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Mayberry Reflects New Rangers Approach

June 7, 2005
By Evan Grant

DALLAS--From the moment they called the name of John Mayberry Jr. as their first-round pick Tuesday, the Rangers made it clear there is a new philosophy in town: Its all about the athleticism.

Mayberry struggled at the plate for Stanford this season, hitting .303 with just eight home runs, but was ranked by Baseball America as the best college athlete among the draft's premium prospects. For his three-year college career, the 21-year-old hit .312-28-148.

The Rangers say that in spite of Mayberry's 2005 numbers, the power is there. While Stanford emphasizes the ability to hit the ball the opposite way, Rangers scouts saw impressive power potential from Mayberry in the wood-bat Cape Cod League in 2003.

"Were very excited about adding a power-hitting righthanded bat like John Mayberry Jr.," farm director Dom Chiti said. "He is a premium athlete and we think he has great potential.

The Rangers plan to move Mayberry, who was a first baseman in college, to the outfield. While the club has what it considers long-term solutions in left field (Kevin Mench) and center (Laynce Nix), it has a dearth of corner-outfield talent in the system.

Mayberry, the son of former big league all-star John Mayberry, was a first-rounder out of high school in Kansas City, when the Mariners took him with the 28th overall pick in 2002. He reportedly sought a bonus in the $3 million range then.

The Rangers had made pitching their top priority in the last two drafts, selecting John Danks (2003) and Thomas Diamond and Eric Hurley (both in the first round in 2004). But the scouting and player-development staff--and philosophy--changed last season when Grady Fuson was forced out.

Another signal of the change in draft philosophy: an emphasis on high school and junior college players. Of the Rangers top 18 selections, 12 were high school or junior college players. Last year, just five of the top 18 picks were not from four-year schools.

RANGER ROUNDUP

Rangers owner Tom Hicks is a staunch University of Texas backer--not to mention a friend to Scott Boras clients--and the club gave him someone to link his interests by drafting Longhorns catcher Taylor Teagarden in the third round. Teagarden was rated by BA as the best defensive catcher in the draft and 26th-best player overall, but fell because of questions about his signability.

The Rangers went hard after Florida prep players on the drafts first day. Of their 18 selections, four were Florida high schoolers: righthander Shane Funk (fourth round), lefthander Michael Kirkman (fifth), outfielder Ronnie Anderson (ninth) and third baseman Chris Dominguez (17th). Manager Buck Showalter, general manager John Hart and Chiti all live in Florida.

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