carolina's Carson High.
After not doing anything outside of a few innings during instructional league, the two 19-year-old pitchers will take what they can get.
"It’s going to be good for a first actual season,” Winn said. "I just need to get back to feeling like myself, like I was last year. I don’t think I’ve ever shut down for a long period of time like that. It’s definitely been an adjustment.”
The Rangers aren’t doing much with the pitchers’ mechanics yet, just minor adjustments that could build into something more meaningful. White, for instance, spent his first live BP focusing on making sure his plant foot was in line with home plate.
They understand the expectations that come with being top prospects. Winn, the High School Player of the Year in 2018, ranks as the system's No. 4 prospect and White checks in at No. 15.
"It’s a day-by-day experience,” White said. "If you go out and do your stuff, everything else will fall into place. Everybody says that, but it’s the truth. You’ve just got to trust the process.”
— No. 2 Rangers prospect Julio Pablo Martinez, the Cuban outfielder who signed for $2.8 million a year ago, will open the season at low Class A Hickory because of the glut of center fielders the Rangers have at their lower levels. Bubba Thompson (No. 9) and Leody Taveras (No. 3) will open at high Class A Down East and share center field reps.
— Righthander Mason Englert, a fourth-rounder out of high school last year, was slowed to start spring training with elbow inflammation after accelerating his offseason throwing program too quickly. The Rangers say he will be ready for the Rookie-level Arizona League.