Prospect leading candidate for LF; Texas also lands Bostick, deals Gentry, Lindblom
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers added a significant young power-hitting outfielder when they acquired Michael Choice from the Athletics on Tuesday.
Texas sent outfielder Craig Gentry and pitcher Josh Lindblom to Oakland, and the club also acquired Minor League second baseman Chris Bostick in return. Choice was the 10th overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of UT-Arlington, and he ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the A's organization by MLB.com. He's now rated No. 3 on Texas' Top 20 Prospects list.
Prospects acquired by Rangers
Michael Choice: The 10th overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Choice signed for $2 million and led the high Class A California League with 30 homers in his first full pro season (2011). He had his encore campaign ruined when a pitch broke his left hand, but he bounced back in 2013, batting .302/.390/.445 at Triple-A Sacaramento. Choice's best tool is his plus right-handed power, which he generates with bat speed and strength. While he does strike out, his patience and approach could allow him to hit for a solid average as well. Though he has played mostly center field in the Minors, Choice has average speed and arm strength and fits better in a corner-outfield spot. He made his Major League debut in September and could emerge as the Rangers' starter in left field in 2014.
Chris Bostick: The lone high school player signed by the Athletics in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Bostick gave up a St. John's scholarship for a $125,000 bonus as a 44th-rounder. He reached full-season ball for the first time in 2013, turning in a solid .282/.354/.452 season with 25 steals at low Class A Beloit. Bostick doesn't have a standout tool, but his fine instincts allow him to get the most out of his ability. He has more pop than most middle infielders, but he will need to cut down on his strikeouts to remain productive at higher levels. Bostick could provide enough offense to become a big league regular, though he might fit better as a utilityman. An average runner with a fringy arm, he needs to soften his hands up at second base.
Choice is the leading candidate to be the Rangers' starting left fielder, even though he has just nine games of Major League experience. He will participate in a news conference with general manager Jon Daniels Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. CT. It can be seen live on MLB.com and TexasRangers.com.
"In looking at our club and our organization, we put a priority on run production this winter," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We think Michael is a guy who fits that profile. He has hit everywhere he has been: high school, college, up through the Minors. He hits both right-handed and left-handed pitchers and really drives the ball."
Choice, a right-handed hitter, played in 132 games at Triple-A Sacramento last year and hit .302 with 29 doubles, 14 home runs, 89 RBIs, a .390 on-base percentage and a .445 slugging percentage. He hit .300 against right-handers and .308 against left-handers. He was called up to the A's in September and was 5-for-18 with one double in nine games.
The Rangers, who went into the offseason looking for offensive help, are likely still in the market for a more experienced bat -- either for the outfield or at designated hitter. But Choice, who turned 24 last month, gives Texas a young outfielder who could develop into a serious middle-of-the-order hitter in a short amount of time. That could mean being in the Opening Day outfield along with center fielder Leonys Martin and right fielder Alex Rios.
"Where Michael is at in his career and his potential, the opportunity is there to make a contribution right away," Daniels said. "We have four months before Opening Day, so things change. If today was March 31 and we were getting ready to play the Phillies, we're comfortable we can put together a quality outfield. But it is Dec. 3. We still have time to see what's out there. We could add somebody else to the mix or we may go with what we've got."
Choice has been told the opportunity is there. But, as is the case with Jurickson Profar at second base, the Rangers want him to earn the job.
"My job is to get ready this offseason, come into Spring Training in the best shape possible and win a job and prove I am ready for a starting role," Choice said. "My main goal is to help this team win and produce runs."
Choice lives in South Arlington and went to high school at nearby Mansfield Timberview.
"I feel great about it," Choice said. "I grew up here, I have been to Rangers games with my dad. To be here and say I'm going to play in front of my home crowd is an awesome feeling."
Bostick is not an insignificant part of the deal. He was drafted in the 44th round of the 2011 Draft out of Rochester (N.Y.) Aquinas Institute and turned down a scholarship to St. John's to sign with the Athletics. He played at Class A Beloit in the Midwest League this past season, hitting .282 with 75 runs scored, 25 doubles, 14 home runs, 89 RBI and 25 stolen bases. He was ranked as the No. 17 prospect in the A's organization by MLB.com.
"He is an athletic middle infielder who can swing the bat," Daniels said. "Both guys have very good ability on the field and tremendous makeup off the field."
Gentry spent the last two seasons as Texas' fourth outfielder, usually playing against left-handed pitching. He was the Rangers' best defensive outfielder, and he has tremendous speed. In 227 games and 556 plate appearances, Gentry hit .292 with a .370 on-base percentage and a .389 slugging percentage. He also stole 37 bases in 47 attempts.
"He is one of the best in the Major Leagues at what he does," Daniels said. "He has been a big part of our club the past few years."
Lindblom and pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla were acquired last winter from the Phillies in a trade for Michael Young. Prior to the trade, Lindblom had pitched in 101 games as a reliever for the Dodgers and Phillies in 2011-12, and he appeared to be a prime candidate to earn a spot in the Rangers' bullpen.
But Lindblom did not make the team out of Spring Training and was sent to Round Rock, where he was converted into a starter. He was 8-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 18 starts and two relief appearances for Round Rock, and also 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA in five starts and three relief appearances over three stints with the Rangers.