Q&A With Rays 3rd Round Pick Andrew Toles

With their 3rd-round pick in the MLB draft, the Rays selected speedy JUCO centerfielder Andrew Toles out of Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. Toles helped the Indians to a conference title by hitting .387 and stealing 32 bases. Inside, he discusses his pending decision to sign, what he learned from his experience playing at the University of Tennessee, being in a family of athletes and more.

School: Chipola College (JC)
Born: 5/24/1992
B/T: L/R
HT/WT: 5-9/180

• Ranked by Baseball America as the No. 102 overall prospect in the draft and the No. 16 prospect out of the state of Florida.

• Hit .387 (72-for-186) with 5 home runs, 38 RBI and 32 stolen bases with Chipola College in 2012.

• Was previously drafted by the Florida Marlins in the fourth round (137th overall) of the 2010 June Draft, becoming just one of five NCAA Div. I freshman to be drafted in the first four rounds, but chose to attend the University of Tennessee.

• Played 51 games for the Volunteers in 2011, batting .270 (55-for-204) with 25 RBI, 30 runs and 11 doubles, and then transferred to Chipola after the season.

• His father, Alvin, played linebacker at the University of Tennessee (1981-84) and was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 1985 NFL Draft.

• His mother, Vicky, played basketball at the University of New Orleans.

• His uncle, Johnnie Jones, is the fourth-leading rusher in University of Tennessee history and spent time in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks.

• Was the recipient of the Ed & Marsha Hooper Athletic Scholarship at the University of Tennessee.

• Other notable players drafted out of Chipola College include: Jose Bautista (Pirates, 20th round in 2000), Russell Martin (Dodgers, 17th round in 2002) and Mat Gamel (Brewers, fourth round in 2005).

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Rays Digest: What was the moment like when you found out you were drafted?

Andrew Toles: I was actually just watching TV and I got a text message, I was really excited. That's pretty much it, just a lot of excitement.

Rays Digest: Were you surprised it was the Rays? Had you been in contact with them at all before the draft?

Andrew Toles: A little bit, but not as much as I would have been if it were some of the other teams. But I didn't get a phone call first or anything, so I was pretty shocked when it happened. But it worked out, they know what they're doing, so we'll see what happens.

Rays Digest: What are the chances you sign with the Rays? What are you looking for in a deal?

Andrew Toles: The chances are pretty high right now. What I'm looking for is just fair treatment, nothing too crazy. I'm just trying to get out there.

Rays Digest: Before you played at Chipola, you were released from the baseball team at Tennessee for missing classes and team meetings. What did you learn from that experience?

Andrew Toles: I learned to mature mentally and to not take baseball for granted. It can be taken away any second. I was just kind of immature and the coaches caught on to that and they weren't having it. That was the biggest lesson that I learned.

Rays Digest: After that happened, did you ever doubt being able to achieve the dream of playing professional baseball?

Andrew Toles: No, I know my ability and that I had the ability to go have a good JUCO season. I knew I was going to get drafted, it was just a matter of how high.

Rays Digest: Speed is a big part of your game. What player do you compare your game to or try to model your game after?

Andrew Toles: I'd have to say probably Ricky Henderson. I like Curtis Granderson a lot too, he's not quite the base-stealer that I should be because of speed. I like Ricky Henderson' s ability to steal bases but I like Curtis Granderson's power and the way he plays centerfield.

Rays Digest: What are your strengths at the plate?

Andrew Toles: I'd say I have really quick hands and I use that to my advantage a lot. I guess in my approach at the plate I have bat power. I'm really not going to hit a bunch of homeruns, but I have to say I pretty much understand my tools and what I have to offer, and I don't get too much outside that.

Rays Digest: What are you trying to improve about your game?

Andrew Toles: Probably being a little more consistent on the base paths and just continuing to hit. If you can't hit you can't play, everybody says that.

Rays Digest: You come from an athletic family, as your dad played linebacker for the New Orleans Saints and your sister Morgan has played basketball for Auburn and Florida State. What is it like living with such an athletic family and what does it mean to you to get this professional opportunity?

Andrew Toles: It means a lot. To be honest it's kind of like a competition, we all want to out-do each other. I want to out-do my dad, I want to out-do my sister, you know how that goes. There's definitely a lot of competition in the house, we just feed off each other. I guess just the vibe or the spirit of being an athlete makes us want to out-do each other, so we work hard to get that done. It definitely helps when I'm going out and performing.

Rays Digest: What would it mean to you to be a part of the Rays organization?

Andrew Toles: It means a lot, just the opportunity to be a part of any team is good, but the Rays aren't that far from home. Everybody hears a lot about the Rays and their minor league system and I'm just really excited to get out there and see what they can do for me and what I can do to return the favor.



Eric Vander Voort is the Hudson Valley beat writer for Rays Digest You can follow him on Twitter at @ecvandervoort.

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