Last year, after the Rangers finished the draft, most of the attention was focused on the selections of Kumar Rocker and Brock Porter in the first and fourth rounds. They didn’t have a second or third-round pick due to signing Marcus Semien and Corey Seager.
Some fans might be tempted to tune out the draft after the first three or four picks, but it would be wise to pay attention to some of the players picked beyond the fourth round. That was certainly the case with the Rangers draft last year.
Today we will put the spotlight on the Rangers’ 2022 sixth-round draft pick, outfielder Tommy Specht.
Tommy was drafted out of Wahlert Catholic High School in Dubuque, Iowa.
Specht was young for the class. He turned eighteen just after the draft. He played centerfield in high school, but some think the 6-foot 3-inch, 200-pound, left-handed hitting outfielder will eventually move to RF.
Specht opted out of his senior year at Wahlert and decided to play in the Prospect League instead. The Prospect League is a summer collegiate wood bat league. He played for the Clinton LumberKings.
The Prospect League’s website describes itself as a league that “provides college players a professional setting with excellent competition and high-quality facilities while delivering exciting baseball action and affordable all-ages entertainment to its communities.”
I asked Tommy what made him decide to play for the LumberKings while forgoing his senior season at Wahlert. He told me that, “in Iowa we play a summer high school season, so I chose to challenge myself and play for the LumberKings to get me more prepared for pro ball or college.”
He put up a slash line of .262/.373/.357/.730 for the LumberKings in forty-two at bats last summer. The year prior to that, in his junior season at Wahlert, Specht slashed .439/.535/.702/1.237 while hitting five doubles, two triples, and two home runs.
Even though Specht wasn’t taken until the 169th pick of the draft, there were some who rank draft prospects, who had him ranked higher. Athlon Sports had him ranked as the seventeenth best high school prospect. Prospects Worldwide had him ranked forty-sixth overall. Medium.com’s, Tieran Alexander had Specht ranked fifty-fifth overall.
Tieran Alexander seemed especially high on Specht. He even indicated that he could talk himself into taking Specht in the first round. Alexander said, “he’s probably not going to be drafted this high but if he falls to day two as most expect him to then he will be a steal.”
Specht is seen as a plus runner with plus raw power and a plus arm. He has produced EVs of 95mph+. When discussing Specht’s arm, Alexander said, “Specht has one of the best outfield arms in the draft. He has thrown up to 99 MPH and has at least a dozen more throws topping 95 MPH. It’s premium arm strength and there’s solid accuracy and carry too.”
I asked Tommy about what the draft experience was like and if he was surprised at all with where he was taken in the draft.
Specht said, “my draft experience was certainly unique. Being a Midwest high schooler without a spring season is tough but I tried my best to make the most of it. The Rangers were one of the top interested teams in the end and I was thrilled when they picked me because of all the great things I’ve heard about their organization and player development. I wasn’t very surprised about being picked at 169 because I knew what range I would go in. I’m just happy everything that worked out in the end, and I can’t wait for the future.”
Once drafted, any high school player has to weigh his options and decide if he wants to go ahead and play professionally or go to college. Specht had already made a verbal commitment to the University of Kentucky in September of 2020, but playing in the big leagues was always his goal.
Specht said, “I knew I was ready for the challenge of professional baseball. It has always been my dream to play professional baseball so when the opportunity came it was an easy decision.”
After the draft last July, Specht only got a handful of at bats for the Rangers Arizona Complex League club. This past offseason he kept working to improve himself. I asked him what he worked on, and he said, “this offseason I worked on making my swing more efficient with my hitting coach Trey Hannam. We worked on storing my energy better and holding my direction.
After spring training this year Tommy stayed behind in extended spring training. I asked him what the Rangers coaches had worked with him on this spring training. He said, “this spring one of the main focuses is getting better jumps in the outfield to become a better defender.”
I also asked him what extended spring training was like and if it was much different than regular spring training. Tommy said, “extended spring training is similar to a regular spring training day, we train in the morning and play games early afternoon.”
Two years ago, the Rangers drafted catcher Ian Moller with their fourth pick in the draft. Moller was drafted out of the same high school as Specht. Last year, in Moller’s first full season with the Rangers, he began the season in extended spring training before being promoted to the Down East Wood Ducks in Class A.
That could very well be the path the Rangers decide for Tommy Specht as well. He could go back to the Rangers ACL club or to Down East.
I asked Tommy about what his goals are for this year and if he thought he would make it to play for Down East this season. “This year I want to hit the ball harder consistently and steal more bases,” Tommy replied. He went on to say, “Down East is a very possible destination in the next couple months but right now I’m controlling what I can control and getting better every day.”
With the recent passage of the first-time MiLB CBA I wanted to get Specht’s take on how impactful the new MiLB CBA will be for him personally and for all of those playing in the lower levels? “It’s going to be huge, having extra income throughout the season is always a great thing, and myself and all my teammates are extremely happy with it,” he said.
I remember doing some research on Tommy after the Rangers drafted him last summer. I have also read about him a few times since and was privileged to interview him for this article. I have found that not only was Tommy Specht a steal for the Rangers with the 169th selection, but he seems like a great guy personally as well.
Jeremy Booth from FutureStarSeries.com describes Specht and his family in glowing terms. Booth described Tommy as being a “great kid” from a “great family.” When discussing Specht’s abilities Booth said, “sky’s the limit.”
Tieran Alexander said, “Tommy Specht earns high marks for his makeup. He’s a very kind person who loves the game and works to better himself.”
I am looking forward to watching how Tommy Specht does this year after the Rangers give him an assignment to either the ACL or to Down East. I am expecting great things from him in the years to come. The Rangers staff is to be commended for finding such a quality athlete and a quality person at that point of the draft.