Q&A with Rangers 1st Round Pick Jake Skole

The Texas Rangers took outfielder Jake Skole with the 15th overall pick in Monday's MLB Draft, and the 18-year-old officially agreed to terms with the Rangers less than two days later. Lone Star Dugout sat down with the first-round selection for a Q&A feature.

The Texas Rangers raised some eyebrows when they selected Georgia prep outfielder Jake Skole with the 15th overall selection in Monday's MLB Draft.

Part of an incredibly loaded draft crop in the state of Georgia, Skole didn't get much buzz for the majority of the season, as he sat out with an ankle injury.

As the 18-year-old explains below, he hurt his ankle while running out a bunt during the second game of the season and ended up missing two-thirds of the year.

Upon his return, though, Skole quickly made up for lost time. The prospect returned to his Blessed Trinity Catholic High School club just in time for the playoffs, and he belted home runs in six consecutive games while a host of scouts looked on.

Skole began flying up draft boards late, and he says the Rangers had been monitoring his progress all season.

The three-sport high school star had signed a letter of intent to play football at Georgia Tech. He also planned on walking on to the Yellow Jackets' baseball team, where his brother is the starting third baseman.

Skole's ability to play three sports––including safety for a BCS-caliber ACC program––is a testament to his athleticism. He provides above-average speed, a good arm, and some power potential out of his left-handed bat.

The Woodstock, Ga., native agreed to terms with the Rangers shortly after the draft, and he flew to Arlington on Wednesday to take his physical, finalize the deal, and attend the Rangers game against Seattle.

Jason Cole: What are your thoughts on going 15th overall to the Texas Rangers?

Jake Skole: It was really exciting. It's good to be their first pick. They could have picked anyone, and I'm glad that I'm their guy and they have that faith in me that I can help out the organization.

Cole: Coming into this season, did you think you had a chance of possibly going this high in the draft?

Skole: I had some thoughts that I could do it. But I got hurt my second or third game into the year and that kind of set it aside a little bit. I thought it might be showing me that I need to go to college and play football.

Luckily once I got back to playing and playing well, I realized that I could end up going high in the draft. I didn't know it would be as high as it happened, but I'm sure happy that I did.

Cole: At what point did you start thinking there was a chance you could be a first round pick that signs to play baseball?

Skole: [Area scout] Ryan Coe has been great throughout the whole thing. He has been speaking with me all throughout––even the time that I was injured. He was trying to figure out stuff like how to get me back healthy and how to get his guys to see me.

I think I kind of realized it once I actually did come back and got to come back and start playing again after about a month and a half. A lot of scouts hadn't seen me, so they were all coming to our games. They hadn't seen me the whole year. I noticed there was still a lot of interest and I knew that I could still do it.

Cole: One of the things that was certainly evident during the draft was the amount of high school talent in Georgia this year. What was it like both playing alongside and against all that talent?

Skole: It has been a good year. It's a good class––it really is. I played with [Kaleb] Cowart from Cooe County, [Delino] DeShields from down at Woodward, and Chevez Clarke for years.

It has really been exciting, seeing how all of us have grown and turned into these kind of ballplayers. It's something special. I'm just happy to be in the same group with these guys.

Cole: You mentioned your relationship with Ryan Coe. Were you pretty much talking to him and the Rangers more than any other team this year?

Skole: Yeah, I'd say so. They were probably the top three or four teams that I was talking to the whole time. I got to build a pretty good relationship with Ryan and it was really a perfect place and a perfect way that it worked out.

Cole: Did you happen to attend any pre-draft workouts with the Rangers or anything along those lines?

Skole: Yeah, I did. Before the season started, I was healthy and I swung the bat real well. That's when I thought I was on my way to maybe doing big things, and then I ended up getting hurt. That put it down a little bit, but it came back up when I got back on the field.

Cole: You mentioned the injury that caused you to miss quite a bit of your high school season this year. Can you talk about what exactly the injury was and how it happened?

Skole: I was trying to beat out a bunt in our second game of the season. I was coming down to first. I ended up beating the throw, but the first baseman's foot was on the bag and I clipped his foot and rolled my ankle. Then I overcompensated and rolled it almost both ways.

I ended up having a pretty big bone bruise on my foot, like right underneath my ankle. That was the main thing. It was such a big bone bruise that it took time to heal and it was real painful for awhile. It was almost how much pain I could take when I would run on it. That's what kept me out for so long.

Cole: How much time did you end up missing because of that?

Skole: I missed 22 games out of like 33 during our season.

Cole: How frustrating was all that missed time, knowing that this was a big season for you in terms of the draft?

Skole: It was frustrating. The big thing was that I tried to stay positive. I just told myself that there were still big things ahead of me, whatever happens. But it was frustrating to know that I might not be able to play the rest of the season.

I was only two games into the season and I hadn't really shown anybody anything. I knew it was going to be hard draft-wise to get up there on peoples' boards. But it ended up working out. It was almost a blessing to just come back and show what I had for the short time that I had. It worked out great.

Cole: Did you feel a little extra pressure, knowing that you only had a limited amount of time once you got back?

Skole: A little bit. But it was good. It was playoff time anyway, so there's pressure from that. I wanted to come back and make an impact for the team, like I was supposed to do throughout the whole year. The added pressure wasn't too bad.

There were scouts at every batting practice we took throughout the playoffs. I think that was just because nobody had seen me through the whole year. There were people watching everything we did. It was almost exciting. It got our guys fired up, and there were no dull moments at practices––no time to lollygag or not be hustling around.

Cole: The Rangers drafted you as a centerfielder. Has that been your primary outfield position in high school?

Skole: Yes, I've been a centerfielder for all four years in high school.

Cole: Do you expect to stay there in pro ball?

Skole: I think so. I think for the first few years at least. I don't know if they want me to put on some weight and add on some power numbers or not––then maybe move to a corner outfield spot. But I'm happy to do whatever. I can be a centerfield leadoff guy and I feel like I can play the corner outfield positions too.

Cole: Switching to your offensive game for a bit, can you talk about your approach at the plate and what you're trying to do when you're up there?

Skole: My approach at the plate––my speed has a lot to do with my game. I've put on a lot of weight, and that has brought on a lot of power to my game in the last couple years. But the basis of my game is that I'll bunt a lot. I used to be kind of a slap guy when I was younger––just a little slap guy.

My approach at the plate is trying to hit line drives with no strikes or one strike, and when there are two strikes, I just want to battle and put it into play and try to make fielders make the play and get a fast guy out.

Cole: You were kind of a two-sport recruit at Georgia Tech, getting a football scholarship with designs on joining the baseball team as a walkon. Did you play basketball in high school as well?

Skole: Yes, I did.

Cole: How was it to juggle three sports? I guess all of those kind of overlap at some point.

Skole: Yeah, it was tough. I always stayed busy. I never got sick of one sport. It was hard, coming off basketball season or coming off football season and jumping right into the next sport. The last game of our season, it felt like the next day I was going to a practice for the next season.

It's tough when the sports overlap, especially going deep into the playoffs and stuff. But I've stayed in shape and the only part that has been tough has been keeping that swing and keeping the baseball skills that you probably should be working on year-round.

Cole: You've already reached an agreement with the Rangers, correct?

Skole: Yeah, we've already pretty much talked things out. I'm headed down there Wednesday for the press conference and stuff. I'm going to get everything worked out down in Texas.

Cole: Your brother plays baseball at Georgia Tech, right?

Skole: Yeah, he's the third baseman at Georgia Tech.

Cole: Well given the fact that you are signing with the Rangers, is it tough to pass on the chance to play baseball with your brother as well as football in a BCS-caliber program?

Skole: It's tough. That was a big part of my decision––going there and playing with my brother. But he understands where we're at in the draft and all that stuff. He wants the best for me, and I think he'll understand.

From the football side, it stinks not being out there in that atmosphere––in that ACC football atmosphere. But I always knew in the long run that I was going to be a baseball player. Hopefully I don't miss it too much and want it back to much. But I think we'll be fine with just playing baseball for years.

Cole: How much are you looking forward to being able to focus on baseball full-time now and honing those skills? It doesn't seem like you've ever been a full-time baseball guy.

Skole: That's one of the biggest things that I'm getting excited about. I never really put nine or 10 months into just baseball and working on just baseball. It has always been baseball and something else. The sky is the limit, I feel like, with all the skills I can tone up and get better. I'm going to be able to work for a longer time out of the year.

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