Greg Owen had been coaching high school baseball for more than a decade when Ti’Quan Forbes walked onto the Columbia (Miss.) High School field as a freshman four years ago.
Owen knew he had something special on his hands immediately and had little hesitation putting Forbes on the varsity team as a freshman. And it paid off. Forbes was the starting shortstop for what became a state championship team.
“He’s special, just a freak of an athlete,” Owen said. “He’s a true five-tool player, and I don’t say that lightly because I’ve been coaching high school baseball for 18 years now. He’s got it all, and the moment is never too big for him.”
The Texas Rangers agree with Owen’s assessment and have high hopes for their second-round pick. Some within the industry believe Forbes was a first-round talent, and the Rangers were certainly fortunate he fell to them in the second round at 59th overall.
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Forbes, 17, fits the bill of what the Rangers look for in prospects. He’s an elite athlete with high upside at an up-the-middle position.
“He’s a very versatile player with a good [build] and great makeup,” said Kip Fagg, the Rangers’ director of amateur scouting. “We’re very excited to have him.”
The 6-foot-4 Forbes has played shortstop most of his life but could transition to third base or the outfield once he gets his professional career started. And the could happen soon.
Forbes said he will forgo a commitment to Ole Miss and sign with the Rangers.
“I’m ready to chase my dream of playing in the big leagues,” Forbes said. “It’s a dream come true to get drafted by the Rangers and now I just want to get it started.”
Forbes is coming off an impressive athletic run in high school. He quarterbacked the football team, played small forward on the basketball team and was the star shortstop. Baseball has always been his top sport and he shined once again as a senior. He batted .427 (47 for 110) with 12 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 32 RBIs in 33 games.
For Owen, though, the thing that separates Forbes from his natural talent is the way he goes about playing the game.
“He’s really loose out there and has fun,” Owen said. “He’s going to work hard and do all those things, but he’s going to thoroughly enjoy it.
“A good example is at a recent All-Star event we went to. I walked into the dugout and everyone was gathered around Ti’Quan, having a good time. They’re just attracted to how he goes about his business and the fun he has.”
Forbes said that’s always been his personality and demeanor on the field, which is part of the reason why he’s performed well in pressure situations so far.
Forbes has never been intimidated by the magnitude of the situation, whether it’s playing on the varsity team as a freshman or in a state championship or at a high-profile showcase.
“I don’t feel much pressure, I just play and have fun,” he said. “All my life I’ve been playing in big games and you just have to step up in those situations.”
The Rangers hope he’ll do the same for them one day.
Elsewhere on the farm
Triple A Round Rock: Right-hander Neftali Feliz had a string of three consecutive scoreless outings snapped Friday, allowing two runs on two hits, including a homer, in the eighth. … Left-hander Ryan Feierabend threw seven scoreless innings Friday and has pitched into the seventh inning in four of his last five starts. … Right-hander Ben Rowen has not allowed a run in his past 10 appearances.
Double A Frisco: Catcher Tomas Telis leads the team with a .337 average going into Saturday. He batted .369 with two home runs and 18 RBIs in May. … Infielder Ryan Rua hit his 10th home run Thursday, and is batting .314 with 32 RBIs over 57 games.
High A Myrtle Beach: Clinched a playoff berth for the fourth straight season earlier this week. The Pelicans won the first half of the Southern Division in the Carolina League for the third time in four years.
Low A Hickory: Catcher Joe Jackson went into Saturday on an 11-game hitting streak and is batting .386 on the season. … Right-handed reliever Cody Kendall, an eighth-round pick in 2012, has a 1.16 ERA over 17 appearances. He has not allowed a run in seven of his last nine.