June 2008

June 8, 2008

It turns out that the left ring finger that Michael Young injured in the weight room on Thursday has a hairline fracture, but he played last night and singled twice (extending his hit streak to 22 games) before exiting the game in the eighth with tightness in his left groin.  Young said Friday that the disabled list is not an option as far as the finger goes (even though doctors say it will take three weeks to heal, the decision on whether to play is apparently based solely on pain tolerance), but for the groin injury to have forced him to come out of a 2-2 game last night, you have to believe he’ll sit this afternoon so that he’ll have today and tomorrow’s off day to rest.  

As for infield depth, German Duran probably returns to the roster today (and would even if Young were fine), although he’s nursing a hamstring cramp of his own.  

Josh Hamilton has been fighting a viral infection with flu-like symptoms for a few days and may sit today as well.

Check out the great Grant Schiller’s interview with Hamilton, at

The contract that Texas signed Sidney Ponson to a couple weeks into spring training in March came with a short leash, given his history of off-the-field issues, including charges that he assaulted an Aruban judge in 2004 and two DUI arrests in 2005, the second of which (in August of 2005) prompted Baltimore to release him.  

According to multiple local reports, two weeks ago, on the night before Ponson’s May 26 start in Tampa, he had to be removed from the bar at the Rangers’ team hotel after drinking too much and creating a “serious disturbance.”  He proceeded to give up five runs on 12 hits and three walks in five innings the next day, a 7-3 loss to the Rays.  

He then “reacted unfavorably” after being pulled on Wednesday when he’d given up six runs (two earned) on eight hits and three walks in four innings.  His actions were construed as showing up his teammates.  

Ponson then blew up on Friday after being told that the club wanted to keep Kevin Millwood on normal rest despite tomorrow’s off-day, and to do so Ponson would be pushed back and pitch on an extra day’s rest.

Would the organization have taken the same action if it were Vicente Padilla or Eddie Guardado or Kason Gabbard or Travis Metcalf?  Surely not.  Ponson arrived with no room for error.

And he knew it.  

Gabbard, Luis Mendoza, Eric Hurley, and Matt Harrison, all of whom are at Oklahoma right now, have been mentioned as candidates to replace Ponson on Saturday, when his spot in the rotation comes up next.  Only Hurley is not on the 40-man roster, but (1) the roster sits at 38 members, (2) Hurley will need to be added this winter anyway, and (3) though it would certainly result in his first option being used, perhaps the thought is that if he still needs options in 2011, when he’ll start the season at age 25, then he won’t have developed as the club had hoped — and by then the wave of the Rangers’ best pitching prospects will have arrived.

That’s not to say Hurley will be the choice, but he is pitching his best baseball of the season (three quality starts in his last four efforts for Oklahoma, with a 2.67 ERA in that span).  He’s probably the co-frontrunner along with Gabbard, who pitches for the RedHawks today.

A league-leading eight Frisco RoughRiders were chosen to play in the Texas League All-Star Game on June 25.  Catcher Max Ramirez and outfielders Ben Harrison and Steve Murphy will start, shortstop Elvis Andrus will be a reserve infielder, and Trey Hodges and Brian Gordon will join the pitching staff.  Harrison and Chris Davis were selected but won’t appear since they’ve been promoted to AAA.

Clinton righthander Kennil Gomez (8-1, 2.76 in 11 starts) has reportedly landed on the disabled list.

Go to http://forum.newbergreport.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4784 to vote for Ramirez, Davis, John Mayberry Jr., or Renny Osuna as the Rangers’ Minor League Player of the Month for May, and http://forum.newbergreport.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4837 to vote for Neftali Feliz, Tommy Hunter, Harrison, Gomez, Blake Beavan, or Fabio Castillo as the May Pitcher of the Month.

Thanks to Scott Lucas for his great work all day on Thursday, bringing us news flashes right as Texas made each of its six Day One draft picks.  And go ahead and bookmark Eleanor Czajka’s Rangers Draft Page at http://www.dickiethon.com/eczajka/draft_2008.htm.  You’ll have reason to refer back to it all the time.

The Rangers’ Day Two picks:

7. Matt Thompson, RHP, Grace Prep Academy, Texas
8. Mike Bianucci, OF, Auburn University
9. Jared Bolden, OF, Virginia Commonwealth University
10. Kevin Castner, RHP, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
11. Clifford Springston, LHP, University of Arkansas
12. Corey Young, LHP, Seton Hall University
13. Ed Koncel, SS, Joliet (Ill.) Junior College
14. Justin Gutsie, RHP, St. John’s University
15. Joey Butler, OF, University of New Orleans
16. Justin Miller, RHP, Fresno State University
17. Dennis Guinn, 1B, Florida State University
18. Doug Hogan, C, Clemson University
19. Harold Martinez, SS, Braddock (Fla.) High School
20. Mike Hollander, SS, Louisiana State University
21. Dustin Brader, RHP, Arizona State University
22. Trevor Hurley, RHP, Kansas State University
23. Eric Evans, LHP, Radford (Va.) University
24. Adam Cobb, OF, Louisiana Tech University
25. Tanner Roark, RHP, No School
26. Chris Dove, OF, Elon University
27. Charles Lowell, LHP, Winfield (Mo.) High School
28. Nate Freiman, 1B, Duke University
29. Charlie Robertson, RHP, Bella Vista (Calif.) High School
30. Justin King, RHP, Jacksonville State University
31. Kyle Higgins, SS, Monmouth University
32. Tyler Tufts, RHP, Indiana University
33. Benjamin Petralli, C, Oral Roberts University
34. Ryan Schlecht, RHP, Mount Olive College, Ariz.
35. John Ruettiger, OF, Joliet (Ill.) Catholic Academy
36. Jack Armstrong, RHP, Jupiter (Fla.) Community High School
37. Matthew Andriese, RHP, Redlands East Valley (Calif.) High School
38. Jason Ogata, 2B, Oregon State University
39. Bradley Miller, SS, Olympia (Fla.) High School
40. James McGraw, OF, Corban College, Ore.
41. Brian Feekin, LHP, Iowa Western Community College
42. Stephen Pryor, RHP, Cleveland State Community College
43. Cody Eppley, RHP, Virginia Commonwealth University
44. Alex Pepe, LHP, Florida Atlantic University
45. Kevin Torres, C, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School
46. Erik Morrison, SS, University of Kansas
47. Lejuan Hill, OF, Austin Peay State University
48. Daniel Bowman, OF, Turner Ashby (Va.) High School
49. Truman Sample, RHP, Crowder College, Ariz.
50. Levi Rosecrans, C, Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe High School

A few notes on some of the club’s Day Two picks:

Thompson was All-State as a junior, which I bet was less of a big deal to him than last night’s chance to sit next to Nolan Ryan during the Rangers-Rays game.

A year ago, many thought Martinez would figure in as a top 10 pick in this draft, based on his raw power at the plate and plus arm that reminded some of Alex Rodriguez and Adrian Beltre.  A shortstop that some think will outgrow the position and end up at third base, he struggled offensively as a high school senior this spring and was ignored until nearly midway through the draft, as teams figured he wouldn’t want to sell low on his potential and would go to the University of Miami rather than sign.  The Cuban-born Martinez, whose father was a water polo player and whose mother was a synchronized swimmer, is a very unlikely sign but, hey, Texas is the team that has his rights until August 15, and you n
ever know what could happen.

Petralli, the son of former Rangers catcher Geno Petralli, has been drafted five times: in 2004 (Dodgers, 26th round) out of Weatherford High School; in 2005 (Tigers, 15th round), 2006 (Tigers, 17th round), and 2007 (Rangers, 47th round) out of Sacramento City College — where Geno played collegiately and where Ben caught Bakersfield lefthander Zach Phillips; and on Friday, out of Oral Roberts University.  The great John Sickels projected Petralli as a potential fifth-rounder, based on power potential and solid plate discipline, plus good reports on his defense.

Robertson’s father is Rangers special assistant to the general manager Jay Robertson.  McGraw’s father is Rangers scout Gary McGraw.

Armstrong’s father is Jack Armstrong Sr.  The younger Armstrong, who has committed to Vanderbilt, stands 6’7″ and touches 92 mph, with projection to amp that up a bit as he fills out.

Ruettiger’s uncle is Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger, whose run as a football walk-on at Notre Dame inspired the classic movie.  The younger Ruettiger has committed to Arizona State.

Baseball America’s Jim Callis likes Rangers second-rounder Robbie Ross “as much as any high school lefty in the draft.”  (In his final mock draft, he had Ross as a possibility at number 26 to Arizona.)  Callis adds that Ross, whom the publication tabbed as having the second-best command of any high school pitcher in the draft, is seeking $1.575 million to sign.  

One other factor to consider is that John Cohen has left the head coach post at the University of Kentucky, where Ross has committed, in order to take over the program at Mississippi State, replacing the retiring Ron Polk.

Among Cohen’s potential freshmen is Colleyville Heritage third baseman Patrick Palmeiro, son of former Bulldogs star Rafael.  Pittsburgh used its 22nd-round pick on the younger Palmeiro on Friday.

Jason Botts homered in his final Rangers game.

He also homered in his final Oklahoma RedHawks game.

Pittsburgh signed Franklyn German to a minor league deal.

You can’t convince me that Scott Kazmir isn’t the best starting pitcher in baseball right now.  The guy is an amazing strike-thrower, and he throws great strikes.

Tom Grieve will work today’s series finale against the Rays before taking time away to undergo prostate cancer surgery.  Like Michael Young, Tom’s recovery time is expected to be close to three weeks, and like Michael, I suspect Tom isn’t interested in any down time.  But Tom is doing the right thing, and we’ll all look forward to getting him back in the booth later this month.

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


One of the reasons I was looking forward to getting Max involved in T-Ball this year, even though he’s still just three, was the chance to start teaching him the concept of “team.”  I think kids who are sports fans understand team on one level when they watch the Rangers or Cowboys or Stars or Mavs, but it’s different when they get the opportunity to play.

Baseball is, of course, a series of individual battles at its most elemental, but to share a uniform is to form and accept a bond, and it’s never too early for a kid to understand that — and as we’ve learned as Rangers fans in the last couple days, it’s not necessarily something that develops and sticks naturally, as surprising as that may be.

Being part of a team means to depend on each other and to step up to that responsibility, the responsibility of dependability, yourself.  To understand that if everyone pulls on the oar in sync, it works better.  To get that personalities don’t have to match, as long as they mesh.  One day it will be called chemistry, but it’s a bit soon for that.  

Team is a privilege.

I still remember realizing at age seven or eight that we had two or three guys on my Red Barons soccer team who were definitely better than me, and coming to terms with it in such a way that I wasn’t resentful, but instead pumped that they were on my team.  It’s just as important, I think, for kids to begin to get that, just as much as keeping the front shoulder down at the plate matters, or getting baseball-ready as the other team’s batter steps up matters, or rushing to the juice boxes and snacks after the good-game procession on the field matters.

And then you can only hope that the message sinks in, gets into the wiring.
Learning teamwork and character is one thing.  Consistency of character is another.

After this morning’s T-Ball game, it was on to swimming lessons for Max.  He went from squarely in his comfort zone to somewhat outside of it.  

But after a few early hesitant moments, he quickly bought in.  Soon that same smile and energy that he had two hours earlier as he tapped the plate with his bat were back.

It was another step in the right direction.  Take to coaching, learn to let the game come to you, and don’t fight it, and you won’t sink.  Relax, breathe, move forward.

We all know that sometimes, certainly in sports, talent trumps character, especially when the stakes get higher.  But not always.

You can only hope that the players you pull for, the ones your kids cheer for, back up the message by their actions.  Respect the game, respect yourself, and the game will respect you back.

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

Ponson designated for assignment

Stunning: The Rangers have designated righthander Sidney
Ponson for assignment, according to multiple local reports, after recent disrespectful
comments he made to players and staff on the team.  Rangers GM Jon Daniels, without getting into
specifics, said: “We don’t feel Sidney
deserves to be here or wants to be here.”

The club has 10 days to trade
or release Ponson, or run him through waivers, but it seems fairly clear that there
will be no effort to keep him in the organization.


THE NEWBERG REPORT — June 6, 2008: Day One of the Draft.

is a tale about draft philosophy.

right kind, and the wrong kind.

how advocates of the wrong kind can make Draft Day a significantly better one
for everyone else.

the Rangers were fortunate enough to land Mark Teixeira with the fifth pick in
the 2001 draft, it wasn’t necessarily because the teams ahead of them screwed
up.  Whether Teixeira’s contract demands
(he would eventually sign a four-year, $9.5 million major league deal) factored
into Minnesota’s choice of Joe Mauer (first)
or Philadelphia’s
choice of Gavin Floyd (fourth) doesn’t matter, because those clubs drafted
well.  The Cubs selected Mark Prior
(second), simply preferring him over Teixeira. 
Tampa Bay tabbed Dewon Brazelton (third) but
obviously that club was never going to meet Teixeira’s monetary demands.

are no such excuses for Justin Smoak — a switch-hitting, power/defense first
baseman drawing comparisons to Teixeira, for one — falling to Texas at pick number 11
yesterday.  It had absolutely nothing to
do with signability.

slide on Draft Day.  It happens.  Chances were decent that someone in the top
10 was going to fall a few spots, especially this year, when the first round
was as unsettled as any in memory.  It turns
out Smoak was that guy.

San Francisco sat at number five,
where it was predicted almost across the board that Smoak would land, and
decided to take Florida
State catcher Buster
Posey, a player whose rumored demands led some to believe he might fall to a
large-market team late in the round.  Florida, drafting sixth, then took California high school catcher Kyle

Houston, sitting at number 10,
did not stray from its apparent decision to draft for need.

Astros wanted Skipworth.  The final
Baseball America
mock predicted they’d get him.  But the
Marlins had foiled that plan at number six.

Cincinnati took Miami first baseman Yonder Alonso at
seven.  Camps are split on whether he or
Smoak is the better prospect.  Defensible

eight, the White Sox chose Georgia
shortstop Gordon Beckham, the player they apparently wanted all along.  Fine.

Washington selected Missouri righthander
Aaron Crow, maybe the top power pitcher among college draft-eligibles, at
number nine.  Certainly
understandable.  If the Rangers had gone for
pitching, he was the guy I was hoping for.

who was pegged to go third or fourth or fifth in most mocks I saw, and eighth
in a couple, was sitting there as the Astros went on the clock.  He had to be the consensus “best player
available” at that point, but if there were any teams or industry experts who
had Smoak elsewhere on their board based on pure talent and upside — even if
signability were factored in — I can guarantee you that it wasn’t because of
Stanford catcher Jason Castro.

Astros didn’t have the chance to take Skipworth, but that didn’t stop them from
making sure they filled their “need” by adding a catcher (24-year-old rookie
J.R. Towles, hitting a woeful .145, was optioned to AAA last night, and the
club’s 2006 number one pick, 20-year-old catcher Max Sapp, remains in Low A and
still isn’t hitting).  Houston took Castro, thought by most to
figure in somewhere in the last third of the first round, certainly in the last
half.  The great Kevin Goldstein of
Baseball Prospectus wrote, yesterday morning: “Stanford’s Jason Castro is the
third best catcher in the draft, and the gap between him and whoever teams
think is the fourth best on the board is wider than the Grand

goodness, from the Rangers’ standpoint, that Houston decided it absolutely had to grab a

week alone, various projections had Texas
using its first pick on Crow or Eric Hosmer or Christian Friedrich or Andrew
Cashner or Ethan Martin or Aaron Hicks or Gerrit Cole or Shooter Hunt.  Not one had Smoak available at number 11.

went for need, Texas (not worrying that adding a first baseman could fog up the
picture for either Chris Davis or Max Ramirez) took the best player available,
and I came away with this thought: As much as I was looking forward to drafting
immediately before Oakland all day, I found myself just as thankful to be
drafting right after Houston.

Rangers took six players on Thursday and will take another 44 today if they use
every pick available to them.  I knew
nothing about five of yesterday’s picks until after Texas called their names, and
it’s doubtful I’ll know much about today’s selections until doing a little
research, but the fact that Justin Smoak’s name tops our list makes the 2008
draft feel like a win already. 

much confidence as I have in Ron Hopkins and his team of scouts and
crosscheckers, I’m sure there will be a number of others to emerge from this
draft class to help this organization win at the big league level, one way or
another, but things sure got off to a sensational start early yesterday
afternoon, as it’s hard to dispute that Texas stayed true to its rational plan
and took what we can probably all agree was not only the best player available,
but in fact the best player available to the team picking immediately ahead of
the Rangers.

to the picks:

1 (11th overall). JUSTIN
SMOAK, 1B, Univ.
of South Carolina

(scout: Jim Cuthbert)

(last year’s first-round
picks: Blake Beavan and Michael Main; past Rangers first-round picks include John Danks, Thomas Diamond, Kasey Kiker, John
Mayberry Jr., Mark Teixeira, Rick Helling, Carlos Pena; best number 11 pick in
last 25 years: Shawn Estes [Mariners, 1991])

the 16th round of the 2005 draft, Oakland used
the 491st overall pick to select Smoak out of a South Carolina high school.  Four picks later, Minnesota
chose Yonder Alonso out of a Florida
high school.  There were plenty of people
who thought the two should have gone in that same order yesterday.  In fact, Goldstein wrote that Cincinnati, which drafted
Alonso at number seven, might have been the only team that did have Alonso
higher than Smoak on its board.

scouts suggest that Smoak, a Gold Glove-quality defender at first base (something
Alonso clearly is not) with huge power potential and an ability to run the
bases well despite below-average speed, could be a switch-hitting version of Adrian
Gonzalez or Justin Morneau.

that he could be Chipper Jones.

Mark Teixeira.


America ranked Smoak as the
number two power hitter among college players in this draft, behind Vanderbilt
third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who went number two to Pittsburgh.

Keith Law had Smoak as the number three player on his entire board.  When the Rangers made the choice, Law called
it the best pick in the draft.  A day
later, he gives Texas props for making the
second-best pick of the round, next to Colorado’s
selection of Friedrich at number 25.

has an easy swing with plus bat speed and strong wrists that generate prodigious
power from both sides of the plate.  Terrific
pitch recognition, hits to all fields.  Good
hands and feet defensively, and a solid arm. 

easily add good weight to his 6’4″, 215 frame. 

every game in his three years at South Carolina, earning Freshman All-America
honors when he hit .303 with 17 home runs and 63 RBI in 2006 (setting freshman school
records for home runs and RBI), and third team All-America recognition when he
hit .315 with 22 home runs and 72 RBI in 2007. 
This year, as a junior, he hit .383/.505/.757 with 23 home runs, 19
doubles, and 72 RBI in 63 games (235 at-bats), drawing more than twice as many
walks (57) as strikeouts (28).  Collegiate
Baseball made him a first-team All-America selection, and he was a
semi-finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, awarded to the college player of the

his three-year Gamecocks career, Smoak set school records for home runs (62), total
bases (485), RBI (207), and walks (151), and is among the greatest home run hitters
in SEC history.  Former Rangers first
baseman Rafael Palmeiro is fourth in the Conference with 67 career homers.  Former Rangers first baseman Will Clark is
sixth with 61.  Future Rangers first
baseman Smoak is fifth with his 62.

three hitters ahead of that trio, each of whom played three years of college
ball, compiled their totals in four years.

was the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Regionals each of the last two

bat concerns?  In the summer after his
freshman year, Smoak went to the Cape Cod League and was named its MVP (and top
prospect), leading the league with 11 home runs (in 154 at-bats over 39 games)
and a .565 slugging percentage as he hit .286 and added 10 doubles.  (On the other hand, playing for Team USA after his
sophomore season, he struggled, hitting just .223 with three homers and 19 RBI in
121 at-bats.)

the Athletics drafted Smoak out of Stratford High in Goose
Creek, South Carolina (where he
was a year behind Matt Wieters) in 2005, he projected to go well before the 16th
round but was thought to be a near-impossible sign due to his commitment to South Carolina.  Yet, if the reports are true, negotiations
evidently stalled with Oakland
at $950,000 and Smoak demanding $1 million. 


Billy Beane was thinking about that $50,000 gap when Texas
popped Smoak yesterday with Oakland
on deck?

advisors are Dustin and Hunter Bledsoe, who also advised him in his high school
negotiations with Oakland.  Hunter, a 32-year-old former SEC Player of
the Year as a Vanderbilt first baseman, spent four seasons in the Dodgers’ system
before splitting 2003 between the Yankees, Royals, and the independent

season is over (South Carolina
was eliminated on Sunday) but don’t count on him signing quickly.  He’ll probably come to terms, but as a player
who was widely projected to go several spots earlier, chances are that negotiations
could take a while.  Slot calls for about
$2 million.  It will probably take more
to get a deal done, and Texas
and Smoak will have until August 15 to do so (or else Smoak returns to school
for his senior year and the Rangers will get an extra first-round pick next year
as compensation).  But – worst case
scenario – even if negotiations were to take so long that the first time Smoak
suits up is in Surprise at Fall Instructs, this is a player who nonetheless could
arrive by 2010.

he demand a major league contract (which means a 40-man roster spot)?  Don’t know. 
That’s fairly significant, especially given the current crowd on the
roster and the Rule 5-related decisions facing this club the next two winters.

the Smoak pick mean that Davis
could become a designated hitter candidate rather than this club’s next first
baseman?  (Doubt he moves back to third,
where I bet Michael Young moves next season and where Johnny Whittleman
continues to develop.)  And what would
that mean for Ramirez, who would then be blocked at catcher (Jarrod
Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden), first base (Smoak), and DH (Davis)? 

matter.  If you’re in a position to trade
Saltalamacchia or Teagarden or Davis
or Ramirez or Smoak without creating a hole developmentally, that’s one heck of
a good problem to have.  That’s why you
take the best player available.

final comment from Goldstein, during an in-draft chat session: “Congrats
Rangers fans, you just found your replacement for Mark Teixeira.  Just a crazy, crazy steal.  The Rangers could have picked fourth or fifth
and not done better.”


2 (57). ROBBIE ROSS,
LHP, Lexington Christian
Academy (Ky.)

(scout: John Poloni)

(last year: Matt West;
previously: Johnny Whittleman, K.C. Herren, Vincent Sinisi, Nick Regilio, Jason
Bourgeois, Jason Grabowsk; best number 57 pick in last 25 years: Jon Lester
[Red Sox, 2002])

all the depth that the Rangers are accumulating in pitching prospects on the
farm, the vast majority are righthanders. 
All things equal, you’d rather have a lefthander in Rangers Ballpark,
given the jet stream to right center, and Texas took three southpaws among its six
picks on Thursday.  Ross was the first,
and might be the most challenging to sign.

is an athletic 5’11”, 185, somewhere between Kasey Kiker and John Danks in stature and just as competitive.  Featuring a fastball that sits at 90-92 mph with
life and touches 94, he pounds the strike zone (just six walks in 51 innings as
he went 5-2, 1.51 with 75 strikeouts), mixing in a solid breaking ball and
change with a good feel for pitching.  He
also hit .473 as a first baseman, swatting 13 doubles in 32 games and driving
in 22 runs.  There’s a lot about that
profile that might remind you of Danks (whose 18-year-old curve Ross’s slider
attracts the same sort of praise as).  Or
maybe a left-handed version of Michael Main, a few ticks down on the radar gun.

who turns 19 later this month, is the reigning Gatorade Kentucky Baseball Player
of the Year.  He has committed to the University of Kentucky, and the Rangers will likely have
to go over the nearly $600,000 slot to keep him from honoring it.  He’s represented by Dustin and Hunter
Bledsoe, just as Smoak is.

ranked Ross as the number 43 prospect in this draft, and the signability issue is
probably the reason he fell to pick number 57. 
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Ross was hoping to be chosen
by the Yankees or Boston.  People usually aren’t fans of both teams, which
may suggest that his fondness for those two might have more to do with a
perceived ability to pay.  

to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, Ross is said to be seeking something in the neighborhood
of $1.5 million, which is mid-first-round money (and north of what Texas paid Blake Beavan [$1.4975 million] and Main [$1.2375 million] last summer . . . and also what fourth-rounder
Marcus Lemon said he needed to forgo his UT commitment in 2006 before settling on
$1 million).  Should the Rangers fail to
get a deal done with Ross, they would get a compensation pick immediately after
the 11th spot in the second round of the 2009 draft.

the Rangers don’t go into this unaware of Ross’s demands.  Have faith in this getting done.


3 (89). TIM MURPHY, LHP,

(scout: Todd Guggiana)

(last year: Evan Reed;
previously: Hank Blalock, Taylor Teagarden, Michael Schlact, Chad Tracy, Barry
Zito, Ryan Dempster, John Hudgins; best number 89 pick in last 25 years: Justin
Morneau [Twins, 1999], Chris Young [Pirates, 2000])

the second lefthander in the Rangers’ draft haul, differs from Ross in that Murphy
is a college pitcher, complements an average fastball (with arm-side sink and
run) with a devastating breaking ball, and gets hitters out with an advanced ability
to change speeds.  He’s more of a
pitchability type than Ross, though he’s had issues walking batters.  In 102.1 innings this year, Murphy has walked
46 hitters (though he also punched 111 out and permitted only 83 hits).  His workload and strikeout total led the Pac-10

Ross and Murphy share, according to Jon Daniels, is standout competitiveness on
the mound.  Murphy challenges hitters with
his four-seam fastball and 11-5 curve, and showed an ability to get out of
trouble that could bode well for a future as a reliever if he doesn’t develop adequately
as a starter.

was a quarterback in high school, drafted in the 11th round in 2005 by the Angels
as an outfielder.  As a freshman at UCLA,
he played center field but didn’t pitch, not taking the mound until his sophomore
and junior years.  He has a 10-10, 4.34
records in 27 Bruins starts and 10 relief appearances. 

in the 2008 season, Murphy was projected to go higher than the third round, but
he ran into command issues late in the season that reportedly impacted his
draft position.  He was Baseball America’s number 63 draft prospect, but Texas was able to get
him at number 89.


4 (123). JOE WIELAND,
RHP, Bishop Manogue
High School (Nev.)

(scout: Butch Metzger)

(last year: Garrett Nash
[unsigned]; previously: Brandon Boggs, Wes Littleton, Marcus Lemon, Kevin
Mench, Laynce Nix, Ryan Glynn; best number 123 pick in last 25 years: Steve
Sparks [Brewers, 1987])

lone righthander in the Rangers’ Day One crop, Wieland is also the most projectable
of the four pitchers Texas
chose.  A lanky, athletic 6’3″, 175, the
Nevada High School Player of the Year has room to grow, and the low-90s readings
on the gun (with sink and arm-side run) may not be where his velocity caps

went 7-2, 2.04 with 115 strikeouts and 15 walks in 72 innings this year, showing
uncanny command of three pitches while hitting .556 with 12 home runs and a
state-record 76 RBI (that, according to one source, actually led the nation).

by Baseball America
as the number 93 draft prospect in the country, Wieland evoked one comparison
to Mark Prior in terms of his exquisite command of a power arsenal and advanced
feel for the craft.

has committed to San Diego
State, which has offered
him the chance to pitch and hit.  Texas failed to sign last year’s fourth-round pick, Utah high school
outfielder Garrett Nash, but as the club took seven players in rounds one
through three in 2007 and paid some of them above slot, it was a different situation.  Chances should be better that the Rangers get
a deal done with Wieland.


5 (153). CLARK MURPHY,
OF, Fallbrook HS (Calif.)

(scout: Steve Flores)

(last year: John Gast
[unsigned]; previously: C.J. Wilson, Chris Davis, Michael Kirkman, Warren
Morris, Mike Nickeas, Matt Lorenzo, Ryan Dittfurth; best number 153 pick in
last 25 years: Ryan Drese [Indians, 1998], Mark Lowe [Mariners, 2004])

was the first player Texas chose yesterday
ahead of where Baseball America
had him slotted.  The publication ranked
the 18-year-old as the draft’s number 191 prospect.

big athlete (6’3″, 200) who played outfield and first base in high school and has
prompted comparisons to Ryan Klesko, Murphy hit .470 with 12 home runs, 25 RBI,
and 12 stolen bases in just 78 at-bats this season.  Scouts, however, expected more in 2008 than
what they saw out of Murphy, who dropped jaws with a power show he put on with
the wood bat at a June 2007 showcase event. 
The left-handed hitter/thrower injured a quad muscle and reportedly struggled
a bit in fall and winter showcases.

are thoughts that Murphy’s swing might need to be rebuilt, but the raw skills
are such that if he does find some consistency with his mechanics, the upside could
be substantial.

about this: Avowed proponents of strength up the middle, the two hitters that Texas took among their
six Day One selections both play on corners. 
More evidence of a franchise staying true to the best player available approach,
rather than typecasting on Draft Day.

has committed to UCLA as a fallback should he not sign.

Louisville third baseman Chris
Dominguez, the Rangers’ 17th-round pick in 2005, was Colorado’s fifth-round selection yesterday.


LHP, Florida Gulf Coast Univ.

(scout: Juan Alvarez)

(last year: Bobby
Wilkins; previously: German Duran, Jake Brigham, Billy Susdorf, John Connally
Barnett, Adam Bourassa, Aaron Harang, Danny Kolb; best number 183 pick in last
25 years: James Mouton [Astros, 1991])

Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year, Bleier went 7-1, 2.09 with 76
strikeouts and 17 walks in 90.1 innings for Florida Gulf
Coast in 2008, limiting
opposing batters to a .232 average.  He
works at 87-91 mph, pounding the strike zone with a four-pitch assortment,
which sounds a lot like former Angels/Rangers/Marlins reliever Juan Alvarez, the
Rangers area scout who recommended yesterday’s selection.

Bleier worked out for a number of teams leading up to the draft but says he hadn’t
had any contact whatsoever with the Rangers, who made the lefthander their
final Day One pick.

area scout for the Reds told a Southwest Florida
reporter that Bleier gets better late in games, losing a little velocity but
gaining sink in the process.

says his career aspiration has been to be a pro baseball player or a lawyer.  Respect.

America did not list Bleier among
its top 200 draft prospects but did rank him as the number 21 prospect in the
hotbed state of Florida.

line that I confer on Josh Lewin and promise never to use in a Newberg Report:
Where there’s Smoak, there’s Bleier.

Milwaukee used its sixth-round
pick on Texas A&M shortstop Jose Duran, the younger brother of Rangers
infielder/outfielder German Duran.  The
sixth round, and Day One, ended with Longhorns outfielder Jordan Danks undrafted.


sure to stop by Eleanor Czajka’s unparalleled Rangers Draft Page at http://www.dickiethon.com/eczajka/draft_2008.htm,
where she has compiled scouting reports, scouting video, school bios, and
player photos for each Rangers pick. 
Yesterday’s six picks are already up, and she’ll put new pages up as today’s
Best Players Available are singled out and chosen by the Rangers.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — June 5, 2008: Every pick matters.

out how to spend the million(s) it will take to sign your first-round pick is
crucial, but even though for most of us, the names get a lot less familiar
after that, the work is no less important.

this: Nine of the 30 pitchers assigned to start Wednesday’s games around the
league were first-round picks.  Not
surprising.  But six of them (Roy Oswalt,
Ted Lilly, Zack Duke, Manny Parra, Mark Hendrickson, and Jesse Litsch) were
taken in the 20th round or later.

Rangers have had a 2006 draft pick already get to the big leagues.  Danny Ray Herrera was their 45th-round selection. 

club’s 25th-rounder that year, lefthander Derek Holland, is probably nearly as
untouchable as first-rounder Kasey Kiker and fifth-rounder Chris Davis.  Every pick matters.

group would you rather have today: Dave Krynzel, Kenny Baugh, Jeremy Hermida, Michael
Aubrey, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, Max Scherzer, and Phillipe Aumonte?

Joel Hanrahan, Dallas McPherson, Jon Lester, Jerry Owens, Curtis Thigpen, Jon
Egan, Josh Rodriguez, and Mitch Canham?

of you will say Group Two, and I’m not sure I wouldn’t based on Lester

point?  Group One includes the players
taken with the 11th overall pick this decade. 
Group Two is all of those chosen at number 57, which is where Texas sits in Round Two
today.  Again: Every pick matters. 

Rangers’ second-rounder last year, Houston Bellaire infielder Matt West, was a
footnote in the local papers because Texas
had already selected five other players in the first and supplemental first rounds
before getting around to West. 

another way to look at it is that the Rangers’ final supplemental first-rounder
last year was Alabama righthander Tommy Hunter,
who is on a tear right now toward Arlington.  He was chosen 54th overall, a lot closer to
today’s second-round position than West (number 80) was.

again, the 2007 draft crop was exponentially deeper at the top than this year’s
— the players chosen in the 50’s last June probably would have projected a
dozen spots higher today, or more.

Texas will make its third-round
pick at number 89 today.  In the 2000
draft, another one considered to be relatively weak in the first few rounds,
who went 89th?  Princeton righthander
Chris Young, to Pittsburgh.

for draft philosophy, we’ve talked about it repeatedly: you hope that your team
drafts the best player available when its turn comes up, regardless of
position, not only because it’s crazy to assume you can anticipate what your
big league needs will be in three or four years, but also because prospects
frequently get traded for major leaguers, and you obviously aren’t going to be
able to predict what teams you’ll potentially be dealing with three or four
years down the road — or what those
needs will be.

of last night’s starting pitchers were traded to their current teams by Texas:

Cincinnati‘s Edinson Volquez
two-hit Philadelphia
over seven scoreless innings, fanning eight and earning his eighth win.

Oakland‘s Justin Duchscherer
lowered his ERA to 2.32 after holding Detroit
to two runs on three hits in 6.2 innings, getting his fifth win of the season.

Sox southpaw John Danks held Kansas City to two runs in 5.2 innings — his ERA is 2.11
in his last 10 starts — but got a no-decision when the Chicago bullpen coughed up a 4-2 lead.

an undrafted Latin American signing, was basically anonymous until after he’d
ditched his “Julio Reyes” cover.  Texas traded him well.

was originally an eighth-round pick by Boston.  The Red Sox traded him well, sending him to Texas for veteran
catcher Doug Mirabelli.  For that matter,
it was a sensible deal for the Rangers. 
But they then traded him poorly, shipping him to Oakland
during spring training in 2002 for Luis Vizcaino but flipping Vizcaino to Milwaukee less than a
week later for a hugely disappointing left-handed minor league reliever named
Jesus Pena.

of course, was a Rangers first-round pick, taken ninth in 2003 out of Round Rock
High School.  Texas
hasn’t chosen that high since.  It was a
sensational pick.  Some will suggest that
the book shouldn’t yet be closed on the trade that sent him to Chicago, but it looks
terrible right now.  An argument can be
made that the White Sox wouldn’t trade Danks for Delmon Young, Nick Markakis,
or any of the other six players who went ahead of him in that year’s draft.

the point, at least for today’s purposes, is that the Danks pick, made on a
recommendation by prolific area scout Randy Taylor, was a great one.  There will be players drafted today and
tomorrow who, if they develop well, will help Texas by being traded.  Whether they are traded well is an issue for
another day. 

job of Rangers scouting director Ron Hopkins, baseball operations manager Jake
Krug, national crosschecker Kip ****, his regional lieutenants Kevin Bootay,
Mike Grouse, and Doug Harris, and their team of nearly 20 area scouts, guided
by a draft philosophy espoused by Jon Daniels, is to find kids today and
tomorrow who they believe, in the hands of Scott Servais and his entire player
development crew and the organization’s farm instructors and managers and
coaches, will take to instruction and develop into players that at least one
franchise will believe belong in the big leagues — whether it’s the Rangers
themselves or another club that has something else Texas wants.

seen nothing more than a little video on these guys, which means my opinion is
meaningless, I think the result that would excite me the most this afternoon
would be to hear Texas call the name of Aaron Crow or Aaron Hicks (or Eric
Hosmer, but it’s looking almost out of the question that he’ll be there at

some by Christian Friedrich and Ethan Martin and the college first basemen,
Yonder Alonso and Justin Smoak. 

as fired up about Andrew Cashner or Shooter Hunt or Gerrit Cole.

what do I know?  Almost everyone who
covers the draft for a living says this is the most unpredictable first round
in many years.  I’m not going to pretend
I know which way Texas
should go.

just ready for this thing to get underway so I can start to get my head wrapped
around the upside of the five new players that the Rangers will add to their
deep farm system today, and another few dozen tomorrow. 

your mailbox for up-to-the-minute news flashes from Scott Lucas as each Rangers
pick comes down today, and for a really, really long Newberg Report tomorrow.

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



Final guesses on the Rangers’ first-round pick from the

Jim Callis, Baseball America:  RHP Ethan Martin, Stephens
County HS

Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com: 
RHP Aaron Crow, University
of Missouri

Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus:  Crow

Keith Law, ESPN:  Crow

Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News:  Crow (or LHP Christian Friedrich, Eastern Kentucky, if Crow is gone)

T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com: 
RHP Shooter Hunt, Tulane

For what it’s worth, Callis has
Crow going ninth to Washington, two spots
before Texas

Harrison up, Botts out

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that lefthander Matt
Harrison has been promoted from Frisco to Oklahoma, and a Japanese website called
sanspo.com reports that the Nippon Ham Fighters will soon announce the
acquisition of RedHawks first baseman Jason Botts.


Draft buzz

The formidable Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com projects this morning that the Rangers will take TCU righthander Andrew Cashner with pick number 11 tomorrow.

ESPN draft expert Keith Law suggests the pick will be Eastern Kentucky lefthander Christian Friedrich.

And then there’s this:

Baseball Prospectus guru Kevin Goldstein has Texas taking Missouri righthander Aaron Crow, who had been projected to go much higher in recent weeks.

While Baseball America’s latest mock is not yet published, there’s this note in their draft buzz: “Now, even the two top college starters on the board, San Diego’s Brian Matusz and Missouri’s Aaron Crow, could be losing a little steam. It’s through nothing they did or didn’t do, but sources indicate the relative strength of the bats available toward the top of the draft was pushing Matusz and Crow down draft boards. Indications are now that Crow could slip all the way out of the Top 10 in some scenarios.”

BA’s Jim Callis suggests Crow could be the guy, but if he doesn’t get all the way to number 11, Friedrich is a good bet.

I still love the idea of California high school center fielder/righthander Aaron Hicks, mainly as an everyday player.

Things are heating up – even if they aren’t getting any clearer.


daily Josh Hamilton vitamin:

Hamilton is back in the American
League lead in the three Triple Crown categories, sitting at .329 with 17 home
runs and 67 RBI.  According to Elias, the
only other player in the American League in the last 35 years to lead all three
categories this late in the season was Manny Ramirez, who did it in 2001.

No word from Elias as to the last time a player led the league
this late in all three Triple Crown categories and played defense.

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


You really need to read Jennifer Floyd Engel’s excellent feature on Milton Bradley in this morning’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  Don’t yet trust those who suggest Bradley is not a bad teammate?  Trust Josh Hamilton: “[Milton and I] talked about our pasts a little bit, similarities,” Hamilton said.  “He’s one of the best guys I have met in baseball, not only as a teammate but as a player.”

Home runs from both sides of the plate tonight.  A .323 average and an OPS north of 1.000.  The kind of fire that this team needs from at least one of its veterans.

Love that guy.  Love him, love him, love him.

As for Hamilton, since the Sports Illustrated cover was unveiled, he’s gone 10 for 29 (.345/.387/.931) with five home runs and 14 RBI in seven games and surged forward in the All-Star vote.  

The dude is such a freak that he turns the Jinx on its ear.

Can you believe tonight’s intentional walk was Hamilton’s first of the season?

Hamilton’s change at agent is interesting given the timing, as stories have circulated the last few days that the Rangers and Hamilton have had preliminary discussions about a long-term contract.  Hamilton’s new representative, Mike Moye, has engineered long-term extensions to stay put for his three most prominent clients, Josh Beckett, Lance Berkman, and Todd Helton.  Bodes well for a deal to get done, if that’s what the two sides are shooting for.

Moye is apparently a friend of Hamilton’s father-in-law, with whom Hamilton is very close.

Hamilton leaves Sosnick Cobbe Sports, among whose clients is Reds rookie phenom Jay Bruce, the 21-year-old whose rapid development prompted Cincinnati to even entertain the idea of trading Hamilton this winter.

Speaking of the trade, a bunch of you have written me and posted messages on the website asking if there was any way Texas could have pulled the Hamilton trade off without including Edinson Volquez, perhaps putting Eric Hurley in the deal and adding another top prospect.  

Don’t you think Reds fans are asking why their since-ousted general manager Wayne Krivsky couldn’t have wrested Volquez free without giving up Hamilton?  Don’t you think they’re wondering why they couldn’t have foisted Adam Dunn on the Rangers instead?

Face it: We now know that Texas offered something like 15 different combinations to Cincinnati in an effort to get Hamilton without including Volquez, and that the trade discussions spanned at least a month.  Accept it for what it is — two teams selling high and rolling the dice on the high upsides they were getting in return — and thank whatever higher power you thank for allowing you to be a fan of this team at a time when it suits up arguably the best and most exciting baseball player in the world.

Cincinnati, incidentally, purchased the contract this afternoon of diminutive left-handed slopballer Danny Ray Herrera, the second player that Texas sent the Reds to get Hamilton.  The 23-year-old, who was drafted by the Rangers in the 45th round in 2006, had a 1.85 ERA between the AA Chattanooga and AAA Lousiville bullpens this spring, scattering 26 hits and 11 walks in 39 innings while fanning 26.  

Herrera debuted for Cincinnati today, throwing a hitless, scoreless seventh (one walk, two strikeouts) in relief of former Rangers prospect Aaron Harang in a game that featured one Reds home run, off the bat of third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who like Herrera was once tacked onto a Reds-Rangers trade, joining Ruben Mateo in the 2001 deal for Rob Bell.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia looked really, really good at the plate tonight.

That ball that Ian Kinsler crushed to right center in the fifth tonight, only to have it chased down by Franklin Gutierrez for a sacrifice fly, reminded me of something I wrote while at spring training:

“Yesterday I saw Kinsler take batting practice for the third or fourth time since getting out here, and it struck me that the kid who hit .400 in Clinton and slugged .500 as a minor leaguer nonetheless has to be one of Rudy Jaramillo’s proudest sculptures.  Kinsler has come a long way from the dead pull hitter he was on the farm to a potential star who has learned to quiet those lightning-quick hands enough to create a legitimate spray chart.  In batting practice, he’s showing an ability to hit the ball to right center with tremendous authority, and I think we’re about to see a player about whom we should be thinking not about 30-30 but about 30-30-.300, a leadoff hitter whose power may make him even more dangerous than Craig Biggio.”

Kinsler, who entered the season as a career .274 hitter, is on pace for a .309-20-45 season.

Hits in 18 straight for Kinsler, 19 for Michael Young — the longest American League streak this year and tied for the longest in the big leagues.

Another thing I wrote in camp:

“I’m still hanging onto my prediction that Josh Rupe is this year’s pitching surprise.”

What Rupe brought to the mound tonight was why.  He has phenomenal stuff, and harnessed it tonight, firing what would have been 2.2 scoreless innings (two hits, one walk, two strikeouts, 61 percent strikes) had Jamey Wright not allowed two inherited runners to score.

Very ill wind blowing as far as Wright is concerned.  He’s faced eight hitters the last two days and retired nobody.

I don’t know how bad this left rotator cuff strain is for A.J. Murray, but it’s terrible news for the 26-year-old, whose two shoulder surgeries cost him the 2004 and 2006 seasons in their entirety.

There’s undoubtedly one pitcher coming up to reinforce the decimated bullpen for tomorrow’s game, possibly two.  As far as roster members are concerned, Wes Littleton pitched two-thirds of an inning tonight for Oklahoma but needed only eight pitches.  Kameron Loe will be eligible for a recall only if there’s a corresponding disabled list move (since Loe hasn’t been optioned for at least 10 days, he can’t be called up otherwise), and that looks like an obvious possibility given the Murray diagnosis.  

Kason Gabbard (who pitched for the RedHawks yesterday) and Luis Mendoza (who was spanked on Saturday) aren’t coming up.  Warner Madrigal has had a really unusual usage pattern, pitching on the 20th, 25th, and 30th, one inning in each appearance, and I’d be a little surprised to see him come up, but given how thin the bullpen is stretched right now, I suppose it can’t be ruled out.

There is room on the 40-man roster, however, to dip down for a non-roster pitcher or two, if that’s the way the club wants to go.  Kazuo Fukumori (two innings), Bill White (one inning), and Kea Kometani (1.1 innings) all threw tonight, though that certainly doesn’t disqualify them.  Could Elizardo Ramirez be summoned as an emergency long man?  If so, he’d be asked to work on three days’ rest — just like tomorrow’s starter, Sidney Ponson.  The Lizard (5-3, 3.65, 13 walks in 66.2 innings) went 6.2 frames on Saturday.  

Or how about Frisco journeyman Brian Gordon, who could be this year’s Bill White, showing up out of seemingly nowhere?  The 29-year-old, quietly acquired from Houston about five weeks ago, has been unbelievable out of the RoughRiders’ bullpen, scattering seven hits (.113 opponents’ average) and two walks in 18.2 innings, fanning 16, throwing 68 percent of his pitches for strikes, and sporting a 0.00 ERA (one unearned run).  He last pitched on Saturday, and seven of his 12 appearances have exceeded an inning.  Four times he’s thrown more than 30 pitches.  Gordon could be a serious candidate — not for a long-term role but perhaps to help save the pen at the moment.

According to Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the reason Vicente Padilla was placed on the bereavement list was to be with his daughter in Nicar
agua.  I don’t like the sound of that.  Thoughts and prayers.  

Frisco’s Max Ramirez won the organization’s minor league player of the month award for May on the strength of his amazing .394/.465/.717 run.  Clinton righthander Neftali Feliz, who took pitcher of the month honors, went 3-0, 0.29 in six May starts, giving up one earned run on 19 hits (.181 opponents’ average) and eight walks in 31.1 innings, with 32 punchouts and a 1.90 groundout-to-flyout ratio.  Defender of the month Manny Pina, Bakersfield’s primary catcher, has gunned down 21 of 62 would-be basestealers and has yet to commit an error this season.

Baseball America published a list of the best prospects in baseball thus far this season, and Ramirez checked in at number eight.

Frisco shortstop Elvis Andrus, who has missed a week and a half with a broken finger on his right hand, should be back in action in another couple weeks.  He’s already taking ground balls.

Joaquin Arias made his second appearance at shortstop last night, his first since May 25.  He’s playing somewhere every other day.

Clinton, owners of the best winning percentage in baseball, was rewarded with nine selections to the Midwest League All-Star Game roster.  Starting will be catcher Jose Felix, first baseman Ian Gac, shortstop Renny Osuna, and outfielder Mitch Moreland.  Feliz, Kennil Gomez, and a third unidentified pitcher (either Derek Holland or Blake Beavan got dissed, in that case) were chosen, as were two unidentified reserves (perhaps outfielders Engel Beltre and Tim Smith?).

According to Baseball America, the Rangers released righthanders Kyle Rogers and Victor Prieto.  There were high hopes for Rogers in particular, after the 2004 13th-rounder had an impressive 2006 season, but elbow surgery wiped out his 2007 and he had yet to appear this year.

Detroit designated righthander Francisco Cruceta for assignment.

The Laredo Broncos of the independent United League named Mickey Callaway pitching coach.  The Edmonton Cracker Cats of the independent Golden Baseball League signed infielder-outfielder Ruddy Yan.

I’ll give you a free 2005, 2006, or 2007 Bound Edition in exchange for every Rangers media guide you send me from any of the following years: 1975, 1979, 1982, 1984, or 1985.  First come, first served, though — I don’t need three 1984 media guides.

Shopping on Amazon.com for Father’s Day?  If you plan to do so, please click the Amazon.com link on the top of any page on www.NewbergReport.com first.  By going through the link, any purchases you then make at Amazon.com will kick a small referral fee to the Newberg Report (at no cost to you), which we’ll use to help upgrade our website features.

Time to gear up for the draft, which begins on Thursday.  Texas will select five new players by the time Day One ends.  Presumably none will be asked to help fortify the big club’s bullpen this week.

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

Rangers minor league award winners for May

The Rangers have announced the following organizational minor
league award winners for the month of May:

* Player of the Month: Frisco C/1B/DH Max Ramirez

* Pitcher of the Month: Clinton RHP Neftali Feliz

* Defender of the Month: Bakersfield C Manny Pina