Demerritte says he'll skip college for Rangers

BOSTON -- Travis Demerritte, the Rangers' selection with the 30th pick in Thursday's First-Year Draft, will play somewhere on the infield once he signs.

And the high school infielder out of Winder Barrow (Ga.) High said Thursday night that he will sign with the Rangers and forgo going to the University of South Carolina, though no deal is official yet.

"Definitely," Demerritte said. "I love the organization."

Demerritte, 18, will be one to watch because he was selected with the pick the Rangers received for compensation for losing Josh Hamilton to free agency.

Demerritte gives the Rangers a power-hitting infield prospect who can three infield positions -- third base, second base and shortstop. Kipp Fagg, the Rangers director of amateur scouting, said Thursday that Demeritte will begin his pro career -- when he signs -- at shortstop.

The Rangers were attracted to him for his potential to hit for power at an infield position, something they lack in the system. And for his bat speed.

Demerritte set a school record with 32 career home runs. He batted .404 as a senior with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs.

"He's got a chance to be a pure hitter and a power hitter," Fagg said. "He's got electric bat speed. From scouting, he was one of the fastest bats I've seen in a while."

Demerritte played second base as a sophomore and shortstop the last two seasons. He's also played third base.

"I have played all of them (3B, 2B and SS)," Demerritte said. "The past two years in high school I played shortstop. I've played shortstop my whole life, so I think I can play that position."

It comes as no surprise that the Rangers plucked a top prospect out of Georgia. They selected high school outfielder Jake Skole in the first round in 2012. They picked high school left-hander Kevin Matthews and University of Georgia outfielder Zach Cone with the 33rd and 37th picks in 2011.

The Rangers also took pitcher Justin Grimm, who leads all American League rookies with five wins, in the fifth round in 2010 out of the University of Georgia.

Demerritte said he has developed a very close relationship with Rangers area scout Derrick Tucker. His signing should be a slam dunk.

"They've been interested for a very, very long time," Demerritte said. "They've always been interested. For a second, I was worried that somebody else may have stepped in."