The Texas Rangers drafted right-hander Alex Gonzalez with their first pick, the 23rd overall, on Thursday.
However, their second pick of the first round was more intriguing. That's because Georgia high school infielder Travis Demeritte is the return the club got as compensation when outfielder Josh Hamilton signed with the Los Angeles Angels last offseason.
The Rangers received an extra $1.73 million in signing bonus allotment and the 30th overall pick when Hamilton signed with the Angels.
Demeritte, who played for the powerful East Cobb amateur program in Atlanta and Winder-Barrow High School near Athens, now becomes the face of what's left of Hamilton's tenure in Texas.
Demeritte has a scholarship offer from South Carolina, but the Rangers are confident he will sign quickly. He has experience at second base, shortstop and third base, but he played third recently for the East Cobb program and had a good summer last year in a wooden-bat league.
"This is everything I've ever worked for," Demeritte said. "When you're young and watching television, you dream of being that guy on the TV. This means everything to me. I've been working for this all my life. I'm glad the Rangers have given me the opportunity to present myself."
Demeritte was among four Atlanta-area high-school players to go within the first 37 picks. Cleveland took outfielder Clint Frazier of Loganville with the fifth pick, and Pittsburgh added outfielder Austin Meadows of Grayson with the ninth choice. Baltimore selected outfielder Josh Hart of Lilburn with the 37th choice. All four players grew up within a radius of about 35 miles of each other.
"We're all very good friends," Demeritte said. "This is definitely a blessing. I'm proud of those guys."
In Gonzalez, a junior at Oral Roberts, the Rangers selected a college pitcher with their first-round pick for the first time since 2004 (right-hander Thomas Diamond never reached the big leagues with Texas).
According to a scout with an American League club, Gonzalez has a fastball that ranges from 90-94 mph and has movement, and he has a slider that is a "true out pitch."