Q&A with Rangers 2nd-round pick Akeem Bostick

The Texas Rangers have already locked up their top 10 picks in this year's MLB Draft, including second-round selection RHP Akeem Bostick, who will begin his professional career in the rookie Arizona League. One day after Bostick was selected, Lone Star Dugout sat down with the 6-foot-5 prospect for an interview.

As last week's MLB Draft approached, right-hander Akeem Bostick had plenty of options. The three-sport high school star had signed a dual letter of intent to play both football and baseball at Georgia Southern University. He also could have gone the junior college route, as he'd committed to JUCO powerhouse Spartanburg Methodist for baseball.

The Rangers made Bostick's decision easy, however, by selecting him in the second round––a couple rounds higher than even Bostick himself was expecting to come off the board. The 18-year-old hurler ultimately passed on both collegiate opportunities and signed with the Rangers shortly after the draft for a reported $520,600 bonus.

Bostick will now report to the Rangers' minor league complex in Arizona, where he will open his professional career by pitching for the rookie Surprise Rangers.

Among the more purely athletic pitchers in this year's draft, Bostick is a talented-but-raw hurler who has never dedicated his full-time focus to baseball. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound prospect should add more bulk to his frame in pro ball, and he already shows promising velocity, sitting in the low-90s this spring while popping the occasional 94-95 mph.

Bostick's secondary stuff is much less advanced than his fastball at present. As he mentions in the following interview, he threw five different pitches in high school, though that will likely be whittled down to the more traditional fastball-curveball-changeup mix for the time being in pro ball. Bostick's curveball did show signs of improvement late in the season, flashing more depth in the mid-to-upper 70s.

The South Carolina native will likely work as a starting pitcher in the complex league this summer. After the draft, Lone Star Dugout caught up with him for an interview.



Jason Cole: Take me through yesterday. What was draft day like for you?

Akeem Bostick: Well, in the earlier part it was kind of boring by the time we got to pick 15. I mean, just all the time it took between picks. But as the second round got ready to get started, it started moving quicker. Then once my name got called, it just went crazy from there.

Cole: What was the anticipation like? I'm sure you woke up, and you were just ready for the draft to get going.

Bostick: Yeah, I was actually just waiting for it to come. But I didn't wake up until maybe like 2:30 in the afternoon. And I was like, ‘Well, I have a few hours to do other stuff.' So I just started hanging out with friends and playing PS3, and then finally it came. I just sat down and was like, ‘Okay, let's get this started.'

Cole: Were you expecting to have your name go off the board yesterday?

Bostick: Actually, no, I was looking for day two. But when that happened, I was just like, ‘Alright, that works.'

Cole: Did you get to hear your name called on TV?

Bostick: I heard it because I was watching it from the kitchen on the laptop. And then the television in the living room was maybe 15 seconds slower than the laptop. So I heard it on the laptop first. Then I looked at the television to see how that was going. And then I heard it again. And everybody went crazy as soon as my name was called.

Cole: How long did it take for you to hear from the Rangers, whether it be your area scout or someone else, after the pick?

Bostick: After the pick, I got a call within the next two minutes from my area scout. He just wanted to see what had been going on and how it had been looking over here after I got drafted. And then maybe two or three minutes after I got off the phone with him, (scouting director) Kip Fagg called from Arlington.

Cole: Overall, what are your thoughts on getting drafted by the Rangers in the second round? How do you feel about it?

Bostick: I feel great about it. I'm just ready to get out there and just start playing ball again. I miss it, man.

Cole: When was your last high school game?

Bostick: Like April 25th.

Cole: A lot of teams will hold pre-draft workouts to see players in May and early June. How many of those, if any, did you attend?

Bostick: I went to like six or seven.

Cole: The area scout you mentioned earlier is obviously Chris Kemp in South Carolina. What's your relationship with him like? How long have you known him for?

Bostick: I ran into him this past summer, when I was pitching for the American Legion team. He was out there scouting. From there, we just stayed in touch. He really liked me. He started coming around more, and we kind of had a little bond. Then the draft happened.

Cole: Did you think the Rangers were one of the most likely teams to pick you? Or did you not have any idea?

Bostick: Really, I had no idea who it would be. But I just wanted someone to take me.

Cole: What's your height and weight right now?

Bostick: I'm 6-foot-5, 180 pounds.

Cole: How much have you grown within the last year or two, if at all?

Bostick: In the past two years, about six inches (laughs).

Cole: So when you started high school, you weren't really a tall guy at all?

Bostick: No, I was like 5-foot-6 the summer going into my junior year (laughs).

Cole: What was that like on the mound, growing into yourself and suddenly pitching with a completely different body?

Bostick: I mean, it felt weird at first. I felt like was doing everything––it just felt wrong. I was like, ‘Nah, I can't get used to this.' But after awhile, I just got used to it. And then when I stepped on to the mound for the first time after I gained all that height, and I threw. I realized that it was coming out of my hand a lot harder.

Cole: How much did your velocity jump during that growth spurt?

Bostick: It went from like 82 mph to like I think 85 or 87––something like that.

Cole: And what were you hitting in high school this year?

Bostick: I got up to 94 mph.

Cole: Talk about your game on the mound. What do you have in your repertoire? What type of pitcher do you see yourself as?

Bostick: As a pitcher, I'm really confident. I'll go right at you. You're going to have to hit it or you're not. I throw two-seam and four-seam fastballs, curveball, changeup, slider, and a splitter.

Cole: Obviously the fastball is there. How has your curveball coming along for you over the last year or so?

Bostick: In the past year, it has gotten really good since then. When I first started throwing it, it was basically like a waste pitch type of deal. I could throw it just so you could see something different––that way you wouldn't just sit all fastballs. But now, I can throw it for a strike if you need me to.

Cole: A lot of guys that have velocity anywhere around the 90s in high school don't throw a lot of changeups because it just speeds up the bats of high school hitters. Have you thrown many changeups in the past?

Bostick: Total––out of the nine starts that I had this season––maybe 20.

Cole: How much are you looking forward to improving not only the changeup, but also the offspeed stuff in general in pro ball?

Bostick: I know I'm going to have to get it a lot better than it is now. Because those guys––they see stuff like this all the time. I know they can adjust very well. When I've missed in high school––not too many guys make me pay. When I get to the higher levels, the more guys are going to start making me pay for missing spots.

Cole: You were a three-sport guy in high school, playing baseball, basketball, and football. Did you ever have people talking to you about playing the other sports past high school, or was it just baseball?

Bostick: Football was in the picture past high school. And I may have been able to do basketball past high school, but that was just like a sport that kept me in shape because we did a lot of running.

Cole: Was baseball always your passion and preference?

Bostick: Yeah, since I was six.

Cole: Given the fact that you played three sports, have you really ever been able to focus on baseball year-round?

Bostick: I haven't fully year-round. But baseball usually was two to three months during the school year. And outside of that, I played showcase ball on the weekends during school weekends. I would do that year-round and just keep playing on the weekends. And then when high school started, it was just high school baseball.

Cole: Did you get to do the big showcases like Perfect Game National and World Wood Bat?

Bostick: Yes, sir. I went to World Wood Bat in Atlanta at East Cobb, and then the Perfect Game Nationals in Minnesota.

Cole: How much did that help you in terms of putting yourself on the map and being seen by all 30 teams?

Bostick: I think it helped a great deal, because I faced a lot better competition. It wasn't just guys from my area––it was guys from everywhere. They had big names. They were bringing in some guys, and I was able to pitch against them. With the outings I had, that really helped.

Cole: I know you spend a lot of time with Randy Hart, who has really become a mentor to you. Tell me about your relationship with him.

Bostick: Me and him––he's basically my on-the-road father. Me and him ran into each other when I was about five years old. Me and his son Avery played baseball together. We played up until we were like 10, and then we got a little AAU team together, and we started playing every weekend.

Then I came over to their house for the first time because my mom works all the time. He helped me get wherever I needed to get for baseball, because she couldn't do it. After coming over probably once per weekend or whatever, it turned into almost every time we were out of school.

Cole: Were both Randy and your mom around last night when you were picked?

Bostick: Yes, sir.

Cole: What was it like to experience that moment with two of the most important people in your life?

Bostick: It made me tear up, man––tears of joy.


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