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Rangers use draft to load up on bats

Rangers use draft to load up on bats

ARLINGTON -- High schooler Kasey Kiker took the headlines as the No. 12 pick overall, but much-needed bats stole the show as the Rangers' next three picks and six of the first nine were position players during the first day of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday.

Needing to add power throughout the organization, the Rangers selected some Major League blood in the third and fourth rounds, first taking catcher Chad Tracy, the son of Pittsburgh Pirates manager Jim Tracy, with the 88th overall selection.

"Where I think we were a little deficient was in impact bats," said general manager Jon Daniels. "But we didn't want to force it."

Tracy, arguably the top offensive catcher in this year's draft, hit .315 for the Waves this season with six home runs and 46 RBIs.

The 6-3, 200-pound Tracy was a second-team All-American after his sophomore campaign in 2005. He led his team and the West Coast Conference in most major offensive categories, including batting average (.367), hits (94), doubles (22), home runs (12) and RBIs (61).

Daniels said keeping Tracy at catcher or moving him to a needed position is up in the air.

"The thing that drew us to Tracy was his ability to hit," Daniels said. "Bottom line, we really like the bat. He has a possiblity to stay behind the plate; we're going to let that play out from there."

Middle infielder Marcus Lemon, 18, the son of former Major Leaguer Chet Lemon, was selected in the fourth round out of Eustis High School in Eustis, Fla.

Displaying speed and some power, the 5-foot-11, 173-pound Lemon was named to Baseball America's preseason All-American team and had verbally committed to play at the University of Texas next season.

With the ability to play both middle infield positions, Lemon hit .451 last season with six home runs and 24 RBIs in 31 games. He stole also 23 bases in 24 attempts.

"[Lemon] has been on our radar for over a year," said Rangers scouting director Ron Hopkins. "He's an athletic middle infielder. He's a son of a Major Leaguer, he's got instincts, he can play the game."

His father, a three-time American League All-Star, played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues with the White Sox and the Detroit Tigers.

First baseman Christopher Davis was drafted in the fifth round out of Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. Starting his career at the University of Texas, Davis hit 17 home runs this season for the junior college. He was originally drafted in the 50th round by the New York Yankees in 2004.

Texas went back to pitching in the sixth, nabbing right-hander Jacob Brigham from Central Florida Christian High. Standing 6-foot-3 and sporting a fluid delivery, Brigham went 7-2 with a 0.71 ERA and was the Florida Class 1A Player of the Year.

University of Southern Illinois right fielder Grant Gerrard was picked in the seventh (208th overall). The 6-foot-4 Gerrard, who played for the University of Washington in 2003, was ranked 17th on Baseball America's Fab 50 College Seniors list. Gerrard was chosen by the Seattle Mariners in the 16th round of last year's draft. He hit .344 and drove in 55 runs for the Salukis this season.

Another right fielder continued the power surge, as junior college standout Josh Bradberry was picked in the eighth out of Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Bradberry led the Orange Empire Conference with 12 home runs and 35 RBs.

"We wanted to get some offensive players, some bats," Hopkins said. "We think we did that."

Nothern Colorado pitcher Brennan Garr was selected in the ninth round. The right-hander served as the team's closer the last two seasons and struck out 24 in just 13 1/3 innings this season.

According to the school's Web site, Garr hit 100 mph on the radar gun during a game at Kansas in May.

University of Arkansas center fielder Craig Gentry, the Rangers' 10th-round choice, hit .323 and slugged .494 in 2006. He also swiped 16 bases and had a stretch of 10 hits in 10 at-bats in May.

Rice right-hander Craig Crow was chosen in the 11th round, 328th overall. Crow sat out the entire 2005 season due to injury but bounced back with an 8-1 campaign for the Owls in 2006. He amassed a 3.08 ERA and struck out 85 in 79 innings.

High school third baseman Matthew Jaimes from Chino, Calif. (Chino HS) was added in the 12th round. He signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Hawaii next year.

The Rangers added left-hand pitchers Kevin Angelle (Bridge City HS, Orange, Texas) and Michael Ballard (Univ. of Virginia) in the 13th and 14th rounds, respectively.

A pair of Cody's followed. Cody Himes, a 6-foot, 180-pound shortstop from the College of San Mateo was picked in the 15th while center fielder Cody Padroza (Tomball HS, Tomball, Texas) was selected in the 16th.

Big right-hander John Maschino (6-5, 230) was tapped in the 17th out of Seminole State College in Edmund, Okla. Washington State pitcher Michael Wagner wrapped up the Ranger's first day in the 18th round.

The Rangers were without a second-round pick due to the signing of free agent Kevin Millwood this offseason.

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

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