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The Rangers make their pitch
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06/04/2003  1:49 AM ET 
The Rangers make their pitch
By Ken Sins / Special to MLB.com Vote now for the 2003 All-Star game
John Danks was chosen by a home-state team in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.
Rangers draft picks

ARLINGTON -- The Texas Rangers arrived on the first day of Tuesday's 2003 First-Year Player Draft searching for pitching depth.

Mission accomplished.

Texas came away with 10 pitchers in its first 20 picks, six of the first 10 in a group headlined by ninth overall selection John Danks, considered the top high school left-hander in the class.

After taking Danks, Rangers assistant general manager for scouting and player development Grady Fuson then quick-stepped back into the draft room and kept adding pitchers.

Like most of his peers, Fuson believes that the larger the pitching pool, the better the odds that a few will reach the majors. That's especially true for the pitching-poor Rangers.

Texas selected three college right-handers -- John Hudgins (Stanford), Wes Littleton (Cal-Fullerton) and Mathew Lorenzo (Kent State) -- in rounds three through five.

Later, the Rangers took two more developmental left-handers and an additional four right-handers to bolster their minor league numbers.

"Certainly we wanted to address pitching and we were hoping it would be available," Fuson said, summing up an exhausting day. "We didn't think there would be as much depth as there was."

After Danks, the Rangers stayed in state in the second round, selecting outfielder Vincent Sinisi from Rice in Houston, currently polling as the number one college team in the nation.

Fuson said that Sinisi's is being advised by Scott Boras, meaning that signing Sinisi could be a problem. Another potential snag is that Sinisi is sophomore eligible, so he can re-enter next year's draft. Rice is a strong academic school where players don't tend to come out early.

But Fuson feels that Sinisi, one of the top college hitters, is worth the risk. Scouts have compared Sinisi to another Rice product, Lance Berkman, only without the power of Berkman.

So far this season Sinisi is hitting a team leading .361 and has a .526 slugging percentage for Rice, which is in this weekend's NCAA Super Regional in Houston.

Fuson then scoured the college pitching ranks, starting with Hudgins, who was drafted by Fuson out of high school when Fuson ran Oakland's drafts.

Hudgins paced the Pac-10 with 88 strikeouts, 90.0 innings, 12 starts and a .230 opponents' batting average. He has a 7-2 record with a 2.90 ERA and three complete games.

"He's probably one of the most accomplished pitchers available in the draft," Fuson said.

A junior, Littleton posted a 5-3 record with a 3.82 era in 77.2 innings for Cal-Fullerton. In 2002, he went 9-4 with a 2.40 ERA that led the Big West Conference and was sixth in the nation for pitchers with 100-plus innings.

"He doesn't have the most overpowering fastball but he has a good fastball with a good changeup," Fuson said. "He's had some bigger years in the past but he throws about 92 mph."

Lorenzo went 6-5 with a 3.64 era in 71.2 innings in 2003. He held opposing hitters to a .207 average and struck out a team leading 78, including 25 looking. In 2002, he was 6-3 and posted one save for Kent State after going 4-0 as a freshman for Georgia Tech.

"He's got a good slider and a history of winning," Fuson said.

In the sixth round, the Rangers selected center fielder Adam Bourassa from Wake Forest, a 2002 second team All-America by Baseball Weekly.

The Rangers went back in state and back into the pitching pool in the seventh round, taking right-hander Matthew Farnum from Texas A&M. Farnum went 7-2 record with a 4.20 era in 2003, striking out 54 batters in 70.2 innings. He was 6-2 in 23 appearances in 2002.

University of North Carolina first baseman Jeremy Cleveland was Rangers' eighth round pick. Cleveland led the Tar Heels with a 406 average, 20 doubles, 19 homers, 64 RBIs and a .730 slugging percentage.

Texas selected Stanford left-hander Tim Cunningham in the ninth round. He has a career record of 21-5 with a 3.97 ERA for the Cardinal.

Ohio University third baseman Adam Fox went to the Rangers in the 10th round. Fox paced the Bobcats with 14 home runs and 61 RBIs. He ranks second in school history with 38 homers and 405 total bases and has a career batting average of .368.

"We came out of this very well," Fuson said. "There's not a (scout) in this room that isn't happy."

Ken Sins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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