Rangers take Oral Roberts right-hander, prep shortstop with first two picks in draft

Posted Thursday, Jun. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Adding pitching depth was something the Texas Rangers hinted they could be looking to do during this year’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, and they followed through on it.

The Rangers used their first pick – 23rd overall, acquired by losing Josh Hamilton to free agency – to take Oral Roberts right-hander Alex Gonzalez. And they used their second-round pick, 62nd overall, to take West Florence (S.C.) High School right-hander Akeem Bostick.

In between, the Rangers used their other first-round pick, 30th overall, on Travis Demeritte, a shortstop out of Winder-Barrow High School in Georgia.

“At the end of the day, we’re consistent as far as best player available,” said A.J. Preller, Rangers’ senior director of player personnel. “We really don’t do these things where we have a formula. We basically look at the strength of the draft, and Alex Gonzalez was an easy, natural choice for us right there.”

Said Kip Fagg, Rangers’ director of amateur scouting: “We feel real excited about the picks. We had all these guys highly rated.”

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Gonzalez projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter, and brings more depth to the farm system.

An 11th round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2010 draft out of high school, Gonzalez went 9-5 with a 1.83 ERA over 15 starts this season with Oral Roberts. He was named the Southland Conference pitcher of the year this season after compiling 126 strikeouts, the second-most in the country, and only 27 walks over 113 1/3 innings.

Gonzalez has a fastball that sits in the low 90 mph range and can touch 94. The most intriguing part of his fastball to scouts, though, is the “filthy cut” it has on it. He also throws an 85-88 mph slider that one scout said is better than Oklahoma’s Jonathan Gray, the third overall pick by Colorado.

“True out pitch slider,” the scout said. “He’s a big-time strike thrower with a tall and lean body.”

Gonzalez’s fastball and slider are what intrigues scouts the most, but he also has a changeup and curveball in his repertoire. His changeup is good, but still needs to be developed. The curveball, meanwhile, is used mostly as a “change of speed” pitch.

With the fastball and slider considered plus-pitches, some teams had him penciled in as a future reliever but the Rangers feel he can be a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

Demeritte, meanwhile, could ultimately move to third base when he is big-league ready, but is described as a raw, projectable and athletic.

Demeritte said he is ready to sign with the Rangers and forego his commitment to the University of South Carolina.

“Man, it’s everything I ever worked for,” Demeritte said. “When you’re young and watch TV, you dream about being that guy on TV. It’s definitely a humbling experience and it means everything.”

The 6-foot, 178-pounder Demeritte batted .404 with 42 runs, seven doubles, 12 home runs, 37 RBIs and a .563 on-base percentage and 37 RBIs in 29 games this season. He set a Winder-Barrow high record with 32 career home runs.

Fagg said Demeritte had “one of the faster bats I’ve scouted in a while.”

Bostick, at 6-foot-5, is a projectable right-hander with a lively arm, as he went 10-0 with a 0.62 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 56 innings this season for West Florence High. Bostick also batted .316 with four home runs and 15 RBIs.

“Right-handed pitcher with a very loose arm and very good downhill plane,” Fagg said. “He’s a big, physical guy at the end of the day and a possible starter.”

The draft resumes Friday with rounds 3-10, and the Rangers’ first selection of the day will come with the 99th overall pick. The draft concludes Saturday with Rounds 11-40.

Local pitcher taken

Fort Worth Christian pitcher Teddy Stankiewicz was taken in the second round by the Boston Red Sox. Stankiewicz, a tall right-hander, was selected out of high school last year by the New York Mets, but didn’t sign.

Instead, Stankiewicz spent the past season playing junior college ball in Oklahoma at Seminole State College. He improved his stock, though, going from the 75th overall pick in 2012 to the 45th overall this year.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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