Rangers take the high (school) road in MLB draft

Adding high-ceiling players with character and makeup is what the Texas Rangers went into the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft wanting to do. They feel they accomplished that with their first three picks on Day 1, all high school players.

The Rangers selected outfielder Lewis Brinson with their first-round pick, 29th overall. They added third baseman Joey Gallo with the 39th pick and right-hander Collin Wiles with the 53rd pick in the compensation rounds.

"In Lew Brinson, we have a tremendous body, a center fielder with plus-run, plus-throw, a five-tool talent," said A.J. Preller, the Rangers' senior director of player personnel. "In Joey Gallo, another big body, probably as much power in the bat. Collin Wiles is a strike-throwing pitcher with a good breaking ball, delivery and command.

"We do feel we have players with upside."

They feel that all three will sign and forego their college commitments.

"They will be Texas Rangers," said Kip Fagg, the Rangers' director of amateur scouting.

Texas went into the draft with five of the first 93 picks, including Nos. 83 and 93 today. Day 2 begins at 11 a.m. with rounds 2-15, and the draft wraps up with rounds 16-40 on Wednesday.

Brinson is a 6-foot-4, 180-pounder from Coral Springs [Fla.] High School who bats and throws right-handed. He is considered a raw player with significant upside, and has drawn comparisons to Dexter Fowler and Cameron Maybin.

Brinson, committed to the University of Florida, had a .394 average with four doubles, four triples, four home runs and 21 RBIs this season for Coral Springs. As a junior, he had a .473 average and 29 runs.

Under the draft's new budget rules, the Rangers are slotted $1.6 million to sign Brinson.

"We are very excited to select a player of Lewis Brinson's ability," Fagg said. "We have done a ton of work on him. He is a player with great upside and makeup who can throw, run and hit with power."

It's the fourth consecutive year that the Rangers took a high school player with their first selection.

The Rangers stayed on the high-ceiling route by drafting Gallo and Wiles. Gallo, from Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada, is a 6-foot-5, 205-pounder who projects to be a left-handed power bat. He has committed to LSU.

Wiles, who has committed to Vanderbilt, is 6-foot-4, 187 pounds and wasn't expected to be a Day 1 selection. But he went 8-0 with a 0.10 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 461/3 innings this past season for Blue Valley West.

Gallo is slotted for a $1.3 million bonus, while Wiles is slotted for $955,000.

The Rangers had the two compensation picks because C.J. Wilson and Darren Oliver departed via free agency last offseason.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison