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2020 Rangers Draft Roundtable: Rangers draft Justin Foscue 14th overall

2020 Rangers Draft Roundtable: Rangers draft Justin Foscue 14th overall

 

A Major League Baseball first-year player draft like no other got underway Wednesday night. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the normal 40-round affair was trimmed to just five- the least in the league’s history. After 78-84 campaign in 2019, Texas drafted Mississippi State second baseman Justin Foscue from Mississippi State with the 14th overall pick.

What is your overall reaction to the pick?
Garrett Jones:
It’s a very safe move, but moreover, it represents a changing of the guard for Texas and its draft strategy. Last year’s selection of Josh Jung was a drastic turn from the type of player the Rangers had been drafting. The team had been burned several times on high school prospects- specifically, pitchers, that still haven’t developed in the team’s system.

Foscue is essentially the same pick as last year- just with a natural defensive position on the other side of the infield. It’s clear that the Rangers, especially with their first round picks, are gearing toward the seasoned, college veteran bat with a prowess to get on base.

Alex Plinck: I’m in favor of the pick by the Rangers. Foscue brings infield versatility, though mostly a second baseman. The Rangers’ are experimenting with Nick Solak in the outfield with Danny Santana, but the Rangers infield depth lacks, especially on the right side of the infield. Current Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin talked about Foscue after the pick.

“I think Justin has a chance to move up the professional ladder rather quickly,” Corbin said. Foscue is also a right-hander where the Rangers lack in their lineup currently. Sure, Foscue won’t make the majors this season or even next, but I like what they did in the first round. Could Texas do better? Possibly, but the quick expert consensus is that Foscue hasn’t blossomed his baseball livelihood yet on the field.

Did anything the Rangers had to say regarding the pick surprise you?

Alex: I thought it was a bit surprising how zeroed in the Rangers were on Justin Foscue. It felt like the Rangers dismissed the defense for the bat which can work if the player has the makeup of a prime superstar. While Foscue shows his bat is a solid one, he doesn’t have the look on the field as a bat that can carry the team.

“We thought the kid’s bat was a special bat. He goes to second base, third base.” Rangers’ head of scouting Kip Faag said on Zoom after the pick. “We may try to move this guy around the infield. We truly believe in this kid’s bat. I think it’s got a chance at an impact bat.”

Garrett: It was interesting to hear Fagg key in on the defensive aspect of Foscue’s game. He had high praise of his offensive game and baseball IQ, but made a specific point to note the progress still left to be made in his defensive ability.

“We just felt like this kid’s bat is an impact bat,” Fagg said. “One of the weaknesses of my scouting over the years has been overlooking the defensive aspect of his game.”

Where do you think Foscue fits into the Rangers’ long-term plans?

Garrett: At best, he’s a long-term replacement option for Rougned Odor at second. By the time Odor’s albatross contract expires, Foscue will be ready to go. At worst, he’s immediate minor league depth. His 2019 stats are proof of that, with a .331 average, 14 homers and 60 RBI at Mississippi State. Foscue also hits the ball hard, which only trends positively in analytic schools- his 52% hard-hit rate in 2019 is Major League comparable to that of Atlanta slugger Marcel Ozuna.

Alex: The pick puts more pressure on Rougned Odor. It also gives some security if anything happens with Josh Jung. While Justin Foscue is more relaxed at second base than third, he shows the ability to play the hot corner. Even if the power doesn’t entirely develop, Foscue is a guy that makes contact and could be an excellent second spot hitter in the Rangers’ lineup in years to come.

What else interested you around the league as far as some of the other picks and developments around the league?
Alex: I found it interesting, but expected, that the first seven picks were college athletes (a first in draft history). The Padres broke that trend with Robert Hassell III from Independence High School in Tennessee. However, what surprised me was how far down Austin Martin went in the draft. The Blue Jays drafted Martin fifth overall as a versatile glove (can play infield and outfield). While the Marlins and Royals took pitchers, I thought the Orioles would take advantage of a kid who hit .368 overall at Vanderbilt and had an on-base percentage under just .500. I feel like the Blue Jays stole a superstar in a scary infield lineup.

Garrett:I’m also intrigued by the general shift away from taking high school players early on that we’re seeing among many teams. In its draft telecast, ESPN showed a graphic displaying the latest trends in high school picks coming off the board. For two of the past three years, the earliest high school selection was 8th overall. In the past, we’ve high school prospects fly off the board early on, but it’s clear that the college batter archetype is more popular among MLB scouts.

 

Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic. Current journalism student at the University of Missouri. Christ follower, sports fanatic, easy-going cat who isn't picky.

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