Edmonds looking to learn in Arizona

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Catcher Guy Edmonds, who signed with the Rangers out of Australia prior to the 2010 season, is expected to make his official state-side debut with the rookie-level Surprise Rangers this summer. Lone Star Dugout recently caught up with the 18-year-old prospect.

When the Texas Rangers brought former major league pitcher, coach, and scout Jim Colborn aboard to be the club's director of Pacific Rim operations in late 2007, the team was looking to make a larger impact in places like Japan, Korea, and Australia.

The Rangers have brought aboard a handful of players under Colborn's watch, and Australian catcher Guy Edmonds became the first position-player signed from the Pacific Rim when he inked for reportedly more than $150,000 (according to Sydney-based newspaper The Daily Telegraph) prior to last season.

Edmonds, who was 16-years-old at the time he signed, comes from an athletic family. Although Guy ultimately chose to pursue a career in baseball, both his father (Rod) and uncle (Steve) played professional rugby for the Cronulla Sharks in Australia.

The prospect got on the Rangers' radar while playing with his club team––Canterbury Bankstown––where Australia-based Rangers scout Barry Holland works as an assistant coach. Texas began getting serious about signing Edmonds after his breakout performance at the 2009 World Youth Championships, in which he was named the event's top catcher and placed second in home runs, second and hits, and third in RBI.

While playing against the Chinese Taipei club on August 18, 2009, Edmonds belted a grand slam. Just one day before, he went 3-for-5 while batting cleanup against Team Venezuela. Hitting third and playing shortstop for Venezuela that day was shortstop Rougned Odor, who is currently Edmonds' teammate at extended spring training. Odor was 3-for-5 with a double and a homer in that game.

Edmonds came to the States during extended spring training last year, where he worked out at the Rangers' minor league complex in Surprise, Ariz. But he didn't play any official games in the U.S.––he went to the Dominican Republic for the start of the Dominican Summer League season.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound backstop didn't produce much in the way of results with the DSL Rangers last summer, but he did make the league's All-Star team. In 34 games, Edmonds batted .186/.303/.206 with 11 walks and 31 strikeouts. Even though the numbers were uninspiring, it should be noted that Dominican Summer League numbers often mean very little.

Edmonds didn't attend spring training this season, as he was playing in Australia's National Junior Championships. Appearing in eight games for his New South Wales club, he was 14-for-32 (.438) with seven doubles, one triple, four walks, and five strikeouts.

The 18-year-old returned to the States at the end of April and began playing in extended spring training games after a few days. In one of his first contests, he belted a game-tying homer with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth against the Padres' extended club.

Edmonds is expected to play with the rookie-level Surprise Rangers in the Arizona League this summer. Assuming––or if––top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro goes to Spokane in June, Edmonds figures to get the bulk of the reps behind the plate. The Sydney native is certainly raw, but he has some natural power and good arm strength behind the plate.

Lone Star Dugout recently caught up with Edmonds after an extended spring training game.

Jason Cole: I want to go back to when you signed with the Rangers. Take me through the process of how you got discovered and signed by the club in Australia.

Guy Edmonds: Over in Australia, I played for my club team––I played for Canterbury. And one of those coaches there is actually a scout for Texas. He is close-knit with Jim Colborn over here. He discovered me and I spoke to Jim.

Then I went to the World Championships and played pretty good. I felt good, hit the ball pretty well, and caught pretty good behind the dish. Things just kind of fell into place. Jim made an offer on me last January, and then I signed in February. All of it just kind of fell into place after the World Championships.

Cole: Did you have any other teams on you at that point?

Edmonds: Yeah, I had a few other organizations involved and showing a bit of interest. But I picked the Rangers, and it seems like a pretty good organization for me.

Cole: Outside of the money, was there any other reason that you picked the Rangers at the time? Did you really know anything about the organization coming into it?

Edmonds: Yeah, I did a bit of a background check on the Rangers. I think it was back when I did sign, they got voted the best minor league organization at that time. So it's good to be able to mold my future around an organization like that.

Cole: I've asked this to the other Aussie players the Rangers have signed––how much American baseball were you able to watch while growing up in Australia?

Edmonds: Not that much. I started playing when I was 12 years old. I wasn't interested in it when I was young. I used to play in the rugby league. I hadn't experienced American baseball over here. To this day, I still haven't seen a big league game live. I didn't have that much involvement with baseball over here, but over there, I was pretty involved and trying to get in as much work as I could.

Cole: Once you get settled in out here, are you planning on going over to a Diamondbacks game so you can see a live one?

Edmonds: Yeah, for sure. My brother is actually coming over here soon, so I was going to try and get him into one of them as well. We'll see what happens, but I'd love to get out and see one.

Cole: You touched on your rugby past. You have a big family history with rugby in Australia, don't you?

Edmonds: Yeah. My dad and my uncle used to play professionally. Both of my brothers play, and I played when I was young.

Cole: What did they think when you went the baseball route?

Edmonds: My family is real supportive of me and whatever we do. I've got two other brothers, and no matter what we do, my family has always really supported them. It was kind of hard to tell my dad with his rugby background, but push came to shove and I chose baseball.

Cole: Obviously rugby is big in Australia and baseball seems to be gaining popularity but isn't mainstream. What was it that led you to choose baseball?

Edmonds: I played rugby since I was five years old. I was too young to even play when I started playing. But you keep playing it for a little while and I wanted to try something new. It was a good decision. I'm down the right path right now.

Cole: Does the beating you take in rugby kind of help the beating you take behind the plate feel at least a little more natural?

Edmonds: Yeah, I like getting in there and getting rough. That's just the way I play, and I supposed that's the way Australian guys like to play. I was brought up like that.

Cole: You talked about the World Championships that you played in before you signed. You were in that tournament with Rougned Odor, who was with Venezuela, right?

Edmonds: I was, yeah.

Cole: Tell me about your performance there. At that point, was that the best performance you'd had on a big stage? Was it your first time really playing on such a large stage?

Edmonds: Yeah, that was. That was the first time I'd played on a bigger stage. Even when I was playing in the rugby league, I liked the crowds and stuff. I like to just get in there and I feel real relaxed and at home. I was there with my Australian friends. We had a good outcome to the tournament, and I just felt real comfortable. I was able to get in there and do my stuff.

Cole: Have you been catching pretty much since you started playing baseball?

Edmonds: The first two years, I hadn't caught. And then I got behind there and I haven't looked back. I haven't played anywhere else since.

Cole: You came over to Arizona for two weeks last year before shipping off and playing in the Dominican Summer League. What was that experience like for you, having never been to the Dominican before?

Edmonds: I think I was kind of expecting to go somewhere like that when I came over here. There was a little bit of talk like that from Jim. But it's baseball and you're not there to do anything else. You're there to get better and improve on whatever you've got to do. That's the way I went about things, and I got my work done.

Cole: How did you feel your season over there went?

Edmonds: I did pretty good. I made the half-season All-Star team and played in that game. That was pretty good. I was the only white guy on the team. I played pretty good and felt comfortable over there.

Cole: The Latin guys over there are all young and mostly don't speak a whole lot of English. And I'm guessing you didn't speak much Spanish going into it. What was the communication factor like, especially as a catcher?

Edmonds: I spoke no Spanish. But you kind of mingle with the players a little bit, and they gain a little respect for you over time. You just listen and the more you listen, the more you learn.

Cole: How did you feel you improved as a player while you were out there?

Edmonds: The quality of baseball is really good down there, so I improved as a player and a person. There is a lot of raw talent down there that hasn't been yet discovered fully. But the quality of baseball is good down there. It helped me grow as a player.

Cole: When you go back to Australia after the season, it's pretty much the beginning of summer, isn't it?

Edmonds: Yeah, I don't see a winter at all.

Cole: Do you miss the winter at all?

Edmonds: No, no. Cold is not my thing.

Cole: How much baseball did you play once you got back? I know you were playing in a tournament right before you came out to Arizona.

Edmonds: Yeah, I played over there for my first grade side. And then I went to my under-18 national tournament. That was my last one. I was lucky enough to stay over, and Jim came over and watched me. He was real happy. I was playing over there for a fair while. I pretty much trained every day, went to the gym every day, and played every weekend.

Cole: You've been out here for how long so far?

Edmonds: About five days now.

Cole: How long did it take you to adjust from such a long flight?

Edmonds: I'm still waking up at three in the morning.

Cole: So it'll probably take about a week before the jet lag completely goes away?

Edmonds: Yeah, I'm starting to adjust right now. I slept through last night––slept until about five. It takes a little while, but you get used to it.

Cole: What are you working on offensively right now?

Edmonds: I'm just looking to take the ball up the middle and the other way. I've always been able to hit that inside pitch. But as soon as I can start making solid contact out to right field––that's when I'll be able to get ahold of my swing.

Cole: How about behind the plate?

Edmonds: With my throwing sometimes, I don't stay a little bit square. I'd like to stay up the middle and don't fall out the back so much. But that will come with repetitions. That's how you get better, which is good. You're always around baseball here, and that's just how you learn––by listening and watching how the guys are improving. Then you improve with them.

Cole: Did you call your own games in the Dominican last year?

Edmonds: Most of the games. I really gained a lot of respect from the coaches and the pitching staff over there. They trusted my judgement. It was good––I called a lot of the games. But in those tight situations, the pitching coach would help out. But yeah, most of the time.

Cole: Had you ever really done that before? How much did you learn from that last year?

Edmonds: It's all about responsibility and taking that responsibility of the game. It really helps you mature in the game and know the situations. So yeah, it's really good. I suppose that's the big thing that they're doing down there––they are trying to mature people as a player.

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