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Rangers lean to pitching, and more pitching, in Draft

Texas makes 40 selections, 27 of them hurlers, including five lefties

ARLINGTON -- The 2014 First-Year Player Draft came to an end Saturday, and with it the Texas Rangers acquired 40 new players -- 27 of which were pitchers.

Rangers director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg said before the draft ever began that the strength was in pitching, and with a Rangers pitching rotation that has sustained so many injuries, Fagg and his staff took advantage of the large pool.

In addition to the 22 right-handers chosen, the Rangers selected five lefties. Of all of the pitchers, 19 are from college, while eight -- including the Rangers' first-round pick at No. 30 Luis Ortiz -- are right out of high school.

Fagg said that choosing so many college pitchers, particularly in the later rounds of the draft on Day 3, wasn't necessarily intentional, but that it does have its advantages.

"It's all a player versus player scenario. Sometimes the high school pitching can go faster, too, it just depends on the kids," Fagg said. "But obviously the college guys are usually a little more mature, a little better to handle being away from home, so to speak. But it comes down to talent and the kid himself."

Ortiz, the Rangers' first pick, is a 6-foot-3, 230-pound righty out of Sanger High School in California. He went 5-3 with a 1.04 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings pitched this past season.

Scott Williams, the 11th-round pick, was originally a catcher at Virginia, but then transferred and became a pitcher at St. College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota.

"He was a kid that went to Virginia out of high school and ended up leaving there and going to a junior college," Fagg said. "We had him out to one of our workouts, saw him throwing some kind of electric stuff. We're excited about Scottie."

Between right-hander Reed Garrett and left-hander Nick Dignacco, the Rangers have two pitchers with ties to military schools. Garrett will likely forego his last season at VMI to sign, while Dignacco will pitch through August before he begins a year-and-a-half long commitment to the U.S. Military.

"Obviously being in the military and the commitment he has, I respect the kid for it. He went to the U.S. Military, the Army Academy and was a pitcher there," Fagg said. "Obviously he's got that commitment and we're not going to stand in the way, basically, but we're just going to have to see what happens ... when he gets away he'll probably end up going on the restrictive list and see what happens when he comes back, but he'll pitch up until August this year."

As far as a Dignacco's pitching goes, Fagg said he has a tall, 6-foot-3 frame with average fastballs and breaking balls.

The Rangers also drafted three shortstops, two third basemen, a second baseman, two catchers, and five outfielders -- including three center fielders.

Fagg said he was pleased with how the draft turned out.

"From top to bottom, I think as always with our group, we feel like we're a prepared group. We identify guys, we target people, and I think we got a lot of the guys we targeted, a lot of the guys our scouts wanted," Fagg said. "Sitting here right now, I'm kind of trying to digest it -- very happy. We'll see when they get out there and start playing and that's kind of the deciding factor, but I'm happy with the kids we identified and who we acquired."

Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for

Texas Rangers