With another top draft pick, what are the Rangers’ chances to snag elite talent?

Former NBA manager Sam Hinkie’s legacy is tied to a three-word phrase: “Trust the process.” The process was an ambitious attempt to build the Philadelphia 76ers into a title contender, and Hinkie trusted that process to early draft picks for the first round on. Many of them.

From 2014 through 2017, the 76ers had four top-three picks, including two consecutive No. 1 overall picks, to end the run. The 76ers, now without a hinkie, have made the playoffs for each of the past five seasons but have yet to make the conference finals.

High draft picks fueled the process, Hinkie said. It’s a position he and other Reconstruction leaders in the NBA and NFL would like to be in. In MLB, however, the feeling is a little different.

“I hope it’s our last opportunity to do this,” said Texas Rangers general manager Chris Young The Dallas Morning News. “We’ve got a pretty full board to choose from, but there’s a lot of pain that has led to it.”

The 2022 MLB draft begins July 17, and the Rangers have a top-3 pick for the second straight year. Last year they took Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Leiter second overall. Another Legacy name could be on the map this year if one is available when they are at #3 on the clock.

In theory, the higher the selection, the better the chance of finding elite talent to switch franchises. But in a game like baseball, where draft commodities take time to develop, how big is the lightning rod opportunity actually to have back-to-back top 3 picks?

“At the end of the day, baseball just doesn’t have that silver bullet,” Kiley McDaniel, an MLB insider and drafting expert for ESPN, said of high picks, “nor signing two guys for $500 million doesn’t necessarily change your team’s fortunes right away .”

No guarantees

When the Rangers make their first-round picks later this month, it will be the 20th time since 2000 that a team has had back-to-back top-3 MLB draft picks. There were many stars, such as household names like Justin Verlander, Joe Mauer, Bryce Harper and Carlos Correa. And there were others like Kyle Sleeth, Danny Hultzen, and Brady Aiken that the baseball layman must surely remember from Google. Former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, for example, recently made his MLB debut nearly nine years after being drafted by the Houston Astros from Stanford.

The draft is always a crapshoot, but having back-to-back swings on an elite prospect increases the odds of hitting at least one. Sometimes even more than two swings.

The Kansas City Royals had four straight top 3 picks from 2005-2008. Outfielder Alex Gordon, pitcher Luke Hochevar and infielders Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer were on their list the year they won the 2015 World Series. The Houston Astros also had four straight picks in the top three, leading to Correa, Appel, Aiken and infielder Alex Bregman. Two of those players never made the Astros’ major league roster; The other two became cornerstones of a team that won the 2017 World Series.

Only one other team that has had at least two straight top-three picks since 2000 has won a World Series: the Washington Nationals, who won back-to-back Phenomena with Stephen Strasburg and Harper.

“Washington takes Strasburg and Harper is the David Robinson-Tim Duncan of our sport,” McDaniel said, alluding to two No. 1 overall winners who helped the San Antonio Spurs win multiple NBA titles “where it is.” , oh they scored twice, got it both times and they were good forever. That will happen once in our lifetime.”

In short, having a top-3 pick twice in a row doesn’t guarantee a championship, let alone a successful rebuild, but it does give teams multiple chances to capture high-end talent.

Rangers hope they’ve done it before with Leiter, who is said to be their top prospect but has struggled lately even in his debut pro season. The Vanderbilt lights-out pitcher and son of former MLB pitcher Al Leiter is 2-6 with a 5.36 ERA in 13 games. He skipped his last start due to arm fatigue.

Rangers could go again with the son of a former MLB great this year if the board falls like that. McDaniel said he thinks the league knows the Rangers’ preference when it comes to their picks: high school outfielder Druw Jones, prospective No. 1 and son of former All-Star Andruw Jones; high school infielder Jackson Holliday, son of former hitter Matt Holliday; and Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada, who hit 26 home runs this season. High school outfielder Elijah Green is another possibility, McDaniel said.

changes are coming

The new collective agreement between the MLB and the players’ association has set some new course for the future. Beginning in 2023, there will be an MLB draft lottery for the first six picks. All 18 teams that don’t make the playoffs have a chance to secure one of the top six picks, and the three teams with the worst records from the previous year have an equal percentage chance of finishing No. 1 overall.

Additionally, there are regulations that significantly limit the chances of teams getting consecutive top six or even top three picks based on revenue share details.

That means the opportunity Rangers have later this month will be a rarity going forward. In an ideal world, the Rangers — or, unlike other sports, not an MLB team — would have loved to have had something like this. Nor is it a guarantee of earning All-Star talent or an eventual World Series title in any sport that requires more than two talented players.

“We have resources that allow us to accelerate our development [rebuild]. I think you’re seeing that this year,” Young said of Rangers. “We’re not a masterful team yet. The goal is continued success, and part of that is a strong development pipeline for players. That doesn’t mean we can’t get good players lower in the draft. But we had access to some of the best players in [free agency] and the best players in the draft.”

Staff writer Evan Grant contributed to this story.

On twitter: @JoeJHoyt

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