Q&A With Rays 9th Round Pick Joey Rickard

Rays ninth-round selection Joey Rickard is still taking the field for his college team two weeks into June. The junior centerfielder hits leadoff for the Arizona Wildcats, who will play in the College World Series in Omaha this weekend. Inside, he discusses his strengths, Arizona's successful season, and his upcoming decision between signing a deal and staying for his senior season.

School: University of Arizona
Born: 5/21/1991
B/T: R/R
HT/WT: 6-0/170

• During his junior year at University of Arizona, ranked among Pac-12 conference leaders in runs (T-4th with 54), hits (T-11th with 75) and stolen bases (T-1st with 17)…was a 2012 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention, 2011 All-Pac-10 First Team selection and a 2010 Pac-10 Honorable Mention.

• Ranked by college coaches as the Pac-12's most underrated hitter and best baserunner for College Baseball Insider prior to the 2012 season.

• Has hit .327/.396/.448 with 119 RBI, 153 runs and 47 stolen bases in 174 career games and three seasons for the Wildcats.

• Played for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2011…named to the West Division Cape Cod All- Star Team.

• Becomes the fifth Nevada-born player drafted by the Rays, joining Toby Hall (1997), Andrew Gans (2008), Jeff Malm (2009) and Jake Hager (2011) and the second out of Bishop Gorman High School (also Malm).

• Is enrolled at University of Arizona in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences with a major in sociology.

• His brother, John, was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 38th round of the 2008 June Draft out of Bishop Gorman (Nev.) HS.

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

Joey Rickard: The moment was obviously amazing. I was just about to start practice, and maybe like 30 seconds after we started stretching one of the managers came out and said, "Hey, you've just been drafted to the Rays."

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

Joey Rickard: I had been in contact with them, but it's always a surprise. I wouldn't have guessed the Rays. I didn't really know who to guess, so I was definitely surprised, but very happy.

Rays Digest: Congratulations on Arizona making it to the College World Series in Omaha. Due to the fact that you are still playing in college, have you given much thought to your decision between signing a professional deal and coming back for your senior year? What are you looking for in a deal?

Joey Rickard: I haven't really, like you said, gotten into that part. I'm excited about the Rays, I like the opportunity, but as of right now I do not know. Maybe very, very shortly after we're done here I'll definitely make a decision. And no, I know what I am and I think they do too, so I don't think it will be hard to reach an agreement.

Rays Digest: With the Wildcats just having beat St. John's in the Super Regionals and you're currently preparing to go to Omaha this weekend, What has this experience been like for you?

Joey Rickard: It's been unreal. Since I stepped on campus that's been our goal, so three years later to finally make it, it's truly an honor.

Rays Digest: What is the most important thing you have learned from your experience so far at Arizona?

Joey Rickard: Just the experience of going through the ups and downs of it. Throughout high school you don't go through too many downs, but here, the experience of playing the better competition, going through the ups and downs, getting to know teammates and playing the game at a higher level will help me going into pro ball.

Rays Digest: You played in 156 consecutive games at Arizona. How have you managed to stay so healthy, and what do you think this says about the kind of player you are?

Joey Rickard: I've just been real fortunate. I know a lot of players play through pains and nagging injuries, and that's just what I try to do. I think I've just been fortunate so far to play those consecutive games and we'll see if it can continue.

Rays Digest: What are do you see as your strengths on the field?

Joey Rickard: I just feel like I bring a lot of energy. People say that I'm pretty fast, so I'd say that's my biggest strength. Energy and speed.

Rays Digest: What are you trying to improve?

Joey Rickard: All-around, I can do everything better. I can be more consistent at the plate, in defense I can be more vocal. Just pretty much everything from defense to baserunning.

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

Joey Rickard: It's an honor. I think everybody's really intrigued by the way they play the game, how they run, how athletic they are, so it's truly a pleasure to be drafted by them.



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

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