Rangers finish Draft more loaded than ever
Texas favors position players with final round of picks
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have built the strongest farm system in the Major Leagues through shrewd trades and quality drafts. After the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Baseball America's No. 1-ranked farm system may be distancing themselves from everyone else.
The Rangers drafted two top 10 talents, taking pitchers Matthew Purke and Tanner Scheppers with the 14th and 44th overall picks, respectively. Both were ranked within the top 10 Draft prospects by Baseball America."We've drafted the best player available," said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. "That's the plan in place. At the end of the day, we'll have a list and a board and we want the best player available. We put the pedal to the medal four years ago and there's no reason to change it." But quality Draft picks come with high price tags. The Rangers picked first baseman Justin Smoak with the 11th overall pick last year. He dropped due to signability questions. Smoak signed for $3.5 million, more than five players selected before him.
"We briefed Tom [Hicks, the Rangers owner] on our options," Daniels said. "He's always on board with spending money to get talent, even before I got here, with Mark Teixeira."The Rangers selected Teixeira fifth overall in 2001. They signed him to a four-year, $9.5 million contract with a $4.5 million signing bonus. "We've had a budget in the past, and anything above and beyond that, we'll talk about that," Daniels said. "More often than not, he's been supportive."
Rangers -- Top five selections
|14||LHP||Matthew Purke||Klein HS|
|44||RHP||Tanner Scheppers||No School|
|62||3B||Thomas Mendonca||Fresno St U|
|93||LHP||Robert Erlin||Scotts Valley HS|
|124||RHP||Andrew Doyle||U Oklahoma|
|Complete Rangers Draft results >|
One of those position players the Rangers nabbed on the third day of the Draft was outfielder Reggie Williams Jr. He is the son of former Major League outfielder Reggie Williams Sr., who runs the Dawg Pound Baseball Academy in Tampa, Fla.Williams Jr. was taken in the 32nd round, but was ranked by Baseball America as the 119th overall prospect in the Draft. He has impressed scouts with his speed, notching stole 61 bases -- or more than three per game. He has been clocked at 3.9 seconds from the left-handed batters box. Williams Jr. hit .604 in his first year of high school. He has played baseball year-round on his father's 18-and-under team since he was 14. Williams Sr. played four seasons in the Major Leagues with the California/Anaheim Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers. The strength of the 2009 Draft was its pitching, and the Rangers took advantage of that. They chose 21 pitchers in 31 picks over the first two days. Thursday's final round of selection featured 20 picks, 11 of which were position players. In all, the Rangers selected 30 pitchers and 21 position players. "I think that talks to how difficult it is to find young position players, whether it be through the Draft or signing them," Daniels said. "We were willing to take risks over safe picks." He pauses for a moment and laughs. "I don't think there's any such thing as a safe pick."
Daniel Paulling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.