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AL notebook

By Wire services
Published June 15, 2006

ARLINGTON, Texas - Hard-throwing Alabama high school left-hander Kasey Kiker, the Rangers' first-round pick, signed a contract Wednesday that included a $1.6-million signing bonus.

Kiker, 18, the 12th overall pick in last week's draft from Russell County High School in Phenix City, Ala., will report to Class A Spokane in Washington. That team starts its short season next week.

"I want to get to the big leagues as quick as possible," said Kiker, whose bonus was $200,000 less than what last year's No. 12 pick got.

"It's a quick turnaround, getting him signed and getting him there," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It's a credit to Kasey wanting to get out there and pitch."

Kiker once had 20 strikeouts in a seven-inning game for Russell County. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound pitcher, who throws in the mid 90s, visited with the Rangers before the draft.

Scouting director Ron Hopkins described Kiker as a strike thrower who pitches with confidence and poise.

"He's all business, not a lot of smiles," said Hopkins, who has watched Kiker since last summer. "They had a young team this year and there were a lot of errors made at times. I never once saw him crack under pressure, glare down an infielder. That impressed me. "Just give me the ball, I'll keep pitching. I'll do my job.' "

ORIOLES:

Rightfielder Jay Gibbons went on the 15-day disabled list two days after he came off it. Gibbons left Tuesday night's game in the third inning after reinjuring his right knee during an at-bat.

TWINS:

Minnesota essentially ended its experiment with Tony Batista at third base, designating him for assignment. Looking for some pop at the position, the team took a chance on Batista, who spent last season in Japan. The two-time All-Star had at least 25 homers and 87 RBIs from 1999-2004, but he was hitting .236 with five home runs this season.

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