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The Texas Rangers selected Braxton Lane in the seventh round of the 2009 MLB Draft last Wednesday, and they signed him on Tuesday afternoon.
Lane’s quick signing comes as a bit of a surprise because of his talents that earned him a dual scholarship to play both football and baseball at the University of Oregon.
A product of Sandy Creek High School in Georgia, Lane is best known for his blazing speed. Scout.com lists the two-sport star as running the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds. He’s listed at 5-foot-10 inches, 190 pounds.
Lane is a switch-hitter, and the Rangers drafted him as a centerfielder. With his speed, Lane is obviously a top-of-the-order type hitter with the ability to cover plenty of ground in center.
Because of his unique opportunity to play two sports at a Pac 10 school, Lane’s early signing is a surprise, but as he admits in the interview, baseball has always been his passion.
Lone Star Dugout spoke with Lane a few days before he signed.
Jason Cole: First off, congratulations on getting drafted today.
Braxton Lane: Thank you.
Cole: Tell me what’s going through your mind right now. What does it feel like to be picked by the Rangers?
Lane: It’s a good feeling. It’s definitely a good feeling. I’m glad to be a Texas Ranger, and I want to get things worked out so I can go play.
Cole: How much did you know about the Rangers’ organization and the big league club coming into the draft?
Lane: I knew a pretty good deal. I met with their scout. We went to lunch actually, and we talked. I went to the pre-draft workout and got to meet some of the bigger guys in the organization. Getting to talk to some of them, I kind of had a feeling of their background. I had some information.
Cole: Where was that pre-draft workout at?
Lane: It was at Georgia Perimeter College here in Georgia.
Cole: You said you talked to the Rangers then. Did you talk to them much during your senior year of high school?
Lane: On and off. I can’t say it was a lot, but we definitely kept in contact. We did have talks throughout the year.
Cole: Obviously you went in the seventh round today. Were you picked about where you were expecting to go?
Lane: I can’t say that I was. But things don’t always go exactly the way you want them to—especially with the baseball draft. It’s kind of hard to pinpoint exactly where you’re going to go. It’s not quite what I was expecting, but it is what it is.
Cole: Talk to me about your game on the baseball field a bit—especially offensively. What’s your approach at the plate, and what are you trying to do when you’re up there?
Lane: I switch-hit. From both sides of the plate, you’ve got to try and make really hard contact every time you’re up there. I’m not really too much of a power guy. When I catch one, it will go out. But I mostly work the gaps and let my legs—I know they’re my best asset. I try to hit the ball in the gaps and let my legs go to work.
Cole: When did you start hitting from both sides?
Lane: Full-time, when I was 13. But I’ve been messing around with it probably since I was about 10.
Cole: Which side is your natural side?
Lane: I’d say right, my dad says left. If you saw me, you’d probably say my left side just because I get more at-bats from my left side. But both sides are pretty decent.
Cole: What are your thoughts on the way you played in your senior season?
Lane: It didn’t go as good as I expected it to. I’m not sure if that’s from the scouts being there, or from it just being my senior year. It wasn’t my best year in high school. I didn’t play bad. Defensively, I was good. Offensively, it could have been a little better. But overall it was a good season. Nothing to be ashamed of.
Cole: Being a two-sport guy, is there one that you like more than the other? Do you prefer playing one of the sports?
Lane: Baseball has been my love. But I love football too. Football and baseball have always been fun to me. I can’t say that I like playing one more than the other. I was blessed to be good at both of them, and I have the opportunity to play both in college.
Cole: If you don’t sign and you do end up at the University of Oregon, will you be playing baseball as well as football?
Lane: Yes. I signed a dual scholarship—football and baseball.
Cole: I assume the fact that they added that baseball program with [former Cal State Fullerton coach] George Horton really influenced your decision, but what else led you to choose Oregon? I know your dad played football at Oregon State.
Lane: I’m from California, so I’ve been around the west coast and liked it over there. I’ve followed them on TV. When I got the offer—and I had other offers—but it kind of opened my eyes and got me interested. I went and visited and fell in love out in Eugene.
Cole: What does your dad think of you choosing the in-state rival?
Lane: He really didn’t mind. But I get the look every once in awhile talking about Oregon around some of his buddies. Besides that, he was happy for me.
Cole: I have no idea on this, but would it be possible for you to play football at Oregon and still sign with the Rangers?
Lane: I don’t think so.
Cole: Can you talk about your chances of signing with the Rangers versus going to Oregon and playing two sports?
Lane: I would love to sign. Baseball is really the sport that I want to play and want to pursue. I would love to sign and if things work out, I would have no problem signing.