Gonzaga University senior outfielder Royce Bolinger was a 6th-round pick of the Texas Rangers on the second day of Tuesday's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
The native of Scottsdale, Ariz., was the 216th overall pick and the ninth player drafted by the Rangers, becoming the highest drafted Bulldog since pitcher Clayton Mortenson was the 36th overall pick of the 2007 MLB Draft. Pitchers Cody Martin and Ryan Carpenter were each seventh-round selections a year ago.
Bolinger, who played both center field and right field, was an All-West Coast Conference first-team selection this past season. He paced the Zags in nearly every statistical category this season, starting all 56 games while leading the WCC in batting average (.392) and hits (93). He finished second in home runs (11), slugging percentage (.620) and runs scored (46); third in RBI (51), and fifth in on-base percentage (.441). In conference play, he hit .369 with five doubles, a triple and six home runs.
"I think he's still getting better and he's got a work ethic that's second to none. I think he'll have a good chance. He's not just a senior sign; he's a good prospect," Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf said.
Machtolf said one of the things that make Bolinger solid is his instinct.
"Defensively I don't think there's anybody better as far as instinct. He's not a great runner; he's a decent runner. But he's got great instincts and a huge arm. Offensively he's turned himself into a great hitter and I think the power will continue to come. I think he's a prototypical right fielder."
Machtolf said there are some pretty fair comparisons between Bolinger and another right fielder the Zags sent to the Major Leagues in Jason Bay.
"Very similar, actually," Machtolf said when asked to compare Bolinger to Bay. "Good Power. Jason ran a little better, but Royce has better instincts in the outfield. They had very similar type years offensively their senior year."
The Rangers short-season Class A team is the Spokane Indians, so there is the possibility Bolinger will start his pro career in Spokane when the Indians open the 2012 Northwest League campaign at home June 15 against Vancouver.