June 5, 2012

Rangers take local prospect in fifth round of MLB Draft

Texas selects UTA outfielder Preston Beck in the fifth round.

Preston Beck heard his name a little earlier than he expected Monday.

The UT Arlington right fielder expected to go to the New York Yankees in the fifth round. Instead, the Texas Rangers selected Beck a pick earlier.

"It was pretty awesome," Beck said. "It's definitely good to go to the Rangers instead of the Yankees. I grew up a huge Rangers fan, and even played on a summer team coached by Rusty Greer in 2008."

Beck was one of 15 players taken by the Rangers on Day 2 of the MLB First-Year Player Draft. Beck said he expected to reach an agreement with the Rangers relatively soon, and Rangers director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg said he expected to sign all of the draftees selected in the first 10 rounds.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the Rangers have a $6.6 million budget to sign those first 13 picks. The Rangers have drafted 18 players so far, including 11 college and seven high school players. They went with eight pitchers (seven right-handers, one left-hander), seven outfielders, two infielders and one catcher.

They will make 25 more picks today, as the draft concludes with rounds 16-40.

"Our organization is always looking to have impact players, and in the draft this year that continues to be the case," Fagg said. "We're not just rolling the dice, we believe in these kids, their makeup and if they reach their ceilings, they're going to be impact players."

The Rangers had five of the first 93 picks, and used them all on high school players.

Texas took Jamie Jarmon, a 17-year-old outfielder from Indian River High School in Delaware, with the 83rd overall pick, and then Nick Williams, an 18-year-old outfielder from Ball High School in Galveston, with the 93rd overall pick.

The Rangers then had a steady run of college and junior college players until selecting two high school players committed to play college football in the 14th and 15th rounds. Outfielder Kwinton Smith from Dillon High School [S.C.] is a wide receiver heading to South Carolina, while outfielder Jameis Winston from Hueytown High School [Ala.] is one of the top quarterback recruits in the country going to Florida State.

"With Kwinton Smith, we're identifying a talent and giving him an option and us an option if he wasn't to play football," said A.J. Preller, the Rangers' senior director of player personnel. "Jameis is obviously a high profile football recruit. He has expressed some interest to play baseball professionally and, at that point in the draft, it was a path we wanted to go down as well."

There has been a precedent set that would allow Winston to pursue both college football and professional baseball without affecting his NCAA eligibility. Former Texas running back Ricky Williams did it in the late 1990s.

"We know that Jameis is going to play football at Florida State," Fagg said. "But there is a possibility that he can play baseball in the off-season."

Another noteworthy selection the Rangers made Tuesday was selecting UT left-hander Sam Stafford in the 13th round.

Stafford underwent shoulder surgery in February that forced him to miss this season, and he has not fully recovered.

The same injury prevented Stafford from signing with the Yankees, who selected him in the second round last year.

"Obviously we expect him to make a full recovery," Fagg said.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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