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Texas Draft Preview
By John Manuel
Scouting Director: Grady Fuson (first year: 2002).
2000 Draft (First five rounds, picking 24th)
2001 Draft (First five rounds, picking fifth)
2002 Draft (First five rounds, picking 10th)
(*Did not sign.)
Fuson was Oakland's scouting director when the A's selected such current stars as Eric Chavez, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito, all from 1996-99, all with first-round picks except for Hudson, a sixth-round find. Yet in "Moneyball," Lewis gives much of the credit to general manager Billy Beane and the organization's ability to comb through statistics to find amateur talent, deriding scouts along the way.
That probably won't sit well with Fuson and Ron Hopkins. As assistant general manager, Fuson will oversee the Rangers' draft while Hopkins, whom he brought over from the A's in the offseason, has coordinated the club's efforts as the scouting director. The duo will use the same formula that was so successful for them in Oakland: an emphasis on skilled college players and pitchers who have a knack for their craft rather than gaudy radar-gun readings.
"Over a pitcher's career, his velocity may change four or five miles an hour," Fuson said. "But if he knows how to pitch, he's going to win. And guys that win have a better chance of helping in the future. They have a way of stepping up as they go."
Fuson surprised many in his first Rangers draft, taking toolsy South Carolina shortstop Drew Meyer with the club's first-round pick. Other picks were straight from the Fuson playbook: pitchers with good fastball/changeup combinations like John Barnett, Andrew Tisdale, Sam Narron and Erik Thompson, and accomplished college hitters like Chris O'Riordan and Nate Gold.
Another Rangers draft trend precedes Fuson, but he acted on it last year. The organization has become a haven for Scott Boras clients, from Patrick Boyd to Mark Teixeira to Kiki Bengochea. The Boras roster this season is headed by Rice first baseman Vince Sinisi, who has the talent to project him as a choice for the Rangers' first selection.
Sinisi's swing has been compared to that of former Owls first baseman Lance Berkman, and his athleticism makes him even more suited than Berkman for a move to the outfield. Rice players are often tough signs as juniors, though, and Sinisi is a draft-eligible sophomore after redshirting a year at Texas, prior to his transfer to Rice.
Other Boras clients include senior righthanders Steven White of Baylor and Anthony Reyes of Southern California. White has had a solid season as the Bears' ace, while Reyes has battled elbow injuries for the second straight season.
Unlike last year, when free-agent signings robbed the club of picks in rounds two through five, the Rangers have their full complement of selections in 2003. Last year, just three of the club's picks in the first 22 rounds were high school players, and a similar breakdown is expected this year.