Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Neil Ramirez

The Rangers chose high school hurler and Virginia Beach native Neil Ramirez with the 44th overall selection -- the Rangers' fourth pick of the day -- in the MLB first year player draft on Thursday afternoon. Lone Star Dugout has an exclusive interview with the 6-foot-3 pitcher.

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Right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez became the Texas Rangers' fourth pick of the MLB draft on Thursday afternoon. The 18-year-old Virginia Beach native entered the season as one of the top high school pitchers in the nation, but fell to the Rangers at the 44th overall pick.

Lone Star Dugout caught up with the supplemental first round pick on Thursday evening.

Jason Cole: Tell me what your thoughts are on being drafted #44 overall by the Rangers.

Neil Ramirez: I'm just really excited about it. It's a great opportunity and it's something that I've been wanting to do for a long time. It's pretty much a dream come true. It really works out well because I actually have family that lives in Texas.

Cole: How much do you know about the Rangers' organization?

Ramirez: I don't know too much, but I've been in touch with them all spring, so I know a little bit. I know a little bit about their system and their organization, so it's not something I don't know anything about.

Cole: What team did you follow while you were growing up?

Ramirez: I followed the Rangers a little bit because of my family that lives in Texas, but I guess the team that I followed the most would be the Braves. They've always been one of my favorite teams.

Cole: Did you have a favorite player when you were growing up?

Ramirez: I've always liked Chipper Jones a lot.

Cole: Is there a pitcher that you would compare yourself to?

Ramirez: I would like to be compared to Josh Beckett because I like him a lot. He's one of my favorite pitchers.

Cole: You said you talked to the Rangers quite a bit before the draft, but how much have you talked to them after you got picked?

Ramirez: I haven't really been in too much contact with them right now. The area scout from around here just called to congratulate me, but that's about it right now. I think my advisor might be in a little more contact with them.

Cole: Did you sign with a college?

Ramirez: Yeah, I signed to go to Georgia Tech University.

Cole: What led you to sign with them?

Ramirez: The first time I was on the campus, I really liked the location. They've always had a good baseball program. The coaches treated me very well and from day one I was really comfortable with them.

Cole: Can you talk about the chances of you going to college versus the chances of signing with the Rangers?

Ramirez: It's all going to come down to the signing bonus, I guess. I'm not really sure where we're at with that right now. It's going to take a good amount for me to go away from college because I've got such a good situation there. But pro ball is my main goal. If everything is right, then hopefully I'll be able to sign.

Cole: Were you happy with the way you pitched in high school this year?

Ramirez: I was a little disappointed about it. Coming into the season there was a little bit higher expectations. Not that anything happened that I'm not happy about at all. I know I can do better, so I'm ready to go out there and show what I can do.

Cole: You got to pitch in the Cal Ripken Summer League last summer, which is typically a collegiate wood bat league. How many high school players were there?

Ramirez: I think there were a couple. I know that I was one of the few. Most of them are college guys. I know there were a lot of guys on my team that were from big SEC programs. There were a couple of teams that had some really good talent.

Cole: Playing against guys that were up to three years older than you there, how did that help you develop as a pitcher?

Ramirez: You've got to throw everything that you have. You can't just go out there and try to blow it by everybody. You can get away with that in high school, but when you get to those guys in college, they've seen all that before. I basically learned how to pitch.

Cole: Can you talk about what pitches you throw and the speeds that you typically work at?

Ramirez: I got my fastball up to 96 MPH a couple of times this year. I guess I'm consistently in the low-90's with that. My curveball is in the upper-70's. It touched 80 a few times this year. That's a developing pitch for me right now. Once I get that down, I'll be pretty solid with that. My changeup is in the mid-80's range. That's another pitch that I'm going to have to work on. But I've got the fastball there so hopefully I'll continue to get bigger and stronger and build on everything.

Cole: What pitch would you consider your best at this point?

Ramirez: Probably my fastball because I can run it up there pretty well. My curveball's not bad, but I still have to work on developing the consistency. My fastball is definitely my best pitch right now.

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