Q&A with Rangers 45th Rd Pick Johnathon Moore

The Texas Rangers took Houston Baptist catcher Johnathon Moore––son of Rangers bench coach Jackie Moore––with their 45th round selection on Wednesday afternoon. Lone Star Dugout caught up with the 22-year-old hours before he signed his contract.

The Texas Rangers kept it in the family with their 45th round pick on Wednesday afternoon, as they selected catcher Johnathon Moore, son of bench coach Jackie Moore.

The 22-year-old recently finished up a four-year collegiate career, playing two seasons at Temple College before moving on to Houston Baptist University.

Moore joined the Huskies just in time for their first year of NCAA Division I baseball in 2009.

The 6-foot-0, 220-pound backstop had a career year offensively in 2010, posting a strong .355 batting average with 11 doubles, two triples, six home runs, and 51 RBI in 54 contests.

As a team, Houston Baptist recorded a 28-31 record this season––their second in D1––improving upon an 11-40 mark in their first NCAA campaign a year ago. Moore played as the club's everyday catcher, and he is the first HBU player to be drafted since 2003.

On Thursday afternoon, Lone Star Dugout caught up with Moore, who said he was prepared to sign his first professional contract later that evening at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Jason Cole: What are your thoughts on getting selected by the Rangers?

Johnathon Moore: It's exciting, getting the opportunity to play for your hometown team. With all my family being here, they're all excited about it. I've always grown up watching the Rangers and getting selected by them is a good feeling.

Cole: When you were growing up, your father was with the Astros organization for most of that time, but he has been with the Rangers the last few years. How much have you been around the organization since he moved to Arlington?

Moore: Every time I come home from school in the summertime, I go up to the ballpark and hit in the cage for a little bit. I just kind of hang out with him before the game. Then I come home and work out and then I would go up and watch the game at night.

Pretty much since he's been here, I've been up to the games just about every night. I've been spending my summer here, so it has kind of been a good summer vacation when I get home.

Cole: How special is it to be joining the organization you've spent so much time around the last few years?

Moore: It's a good feeling. I'm comfortable with it. I already know a lot of the people in the organization. I feel like that's a good thing for me. It just kind of takes the nerves off a little bit––you can just relax and go out and play. You don't have to worry about trying to do too much or trying to impress everybody. I can just kind of go out and handle my business and move on with it.

Cole: From looking at the numbers, you improved quite a bit between your two seasons at Houston Baptist. On a personal level, how'd you feel about your season there?

Moore: I felt pretty good about it. My first year going to Houston Baptist, we didn't have a very good squad. I went in and put a lot of pressure on myself, trying to do too much. It didn't really work out on my behalf.

This year, we had a little better team. I was able to go in, relax, and play my game. It worked out good for me. Overall, if you go out and enjoy doing what you do, you're going to play better. That's kind of what happened with me this year.

Cole: HBU is still kind of making the transition into Division I baseball, right?

Moore: Yeah. This past year was our second year in DI. Last year we were independent––kind of like what DBU is still. This year was our first year of joining the Great West conference, which included a bunch of independent teams from all around the country. We went from New York to Chicago to New Jersey and North Dakota. We were kind of all around everywhere. There was a lot of traveling going on, but it was a fun little conference.

Cole: This season, you guys won around 20 more games than you did last season. Can you talk about the development of the program and being part of that?

Moore: Yeah, we did. The big thing was the transition from NAIA to DI. I went to two years at Temple Junior College, and then my first year at HBU was the first year of going to a DI program. It's not a knock on those guys, but we had some NAIA players and then we had some new guys come in.

We gained some new faces this year, got some young talent in. We had a pretty good freshman group and had some good junior college transfers. When you bring in players that come from winning organizations, your mindset is just pretty much built to have a winning program. And that's what we had this year.

Of course, we couldn't compete really with with the Oklahomas and Nebraskas and stuff, but I think we turned some heads this year. We took a series against Lamar and we played a one-run game with Sam Houston State. I feel like they've been building the program up nicely and hopefully in a couple years, it'll be a respectable program.

Cole: Going back to your personal game, through your four years of college, how did you feel your game improved?

Moore: I felt that every year, I progressed a little bit. My junior year was probably by far my worst year at the plate. Defensively, there are still things that I need to work on. I want to get quicker with my feet and stuff––throwing the ball to second base.

But I feel like every year, I've progressed a little bit more. Hopefully with each year that I get to keep playing, I can get a little bit better and turn it into a good little career.

Cole: Your father was a catcher in his playing days. What has he been able to teach you about the game behind the plate?

Moore: Handling the pitching staff––that's probably the number one thing that he always talks about. I've got to be there for those guys. We have to have good communication. You need to have a good relationship with each pitcher. That's one of the things that he stresses a lot––just getting to know what each pitcher is good at and to go with their strengths.

You also have to know their weaknesses––what they aren't good at in certain situations. You need to be able to make the starting pitcher go as long into the game as possible. Just controlling the game and being kind of the quarterback behind the plate. You have to be able to keep everyone composed.

Cole: Being a guy that had the ability to grow up in those minor and major league clubhouses, how do you feel it has helped you both on and off the field?

Moore: The main thing that I've always noticed––seeing all these professional players––is that you don't think they ever mess up. I've always gotten a chance to see them working in the cages and stuff, and even major league players still have things that they're working on too. Nobody is perfect.

It helps take a little pressure off. If I get into a little slump, you know that everybody goes through it. I can think back and remember when someone was in a slump, trying to work out of it. You're not the only one that is going through it––even major league players have down time with their swing as well.

It has been beneficial for me, just knowing that these guys that have been in the system a lot longer than me are still working on stuff too. I'm not the only one that is struggling every now and then.

Cole: Being a senior, I assume you're going to be signing with the Rangers soon?

Moore: Yeah, I'm actually going to sign tonight at 6:00. I'm going to go up to the ballpark.

Cole: After you sign, do you know how long it'll be until you report somewhere?

Moore: I'm hearing through the clubhouse and people talking to my dad that I'll probably report around the 15th, I'm assuming. I'm not sure yet where I'm going––it's either going to be Arizona or Spokane, Washington. But as of right now, I'm not for sure where I'm going yet.

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