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Texas Rangers Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: Picking one player for this honor would be impossible. The Rangers had solid debuts from numerous players, notably 3B Hank Blalock (3), who won the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League batting title with a .361 average; RHP Aaron Harang (6), who went 9-2, 2.30 as the Rookie-level Appalachian League pitcher of the year; and OF Kevin Mench (4), who earned Appy League all-star honors with a .362-16-60 season.

Best Athlete: RHP Andy Cavazos (5) was primarily a shortstop in high school but he was converted after hitting 94 mph while throwing in relief in the spring. He was also a top-notch prep basketball player.

Best Hitter: Blalock is a highly polished hitter from a baseball-oriented family in Southern California. He hits line drives to all fields and had little trouble with GCL pitching.

Best Power: Mench led NCAA hitters in home runs (33) and slugging percentage (1.091) as a sophomore at Delaware, and he slammed 18 home runs this summer between Rookie-level Pulaski and Class A Savannah. The Rangers also love 1B Ernie Villegas’ (14) power potential.

Fastest Runner: OF Brett Cadiente (9), who missed two years of baseball while on a Mormon mission, worked his way into Arizona State’s lineup late in the spring and enjoyed a superb summer, hitting .354-7-49 at Pulaski. He’s a 6.6-second runner in the 60-yard dash.

Best Defensive Player: Cadiente has the speed to be a solid center fielder. Blalock, a former shortstop, is fundamentally sound at third base.

Best Fastball: RHP Colby Lewis (1) showed electric stuff in his pro debut, including a mid-90s fastball and sharp, hard curveball. He shows no ill effects from the Tommy John surgery that sidelined him all of 1998.

Most Intriguing Background: Unsigned 1B Jason Reuss (26) is the son of former big league lefthander Jerry Reuss. OF Kevin Marshall (20), who also didn’t sign, is the son of ex-NFL lineman Tank Marshall.

Closest to the Majors: Lewis and RHP Nick Regilio (2) both should move through the low minors quickly. Of the two, Lewis has a little better stuff but Regilio has a notch better command.

The One That Got Away: The Rangers were never close to signing RHP Luz Portobanco (7), who was asking for third-round money. He’s currently at Miami-Dade JC.

Best Non-Draft Sign: The Rangers are hesitant to bring Latin prospects to the United States until they’ve had at least a year in a Latin summer league, so none of their international signings qualify here.

Summary: Scouting director Chuck McMichael is acutely aware of the Rangers need for high-ceiling pitchers at the major league level, and he drafted accordingly. The position picks tended to be old-fashioned, hard-nosed ballplayers.

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