Baseball is just in the blood for Kendall Radcliffe, the Texas Rangers' 25th round pick.
His great uncle was Ted ‘Double Duty' Radcliffe, one of the best players in Negro Leagues history. As a two-way player, Radcliffe had over 4,000 hits, 400 home runs, 500 wins, and 4,000 strikeouts in his extensive professional career.
Kendall's father––Ernest––played nearly five seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals' minor league system, and he coached his son at Morgan Park High School.
And now Kendall is ready to make a name for himself.
The centerfielder is well on his way to doing just that, as he recently finished off a senior season in which he batted .531 with eight home runs, 49 runs batted in, and 45 stolen bases.
Last summer, Radcliffe showcased his talent for pro and college scouts alike at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field, as he played in the Double Duty Classic, a game dedicated to his great uncle.
The 17-year-old Radcliffe [he doesn't turn 18 until October] has signed with Heartland Community College in Illinois, but for the time being, he's playing summer ball while discussing a potential contract with the Rangers.
Jason Cole: What were your thoughts on getting drafted by the Rangers?
Kendall Radcliffe: Before I got selected, I was looking at my phone to try and see if I got a missed call from my dad or anything or anybody else. I just fell asleep. And then around 6:30 they called me and told me I'd gotten drafted. He said, ‘Congratulations, you're a pro now.' Then I got dressed and we went out to celebrate and had a nice dinner.
Cole: Who was your Rangers area scout out there?
Radcliffe: Derek Lee.
Cole: Had you talked to him or the Rangers very much leading up to the draft?
Radcliffe: It was during my senior season that I first met with Derek––a little bit before, when I was working out. We just kept in contact ever since.
Cole: A lot has been written about your great uncle, Ted ‘Double Duty' Radcliffe. You also got the opportunity to play in the Double Duty Classic. Tell me about being able to play in that game and what the experience was like.
Radcliffe: It felt good to play under my uncle's name. There were a lot of people out there supporting me. All my family was out there, so it felt pretty good.
Cole: How was it to get the opportunity to play in a big league park and all?
Radcliffe: Well, there wasn't much pressure, but it was pretty fun. I was getting to play with other people from different states and other countries.
Cole: Given the fact that it was kind of a big showcase game, were there also a lot of scouts in attendance?
Radcliffe: Yes, there were a lot of college and pro scouts there.
Cole: Your father played pro ball and also coached you in high school, no?
Radcliffe: Yeah, he played for the St. Louis Cardinals for four and a half years. And then he played for the Atlanta Braves in the minor leagues.
Cole: What have you been able to pick up from him baseball-wise over the years?
Radcliffe: Not being under pressure. He told me that when he played, he was never under pressure. He just played it like it was his last game. He said you've always got to play hard, work hard, stay humble, and everything would be alright.
Cole: How did you feel about your senior season of high school ball?
Radcliffe: I felt pretty good. I batted .531 and had eight home runs, 45 stolen bases, and 49 RBI.
Cole: Obviously you've got a real strong background in baseball, but did you play any other sports in high school?
Radcliffe: I played basketball and football my freshman and sophomore year, but I gave them up to focus on baseball because baseball is my first love.
Cole: Tell me about your overall game, if you can. What kind of player are you, and what is your approach at the plate like?
Radcliffe: The first at-bat, whether there is a man on base or not, I try to lay down a bunt down the third base line. I'm usually going to beat it out. Or I'll try to slap one through the hole––through short or third. In the second at-bat, I want to try and hit a line drive in the gap somewhere to get the man over or score. Then in the third at-bat, I always like to try and hit one out.
But knowing that I'm going to be in the Texas Rangers organization, that's not going to be my game. I'm more of a slap hitter. Defensively, I like to throw guys out, I like to track down balls––to dive a little bit. That's pretty much it.
Cole: Can you talk about your chances of signing with the Rangers versus going to school at Heartland Community College? Do you think you're likely to sign?
Radcliffe: Yeah, I want to sign, but we still have to meet and talk about things and see how it's going to go. But if it goes well, I'm going to sign.
Cole: Whether you go to college or into the pro game, are there any areas of your game that you want to improve upon at the next level?
Radcliffe: Yeah, I want to improve my arm accuracy and my plate vision. Sometimes I'm a little too anxious at the plate and I may pull off or something.
Q&A with 25th Round Pick Kendall Radcliffe
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