The Texas Rangers recently made shortstop Jonathan Roof the highest-drafted player out of Michigan State University since 2002, selecting him in the eighth round of the MLB Draft.
Roof wasted little time signing his first professional contract, as he was inked for a $125,000 bonus just a few days after the draft.
The 6-foot-1, 165-pound prospect comes from an excellent baseball background. His father, Gene, played in the majors and is currently a roving instructor in the Detroit Tigers organization. Both of his brothers played Big Ten Baseball––one at MSU and one at Illinois.
Roof recently finished off a strong junior season with the Spartans, batting .317 with 13 doubles, three triples, and four home runs. He flashed his speed by swiping 16 bases in 22 attempts.
Regarded as an excellent defensive player, Roof was the first MSU baseballer to earn first team All-Big Ten honors since 2006.
Although the 21-year-old was initially assigned to short-season Spokane, he was recently sent to Arizona, where he will rehab a cracked rib sustained late in his collegiate season.
Lone Star Dugout caught up with Roof after the draft.
Jason Cole: What are your thoughts on going to the Rangers in the eighth round?
Jonathan Roof: It's awesome. I don't really know what else to say. I couldn't be happier with getting drafted by Texas––it's a good organization. I'm just glad for the opportunity that I got.
Cole: Were you picked about where you expected to go?
Roof: Going into the draft, I was expecting to be picked somewhere around the 10th round. That's what they were telling me. So being before the 10th round is just a great feeling, and I'm just happy.
Cole: Who was your Rangers area scout up there?
Roof: It was Roger Coryell.
Cole: How much contact did you have with him in the time leading up to the draft?
Roof: I remember talking to him earlier in the year. I think it might have been before this year started or just a couple games into the season. Then I saw him a couple times at our games, but I didn't really talk to him after that.
Cole: Did you think the Rangers were one of the teams that was most likely to take you?
Roof: I was really shocked that the Rangers took me, because I didn't really hear anything from them. I had heard a lot more from other teams, but I couldn't be happier for the opportunity that I got.
Cole: What are your thoughts on your recently completed junior season at Michigan State?
Roof: It was definitely cut short. I definitely was not expecting to not make the Big 10 Tournament. That was a big shock for us. We started off really hot. Halfway through the Big 10 season, we were in first place. And then we kind of lost it at the end.
It's definitely hard, the way we lost it. But individually, I felt like I was more consistent. I was pleased. And I couldn't be happier playing with the guys that I played with at Michigan State.
Cole: It seemed like you were able to improve your offensive numbers across the board. In what areas did you feel you progressed the most in?
Roof: Offensively, just consistently hitting the ball hard. I spent a long time in the cages, especially this year more than any other year. I think it was just a lot of the hard work that I put into it.
Cole: You played with your brother for a year at Michigan State, and he got drafted by the Tigers last year. Given that you're both from Kentucky, how did you guys end up at MSU?
Roof: My oldest brother––he played at the University of Illinois. The pitching coach at Michigan State played for my dad when he was a coach in the minor leagues with the Tigers. So he saw my brother at Illinois and remembered the name, so he went up there and just said, ‘Hey, I remember you guys from when you guys were little.' He was asking about me and Eric to see how we were doing. Shawn––my oldest brother––told him about us. They got Eric, and once they got him, then they started recruiting me.
Cole: Your dad is still with the Tigers organization, isn't he?
Roof: Yes, he's a roving coordinator. He teaches outfield and baserunning.
Cole: Tell me what that was like and how much it helped you growing up in a baseball family?
Roof: It's definitely an advantage, having a father like mine. He has been giving us advice. And he went through the same process as us. He got drafted out of high school, he played professionally, and he made it to the majors. So he knows what it takes to get to the majors.
Having a guy like that around to help us with our ability is definitely a help. Having Shawn and Eric go to college before me––they put me under their wing. They taught me what was needed to play at the next level.
Cole: You've played in wood bat summer leagues before in college. How much experience do you have with the wood bat?
Roof: Growing up, my father always made use wood. He always made us hit with wood to get used to that because it definitely made you get a good swing, so whenever you use the metal you have a lot of room for error. So growing up with the wood hopefully will help me out in the future.
Cole: You had the option of returning to MSU for your senior year. Can you talk about your choice to pass that up to sign a pro contract?
Roof: I've been looking forward to getting my professional career going. College was a great experience for me. But I think right now, it was time for me to go and get ready to play professionally.
Cole: You've pretty much had the benefit of high-level coaching your entire life. But is there an aspect of your game that you really want to improve while working with professional coaches?
Roof: Definitely hitting. Just to be more consistent with my whole game––the defense and at the plate. I'm looking forward to working with the coaches professionally and just going from there.
Q&A with Rangers 8th Round Pick Jonathan Roof
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