Q&A With Rays 29th Round Pick Keaton Steele

Keaton Steele is a right-handed pitcher/utility player for Iowa Western Community College and on Wednesday the Rays selected him in the 29th round of the June Amateur Draft. Inside, Steele discusses his team winning the NCJAA World Series and his being named the MVP, what he was doing when he found out he had been drafted, his decision-making process about whether to sign and much more.

School: Iowa Western Community College
Born: 10/30/1991
B/T: R/R
HT/WT: 6-3/225

• Was on the mound for the save and got the final out as Iowa Western Community College won the NJCAA World Series…was named the Most Valuable Player of the NJCAA World Series.

• Played high school ball for Central (Mo.) HS and was named First Team All-Conference Pitcher, Second Team All-Conference and was inducted into the Central Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.


Rays Digest: The first thing I wanted to ask was about your community college winning the NCJAA World Series and you being named the Most Valuable Player. Can you tell me about that experience?

Keaton Steele: It was a very humbling experience. Obviously there are 30 other guys on the team that deserved it just as much as I did. I happened to put a good swing on some balls and pitched pretty well at the end of the game and it just happened to my named called for the MVP. I was really excited to have it, but at the same time I was even more excited to have a National Championship.

Rays Digest: You guys went 62-6 this year? That's insane. You guys must have had a really good team.

Keaton Steele: Yeah. We led the nation in hitting, which was kind of nice. It kind of helps when the pitchers don't have to do too much. Whenever our hitting wasn't there, our pitching was. Our team played very well together and we're very close and I think that's what helped a lot.

Rays Digest: I don't have a lot of scouting information on you. So I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about yourself and what kinds of pitches you throw?

Keaton Steele: I'm 6'2" and about 210 pounds. My fastball sits anywhere from 90 to 92 mph. I'm a slider guy and I also throw a curveball and changeup. I mainly closed for Iowa Western, so hopefully that's what I'll do at the next level. But I'll do whatever they need me to do.

Rays Digest: What's your approach on the mound like? How do you attack hitters? Do you go right after them?

Keaton Steele: I go right at 'em. I'm a bulldog. Throw strikes, pound the zone and let them get themselves out.

Rays Digest: Can you tell me a little about where you were and what you were doing when you got drafted?

Keaton Steele: I was talking to a coach on the phone about playing in the Northwoods [League] and the team I'm going to play for, the Lakeshore Chinooks. I just happened to have it up on my computer and I was flipping through to see if any of my friends had been drafted and my name popped up. It was kind of a surprise to me, but at the same time it's always something I've wanted. It was an exciting thing. I was kind of sitting there and it popped up and it caught me off-guard a little bit.

Rays Digest: Had you had any contact with the Rays? Had you talked to any of their scouts or anything?

Keaton Steele: Yeah. I talked to Brett Foley. I talked to him a few times and we chatted back-and-forth by texts and a couple of phone calls here-and-there. I talked to him at the World Series through some texts. He shot me a text today around 11 o'clock and he asked me some questions and I did my best to answer them. I was kind of hopeful that they'd take me and it was always kind of in the back of my mind and then they did.

Rays Digest: Obviously you are going to have to think about it some, but have you decided whether or not you are going to sign with the team? Or is that still up in the air?

Keaton Steele: That is still up in the air. I'm committed to play at the University of Missouri, so obviously I'm going to talk to them about it and see how they feel about it. Obviously they want me to be on campus in the fall. But it's kind of personal decision for me. I'm going to be talking to my junior college coach, Marc Rardin, a lot. He's never steered me wrong and he's brutally honest. Which is good, because I like that. I haven't talked any numbers or anything like that. Hopefully we'll get it done here in the next few weeks and I can make my decision.

Rays Digest: One of the things that the Rays are very good at is developing young arms and they have a very good track record of it. Is that something that is going to be a part of your decision?

Keaton Steele: Absolutely. Anybody that gets drafted by a team wants to take a look at their farm system and see how they develop guys or are they just using these guys to move around in the draft or make trades for bigger guys. I'll definitely look at something like that. The Rays obviously do and that's a big plus for them.

Rays Digest: What kinds of stuff do you like to do when you're not out playing baseball?

Keaton Steele: I like to be at home. I'm pretty much a home-body. I like being home around my family and friends here that I grew up with. When I'm not playing baseball, I'm normally out playing golf or running around with my little brother and playing basketball or swimming. It just kind of depends on the day.

Rays Digest: Do you have a favorite major league team or a major league pitcher you try and emulate?

Keaton Steele: No, I just try and keep it simple and throw strikes. I think everyone in the big leagues does that pretty well, so I guess they're all pretty good models.

Rays Digest: You said you'd been mostly closing, have you been a starter at all?

Keaton Steele: It's nothing new to me. The reason why I closed at junior college is because I also played first base. So I'd just come in in the ninth inning and throw.

Rays Digest: Are you going to be a two-way player at Missouri?

Keaton Steele: I'm going there as a two-way, to be a corner guy and to pitch on the mound.

John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at raysdigest.com@gmail.com.


Subscribe to RaysDigest.com today! Only $79.95 brings you one full year of Total Access Pass and all premium content on RaysDigest.com, the Scout Player and Roster Database (including the 'Hot News' at the top of the site), Breaking News and Information, Total Access to all Scout.com Websites and Player Pages which detail the progress and careers of players from high school, college, the minors, and the pro ranks.

Sample the RaysDigest.com Total Access Pass at no risk for 7 days, then pay only $7.95 or $21.95. If you want to save 2 months off of the monthly subscription price, simply choose the annual RaysDigest.com Total Access Pass at $79.95.

Rays Digest Top Stories