The Texas Rangers drafted catcher Chris Gradoville in the 24th round during the second day of the MLB draft on Friday afternoon.
A native of Omaha, Gradoville hit .339 with 15 doubles, five home runs, and 56 RBI in his fifth-year senior season with the Creighton Bluejays this year. Lone Star Dugout caught up with the 22-year-old backstop shortly after he was drafted.
Jason Cole: Can you talk about what it means to you to be drafted by the Rangers?
Chris Gradoville: It means a lot to me to get an opportunity to play baseball at the next level with an organization like the Rangers. I know Scott Servais and I've known him for a lot of years. It's nice to be involved in an organization with someone I know and I have a lot of friends playing in the organization already. I'm looking forward to it.
Cole: Was this about where you expected to be drafted?
Gradoville: Yeah, the last I heard was late-teens, early-twenties. The 24th round is early-twenties. It was about right on and I saw that they were taking quite a few catchers as I was following the draft. I knew it was coming and then my name popped up, so it was pretty sweet.
Cole: How much did you know about the Rangers before they drafted you today?
Gradoville: I knew a little bit about them. Obviously there's the stuff you see on TV about Sammy Sosa. But like I said, I've got three or four friends in the organization. They've communicated with me how it is and how they like it and I've only heard good things, so I'm happy.
Cole: How much did you talk with the Rangers before they drafted you?
Gradoville: Quite a bit actually. The scout was Dustin Smith. He's a first year scout. He came and saw us play quite a bit. I had a sit-down meeting with him here in Omaha. Scott Servais also flew in and watched us play against Nebraska at Rosenblatt Stadium. I got to talk to him afterwards for about 10 or 15 minutes. I've been in contact with them throughout the year.
Cole: How much have you talked to them since they drafted you?
Gradoville: Just one time right after I got drafted. They said they would call me back after the draft was over. We'll figure out where I'm going after that.
Cole: Is there a major league team that you followed growing up?
Gradoville: I followed the Atlanta Braves growing up.
Cole: You mentioned getting a contract worked out. You're a senior, is that correct?
Gradoville: Yeah, I'm actually a fifth-year senior. There's not much negotiating power money-wise. I'm fine with that because I'm just getting an opportunity to play at the next level and that's all I can ask for.
Cole: So do you expect to sign fairly quickly?
Gradoville: Yeah, definitely.
Cole: What do you think the best moment in your baseball career has been?
Gradoville: Being part of a program like Creighton where I came in as a freshman. We only won 20 games my redshirt freshman year. We got a new coach my sophomore year, Coach Servais. He has 160 wins through four years. To be a part of that and all four of those years, it means a lot. Creighton was overlooked in the baseball community around here. Now we're starting to get on the map not just around here, but nationally as well. To be a main factor in turning that around and being a part of something special like we had, that's my biggest moment.
Cole: You played in kind of a crazy game in the Missouri Valley title game this year. Can you talk about that experience?
Gradoville: Crazy is definitely the word for that game. It was the most emotional and probably the craziest game I've ever seen in person. There were so many ups and downs and highs and lows emotionally and physically. But it was great. It made a statement for our program that we could win our first conference tournament. To go out in that fashion and go down as one of the best Missouri Valley Conference teams means a lot.
Cole: Were you happy with your season this year?
Gradoville: I was very happy. We were really doubted coming into the year because we lost quite a few people last year and they weren't too sure about some of the recruits we had coming in. But to go out and win 45 games like we did is amazing. The chemistry I had with my team was the best I've seen in my entire life. To have all that come together for my senior year means a lot.
Cole: Can you talk about your approach at the plate? What type of hitter are you?
Gradoville: I'm a very aggressive hitter. I like to get my fastball early in the count. We were looking at a chart with our hitting coach, and there are a lot of 0-0, 1-0, and 0-1 counts where I've swung and put the ball in play. I'm a very aggressive hitter and I definitely like my fastball early in the count.
Cole: Can you talk about what the experience of working with some good pitching staffs at Creighton has helped prepare you for professional baseball?
Gradoville: The fact that the coaches have let me call games on my own the past few years is going to help a lot. Learning every pitcher, what they have in certain situations, and how to put that into a game is really going to help me at the next level.
Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Chris Gradoville
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