ARLINGTON, Texas. Fourth pick Wyatt Langford, a college-turned-outfielder who hit 47 homers in Florida over the past two seasons, received an $8 million signing bonus on Tuesday, the biggest player ever drafted by the Texas Rangers.
“We think it’s perfect for what we’re building here,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “Who he is as a person, his winning pedigree and, of course, his talent as a player.”
After playing in just four games as a hitter in his college freshman year, Langford became Florida’s starting outfielder. He hit .355, setting a school record with 26 homers as a sophomore in 2022, and hit .373 with 21 homers this year as the Gators advanced to the College World Series championship round.
“Obviously, in my freshman year, I really didn’t have any expectations. … I just want to play on the college stage first,” Langford said. “Probably around the middle of my sophomore year, when I was playing really well and people started talking and stuff, I kind of knew I had a chance.”
Langford’s introduction at Globe Life Field came on the same day that Pittsburgh negotiated LSU’s all-time best pitcher Paul Skenes for a record signing bonus of $9.2 million.
Before Skenes and Langford, there were only four big signing bonuses for drafted players. The record was the $8.42 million Detroit gave to infielder Spencer Thorkelson after he was selected first overall in 2000.
LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, second overall drafted by Washington on July 9, has not signed a contract. Prep outfielder Max Clark, the Tigers’ third overall pick, received a $7.7 million signing bonus, which was below the cost of the No. 3 slot and was the slot number for the fourth pick.
“It all happened so fast and I feel like just a few days ago I was in the middle of the season,” Langford said. “Now it’s a bit surreal.”
Langford’s college career ended in the College World Series where he hit a 456-foot homer against Virginia, which was the longest at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska. He went 5-for-5 with the homer in the second game of the best-of-three championship series, which was won by Florida, and also hit a homerade in the deciding game, won by LSU.
“We’ve put so much time and effort into scouting Wyatt, it’s like the icing on the cake at the end,” Rangers director of scouting Kip Fagg said. “In fact, perhaps our decisions were made before that. But that’s always good to see, and it makes you feel a little bitter that he’s on a big stage like the College World Series.”
Young said Langford would report to the team’s facility in Arizona along with the rest of the Rangers’ draft class to go through the standard onboarding process before being named to the team.
Langford is the fourth straight Southeastern Conference player to be selected by the Rangers as their first pick. He follows Vanderbilt pitchers Kumar Rocker (third overall in 2022, $5.2 million signing bonus) and Jack Leiter (second overall in 2021, $7.9 million signed bonus) , and behind Mississippi State infielder Justin Foscue (14th overall in 2020).
Josh Jung, selected eighth overall by the Rangers at Texas Tech in 2019, made his major league debut last September and, as a rookie this season, was selected as an All-Star American League starter.