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Rangers Focus On Power, Not Boras

June 7, 2004
By Gerry Fraley

DALLAS--The Rangers first-round pick in the draft spoke of a major shift in the organization.

Two highly regarded players--righthander Jered Weaver and shortstop Stephen Drew--were available when the Rangers' turn came up as the 10th choice overall. Drew and Weaver are both represented by agent Scott Boras.

The Rangers under owner Tom Hicks have a history of overpaying for Boras clients, ranging from Alex Rodriguez to struggling Class A righthander Kiki Bengochea.

This time, the Rangers passed on Team Boras.

"We made an organizational decision that we're not going that way," said Grady Fuson, assistant general manager for scouting and player development. "We said no."

The Rangers took hard-throwing New Orleans righthander Thomas Diamond with their first pick in the opening round. With their second choice in the opening round and 30th pick overall, they selected righthander Eric Hurley of Jacksonville's Wolfson High.

The common thread to the first-round picks is they are power pitchers. Diamond had 138 strikeouts in 114 innings with New Orleans this season. Hurley had 156 strikeouts in 105 innings.

"They both have big arms," general manager John Hart said. "We're ecstatic to get them."

The Diamond selection hinged on what the Rockies did one spot ahead of the Rangers. Had the Rockies taken Diamond, the Rangers would have selected high-school shortstop Chris Nelson. The Rockies went with Nelson, and the Rangers took Diamond without giving Weaver a second thought.

"He's a big strong horse who comes from a good program," Fuson said of Diamond. "Like anybody, there are some things you'd like to tweak with him, but the package is there."

The Rangers saw Diamond's fastball hit 96 mph. He needs to develop a better breaking pitch but has a good changeup.

Tampa Bay selected Diamond out of Archbishop Rummel High School in New Orleans in 2001, but he had no intention of signing. Going to New Orleans "was the best decision I've made in my life," Diamond said. Diamond went on to become the top prospect in the wood-bat Northwoods League last summer.

New Orleans coach Randy Bush was a hitting as a major league player, but he helped develop Diamond. According to Fuson, the Privateers staff was careful not to abuse Diamond. Bush also worked with Diamond on the mental side of the game, teaching him what hitters look for from pitchers.

"I learned so much from coach Bush," Diamond said. "He taught me things that I can take to the next level."

Hurley has committed to Florida, but the Rangers expect to sign him. Hurley added velocity during his senior season, getting his fastball into the 90-93 mph range and touching 96 repeatedly. His prep teammate, infielder Billy Butler, was picked 14th overall by the Royals, making them the fifth first-round pair of high school teammates in draft history.

RANGER ROUNDUP

The Rangers took Georgia Tech players in back-to-back rounds early, nabbing switch-hitting outfielder Brandon Boggs in the fourth round and catcher Mike Nickeas in the fifth. The Rangers have had success with Yellow Jackets before such as Kevin Brown and Mark Teixeira.

In the 10th round, the Rangers took a chance on outfielder Justin Maxwell, whom they will follow this summer in the Cape Cod League. Maxwell redshirted the season at Maryland after breaking his right forearm in preseason batting practice. He was a second-team preseason All-American and will return to the Cape to prove he is healthy.

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