Q&A with Rangers 1st-round pick Collin Wiles

The Texas Rangers selected Kansas prep right-handed pitcher Collin Wiles with the 53rd overall pick––their second selection of the supplemental first round––on Monday's first day of the 2012 MLB Draft. Lone Star Dugout sat down with the hurler for an in-depth interview.

The Texas Rangers went ‘off the board' with the 53rd overall pick in Monday's MLB Draft, selecting Kansas prep right-hander Collin Wiles.

Wiles, who turned 18 on May 30, has signed a letter of intent to play his collegiate ball at Vanderbilt University. But, as he explains in the following interview, he fully intends on signing with the Rangers and beginning his professional career as soon as possible.

A product of Blue Valley West High School in suburban Kansas City, Wiles is a projectable arm who checks in at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds. After pitching in the mid-80s––and touching the upper-80s––during his junior year in high school, the prospect began sitting more comfortably in the upper-80s while also reaching the low-90s this season.

The following was written in our Rangers Draft Pick Database analysis for Wiles' selection:

"Among draft day one's more surprising picks, Wiles is a projectable high school arm who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 187 pounds. His fastball currently sits in the upper-80s––reaching 90-91 on occasion––and has room for velocity growth as his tall frame matures. Both his breaking ball and changeup are considered advanced secondary offerings, and he has a clean delivery while showing a strong feel for pitching.

Although Wiles has signed a letter of intent with Vanderbilt University, he is considered very signable. With some projection, a potential deep repertoire, and mature pitchability, the 18-year-old is an intriguing prospect. His selection––he'll likely sign for a slot-level bonus or lower––may be connected to (fellow supplemental first-round pick) Joey Gallo, who may need an above-slot bonus at 39th overall to be steered from his LSU commitment."

The 53rd overall pick has a slot bonus value of $954,800.

Lone Star Dugout caught up with Wiles on Tuesday, the day after he was selected by the Rangers in the supplemental first round. Wiles talked about his game on the mound and his connection with the Rangers this season, including area scout Dustin Smith and senior director of player personnel A.J. Preller.

Jason Cole: To start it off, give me your general thoughts on getting drafted by the Rangers yesterday.

Collin Wiles: I'm extremely excited. That was the first emotion that I could remember feeling. To be honest with you, I didn't really expect to go when I did. We were talking earlier. And the talks that we were having between us––our advisor and everything––it was looking like it was going to get pushed back a little bit.

And then they took me at 53, as you know, and I just got tackled by all my friends. They were watching it with me. Then I just stood up and had the biggest smile on my face. I couldn't be more excited to be part of such a great organization, from top to bottom.

Cole: Is it safe to say you weren't really expecting to be one of the guys who had his name called on national TV last night?

Wiles: Yes. I mean, going in, my advisor told me that the Rangers had been talking to him. And he said that the Blue Jays had, too. He said there was a chance that it could happen yesterday, but there wasn't anything set in stone or anything like that. The whole time, it was just a big waiting game. And when it happened, it was a huge sigh of relief and overwhelming joy.

Cole: Did you find out that you were going to the Rangers when it came up on TV?

Wiles: I found out on TV. Like I said, our talks through the previous picks––it was looking like it'd get pushed back to another pick. It was funny. I was looking down at my phone, trying to text somebody back. And I just put it down for a minute, and I remember just taking a big breath right before the Rangers' pick. I was thinking to myself, ‘I wish this could be me.' Because I didn't think it was going to happen. And then they called me. It was just funny.

Cole: How much have you spoken with the Rangers since you were picked yesterday?

Wiles: Dustin Smith called me yesterday, and A.J. Preller called me yesterday.

Cole: Did Preller come out to Kansas and watch you pitch at all?

Wiles: Yes, he was here for one game or maybe two. And then he came in and talked to me with Dustin, as well. I also went down for the pre-draft workout and talked some more with them.

Cole: You were able to go down to Arlington for that pre-draft workout. When did you do that? What was that experience like?

Wiles: I was a day behind the actual workout. Our state tournament was on Friday, and I think the workout was on Sunday. That was just too short of a time. But I went down on Monday. I went to the game against the Mariners.

Then I woke up on Tuesday and threw a ‘pen for them and went out to lunch with Dustin Smith, who is my area scout. He's the midwest scout. And then I got a full tour of Arlington from assistant GM Thad Levine. But yeah, it was very cool. I met everyone in the scouting department. I felt very comfortable with everybody.

Cole: You mentioned that Preller came to see you late in the year, but was Dustin Smith scouting many of your starts earlier in the season?

Wiles: I don't think he missed a start, to be honest with you. Every game, I had a little routine. I would text him before anyone else because I knew he would be there. I would tell him when I was pitching, what time, and where at and everything.

Cole: You've gotten to learn quite a bit about the Texas Rangers' organization over the last couple weeks. Coming into the system, what are your overall thoughts of it?

Wiles: My first thought would be that me and my family are extremely comfortable with everything that the Rangers are doing and what they've done––in terms of talking to us and everything. I'm just excited to get into that farm system, to be honest with you. Baseball America ranked them number one. That's not a fluke. There's going to be some great coaching, some great development, and everything. I'm excited to see where that can take me in the future.

Cole: What's your height and weight right now? I've seen it listed and kind of varying in different places.

Wiles: Yeah. I had a doctor's appointment a week from today, actually. I was at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds. That was the exact weight.

Cole: Give me sort of a scouting report of yourself. What's your stuff like? What's in your repertoire?

Wiles: In the state championship game, I think I topped at 93 mph and 94 I think one time. But I was sitting 89-91 mph consistently. My pitch, if you will, would have to be my curveball. I'm very comfortable throwing that any time in the count––no matter if I'm ahead or behind a hitter. I feel like I have a good change with a little sink to it and a little run to it. I think my changeup was about 78-80 mph in the state championship game.

But basically, I'm obviously not overpowering. I'm not throwing 95-100. But my scouting report on myself would be a command guy who can spot up and throw any pitch in any count to any hitter. I'm very comfortable doing that. My favorite thing to do is pitch backwards, if you will. I'll start a guy off with curveball-changeup and then work with the fastball.

Cole: I've also seen a couple reports mentioning that you throw a slider. Have you ever thrown a slider, or is that incorrect?

Wiles: To be honest with you, I have no idea where that came from. I've never thrown a slider. I've never even really tried to throw a slider. Yeah, it's just fastball-changeup-curveball.

Cole: In that state title game you mentioned where you were sitting at 89-91 mph and touching a tick higher, was that the game where your velocity started to spike a little bit?

Wiles: I have no idea. That was just the first game where there was a gun in the stadium. But from everyone I've talked to, that's been where I've been around all year. The other games where I was a little lower, I was like 87-89 mph and topping probably 91-92.

But the whole year, actually, my velocity has gotten stronger. Last year at this time, I think I was throwing 86 consistently and touching 89––something like that. And then I came back this year, and I've been up into the 90s comfortably.

Cole: With you being a 6-foot-4 high school kid, I'm sure the word you always hear tossed around is "projectable." How much are you looking forward to getting into a professional strength training program, getting stronger, and potentially getting the velocity up another tick or two?

Wiles: Yeah, I'm very excited, to be honest with you. We had a weight class here in high school, but it was a thing where I would lift on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And I would alternate, so I would do bench and legs on Monday, come back and do cleans on Wednesday, and I'd go back to bench and legs on Friday. So it wasn't really like a plan to build strength. It was more to maintain it. This season, I'd go in during my off periods and lift more just to try and get stronger.

But I think a consistent training program––lifting every day, eating the right foods, and throwing every day, as well––will help tremendously. Like I said, to be not only in a good minor league system––I mean, the Rangers are number one in Baseball America. That alone speaks for itself.

Cole: When you went in to throw that bullpen for the Rangers, what do you think it was that kind of put them on your side in the draft?

Wiles: I think it was just a good chance to show that I have three pitches, and that I can use all three. The bullpen that I threw mixed in everything from the start. It was all strikes, and that's what I do. I'm a strike thrower. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I'm not sure yet. But it was command around the plate and commanding the pitches. I think that was good for them to see from me.

Cole: When you threw that ‘pen in Arlington, who was there watching?

Wiles: It was the entire scouting department, and even Mr. Ryan came out there. He actually stood in the batter's box and asked me to throw two curveballs. I made sure they were probably the two best curveballs I've ever thrown in my life.

Cole: Have you ever been more nervous than that moment?

Wiles: I'm just happy he didn't call for like an inside fastball, where there was a chance of it getting away. But it was very cool to see him do that. The nerves definitely spiked up a little bit when he stepped in. I didn't want to be the guy to drill Nolan Ryan. But it worked out.

Cole: As you look forward to working with professional coaches, are there a couple areas of your game that you're really looking forward to polishing this summer?

Wiles: Definitely. I like my changeup now, but I think there's a lot of room to grow on it. Maybe I can try to change up how I hold it and how I throw it. I just want to get some more insight on it. And also, I can run my fastball pretty good––like a two-seamer. But I think it'd be pretty cool if I can cut it a little bit, as well, so I can move it anywhere I want it to. I'd like to have the movement with it.

Cole: You have the commitment to Vanderbilt. Can you talk about the odds that you sign with the Rangers? It sounds like you're ready to get into pro ball.

Wiles: I am. 100 percent. They went out of their way to get me, so I'm not going to be the guy that says, ‘Sorry, I'm not doing this.' There's no way. I'm very comfortable with everything that they do, and I'm ready.

Cole: I'm assuming that the Rangers will be sending you out to Arizona when you do sign. Do you have any timetable on when that might happen?

Wiles: Dustin called my dad yesterday, and I think after the draft, they're going to have me down for a physical––like a full team physical. And then, after that physical is over, that's when we can sit down and get this contract done.

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