The Texas Rangers selected outfielder Kyle Rhoad with their 33rd round pick in June's MLB Draft.
A product of Eastern Michigan University, Rhoad was a three-year starter for the Eagles, and he put together a particularly strong senior campaign.
To cap off his collegiate career, Rhoad batted .349 with 13 doubles and 12 home runs. In addition to the power [.578 slugging percentage], he got on base [.459 on-base percentage] with 34 walks and he was hit by 14 pitches. The speedy outfielder also swiped a team-high 32 bases in 35 attempts.
Because he was a senior, Rhoad signed quickly and immediately joined the short-season Spokane Indians. After a slow start, the 23-year-old has been heating up of late, and he's batting .283 with a .423 on-base percentage [14 walks] through 21 games. He also has six stolen bases in as many attempts.
Jason Cole: What are your thoughts on getting drafted by the Rangers?
Kyle Rhoad: I'm very excited to get drafted by the Rangers. I sat through the first two days of the draft. You sit back and wait for your name. I was getting pretty excited after day two to see what would happen. And it was nice, early in day three, to see my name pop up with the Rangers. I couldn't ask for a better situation than that.
Cole: How much had you been talking to the Rangers leading up to the draft and during your senior year of college?
Rhoad: Really most of the interest from the Rangers just came during the senior year of college. I was kind of a late bloomer through high school and college. Most of the attention came just this season, so it was recent that I learned more about the Rangers and their programs.
Cole: Were they one of the teams that you felt was watching you closest throughout your senior year?
Rhoad: Yeah, there were a handful of teams that showed a lot of interest this year. The Rangers were definitely one of the teams that were on my radar.
Cole: Did you end up getting picked about where you expected to go?
Rhoad: You know, I didn't have a whole lot of expectations going into the draft. You sit back and you start seeing names of guys that you know or played against, and you like to compare yourself to other players. But going in the 33rd round—I'm excited just to get an opportunity to play, to be honest with you.
Cole: Tell me a little bit about your game on the field. What's your approach at the plate like?
Rhoad: I've been a leadoff batter for the last few seasons. My game is speed, so I do whatever I can to get on base—whether it's bunt, getting a hit, getting a walk. Anything you can do to get on base.
Then my game kind of takes over from there. I like to steal bases and put pressure on the defense, and I think that creates good things—as a leadoff hitter—for the whole team, if you can do it successfully.
Cole: One of the things I noticed from looking at your college numbers this year was the 32 stolen bases in 35 attempts. Can you talk a little about what goes in to being that successful on the basepaths?
Rhoad: Yeah. Besides obviously being fast and having the speed factor, stealing bases—a lot of it is stealing on the pitcher, in my mind. As you get more experience as a baseball player, you start to learn the tricks and trades of the game to where you can be more successful in stealing bases. I think a lot of it is knowledge of who you're playing against and what the situation is in the game and being able to take advantage of those situations and steal bases.
Cole: You did mention that a big part of your game is the speed, but you also ran into a number of home runs this year. How big a part of your game is power?
Rhoad: I think it's just a complement to my game of speed. I think my game is definitely the speed game, and that's something I need to focus on in my career as a baseball player. The power thing is kind of a nice addition.
For a leadoff batter, that's something a lot of times people don't necessary expect power numbers from. But when you get them, it's a huge boost for the team. Somebody like a Curtis Granderson in Detroit and what he does for that lineup. His power has really helped that team a lot.
Cole: You were listed as a centerfielder when the Rangers drafted you. Have you been a centerfielder throughout your collegiate career as well?
Rhoad: I came in out of high school as a middle infielder. It was really just last year that I actually moved to the outfield as a centerfielder. I played a little bit of third base, I played a little bit of second base.
Really, it turned out that, with my speed, it was more valuable to our team if I played centerfield. I've actually grown to love playing the outfield, and I kind of feel at home out there now.
Cole: Shifting gears a bit, what has been the best moment of your baseball career so far?
Rhoad: The best moment of my career was last season when our team won our conference tournament. Our conference—we're a smaller midwestern conference—and if you don't win your conference tournament, then you don't make it to the NCAA regionals.
We won the conference tournament last year, which was very exciting. We went on to the NCAA regional, and we were competitive there. That was just a lot of fun for our group of guys.
Q&A with Rangers 33rd Round Pick Kyle Rhoad
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