Rangers Draft Report Card
Analyzing Texas' 2008 draft class
Though they cost a combined $5.075 million, getting Justin Smoak at No. 11 and Ross at No. 57 were big scores by the Rangers. Texas also got several other polished hitters and promising arms, adding depth to what may be baseball's best farm system.
BEST PURE HITTER:
1B Justin Smoak (1) stands out in a deep crop of Rangers hitters that also includes 1B Clark Murphy (5), OF Mike Bianucci (8), 1B/OF Jared Bolden (9) and OF Joey Butler (15). >> BEST POWER HITTER:
Smoak offers prodigious power from both sides of the plate. Add in his Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base, and he's reminiscent of former Rangers star Mark Teixeira. >> FASTEST RUNNER:
Signed as a 24-year-old college senior, OF Rafael Hill (47) is as fast as any player in the system. He's an 8 runner on the 2-8 scouting scale. >> BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER:
Smoak. At an up-the-middle position, C Doug Hogan (18) has good catch-and-throw potential. He threw out 37 percent of pro basestealers, though he did have 16 passed balls in 44 games.
LHPs Robbie Ross (2)—who signed for $1.575 million—and Tim Murphy (3), and RHPs Joe Wieland (4), Matt Thompson (7) and Justin Gutsie (14) all can reach 93-94 mph. Wieland, who's projectable at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, could separate himself in the long run. >> BEST SECONDARY PITCH:
Ross' hard slider or LHP Corey Young's (12) 11-to-5 curveball.
ODDS AND ENDS
BEST PRO DEBUT:
Wieland went 5-1, 1.44 with a 41-8 K-BB ratio in 44 innings in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Clark Murphy hit .358/.435/.526 in the same league. >> BEST ATHLETE:
Butler was a nice senior sign in the 15th round, a 6-foot-2, 210-pounder with solid tools across the board. Hill entered Austin Peay on a football scholarship, and he rushed for 466 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman before deciding to concentrate on baseball. >> MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND:
C Ben Petralli's (33) father Geno and unsigned RHP Jack Armstrong's (36) dad Jack Sr. both played for the Rangers. Unsigned OF John Ruettiger (35, now at Arizona State) is the nephew of Dan "Rudy" Ruettiger, the Notre Dame walk-on of movie fame. >> CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS:
Smoak, who batted .304/.355/.518 in a brief stint in low Class A, may not need more than a year in the minors. Young's curveball could take him to the majors quickly as a lefty specialist. Given Texas' constant need for pitching, Tim Murphy also could move fast as a starter. >> BEST LATE-ROUND PICK:
Butler and Young. >> THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY:
The Rangers, who went over slot to sign Smoak, Ross, Clark Murphy, Thompson and Bianucci, also made a serious run at both Armstrong and 3B Harold Martinez (19). After three years at Vanderbilt, Armstrong could join his father as a first-round pick. He's projectable at 6-foot-6 and already touches 93 mph. Martinez projected as a first-rounder entering 2008 but didn't live up to expectations as a high school senior, and he's now at Miami.