Furtado sets sights on MLB career

With the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Carl Everett and Juan Gonzalez, the Texas Rangers have one of the premier hitting lineups in all of Major League Baseball.

To go along with those veteran sluggers, the Rangers have put stock in a group of young hitters such as Hank Blalock, Mark Teixeira and Michael Young. All three of the Rangers’ youthful hitters have shown signs of stardom with Blalock leading the charge with a .349 average thus far in 2003.

On June 3, the Rangers looked for even more youthful offense when they selected 21-year old Kauai native Micah Furtado in the 20th round of the 2003 MLB draft.

“It felt pretty awesome to get picked up,” said Furtado. “I have had a lot of support from my family and friends. Everybody was really happy for me.”

Furtado attended a Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners AAA affiliate) game on the day of the draft. During the contest, Texas Rangers’ scout Gary McGraw made the call to Furtado to announce the selection. Later last week, Furtado signed on with Texas and will begin rookie ball today when he travels to Phoenix to join on with the Arizona Rangers.

“It was pretty nerve-racking all day (while at the Rainiers game),” he said. “There was a sigh of relief after I got the call.

“I didn’t really have a goal (to play in the major leagues). But if it came my way, I would definitely go for it. I had a pretty good college career. So I felt like it was time to move on especially at a young age.”

Furtado played second base at Kapaa High School from 1996-2000 where he earned the 1999 and 2000 KIF batting titles before moving on to NAIA powerhouse Lewis and Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho to continue is playing career.

Furtado flourished as a Warriors’ player as he helped the school win back-to-back national titles in 2002 and 03. Lewis and Clark State has earned 13 national titles in the sport. In 2002, he was selected as an Honorable Mention All-NAIA second baseman after hitting .393 with 75 hits.

Furtado describes his left-handed stroke at the plate as being compact and short but not overpowering. He especially takes pride in his ability to spray the ball to all fields.

Furtado may have had his best season this past year when he hit .339 with a team-leading 59 runs scored and four triples. He was second on the club with six homers. He finished the 2003 campaign with 23 RBIs.

He drew 35 walks and had a .478 on base average. He also was solid in the field as he ended the season with a .922 fielding average splitting time at second base and left field.

“Playing for (Warriors’ coach) Ed Cheff, he believes in the mentality that you don’t hold back. You play with a hard-nosed attitude over there. There aren’t any prima donnas on the team.”

Despite his accomplishments in college, Furtado’s rise to prominence in the sport came about in his early years.

“Ever since I was young, my dad (Clifford) instilled in me how to play the game hard and work hard every day.

“For small guys like us here on Kauai, there is nothing else you can do besides play hard. People are going to notice it and that’s what everybody tells me. They love to watch me play because even before the game starts, my uniform is dirty. It’s by instinct.”

Furtado will take his game to Phoenix where he is fully aware of the work required to succeed.

“It’s a job now,” Furtado said. “In college it was more about the team. Now, it is going to be more of an individual effort because everyone wants to move on their own. Getting to the big leagues is the No. 1 goal.

“You have to keep working hard and battle every day. If you slack one day, someone might come in and take your spot. That will be the toughest thing.”

Rookie ball runs for most of the summer before players get invited to the Instructional League which begins in the fall.

If he is not invited to the Instructional League, Furtado still has the option to go back to Lewis and Clark to continue his education. Furtado majored in Kinesiology at the college.

Furtado intends on being a major factor for the Texas Rangers for future years.

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