<
>

Rangers W2W4: MLB draft

BOSTON -- The Rangers have the 23rd and 30th picks in the first round of the 2013 first-year player draft which begins Thursday night.

Rangers director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg said last week that the draft board is deep in pitching, particularly left-handed pitching.

"I think pitching is going to be what's most on your board," Fagg said. "I think this is a deep pitching draft with a lot of left-handed pitchers. There are some players, too, probably a little light on the top-end type player, but the depth is in the pitching."

Here's what to watch for in the draft:

The 23rd pick: The Rangers have leaned toward high school pitchers in the early rounds of the draft since Jon Daniels became general manager in 2006. They have taken 10 high school pitchers among their 25 picks in the first, supplemental and second rounds.

ESPN Insider Keith Law's draft board is heavy with high school pitchers right around the Rangers' first of two picks. Law has right-hander Hunter Harvey (Catawba, N.C) at No. 22 on his board and left-handers Rob Kaminsky (Montvale, N.J.) and Matt Krook (Hillsborough, Calif.) at No. 24 and 25.

Law has the Rangers pegged for Winder, Ga. high school shortstop Travis Demeritte. The Rangers drafted state of Georgia products with their top selections in 2010 and '11 -- outfielder Jake Skole and left-handed pitcher Kevin Skole.

The Rangers also could look to shore up their catching depth at the minor league level. Law has three catchers ranked from No. 21-27, both high school players -- No. 21 Nick Cuiffo (Lexington, S.C), who Law writes is the best receiving catcher in the draft, and No. 27 Jon Denney (Yukon, Okla.).

For what the Rangers' draft needs are, they sit in a good spot at No. 23.

The 30th pick: The sentimental pick would be to grab Plano West High School outfielder Billy McKinney, a left-handed hitter with great bat speed.

They might find right-hander Kyle Serrano (Farragut, Tenn.) sitting there, as well as Denney or another high school arm.

The Rangers got this pick when the Los Angeles Angels signed Josh Hamilton, adding insult to injury to the Angels.

Does first-round success matter?: The Rangers have two first-round draft picks on their current 25-man roster, neither of whom they drafted -- designated hitter Lance Berkman and left-fielder David Murphy.

Berkman was the 16th overall pick by the Houston Astros in 1997. Berkman, who played at Rice University, obviously was a big draft hit with a .296 career batting average with 360 home runs.

The Rangers had the foresight to trade for Murphy. He was the 17th overall pick by Boston out of Baylor in 2003.

The Rangers have one supplemental first-round pick on the current roster -- setup man Tanner Scheppers, who has had a breakthrough season and deserves All-Star consideration. Scheppers was the 44th pick in the 2009 draft out of Fresno State.

Finding pitching: Don't fall asleep on the second day of the draft. Two-fifths of the Rangers' current rotation is made up of college pitchers selected after the first round in 2010.

Justin Grimm, who leads American League rookies with five wins, was a fifth-round pick in 2010 out of Georgia. The Rangers met with him before the draft to discuss some mechanical issues with his delivery.

"It was a special arm," Fagg said of Grimm. "It was a great makeup kid. He was a competitive kid. It was an easy choice to make, personally."

Right-hander Nick Tepesch, who has four wins, slid because of signability issues and was picked in the 14th round out of Missouri. The Rangers snatched him after a poor junior season.

"We took a chance," Fagg said. "We knew the makeup. So we thought it was a steal where we got him."

Reviewing the 2012 draft: The Rangers selected high school outfielder Lewis Brinson with the 29th overall pick of last year's draft. The Fort Lauderdale product is batting .246 with 11 home runs and 24 RBIs in Class A Hickory. He was batting .354 with four stolen bases over his last 10 games entering Thursday.

Third baseman Joey Gallo, a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds, has 14 home runs and 29 RBIs. Gallo's batting average has dipped to .210 with six hits in his last 37 at-bats.

Left-fielder Nick Williams, a second-round pick, is batting .308 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs. He homered and had three RBIs Wednesday night and fell a triple shy of the cycle.

The Hickory Crawdads, loaded with the the club's top young prospects, have hit 80 home runs, 30 more than any team in the South Atlantic League.