Rangers draft a star of stage and diamond

Rangers draft a star of stage and diamond

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers picked up a multi-faceted player with their first pick on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft.

Draft Central

Cody Buckel is an athletic pitcher with a good fastball, a solid curveball and a hard, late-breaking slider.

Oh, and he can sing and dance.

Buckel, the Rangers' 72nd overall pick, made headlines in the Simi Valley, Calif., area last year when the ace of the Royal Valley High School baseball team took to the stage, earning the lead role in the school's production of "High School Musical."

"I never expected the singing and dancing part. Acting was the only thing I was really interested in," Buckel said. "A friend of mine suggested trying out for the musical. I thought I wouldn't get a huge part, but I thought I'd do it. Well, I ended up getting the lead role. From there it just kind of took off."

Buckel's coach, Daniel Maye, was torn on how to approach the matter.

"As a coach at the high school level, you don't want to deter them from trying other things," Maye said. "That's how you experiment and find out what their interests are. The other point was, 'Geez, I don't really want him wasting all this other time doing all these other things.'

"I wanted him to concentrate on baseball and not splitting time with studying, dress rehearsals and singing."

But Maye supported his star pitcher. Admittedly, Buckel didn't share the news with his teammates the moment he found out he had earned the lead role in the school play.

"I didn't tell them at first. I told my best friend Sheldon about it," Buckel said. "He didn't tell anyone, but soon enough word got out. Then the team was pounding me with questions. But it was more of a positive. They were asking, 'When is it? We want to come and see.'"

The local media came out in droves to watch him pitch, before heading to the auditorium to watch him play the role of Troy in the rendition of the Disney movie.

"It became a really large media thing, and all the papers were coming out to see his baseball and musical," Maye said. "It had to have been a distraction, but he handled it very well."

Naturally, Buckel endured some laughs from the opposition.

"I heard a lot of comments from the dugouts, from other teams during the whole season," Maye said. "He handled it really well. It trickled down but it never bothered him."

It's apparent it didn't bother Buckel.

The right-hander finished his senior season with a nearly flawless 12-1 record with a 0.61 ERA and 123 strikeouts. It was highlighted by a no-hitter, which he threw on March 24 against Westlake Village. The only baserunner the opposition had that day came via a walk on a 3-2 count.

"It was probably one of the best games I've ever pitched. Everything was working for me that day," Buckel said. "My curveball was sharp, my fastball was strong throughout the game ...I felt good. I wasn't thinking about it too much."

So while his opponents were busy cracking jokes, Buckel was carving up the strike zone. That came as no surprise to Maye.

"He's a very hard worker," Maye said. "He's one of those kids that will spend his day off going out and doing running or bullpen or strength conditioning."

Buckel says his acting days are over for now, as he said he hopes to finish negotiations with the Rangers quickly, so he can join the farm system as soon as possible. And as much as he enjoys being on stage, he makes it known that his true passion is baseball.

"Baseball has always been my goal in life. Acting just happened to pop up and be a little hobby for a little bit," Buckel said. "It was something I had fun doing, but not more than people thought. A lot of people were asking wondering if I'd pick acting or baseball.

"It's baseball all the way. There's nothing to worry about

Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.