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Draft Preview: Arms top Rangers' list

Draft Preview: Arms top Rangers' list

The Rangers have had eight first-round picks in the last six Drafts. They have taken five high school pitchers with eight of those picks: John Danks (2003), Eric Hurley (2004), Kasey Kiker (2006), Blake Beavan (2007) and Michael Main (2007).

The Rangers will have the 14th pick in the first round. Among the 14th overall picks in recent history are Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider (2006) and Royals infielder Billy Butler (2003). Others who were taken with the 14th overall pick were Jeff Weaver, Jason Varitek, Derrek Lee and Tino Martinez.

More

MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on June 9-11. The MLB Network will broadcast the first round on the evening of June 9 from its Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and those 32 selections also will be simulcast live on MLB.com.

Beginning with the 33rd pick, up-to-the-minute on-air coverage from the remaining rounds will shift exclusively to MLB.com/Live, where host Vinny Micucci will be joined by MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo and Major League Scouting Bureau director Frank Marcos.

Once the first night is done, the Draft will continue with the rounds 4-30, via conference call from MLB Headquarters in New York, at noon on Wednesday, June 10. Rounds 31-50 will be on Thursday, June 11, starting at 11:30 a.m.

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

In about 50 words
This Draft is strong in pitching, both at the college and high school levels. The Rangers will look at both. The Rangers have gone heavy on pitching over the past six years -- especially at the high school level -- but will take the best athlete available. They did so last year when they took first baseman Justin Smoak with their first pick. The Rangers also aren't afraid to take a risk on a player.

The scoop
"Our guys spend a lot of time on a player's makeup. We are willing to take guys who are a little farther away but with a high ceiling if we feel their makeup gives them a better chance of having an impact. We're willing to dream a little bit on players who have a chance to have an impact rather than a safe pick. Safe picks aren't always safe." -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels.

First-round buzz
A couple of Texas high school pitchers are possibilities: Brownwood right-hander Shelby Miller and Houston Klein left-hander Matthew Purke. The Rangers like to lean toward taking players from Texas but won't do so if it means taking a lesser player.

Shopping list
Pitching is always at the top of a team's wish list but the Rangers have other needs as well. They could use more power in the farm system, especially in the outfield and at the corner positions. They could also use help at third base. The Rangers are strong at catcher and in the middle infield. The Rangers don't draft on need. They'll take three shortstops in a row if they are the best available players.

Trend watch
The Rangers have an affinity for young power arms with high ceilings, especially at the high school level. That's been their aim beyond their first-round picks. They took high school pitchers Robbie Ross with their second pick and Joe Wieland with their fourth-round pick last season. Matt Thompson was taken in the seventh round.

Recent top picks
2008: Justin Smoak is having an outstanding season at Double-A Frisco and could end up in Triple-A Oklahoma at some point after the Minor League All-Star break. He's coming fast.
2007: Pitcher Blake Beavan, a high school pitcher from nearby Irving, is 4-4 with a 4.70 ERA in ten starts for Class A Bakersfield. In 591/3 innings, he has allowed 64 hits, walked 13 and struck out 39.
2006: Left-handed pitcher Kasey Kiker is starting to reassert himself as a top prospect. He is 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA in nine starts at Double-A Frisco, allowing just 35 hits in 46 1/3 innings while striking out 52. His 26 walks are a little high.

Rising fast
Mitch Moreland, a 17th-round pick out of Mississippi State, is starting to rise quickly in the system. He was promoted to Double-A Frisco in May after hitting .341 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 43 games at Class A Bakersfield.

Cinderella story
Jared Hyatt was a 33rd-round pick from Georgia Tech in 2007 who was a combined 11-8 with a 3.58 ERA in 29 games, including 22 starts, at three different levels. He is currently at Double-A Frisco.

In The Show
First baseman Chris Davis, a fifth-round pick in 2006, is starting for the Rangers although he leads the Major Leagues in strikeouts.

Derek Holland, a 25th round draft-and-follow from 2006, is one of the top young pitchers in baseball and has been pitching for the Rangers both in the rotation and out of the bullpen.

Pitcher Tommy Hunter, a supplemental first round pick out of the University of Alabama in 2007, has made four starts at the Major League level.

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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