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Rangers express no preference

Rangers express no prospect preference

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers could use speed and defense in their outfield and it wouldn't hurt if the player came from the University of Texas.

That's why Longhorns outfielder Drew Stubbs could be the player to watch for the Rangers as they get ready for the First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday.

But the Rangers pick 12th this year and Stubbs may not last that long, even if there are some questions about how well he will hit. The Rangers aren't sure who will be available when their turn comes up, but they insist they will take the best player available regardless of position.

"We're going to try and get the best talent and value for where we are and not go with any pre-conceived notions of what that means," general manager Jon Daniels said.

Pitching has long been an obvious need for the Rangers at draft time, but they have focused so hard on that over the past three years that they have started to develop a shortage of top-flight offensive prospects in the system.

That was one reason why the Rangers went with outfielder John Mayberry Jr. in last year's draft and may lean toward going with an offensive player again at the top this time around.

But Daniels said, "We're not profiling what we need. You make a mistake when you draft for need. We're of the mind-set of getting the best talent on the board when our time comes.

So that could be an offensive player like Wake Forest third baseman Mike Antonelli or a pitcher like Alabama high school left-hander Kasey Kiker or University of Texas righty Kyle McCulloch.

Kyle Drabek, a right-hander from The Woodlands outside of Houston and son of former Astro Doug Drabek, is the best high school pitcher in Texas and he just threw a no-hitter in the state high school playoffs.

But club officials were expressing some reservations, which may be a sign they are headed in a different direction.

Recent Rangers top picks
2003: LHP John Danks --
After an impressive Spring Training, Danks, 21, is with Double-A Frisco in the Texas League and is 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA after nine starts. In 44 1/3 innings, he has walked 17 and struck out 62. He had some elbow and forearm pain that forced him to miss two starts, but it was nothing serious. Keeps getting bigger and stronger, which only will help his development.

2004: RHP Thomas Diamond -- He is also at Double-A Frisco and is 4-1 with a 3.13 ERA after ten starts, allowing just 32 hits in 46 innings. But he also walked 32, a reflection of his lack of a breaking ball. That appears to be his biggest obstacle to getting to the big leagues quickly. His makeup and character have long impressed the Rangers.

2005: OF John Mayberry Jr. -- The Rangers took him with the 19th overall pick in the hopes of adding some big-time offensive talent into the system. He is hitting .245 with six home runs and 20 RBI in 40 games at Class A Clinton. He has had some minor injury issues and he struck out 46 times in his first 147 at-bats. The son of the former Kansas City Royals first baseman, he has serious talent but has yet to accelerate through the Rangers system.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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