OAKLAND -- The Rangers, who rebuilt their farm system around young pitching, are starting to bring back the offensive firepower as well.
The Rangers potentially added to their collection of power-hitting offensive prospects in the Minor Leagues when they drafted high school outfielder Lewis Brinson and third baseman Joey Gallo with their first two picks in the First-Year Player Draft on Monday.
Brinson is a 6-foot-4 center fielder from Coral Springs (Fla.) High who was taken in the first round with the 29th overall pick. Gallo was the 39th overall pick out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas and was the Nevada High School Player of the Year.
Brinson has a scholarship to the University of Florida, and Gallo has one waiting for him at LSU. The Rangers still expect to sign both, and Brinson said he is close to doing just that.
"They will be Texas Rangers," club scouting director Kip Fagg said. "We have confidence in the work we did and the process we went through. We did a lot of work from the ground level, as far as our area scouts knowing them. We have full confidence that the kids are going to work hard. We have confidence in the player development to develop these guys. It's all about getting premium athletes, talents with great makeup and character that end up being big leaguers for you."
Brinson was elated to be drafted by the Rangers.
"I feel great," Brinson said. "I've been a Marlins fan growing up, and I still am, but I'm a bigger Texas Rangers fan now. It feels great knowing that I'm going to be a Texas Ranger and being a part of their organization and everything they stand for.
"There's still a little bit of work to be done. But it's pretty close. It's pretty close."
The Rangers used the 53rd overall pick to draft Collin Wiles, a 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher from Overland Park who was the Kansas High School Player of the Year in 2012. He is a strike-thrower with a good breaking ball and was 8-0 with a 0.10 ERA while striking out 76 in 49 1/3 innings. He has a scholarship to Vanderbilt.
The Rangers, whether it's the Draft or international free agents, insist they go after the best available athlete regardless of position, but they have added some significant offensive talent in the past few years. They drafted outfielders Jake Skole and Jordan Akins and infielder Mike Olt in 2010, and outfielder Zach Cone last year.
They also signed two highly-regarded outfielders from the Dominican Republic last year in Nomar Mazara and Ronaldo Guzman and are awaiting a ruling from the Commissioner's Office on signing outfielder Jario Beras.
"The way the game is now, there is a premium on guys with power that have a chance to be run-producing type players," said A.J. Preller, the Rangers' director of player personnel. "There aren't a lot of them on the board. I think if you look at the Major Leagues, or even the Minor Leagues, it's something we talk about internally. There are probably fewer of those true power bats that you can put in a corner and have a chance to hit 30 or 35 home runs."
Brinson batted .394 with four doubles, four triples, four home runs, 21 RBIs and 11 stolen bases as a senior for Coral Springs. Gallo led the Gaels to their seventh consecutive Nevada 4A state title, hitting .509 with 21 home runs, 80 RBIs, 66 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. The left-handed-swinging Gallo's 80 RBIs set a new Nevada single-season record, while his 65 career home runs are the most in state history.
"I definitely think in Lou Brinson, we have a tremendous body," Preller said. "A 6-foot-4, 190-pound center fielder that's a plus run, plus throw. We think he's going to stay in the middle of the field. We really think we have a five-tool type talent with a chance to hit and hit with some power.
"Joey Gallo, again, that's another big body, probably as much power as anybody in the Draft. Left-hand bat, right-hand throw. A third baseman with a chance to play anywhere in the field, either corner in the outfield."