The Texas Rangers selected right-hander Tom Lemke with their tenth round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft last month.
A product of the Phoenix area's Northwest Christian School, Lemke is a talented pitcher with a high ceiling, but he dropped in the draft due to signability concerns and a slight decrease in velocity during his senior season of high school.
The 6-foot-8 hurler was named one of Baseball America's top 10 pitching prospects at the 2008 Area Code Games, where he flashed an 86-89 mph fastball and a solid 71 mph curveball.
Lone Star Dugout caught up with Lemke after the draft.
Jason Cole: What was going through your mind at the time you were drafted by the Rangers, and how did it feel?
Tom Lemke: I don't know really what was going through my mind. I was just kind of anxious I guess—nervous a bit. I kind of thought maybe I would have been called earlier, but it didn't work out that way. I'm still happy where I'm at and I feel a lot of relief now that I don't have to worry about it. It was kind of a weight off my shoulders.
Cole: Did you talk to the Rangers at all leading up to the draft?
Lemke: Yeah, we had actually been in contact quite a bit. Especially leading up to the draft. I pitched on the Sunday [before the draft] and the area guy came and watched. I talked to him a couple of times and he talked to my advisor a couple of times. It wasn't that big of a surprise, I guess.
Cole: Knowing that the Rangers were interested in you, did you know anything about the Rangers' system coming into the draft?
Lemke: I know they do Spring Training in Surprise, which is really nice for me. It's local. It's only about a half hour away from our house, so that would be nice for them to be able to come out and watch if I do end up signing. But as far as facts and information, I don't really know that much I guess.
Cole: Tell me a little bit about your stuff. What pitches do you throw and what speeds are you usually working at?
Lemke: I throw fastball, curveball, changeup. My fastball is right around 91-92 and I've touched 93 before.
Cole: How often did you throw your changeup in high school? I know a lot of hard-throwing high school pitchers like yourself often won't use it because it only speeds up the bats.
Lemke: Yeah. I tried to throw it quite a bit this year. I really worked on developing it in the fall, and I got pretty comfortable with it in the fall. Then this spring, in my school season, it kind of took me a little bit longer to get going with it. I wasn't really throwing it much in the beginning of the year, but towards the end of the year I started throwing it more.
Cole: Had any scouts talked to you about it? Were they telling you they'd like to see you use it in games?
Lemke: Yeah. I played on a Diamondbacks scout team in the fall. One of the coaches was the area scout, and he kind of said it would be a beneficial pitch for me to learn. I really worked pretty hard on it in the fall and I was able to do pretty well on it, I thought.
Cole: You've signed with the University of Nebraska. Tell me what went into your decision to sign with Mike Anderson's program.
Lemke: A big part was that I really enjoyed the coaching staff. They seemed like a good group of men, not only for the baseball side but outside of baseball too. They kind of told me they focused on developing the players as men and not only as baseball players. That was a big reason.
And I have some family back there. I was actually born in Grand Island, Nebraska. My grandma and a couple of cousins and aunt and uncle still live back there. Even though I'd be away from home, I'd still have some people to come and support me and watch me and talk to me. Those were probably the two biggest reasons.
Cole: You were also an All-State hitter in high school, weren't you?
Lemke: Yeah. My sophomore year, I was All-State as a utility player. And then last year I was an All-State first baseman. This year, I finally got All-State as a pitcher.
Cole: If you do end up going to Nebraska, are they going to let you hit there as well?
Lemke: No, I don't think so. I called them after one of my last games and told them how I hit and stuff. They said, ‘You better enjoy it because you're probably not going to hit here.'
Cole: I assume you probably didn't have any professional teams talking to you about hitting in professional ball.
Lemke: Yeah, it was all on the mound for professional teams. They didn't even mention hitting.
Cole: Tell me a little about your chances of signing with the Rangers versus going to school and becoming a Husker.
Lemke: It's up in the air. I'd definitely like to get out and play, so we're just kind of waiting to see what happens with the offer. We'll see how things turn out.
Q&A with Rangers 10th Round Pick Tom Lemke
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