ARLINGTON, Texas — Fourth overall draft pick Wyatt Langford, the catcher-turned-college outfielder who hit 47 homers at Florida the past two seasons, landed an $8 million signing bonus Tuesday that was the largest ever for a player drafted by the Texas Rangers.
“We think he’s the perfect fit for what we’re building here,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “Who he is as a person, his winning pedigree and certainly the talent as a player.”
After appearing in only four games as a pinch-hitter as a college freshman, Langford become a starting outfielder for Florida. He hit .355 while tying the school record with 26 homers as a sophomore in 2022, and this year hit .373 with 21 homers as the Gators advanced to the championship round of the College World Series.
“Obviously going through my freshman year, I really didn’t have any expectations. … I just want to play on the college stage first,” Langford said. “Probably about halfway through my sophomore year, when I was playing really well and people started talking and stuff like that, I kind of realized I have a shot.”
Langford’s introduction at Globe Life Field came on the same day that Pittsburgh came to terms with top overall pick Paul Skenes, a pitcher from LSU, on a record $9.2 million signing bonus.
Before Skenes and Langford, there had been only four bigger signing bonuses for drafted players. The record had been the $8.42 million Detroit gave infielder Spencer Torkelson after he was the first overall pick in 2000.
LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, the second overall pick by Washington on July 9, was unsigned. Prep outfielder Max Clark, the third overall pick by the Tigers, got a $7.7 million signing bonus, which was below the slot value for No. 3 and was the slotted number for the fourth pick.
“It’s all happened so fast and I feel like I was in the middle of my season just a few days ago,” Langford said. “It’s a little surreal right now.”
Langford’s college career ended in the College World Series, where he hit a 456-foot homer against Virginia that was the longest at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska. He went 5-for-5 with a homer in Game 2 of the best-of-three championship series that Florida won, and also homered in the deciding game won by LSU.
“We put so much time and effort in scouting Wyatt, that’s like icing on the cake at the end,” Rangers scouting director Kip Fagg said. “Reality, probably our minds were made up before that. But it’s always good to see, and it makes you feel a little bitter that he’s out there performing on a big stage like the College World Series.”
Young said Langford will report to the team’s facility in Arizona with the rest of the Rangers draft class to go through the standard onboarding process before getting assigned to a team.
Langford is the fourth consecutive Southeastern Conference player the Rangers have taken with 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 signing bonus ), and Mississippi State infielder Justin Foscue (14th overall in 2020).
Josh Jung, drafted eighth overall by the Rangers out of Texas Tech in 2019, made his big league debut last September and as a rookie this season was voted in as a starter for the American League squad in the All-Star game.