The Texas Rangers recently selected left-hander Richard Bleier in the sixth round of the 2008 MLB Draft.
Bleier comes to the Rangers after enjoying a terrific collegiate season. Although Florida Gulf Coast was in their first year of Division I athletics, the Eagles went 38-15.
The southpaw wasn't so bad himself, going 7-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 12 starts, four of which were complete games. Bleier threw 90.1 innings and gave up 79 hits, walked just 17, and struck out 76.
Lone Star Dugout was able to catch up with the hurler for a Q&A session.
Jason Cole: What did it feel like to be drafted by the Rangers in the sixth round?
Richard Bleier: I was definitely really excited to just get drafted in general. I had kind of heard that was where I was going to get drafted – right around there – so I'm glad everything worked out with that. I was just overall very excited.
Cole: You have already signed with the Rangers. Did you guys have any agreement with money before the draft?
Bleier: They called me four picks before their pick in the sixth round and asked if I would sign. I said, ‘yeah, I'll sign tonight.' I guess that worked out. They picked me and I signed whenever the scout got back in town.
Cole: Give me a bit of a scouting report on you as a pitcher. What kind of pitches are you throwing and what speeds are you generally working at?
Bleier: My fastball is my best pitch by far. It's not an overpowering fastball by any means. It's probably anywhere from 87 to 92. But I keep the ball down and I pitch to bad contact. I'll get ground ball after ground ball. The best part about my game is that I don't throw that many pitches. I threw a complete game at 93 pitches this season. I get early contact and my ball tails so much that they think it's in the strike zone, but it's not. I throw three other pitches – a curveball, a slider and a changeup for strikes. When I'm on, I'm pretty effective.
Cole: Which of your offspeed pitches would you say is your most advanced?
Bleier: I would say my slider is my out pitch. It is the most effective. It's weird because it's the pitch I picked up the latest. I just picked it up this season. It is just a lot better. I throw it pretty hard – I think I throw it low-80s. It has got some late movement to it, so it gets the job done a little bit.
Cole: You mentioned getting a lot of ground balls. Are you throwing sinkers out there or is it mostly four-seamers?
Bleier: I throw nothing but two-seamers and I think I just have natural sink to my ball.
Cole: What would you say is your best attribute on the mound? What is it that makes you successful out there?
Bleier: Obviously I would say my talent. But also my competitiveness. If something happens, like a leadoff double, I really bear down and take it to the next level and close the door. Or at least I'm going to try for the most part. Definitely my overall competitiveness on the mound.
Cole: This was Florida Gulf Coast's first division one season and you guys were 38-15. How did you feel about the season and what was the competition like compared to DII ball?
Bleier: Yeah. We had a really good year. Honestly, the competition between Division I and Division II, it's not a huge gap. There are a little more consistent players. Instead of one big hitter in a Division II lineup, there are two or three in Division I. The pitching is a little bit better. We had pretty much the same team this year as we did last year and everyone pretty much got a year better. I think that is the main reason why we did so well.
Cole: How did you feel you performed this season?
Bleier: I feel like I had a pretty good year. I won Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year, which is the conference we are in. I went 7-1 – I was extremely happy with my season here. The best part, when I think about it, is that I threw 90 innings and I only walked 17. I was definitely happy with that too.
Cole: What would you say has been the best moment of your baseball career so far?
Bleier: Now, getting drafted by the Rangers in the sixth round, I'd say.
Cole: As you go into pro ball, getting to work with professional coaches, what are you looking forward to working on and improving more than anything else right now?
Bleier: I think just staying consistent and staying within myself. I want to keep improving and keep working on my offspeed pitches and getting better with everything. I don't think there is one particular area where it is behind the other. I think I can take my whole game to the next level.
Q&A with Rangers 6th Rd Pick Richard Bleier
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