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2012 Draft Prospects Preview -- Duane Underwood

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With the 2012 major league draft kicking off on Monday, I want to highlight in the next few days a few of the players that the Texas Rangers could be looking at with their picks at #29, #39, and #52. As I said last year when doing this drill, this would be a lot easier if the Rangers were picking higher, and neither of the Rangers' first couple picks were guys we'd ever talked about before the draft. Still, we'll take a look at a few of the intriguing names that could be in the mix for the Rangers, and see who might be out there...

First up in our review is the player Keith Law projects going to the Rangers at #29 overall, RHP Duane Underwood from Pope High School in Marietta, Georgia.

The Duane Underwood scouting report: Duane Underwood is a 6'3", 210 lb. righthanded pitcher out of Pope High School in Marietta, Georgia. Underwood is ranked #104 in the Baseball America pre-draft rankings, and BA describes him as being "athletic" and having a "quick arm," traits that we know the Rangers like to look for in pitching prospects.

Law has Underwood ranked #52 in his pre-draft top 100. Minor League Ball's community mock draft had him going to the Phillies at #95.

Kiley McDaniel had a write-up on Underwood in early May for ESPN, saying that Underwood is a player that you need to get multiple looks at because of inconsistencies that make it hard to get a read on him. BA's report on Underwood has him touching 97-98 mph on his fastball at times, but also dropping down as low as 87 mph this spring, with "erratic command" and little feel for pitching. Underwood's best secondary is reported to be his changeup, and he also has a curveball that he uses as a third pitch (and, for what its worth, the Rangers seem to like righthanders who through curveballs).

BA also has a blog entry from John Manuel on Underwood, which has some quotes from a scout about Underwood not dealing well with adversity and losing concentration.

The other thing that appears from the outside to make Underwood a potential fit for Texas is this blurb from McDaniel:

Underwood is the poster child for dreaming on upside.

And the Rangers have tended to favor upside, particularly with their righthanded high school pitching prospects. The lazy comp for Underwood might be Luke Jackson, another inconsistent righty high school pitcher with lots of upside that the Rangers snagged in the supplemental round in 2010.

One other plus on Underwood is that he doesn't turn 18 until July 24, 2012, meaning that he's up to a year younger than the players he's been competing against. Rany Jazayerli looked at younger high school draftees and found that they tend to over-perform, so Underwood could be a beneficiary of what we could call the "Mike Trout Effect."