A friend has a baby and of course the baby is cute and of course there is the certainty that the baby will grow up to be president one day, or cure cancer, or something else noble.
Then a few years go by and you hear the kid stole a car and ran afoul of the law and ran off to Mexico.
That’s what drafting major league talent is like. Every prospect is so full of promise. But somewhere along the line, reality sets in and you never hear of that particular draft choice again as they ride off into the sunset.
Drafting is a crap shoot.
The 2021 draft is over. The Rangers selected twenty players overall. Eleven from college. Thirteen pitchers.
But they got the one player who new general manager Chris Young wanted from the first day he was hired. That would be Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter.
Leiter is, of course, the son of former major league All-Star pitcher Al Leiter. The right-handed-pitcher turned down the Yankees when they drafted him out of high school in 2019 in order to go to college and ended up being the second overall pick in the draft. Leiter went 11-4 in 2021 with a 2.18 ERA for Vanderbilt. According to one scout, “if there’s going to be a true ace in this draft it’s going to be Jack Leiter.” This might turn out to be the best draft pick the Rangers ever made.
Their second-round selection was outfielder Aaron Zavala from the University of Oregon. He bats left, throws right and was Baseball America’s number 124 prospect. Zavala is coming off being chosen Pac-10 Player of the Year for hitting .392, with an on-base percentage of .525 and an OPS of 1.153. According to Baseball America, “Zavala made an impact the moment he stepped foot on Oregon’s campus.”
With their third-round pick, the Rangers chose a high school shortstop named Cameron Cauley. Ranked Baseball America’s number 85 prospect, Cauley committed to Texas A&M but could forgo college if he reaches an agreement with the Rangers. According to Baseball America, Cauley will project to be an average shortstop of third baseman defensively, but at the plate “he has excellent bat-to-ball skills. He has above-average barrel control and a simple, repeatable swing that generates plenty of contact and gives him a path to being an above-average hitter.”
The Rangers fourth pick was a high school catcher from Iowa named Ian Moller. The eighteen-year-old was Baseball America’s number 272 prospect, who had this to say about him: “Moller needs to tighten up his tools because they’re there, but he doesn’t always show them in game settings.”
And rounding out the top five was Mitchell Bratt, a left-handed high school pitcher from Canada. Baseball America had this to say about their number 302 prospect: “The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Canadian is a projectable lefthander whose size, handedness and strike-throwing ability offer a glimpse of a bright future.”
So now, these five players, along with any of the others they drafted and can subsequently can sign, will start their way up the system on their journey to seeing if they can one day realize that dream of becoming a major league baseball player.
Chances are, sadly, we will never see most of these boys in a major league uniform. But they were drafted by a major league franchise. There is hope. And that has to be a huge thrill.
But, right now, they are all in the cute baby stage.