Rangers' 12th-rounder Clark a star on gridiron, too

ARLINGTON -- LeDarious Clark was a tremendous football player at Southeast Lauderdale High School in Meridian, Miss. In his senior season, he rushed for 1,633 yards and 29 touchdowns.

He moved on to East Mississippi Community College, where he was a kick returner as a freshman and was the Special Teams Player of the Week in his conference.

But baseball was his "main" sport. He dropped football after his freshman year, concentrated on baseball and went on to the University of West Florida. On Wednesday, the Rangers took him in the 12th round of the 2015 Draft.

"I always loved football and baseball," Clark said. "But as I got into college, I started getting more and more looks for baseball, and scouts told me I had to decide between baseball [and football]. So that's when I made the decision to focus on baseball. It would have been less wear and tear on my body, and that's what I wanted to do long-term."

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Clark is only 5-foot-10 and he did not play at a big-time baseball college. But if the Rangers sign him, they are getting an intriguing blend of speed and power from a tremendous athlete who prefers baseball over football.

That's why Clark stands out among the 30 players taken by the Rangers in the final day of the Draft. He was a great football player, but baseball was not an afterthought. He has a strong baseball resume as well.

"Great body, close to the top of the charts as a runner," Ranger scouting director Kip Fagg said. "We're very excited about LeDarious and what he has to offer. He's got a good swing, some power, can play defense in center field. We're very intrigued by him."

Clark played in 47 games for West Florida this past season and hit .329 (55-for-167) with five doubles, six triples, eight home runs and 39 RBIs as the Argonauts center fielder. He had a .429 on-base percentage, a .575 slugging percentage and 21 stolen bases. One of his home runs was a walk-off two-run home run against Lee College.

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At East Mississippi, he hit .310 with five home runs and 13 stolen bases as a freshman and .325 with five home runs and 20 stolen bases as a sophomore. His Southeast Lauderdale team also won a state baseball championship in his senior year.

"Freakishly athletic, the combination of speed and power is different," East Mississippi coach Chris Rose said. "His game needs polish, but his tools and competitiveness are unquestionable. Clark played his best in the biggest moments of our season."

Clark said he is eager to sign with the Rangers and get his baseball career going. He believes he has made the right decision as far as what sport to play.

"I really do," Clark said. "This is a big day. My advisor told me I would be taken between the ninth and the 15th round. So I just sat back, took it all in and really enjoyed the moment."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.