BOSTON -- The Rangers took steps toward reinforcing their Minor League pitching depth by taking right-hander Alex Gonzalez out of Oral Roberts University with the 23rd overall pick of the 2013 First-Year Draft and right-hander Akeem Bostick from West Florence (S.C.) High School with their second-round pick.
In between, the Rangers then turned their attention to their favorite hunting ground and drafted infielder Travis Demeritte from Winder Barrow (Ga.) High with the 30th overall pick. That's the pick the Rangers received as compensation for losing Josh Hamilton to free agency.
The players will have an opportunity to play with the Rangers' Short Season Class A affiliate Spokane Indians. Due to his collegiate experience Gonzalez is the most likely to start in Spokane in 2013.
"We feel very excited about the guys we took," said scouting director Kipp Fagg. "We got a college pitcher with a special arm, we're really excited about Travis Demeritte, a young middle infielder from Georgia with electric tools -- a bat that we really like -- and Akeem Bostick is a big projectable right-handed pitcher."
Gonzalez is described as a pitcher who throws a cut fastball at 90-94 mph with a plus slider and an average curve and changeup to go with it. He could be developed either as a middle-of-the-rotation starter down the road or brought along quickly as a reliever. His cut fastball and slider could make him a possible reliever in the near future. If the changeup develops, he could end up being a starter.
"We view him as a starting pitcher," Rangers director of personnel A.J. Preller said. "You look at his delivery, his arm action and his demeanor on the mound, he's a starter. We feel we took a guy who could find his way into the rotation in Arlington sometime in the future."
He made 15 starts for Oral Roberts this season and was 9-5 with a 1.83 ERA. In 113 1/3 innings, he struck out 126 batters, walked 27 and gave up 83 hits. Opponents hit .204 off him. He was the Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year.
He played high school in Boca Raton, Fla., and was an 11th-round pick by the Orioles in 2011. He is the first college pitcher taken by the Rangers with their highest draft pick since Thomas Diamond out of the University of New Orleans in 2004.
"At the end of the day, we took the best player available," Preller said. "Everybody was excited when Alex Gonzalez was there. Alex was the natural choice right there."
Demeritte gives the Rangers a power-hitting infield prospect in their system. They have several outstanding infield prospects, but he fills a need for one with plus power at the plate. He has a scholarship offer from the University of South Carolina, but made it clear he wants to sign with the Rangers.
Demeritte said he has developed a very close relationship with Rangers area scout Derrick Tucker. As far as an agreement with the club, Demeritte said, "We haven't discussed anything yet, but I'm ready to go out and play baseball."
Demerritte, 18, batted .404 (36-89) with 42 runs, 12 home runs, 37 RBIs and five stolen bases as a senior. He set a school record with 32 career home runs. He is 6-foot-1 with a strong arm and a power bat, and he could play either shortstop or third base as a professional.
The Rangers will start him out as a shortstop but believe he can play multiple positions. The biggest thing is the Rangers feel they have an outstanding hitting prospect.
"He's got a chance to be a pure hitter and a power hitter," Fagg said. "He's got electric bat speed."
"As a sophomore I played second base, in travel ball I played third base and my last two years in high school I played shortstop," Demeritte said. "I've played shortstop all my life and I'm comfortable at third base. It doesn't matter to me but I prefer to be on the left side."
Demeritte is the Rangers' latest high draft pick from the state of Georgia. They took high school outfielder Jake Skole in the first round of the 2010 Draft. In 2011, they selected high school left-hander Kevin Matthews with the 33rd pick and University of Georgia outfielder Zach Cone with the 37th pick. The Rangers also took pitcher Justin Grimm in the fifth round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Georgia.
Bostick, taken with the No. 62 pick, was 10-0 with a 0.60 ERA as a senior for West Florence. He had 96 strikeouts in 56 innings and 11 games. He has a fastball that is clocked at 90-93 with a solid changeup. He needs much work to develop a breaking ball. He could be another quick signing for the Rangers despite having signed with Georgia Southern to play baseball and football.
"He's a 6-foot-6 kid, right-handed pitcher with a very loose arm and very good downhill plane," Fagg said. "He has the makings of a breaking ball. It's a little inconsistent, but he has a chance of having a secondary pitch that could be a weapon."
His high school head coach, Randy Hart, told the Florence Morning News, "His heart is playing professional baseball and he will do whatever with his team to make it."