DALLAS -- As a native Texan, Taylor Teagarden has progressed through the ranks of baseball while staying close to his hometown. He attended high school in Carrollton, about 15 miles outside of downtown Dallas, and is currently playing college baseball at the University of Texas.

"I love this place," Teagarden said about Texas. "It definitely played a factor when I was choosing a college, and I'm happy that I'll get to play in this area again. Everything has worked out how I wanted it to."

Teagarden was the Rangers' third-round selection in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, and was the 99th overall pick. The Rangers took Stanford standout John Mayberry Jr. with their first pick, and Kingwood High School third baseman John Whittleman with the second pick. Teagarden and Mayberry played alongside each other on the 2004 USA national baseball team. Teagarden was projected to be a late first or early second-round pick.

At 6-foot-1, 200-pounds, he was rated as the second best catcher in the draft by Baseball America behind Southern California's Jeff Clement, but was the eighth catcher taken overall. Teagarden insists that he is not upset with how the draft fell, and is excited about playing for his hometown team.

"I'm glad that I will get the chance to help the Rangers out as an organization," Teagarden said. "This is about the best feeling I could have right now. It's a dream come true."

Heading into the Longhorns' NCAA Super Regional series against Mississippi, Teagarden has hit .325 with 21 home runs and 123 RBIs in three years at Texas. He garnered Freshman All-America honors, and was named a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the best college catcher this year.

Teagarden ranks among the best in the country defensively and, according to his Longhorn coaches and teammates, has a knack for handling a pitching staff.

"This is a guy that has shown an ability to hit. He's shown an improvement with the bat since high school," Rangers director of player personnel Dom Chiti said. "He's definitely a good catch and throw guy. He's a leader and he's caught in a big stage."

Coming out of high school, Teagarden earned Silver Slugger and Metroplex Defensive Player of the Year honors his junior season, and added first-team All-Area distinctions and a selection to the state All-Star team his senior year. He was picked by the Chicago Cubs in the 22nd round of the 2002 draft.

Teagarden comes off as a shy person, but his reserved personality doesn't carry over to the baseball field. As a leader behind the plate, Teagarden helped the Longhorns to two College World Series appearances in as many years and has them one step away from making a third trip to Omaha during his tenure there.

At the 2005 Austin NCAA Regional Tournament, Teagarden collected his second consecutive Most Outstanding Player award after going 13-for-23 with three home runs and five doubles in five games.

Teagarden doesn't believe there will be any signing issues, and is looking forward to playing at the next level for the team he grew up watching. As an avid Rangers fan, he identified one of the most recognizable names in club history as his favorite player.

"I've always liked the Rangers and watching Pudge," Teagarden said. "He's the best."

Now Teagarden has a chance to carry on his hero's legacy.