THE NEWBERG REPORT — FEBRUARY 16, 2008

From the August 26, 2007 Newberg Report:

“The Rangers once drafted a 6’3”, 220 masher out of college, developed him as a third baseman, and moved him to first base once he arrived in the big leagues, which was after just one full season on the farm.

“Mark Teixeira hit 153 home runs as a Ranger, one short of the most any player drafted by Texas has ever hit for the team. But Dean Palmer’s 154 came in eight seasons, while Teixeira was here for only five.

“Another Scott Boras client, Chris Davis, is also 6’3”, 220, also drafted out of college, and is playing third base for Frisco right now, though there’s a good chance he’ll move across the diamond and play first base as a major leaguer, just as Teixeira did.”

The move to first base has been made. Davis, who was a first baseman/third baseman/closer in 2006 at Navarro College, an outfielder/first baseman that summer at Spokane, and a third baseman in 2007 at Bakersfield and Frisco, was told this week in Surprise that he’s moving back to first base.

The move could have implications for Ben Broussard, Jason Botts, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Gerald Laird, Taylor Teagarden, Travis Metcalf, Johnny Whittleman, Chris Shelton, and Nate Gold, but not as much as they might for Davis, who doesn’t need to be on the 40-man roster for another 21 months but who might find himself there in the next five or six if he produces over the next few months at a level anywhere close to his 2007 tear.

Laird to reporters on Thursday, commenting on the Ron Washington’s declaration that he and Saltalamacchia will compete in camp for what the manager considers an open position: “For me to have to earn a job, it’s kind of ridiculous but I’ll do whatever I have to do.”

Gerald. C’mon, man. “Ridiculous”?

Really?

Before Ian Kinsler came to terms (along with 13 other pre-arb players) on a 2008 contract on Friday, local reports indicated that both Kinsler’s camp and the Rangers were open to keeping dialogue open on a long-term extension, one that could encompass five years with the possibility of an option for a sixth. Taking a page out of the Michael Young book (Kinsler’s copy of which is dog-eared and margin-scrawled beyond recognition), the 25-year-old second baseman has said he doesn’t want to negotiate beyond spring training.

For now, Kinsler’s 2008 deal is for a reported $407,570, just short of the $410,690 that Kameron Loe agreed to. Three of the 14 players signed for the minimum $390,000 — they were the three who have no big league experience, catcher Max Ramirez, lefthander Matt Harrison, and outfielder Brandon Boggs.

Management has pronounced the closer’s job as C.J. Wilson’s to lose, which isn’t surprising from an objective standpoint but which the club hadn’t proclaimed in so many words since the season ended.

Loe and Robinson Tejeda and Josh Rupe are competing strictly for bullpen roles, while A.J. Murray will audition as a starter.

German Duran, who had an outstanding Arizona Fall League campaign while quietly working in the October mornings with Rangers minor league outfield coordinator Wayne Kirby to add left field to his growing repertoire, is now in early camp working with big league outfield instructor Gary Pettis. The move of Davis to first base and the return of Jason Botts to the position would seem to suggest Duran is not likely to get many reps there, but his ability to play all other infield positions could mean that if he proves in Cactus League play to be as tough an out as he was 2007, he might go right down to the end of camp as a legitimate candidate to emerge as the utility infielder.

Botts is drawing heaps of praise from Washington for his progress with the glove at first base.

Meanwhile, Joaquin Arias’s shoulder is still not 100 percent but he’s throwing. Now 23, he’s certainly no longer the shortstop of the future here (Elvis Andrus owns that label). If healthy, he’ll get looks all over the infield. Whether the center field experiment is dead remains to be seen.

The buzz continues to grow for big 17-year-old righthander Wilmer Font, who would be a high school senior right now if he were raised in the States, probably projected to be long gone before the Rangers’ pick this June at number 11.

Righthander Michael Main is no longer righthander-DH Michael Main. Last summer’s gesture by the organization to let Main, an accomplished center fielder who would have been a Day One draft as a hitter, step to the plate from time to time on days he wasn’t pitching won’t be revived in 2008.

Want another objective indication that the Rangers farm system is among the deepest in the game right now? In Baseball America’s 2008 Prospect Handbook, Detroit’s number nine prospect is righthander Francisco Cruceta. Number 15 is Freddy Guzman.

BA has catchers Cristian Santana and Ramirez as the Rangers’ number 20 and 23 prospects, respectively.

Enjoy this comp that one Rangers official offered BA regarding Santana: “Raul Mondesi, if you put [Mondesi] behind the plate.”

Got an urge to map out how all your favorite Rangers bloggers and national experts have Rangers prospects ranked? No need — Scott Lucas has done it for you.

BA’s College Preview edition includes the publication’s early ranking of the top 100 draft prospects among the nation’s collegiate players. On the list are four unsigned picks from the Rangers’ 2005 draft class: 34th-rounder Shooter Hunt (Tulane RHP, ranked 10th on BA’s list), 35th-rounder Chris Hicks (Georgia Tech RHP, ranked 78th), 12th-rounder Dexter Carter (Old Dominion RHP, ranked 95th), and 17th-rounder Chris Dominguez (Louisville 3B, ranked 99th).

Imagine what BA might have said about the Rangers’ 2007 draft — which the publication ranked in October as baseball’s second best — had they signed Mississippi lefthander Drew Pomeranz (12th round), Oregon State igniter Garrett Nash (fourth round), Notre Dame righthander Brian Dupra (36th round), LSU righthander Anthony Ranaudo (11th round), and Clemson outfielder Jeff Schaus (35th round), all five of whom are among BA’s top 50 freshmen in the country.

Right now the fact that Ron Hopkins and his crew have drafted as well as it seems they have the past few years is arguably accentuated, not diminished, by the quality of the players that didn’t even end up signing as part of the haul. That could change, of course, if Hunt or Pomeranz or John Gast ends up as someone else’s first-round pick down the road and stars in another uniform. That’s when regret sets in, the type of regret over not kicking a few more bucks Barry Zito’s way, or Noah Lowry’s, when you had the chance.

The type of regret Boston must have had by not signing ninth-rounder Mark Teixeira out of high school.

Or that the Yankees must now have by not having signed 50th-round pick Chris Davis out of high school.

Or that the Angels must now have by not having signed Davis as a 35th-rounder after his first year of junior college.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

2 Comments

It should be pointed out that Teixeira was a ninth-rounder because of his signability (if that’s all one word). He wanted top pick money, Duquette & Co. low-balled him and he went to GA Tech.

Current ownership has done things differently (Anderson & Middlebrooks).

http://mikemac.mlblogs.com

True enough, Michael, but I’m sure you also know the backstory. Teixeira wanted to sign, but Boston played their cards wrong.

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