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Rangers take athletic OF Skole with first pick

Rangers take athletic OF Skole with first pick

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ARLINGTON -- Jake Skole was an all-state football player at Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell (Ga.) and has a scholarship to play defensive back at Georgia Tech.

Draft Central

Skole missed almost his entire senior season in baseball because of injuries, but he is ready to play baseball, and the Rangers are eager to have him in their organization.

The Rangers made Skole their 15th overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft on Monday, seeing him as a future center fielder with a combination of speed and power.

"He is a real exciting athlete," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels."He plays a premier position with a football mentality. This was about taking the best athlete available on the board."

A source said the Rangers were close to getting a deal done with Skole and expect it to be completed shortly.

The Rangers took Skole, who hits left and throws right, even though he missed almost his entire senior season with a severely sprained right ankle and a bone bruise in his left foot. But he had already played three years of varsity baseball and was able to return for the playoffs, hitting .452 with six home runs and 21 RBIs in 14 games.

"It's right there," Skole said. "It's almost full strength. I've played 15-20 games and it's almost right where it needs to be. I still feel it a little bit on cuts, but running straight ahead and getting balls in the outfield, no problems."

Skole was 2-for-3 in a semifinal game off Kaleb Cowart, who pitched at Cook (Ga.) High and was taken with the 18th pick by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Rangers insist they did extensive medical research on the injury and believe it will not be a problem.

"He was probably playing on a sore ankle, but you don't run the bases or steal bases like if it's anything long term," Daniels said. "The fact that he came back and played when he wasn't 100 percent says something about him."

The Rangers also know that Skole, who has a blend of speed and power, would not have been around at the 15th pick if he had played a full season as a senior. His injury allowed him to drop to the Rangers.

"He was on our list early," Daniels said. "When our guys came back and watched him play, he came on immediately. It didn't take long for him to climb to the top of our list."

Skole, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, was an all-state football player in high school and Georgia Tech wanted him in its defensive backfield. That's not going to happen. Skole talked to Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson on Monday night and told him that he expects to sign with the Rangers.

"I knew, in the end, I would end up playing baseball," Skole said. "High school football treated me well and I got a scholarship, but I always felt I'd be a baseball player and what better way to show it than being picked by the Texas Rangers."

The Rangers got the 15th overall pick for not signing Matt Purke last year. They would not get a compensation pick next year if they fail to sign Skole. There apparently are no worries on that issue.

"I'm not sure where negotiations are, but I'm hoping to get it done soon so I can go out and have an impact as soon as possible," Skole said. "A lot of guys take a lot of time to sign, but hopefully, we can get it done as soon as possible."

Seven picks after selecting Skole, the Rangers selected catcher Kellin Deglan from British Columbia with their 22nd pick in the Draft and the second backstop taken overall. Texas has a pre-Draft deal, agreeing to terms on a $1 million signing bonus with Deglan. The deal is pending a physical.

Deglan, an 18-year-old from Langley High School in Canada, is best noted for his arm strength and power. A left-handed hitter who throws right-handed, Deglan projects to hit for both power and average at the next level. His power is still very raw, but he's more than capable of producing his share of home runs.

But the first round was only the beginning for the Rangers as they had two compensation picks.

Texas took pitcher Luke Jackson from Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with the 45th overall pick. Jackson can also play shortstop, but the Rangers announced his selection as a pitcher. He was 7-0 with an 0.90 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings this season. He is committed to the University of Miami, but the Rangers are confident that they will be able to sign him.

And Texas' final pick -- 49th overall -- on Monday was third baseman Mike Olt from the University of Connecticut. Olt hit .318, with 23 home runs, 76 RBIs, a .659 slugging percentage and a .401 on-base percentage in 64 games. In 264 at-bats, he struck out 54 times and walked 34.

Olt is described as a good defensive third baseman with raw right-handed power at the plate. He set a career home run record at the University of Connecticut. He played four years at Branford High in Connecticut.

The Rangers received the two compensation picks for losing free-agent outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher Ivan Rodriguez last winter to the Cubs and Nationals, respectively.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }
{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }
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