No, it's not the Houston Astros' Hunter Pence.
I'm talking about Houston Memorial High School's super talented Jeremy Rathjen. But with these skills he just may end up in the "bigs" himself someday. For now, Rathjen is heading into his senior season with the Houston Memorial Mustangs. His future does include playing in the big park across town though, he'll continue his career just off Main St., not Minute Maid Park just yet, but a little further south on Main, as in Reckling Park for Coach Wayne Graham and his Rice Owls. Rathjen joins several other talented recruits headed there for what will be one of Rice's best baseball recruiting classes ever. I caught up with Jeremy last week to discuss his commitment and his future at Rice.
OD - Tell me about your commitment to Rice, Jeremy: "Rice was the perfect combination of academics and athletics. I think Coach Graham is about as good a teacher of the game as you'll find in college baseball. I look forward to becoming a better player at Rice."
OD – Growing up in Houston have you been a Rice fan your whole life? "No not really, but my grandfather David Zuber, played basketball there and is in the Rice Athletics Hall of Fame. I have a Rice sweatshirt that belonged to him. I have been to a few youth sports camps at Rice."
OD – So you come from an athletic family? "Yes sir; my dad played football at LSU also."
OD – Rice has had several players play two sports, like current outfielder and receiver Michael Fuda. You were a pretty decent wide receiver for the Mustangs yourself last year – any chance you'll play both at Rice? "No, baseball is pretty much my sport. I'm not playing football this season so I can focus on baseball only. I've been playing baseball year round since I was 9 years old."
OD – Speaking of, you made the Texas Ranger Area Code team last summer. How was that experience? "It was really a blast playing with all of those talented players. Our team didn't do that well but I got to play with some of the other Rice recruits."
OD – You guys have an awesome recruiting class – have you met a lot of the other players in your recruiting class? "Yeah I know quite a few of the other guys from summer baseball and from playing on the Area Code Team. I know Anthony Fazio (6-1 205, Beaumont Kelly HS, Bats R/ Throws R, P, 92 mph), Trey Haley (6-3 180, San Augustine (TX) HS, R/R, P), Taylor Wall (6-2 175, Houston Westside HS, R/L, P) and Matt Reckling (6-3 190, Houston Kinkaid HS, R/R, 2B) whom I've known since we were little."
OD - In terms of baseball, describe your game: "I think hitting is definitely the strongest part of my game right now (Rathjen's Junior Stats: .402, 7 HRs, 16 Doubles, 27 RBIs, 10 steals). I'm pretty instinctive in the outfield. I'd like to get stronger and faster before I get to Rice. I'd like to weigh in around 190."
OD – Who recruited you for Rice and what's your impression of Coach Graham? "Coach (Mike) Taylor recruited me, starting back in July. Things fell together pretty quickly. Coach Graham has a real presence of greatness about him. You can just tell he has an incredible amount of baseball knowledge. He's really friendly though."
OD – Jeremy you're an excellent student (2050 SAT, 31 ACT!!), what will you study at Rice? " Probably something in Business, possibly Economics".
OD – What are your goals for the upcoming season? "To help my team win district and continue to improve as a player."
OD – Good luck this season Jeremy, we look forward to seeing you in a Rice uniform!