DALLAS - Welcome to The Bullpen, a weekly collection of Rangers thoughts from Greg Tepper. Let him know what you think on Twitter, and please be gentle.
It’s the June 14th, 2017 edition of The Bullpen, the real reason the Rangers didn’t draft you.
It’s MLB Draft season! Wait, where are you going?
OK, so the MLB Draft isn’t as exciting as its counterparts in the NFL or NBA. One of my first assignments in journalism was to cover the MLB Draft for the Tulsa World. When I asked my assigning editor how I do that, he told me to — and I quote — “listen to this conference call for the next six hours.” The MLB Draft is kind of boring.
As for our fair Texas Rangers, like most teams, their Draft success has run hot and cold. There are the definite hits — nabbing Ian Kinsler in the 17th round of the 2003 Draft is pretty swell — and unquestioned misses — the year after taking Kinsler 496th overall, Texas took Thomas Diamond with the 10th overall pick.
For now, though, I want to discuss the ones that got away: Texas’ first-round picks that didn’t sign with the team. It’s only happened twice in franchise history.
The first was in 2000, when the Rangers spent a supplemental first round pick (35th overall) on outfielder Tyrell Godwin out of the University of North Carolina. Instead of signing with the Rangers, Godwin opted to return to UNC for his senior year, which didn’t go as well as his junior year in which he earned All-American honors.
The next year, Godwin was picked 91st overall in the third round by the Blue Jays, bounced around the minors, got picked up by the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft in 2005, and made three pinch-hit plate appearances for Washington, going 0-for-3. He went back to the minors and was traded to Cincinnati before eventually retiring after the 2007 season. These days, he works for BB&T Bank in his home state of North Carolina.
The second time the Rangers were left at the first-round altar was in 2009, when Klein High School pitcher Matt Purke — taken 14th overall — opted to sign with TCU. It’s a long, excruciating story, but the short version, according to reports: then-Rangers head honcho Nolan Ryan thought he had a handshake deal with Purke; Nolan Ryan did not have a handshake deal with Purke; Purke felt disrespected, went to TCU; Purke was great as a freshman, then started having arm problems; Purke got drafted in the third round by the Nationals, never cracked the Majors, got released, got re-signed by the Nationals, got released, got signed by the White Sox, pitched 18 innings for them last season, and is now in the minors.
On Monday, the Rangers took outfielder Bubba Thompson out of an Alabama high school, and shortstop Chris Seise out of a Florida high school. Obviously, they need to do what’s best for them, but history is unkind to those who spurn the Rangers.
1,069 — Austin Bibens-Dirkx became the 1,069th person to play for the Texas Rangers when he debuted on May 17th.
307 — Austin Bibens-Dirkx became the 307th pitcher to earn two career wins while pitching for the Texas Rangers when he got the win on Sunday.
3 — Austin-Bibens-Dirkx became the third pitcher to hand Max Scherzer a loss in a game where he allowed three or fewer hits and struck out at least 10 batters. The other two: Noah Syndergaard and Trevor Bauer.
Forgotten Ranger of the Week
Hey! Remember Gary Mielke? The right-handed reliever was taken in the 26th round of the 1985 draft by the Rangers, eventually making his way to the bigs for a three-inning cup of coffee in 1987. The first batter he ever faced was Frank White, who promptly homered. From 1989 through 1990, the side-armer became a part of the Rangers’ bullpen, logging 90 innings over those two seasons.
The pride of Saint James, Minnesota, Mielke didn’t join his first organized baseball team until he was in junior high. After enrolling at Monkato West High School in Monkato, Minnesota, he fell in love twice: once with baseball (where he quickly began to blossom) and once with Tracy Lynn Orr, whom he would eventually marry.
Under-recruited, he eventually landed at Monkato State (now Minnesota State) where he put together a strong career. Mielke was working at his job at Randall’s grocery store when the Texas Rangers called him to say they’d drafted him. He still worked at Randall’s while he was rehabilitating his shoulder in 1988.
He spent two years as the Rangers’ Single-A pitching coach before stepping away from baseball altogether in 1994. He joined a large commercial printing company in Mankato, and started umpiring games in the local high school, Legion, VFW and community college ranks. He and Tracy are still married, and have two kids.
Arbitrary Top 5
The top 5 Rangers’ career leaders in pitching winning percentage (minimum 5 decisions):
t-5: Matt Bush (.750)
t-5: Alex Claudio (.750)
t-1: Jay Howell (.800)
t-1: Bill Singer (.800)
t-1: Sidney Ponson (.800)
t-1: Cole Hamels (.800)
Ballpark Food of the Week
The Crunchy BBQ Burger, which is a regular burger (good start!) topped with pulled pork (now we’re sliding down the hill) and covered in Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce (now careening down the hill) and finished with a crunchy layer of nacho cheese corn chips (and now we’re in hell). You can find this suicide note outside Section 48.
Former Ranger Watch
Seth Rosin appeared in three games for the 2014 Rangers, logging four innings (and earning a win!) with a 6.75 ERA. In an odd Rule 5 switcharoo, because he was originally taken by the Mets from the Phillies in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft, then sent to the Dodgers, then waived and picked up by the Rangers, he was actually returned to the Phillies quickly into the 2014 season.
He appeared in one game for the 2015 Phillies, and it went terrible, giving up 5 earned runs in two innings. He became a free agent at year’s end, signed with the Padres for 2016 (never made the Majors), got picked up by the Twins earlier this year only to be released in March.
These days, you can see him pitching for the St. Paul Saints of the American Association, where he’s been lights out (no runs allowed in 7.1 innings). He shares a locker room with former Ranger Mark Hamburger! And he’s on Twitter @SethDanielRosin! I followed him last night! Hi Seth!
Unrelated YouTube Video of the Week
Here is a video of a man making and consuming Homer Simpson’s patented space-age out-of-this-world Moon Waffles.
Elvis Andrus Emoji Watch
Elvis Andrus loves emojis, so we’ll keep track of them by drawing a Tweet at random and counting the emojis.
I’m cheating a bit and expanding the Emoji Watch to include all of Elvis Andrus’ social media accounts, including his Instagram. TWEET MORE, ELVIS.
This time, we’re looking at an Instagram of Elvis and his beautiful wife. It includes four emojis: a heart, a kissing face, a diamond ring and a hand with a pen.
Through eight weeks, the Elvis Andrus Emoji Count is at 31, averaging 3.8 emojis per sampled social media post.
Words of Wisdom from Jose Canseco
Every week, we’ll close out The Bullpen by taking time to enjoy the thoughts of former Ranger Jose Canseco, because we have so much he can teach us.
“Going to miss Adam west... the original Batman grew up watching him” — Jose Canseco, via Twitter
See you next week in The Bullpen!
Greg is back from his self imposed Internet hiatus so be sure to pester him on Twitter @Tepper and welcome him back.
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