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Rangers look to draft maturely in '08

Rangers look to draft maturely in '08

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ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have been hitting pitching hard in the recent Drafts. Over the past four years, they have had nine picks in either the first round or supplemental round, and have used them to take seven pitchers. Problem is, not one of those pitchers have yet made it to the Major Leagues.

The Rangers historically have had a terrible time with their second-round pick. Roger Pavlik is the only second-round pick to ever make a substantial contribution to the Rangers and his career was cut short by an arm injury.

The Rangers will be drafting at No. 11 this year.

MLB.com will carry every pick of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, which takes place June 5-6 at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. Day 1 coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. The remaining rounds on Day 1 will be shown exclusively at MLB.com, with live analysis on site from MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo.

Several of the top amateur prospects are expected in attendance in Orlando for Day 1 of the Draft, and each of the 30 Major League Clubs will be represented by front office executives and baseball luminaries.

Fans are welcome to attend Day 1 of the Draft, and admission to The Milk House is free with seating limited to a first-come, first-served basis.

Day 2 will get under way at 11:30 a.m. ET and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com.

Here's a glance at what the Rangers have in store as the Draft approaches:

In about 50 words
The Rangers would love to take a high upside college pitcher who could shoot through the system. A guy to watch is Shooter Hunt, a right-handed pitcher out of Tulane, whom the Rangers took in the 34th round in 2005.

One concern for the Rangers is that this is a weak year in Texas and the Midwest. The Rangers have been focusing hard on their home territory, as two of their last five top picks have come from Texas.

The scoop
"We're going to take the same approach last year and take the best player available. As an organization, all things equal, you'd like to take a pitcher with a high upside and high aptitude. But we wouldn't pass up a premium talent if a better position player were available." -- General manager Jon Daniels

First-round buzz
If the Rangers are looking at a college pitcher, Hunt is one of three names to watch. Two others are Tanner Scheppers from Fresno State and Christian Friedrich from Eastern Kentucky. If they want to add offense, two first basemen could be of interest: Yonder Alonso at Miami and Brett Wallace at Arizona State. Another guy to watch is Pedro Alvarez, a third baseman at Vanderbilt. He should not be available at 11, but he is a Scott Boras client and could slide on the issue of "signability.".

Shopping list
The Rangers have done well in adding pitching depth at the lower levels, but it's all young. That's why they are looking at colleges this year. They are strong up the middle, with plenty of catching, middle infielders and center fielders. They could use more power at the corner spots, both in the infield and the outfield. A power-hitting third baseman would be a big help.

Trend watch
The Rangers don't want to be defined as a franchise that prefers college over high school or the other way around. They have gone hard on the high school route over the past few years and may need to balance it this year on the college side. They have gone hard on pitching since 2003, but have been trying to add more quality position players of late.

Recent top picks
Outfielder John Mayberry, the top pick in 2005, is off to a great start at Triple-A Oklahoma, left-handed pitcher Kasey Kiker (2006) is 2-0 with a 5.27 ERA in his first five starts at Class A Bakerfield and Blake Beavan is 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA is at Class A Clinton. Mayberry was taken out of Stanford, while Kiker and Beavan were both high school pitchers who started the season in extended Spring Training and are being brought along slowly.

Rising fast
Right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter, who was the 54th overall pick in the 2007 Draft, started the season in the Class A Bakersfield rotation and has already been promoted to Double-A Frisco. He could be in Arlington at some point during the 2009 season if he continues to progress at this rapid pace. He has a 5-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Cinderella story
Right-handed pitcher Doug Mathis was a 13th-round Draft pick in 2005 from the University of Missouri who is already in the big leagues. He became the first Rangers reliever ever to earn his first Major League victory in his first big league game.

In The Show
In addition to Mathis, infielder German Duran has made it to the Major Leagues from the 2005 Draft. He was a sixth-round pick out of junior college who has been used as a utility infielder.

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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