The Texas Rangers recently selected 19-year-old shortstop Ed Koncel in the 13th round of the 2008 MLB Draft.
Koncel is coming off an outstanding sophomore season at Joliet Junior College. Not only did his team take home the Division III Junior College national championship, but the Illinois native batted .373 with 18 doubles, seven triples, nine home runs, and 63 RBI.
The infielder has been assigned to short-season Spokane [where he is one of the youngest players in the league] and made his professional debut on Tuesday night. Koncel entered the game as a pinch hitter and singled in his only plate appearance. He later came around to score his first professional run.
Lone Star Dugout sat down with Koncel for a Q&A session.
Jason Cole: How did it feel to be drafted by the Rangers the other day?
Ed Koncel: It was one of the best feelings in the world. You work hard your whole life for things to happen for you and the other day when I found out the Rangers took me, I couldn't have been happier.
Cole: You were drafted in the 13th round. Is that about where you were expecting to go?
Koncel: Actually I was really surprised. I had been working out with the Chicago White Sox and they had projected me probably in the late-20s. I was really surprised the Rangers took me in the 13th round.
Cole: Had you talked with the Rangers much before the draft?
Koncel: Yeah. I had played a few games and a scout from the Rangers had talked to me. He said that he liked me. He came out and watched me a few times after that. But other than that, that's the only contact I had with the Rangers before the draft.
Cole: You've already signed with the Rangers. How long did it take to get a deal done? Were you pretty much ready to sign as soon as they could get you a contract?
Koncel: I was pretty much ready to sign right away. He had drafted me. He called me to say congratulations and said he would give me a call when we were ready to sign the contract. He came over, got me signed, and I'm ready to go.
Cole: Give me a bit of a scouting report about your game as a hitter. What's your approach like and what are you trying to do at the plate?
Koncel: I definitely consider myself a fastball hitter. Early on in counts, I try to sit on the fastball and hit it. I definitely have the ability to hit for power and I also hit for contact. I wouldn't put myself significantly in either of those categories, but I definitely consider myself a good all-around hitter.
Cole: How much experience do you have with wood bats?
Koncel: Not much at all actually. I played in a wood bat league – just a small wood bat league around my house – a few summers ago. Pretty much game-wise, that's my only experience. But the past few weeks, I've been hitting with wood at my workouts and just practicing. I'm starting to get the feel for it.
Cole: Is there a bit of an adjustment period when you move from a metal bat to a wood one?
Koncel: Oh definitely. When you hit with metal, you can definitely get a cheap hit off the end of the bat. With the wood, if you hit the ball off the end of the bat, the bat is going to explode in your hands. You're not going to get those cheap hits anymore. Other than that, if you hit the sweet spot with any bat, you're going to be in good shape.
Cole: Tell me a little about your college season this year. How did you feel about it?
Koncel: I played at Joliet Junior College. It's definitely a great program to play at. My freshman year, I was a second team All-American. I hit pretty well. This year, I definitely worked a lot harder to get my swing back in order. I hit about 50 points better, about 20 more RBIs, and I more than doubled my home run total. My bat definitely came around and my defense has always been there for me.
Cole: You mentioned having to get your swing back in order this year. What exactly did you have to do to get that done?
Koncel: Going back to the wood bats, all winter long our coach had us hitting with wood bats inside because we don't get a chance to go outside up until the season starts. We'd be inside using wood bats all winter long and that definitely changed some things in my swing – changed the mechanics a little bit. When I was able to come out in the spring with a metal bat, I felt like I was just a more comfortable hitter at the plate.
Cole: You played with Rangers draft pick Tanner Roark's brother, Dillon, at Joliet Junior College. Do you know Tanner at all?
Koncel: Yeah, I'm actually pretty good friends with Tanner.
Cole: How much does that help you to already have a friend that will be with you in the organization going into pro ball?
Koncel: Oh, 100 percent. Whenever you go somewhere far away and you get to know someone, it's a lot easier to meet other people and you have always got that guy next to you. It's really convenient that him and I are friends and we'll be playing on the same team soon.
Cole: What position did you play in college?
Koncel: I played shortstop.
Cole: Is that what you're expecting to play in the Rangers system?
Koncel: Yes, they told me that I'm going to be a shortstop for them.
Cole: As you get into pro ball and head to Spokane, is there one area of your game that you're looking to improve more than anything else?
Koncel: A little bit of my fielding. My backhand is probably the weakest part of my defensive game. But I think my hitting. You always have a chance to become a better hitter. I think obviously with professional help, the help will be there and I will be able to become a way better hitter.
Cole: What has been the best moment of your baseball career so far?
Koncel: We just won the Division III Junior College World Series this year. I'd like to think that I was a big part of that, so that was definitely a huge accomplishment for me and my team. It was definitely one of the highest points of my baseball career so far.
Q&A with Rangers 13th Round Pick Ed Koncel
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