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The Texas Rangers selected first baseman Tom Edwards in the 41st round of the MLB draft on Friday afternoon.
A product of Rutgers University, Edwards hit .340 with seven home runs and 48 RBI in his redshirt sophomore season with the Scarlet Knights. The New Jersey native played full-time at first base for the first time in his career this past season. Edwards excelled at the position, committing just three errors and posting a .995 fielding percentage. As a draft-eligible sophomore, Edwards will have the choice to either sign with the Rangers or return to Rutgers for his junior season.
Lone Star Dugout spoke with the 21-year-old shortly after he was drafted last week.
Jason Cole: Can you talk about what it means to you to be drafted by the Rangers?
Tom Edwards: Just to be drafted overall, by anybody, is a great honor. It’s something that I’ve looked forward to my whole life and it’s just a great feeling.
Cole: As a draft-eligible sophomore, were you expecting to get drafted today?
Edwards: I went into it with an open mind. I wasn’t really worrying about it much. I was just hanging out and watching TV and I got the call. I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular. It was just great.
Cole: How much did you talk with the Rangers before the draft?
Edwards: I wasn’t really in contact with anybody. The Texas scout up here gave me a call during our conference tournament about a week ago. Then he gave me a call a couple of days ago and said that it might happen. There wasn’t much talking, but I talked to them a little bit.
Cole: Have you talked to them since they drafted you?
Edwards: He called me to say that they had picked me. It was great.
Cole: What would you say has been your best moment in baseball so far?
Edwards: Probably winning our conference tournament this year. Being with the guys all year, you set goals for the team and for yourself. I think everyone’s goal was to win the tournament. To be able to do that with all my friends was a great moment in my life.
Cole: Do you have a favorite Major League Baseball team?
Edwards: No, I don’t. I guess I’m a Texas fan now.
Cole: Is there a player that you try to model your game after or that you would compare yourself to?
Edwards: That’s something else that I find hard. Those players in the major leagues are so big. I just look at all of them and try to get a couple of things from each player. Obviously being from this area I get to watch the Yankees a lot. I look at a guy like Jeter and how hard he plays the game. That’s what I try to do.
Cole: Were you happy with the way you performed this season?
Edwards: Yeah, it was great. I went into the season with an open mind. I changed positions to first base. I was pretty happy.
Cole: You played quite a few positions a couple of years ago but you were a full-time first baseman this year. Is that where you would expect to play in professional ball?
Edwards: I really don’t know. Where ever somebody thinks I would fit would be fine with me.
Cole: Can you talk about your approach at the plate? What kind of hitter are you?
Edwards: I like to try to stay gap-to-gap and hit the ball the other way. I hit a couple of home runs this year, but I don’t see myself as a big power hitter. I just try to put the ball in play and hit the ball hard every time. Good things usually happen.
Cole: How do you feel your defense at first base progressed throughout this season?
Edwards: It got 100% better as the season went on. When they first put me over there, it was tough. People see first base and they think that you’ve just got to catch the ball. It’s a lot different from what I’ve been doing. I just got a lot more comfortable as the season progressed. It was a lot easier.
Cole: As a draft-eligible sophomore, you’ve got quite a bit of leverage. Can you talk about the chances of you signing with the Rangers versus going back to Rutgers for your junior season?
Edwards: Pretty much like everything else, I have an open mind about it. In my opinion, I’m in a win-win situation right now. I don’t feel like I could make a bad choice either way. I’m just going to enjoy this right now and whatever happens, happens.
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