Ragsdale thankful for second chance

The Texas Rangers elected to convert Corey Ragsdale into a relief pitcher earlier in the week. The 25-year-old had been playing a utility role with Double-A Frisco, where he was hitting .217. Lone Star Dugout caught up with Ragsdale for a Q&A session on Friday afternoon.

Corey Ragsdale was originally selected by the New York Mets in the second round of the 2001 MLB Draft.

Ragsdale, a standout basketball player at Jonesboro, Arkansas' Nettleton High School, was highly regarded due to his outstanding athleticism, glove, and arm.

Although he lived up to expectations in the field during parts of seven seasons in the Mets organization, the infielder batted just .206 over that span.

In 2007, with Ragsdale scuffling at the plate and his six-year minor league free agent eligibility quickly approaching, the Mets elected to move Ragsdale to the mound. After taking some time to get accustomed to pitching, Ragsdale appeared in three games with the rookie-level GCL Mets, hurling four scoreless innings. He gave up one hit, walked three, and struck out five.

Ragsdale entered the 2008 season looking for a team to give him one last chance at fulfilling his dream of becoming a big league position player. The Rangers gave him that opportunity, as they signed him to a minor league contract in December.

The Rangers assigned the 25-year-old to Double-A Frisco out of spring training, where he would be used as a utility player. While seeing time at all four infield positions, Ragsdale batted .217 with five home runs in 203 at-bats with the ‘Riders.

Like the Mets, the Rangers saw potential in Ragsdale's fantastic arm. The club recently decided to put him back on the mound. Ragsdale was recently sent to short-season Spokane, where he figures to pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season.

Lone Star Dugout caught up with Ragsdale the day after he arrived in Spokane.

Jason Cole: When did the Rangers mention turning you back into a pitcher and how did they tell you?

Corey Ragsdale: I guess it was about four days before I came down to Spokane, so it was five or six days ago. Maybe a week ago.

I just talked to Scott Servais and he said there were a lot of people that were very interested in seeing me pitch. He broke it down and from what they had seen, they think that I have a better chance to make it with the Rangers as a pitcher than a position player. We just talked about some things and we just kind of made the decision from there.

Cole: What are your thoughts on going back to the mound?

Ragsdale: It's different just because I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to do this. A lot of people don't get that opportunity – kind of like a second chance. I am thankful for that. But then again, it's just one part of your career that you're going to kind of put to bed I guess. Growing up, it's what I always thought I would be doing. Obviously it hasn't happened like that. At one time, it's kind of hard. But at the same time, I'm thankful to have the opportunity.

Cole: Tell me about you as a pitcher. What pitches do you throw?

Ragsdale: Right now, I'm just throwing a fastball, a curveball, and a changeup.

Cole: Is that what you have always thrown?

Ragsdale: I've never really pitched that much, so I guess, but as far as pitching, I've just done it very little.

Cole: Did you pitch at all in high school?

Ragsdale: Just a little bit. Not much at all.

Cole: You got into four innings last year in the Gulf Coast League. How much had you thrown before that? Were you throwing bullpens for a few weeks before they put you into a game?

Ragsdale: Yeah, correct.

Cole: How did you feel about the way you pitched in your short time there?

Ragsdale: It was alright. Four innings – I don't remember exactly what I did – but it was just a learning experience starting off. Obviously I guess for the first time, I did pretty well.

Cole: How difficult was it, having almost never pitched in the past, to suddenly be throwing to professional hitters last year?

Ragsdale: I wouldn't say it was difficult. I just went out there and did it. We threw pens and felt like I got to the point where I was ready to do it. It felt like I was ready for the challenge, so I just went out there wanting to see how it went. It went pretty well I guess.

Cole: Will you be pitching in relief with Spokane?

Ragsdale: Yeah. I am going to throw a couple of bullpens and maybe a live BP before I get into games. But yeah, it'll be out of the bullpen.

Cole: So I guess you're expecting it will be about a week or two before you are able to get into a game?

Ragsdale: Yeah, maybe a week and a half or so.

Cole: Have the Rangers told you anything about their plans for you as a pitcher for the remainder of the season? Are they planning to keep you in Spokane?

Ragsdale: We're just going to kind of see how it goes. That is what it is all going to be based off of. We'll see how quickly it's picked up and things like that.

Cole: Now that you're on the mound, have you set any goals for yourself as a pitcher for the rest of this season?

Ragsdale: I just want to try and get my arm in shape and do things like that. I just want to try and learn as much as I can. Obviously as far as mechanics and things like that, I've got a lot to learn. But I just want to learn as much of that and get everything going in a good direction as much as possible.

Cole: You threw a bullpen session on your last day in Frisco, right?

Ragsdale: Yeah.

Cole: How did you feel that went and what kind of feedback were you getting back from Frisco pitching coach Terry Clark?

Ragsdale: It went alright. He said it went well. I was able to throw my curveball and command it pretty good. He said it went well and I throw another one today [Friday] and I guess we'll see how that goes.

Cole: Being a free agent after this season, are you interested in pitching next year as well?

Ragsdale: Yeah. Obviously we're going to have to see how everything goes. We'll have to see and we'll have to talk to the Rangers and see what their plans are as well.

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