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Chasing The Dream: The Jake Skole Story and Interview

As a two sport athlete out of Blessed Trinity High School, Jake Skole made a quick decision to bypass college and begin his professional journey to the big leagues. In each step of that journey so far Jake has been one of the youngest players in each of the leagues he has played in. Yet he continues to learn and adjust as he chases his dream to the major leagues.

Jake Skole: Quick Stats

Team: Texas Rangers  Twitter: @JakeSkole15

Height: 6′ 1″, Weight: 190 lb. Born: January 17, 1992 in Woodstock, Georgia, US

Drafted:  Texas Rangers in the 1st round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft

Favorite Player: Ken Griffey Jr.

Chasing The Dream: The Jake Skole Story

When the Texas Rangers selected high school pitcher Matt Purke in the 1st round of the 2009 draft they hoped they would be selecting a future ace in their starting rotation. Months later when he opted to goto college the Texas Rangers lost that player but gained a selection in the 1st round of the 2010 draft. That selection ended up being our feature this week, outfielder Jake Skole.

Leading up to the draft it looked like things would play out differently for the outfielder from Blessed Trinity High School. During his senior campaign Skole suffered an ankle injury that severely limited his playing time. On top of that Skole had committed to a scholarship offer from Georgia Tech. The outfielder was heavily recruited not only to play baseball but also as a wide receiver/defensive back in football. Many teams still sent scouts to see him in action when he returned from injury. The injury limited him to only 13 games played but in those 13 games Skole did not disappoint.  He battled an impressive .452 on the season and during the playoffs and he hit 6 home runs in only 9 playoff games.  This end of year performance had scouts buzzing about his potential.

Even with his college commitment, the Texas Rangers selected Skole with the 15th overall pick in the draft and hoped to get him signed and into their organization quickly. They did just that as Skole and his family flew to Arlington and inked a deal with the Texas Rangers. Once the deal was signed it did not take long for Skole to make his pro-debut. After a short stint with the Rangers Arizona League team  he was assigned to Spokane Indians of the Northwest League. The speedy centerfielder was the third-youngest position player to play in the Northwest league in 2010. Playing against mostly older players Skole held his own batting .254 in 57 games while manning the centerfield position.

Skole with the Pelicans (photo via milb.com)

The Rangers promoted Skole to Hickory at the start of the 2011 season. He spent the entire season with the Crawdads and was once again one of the youngest players on the field in the South Atlantic League. Playing against older competition Skole continued to hold his own at the plate batting .264 and getting on base at a .366 clip. Skole saw time at all three outfield positions while flashing some pop (9 home runs) and speed (21 stolen bases) on the season.

Skole who just turned twenty this offseason, began the 2012 season once again moving up a level to Myrtle Beach playing in the Carolina League.  He continues to be one of the youngest players, as only nine players younger than him in the entire league. With the Pelicans Skole has played primarily in centerfield and has provided them with solid defense. At the plate Skole continues to adjust to the new level and more advanced pitchers. Skole got off to a slow start with the bat but has recently began to adjust and improve his offensive numbers. During a recent stretch at the end of May, Skole began to turn some heads when he reached base during 10 consecutive plate appearances. Also during that week Skole hit .500 and blasted two home runs and drove in five. The Carolina League honored his performance by naming him player of the week.

Baseball is a game of learning and adjustments. As one of the youngest players in each of the leagues he has played in Skole has adapted and succeeded advancing to the next level. As the 2012 season continues look for Skole to continue to learn and adjust to the competition and for his overall numbers to improve.

Seven Questions with Jake Skole

What was it like to be drafted? Where were you when you found out?

It was a dream come true to be drafted, a big honor. I was at my brothers (Matt Skole) regional so I wasn’t able to watch it or follow along. I started getting updates and texts on my phone that’s when I found out I was drafted.

You had originally committed to playing at Georgia Tech. Was it hard to pass the experience of going to college up?

A little bit, I was going to play football in college. So by signing I wasn’t going to be able to play anymore. It was a big opportunity and I just couldn’t pass it up.

What was the signing/negotiating process like for you? Who was the scout who gets the credit for signing you?

Ryan Coe was the scout responsible for the Rangers drafting me. The whole process was pretty easy. The Rangers did a great job of talking me through the process. They flew me and my family out to Arlington after the draft and had all the paperwork ready to get me signed. They were really good to me and my entire family.

Your now into your 3rd minor league season. What has been your biggest challenge to adjust too or overcome in professional baseball?

Your away from home a lot. It’s a big thing, you have to make adjustments and you got to do it quickly. Each level you move  up the skill level improves. Those are the two big things. The  jump level to level in talent…It’s crazy how much better it gets.

What is the number one thing your coaches stress to you and all the young players at Myrtle Beach? Is there any coach or instructor along the way that has really helped you?

Make sure you keep learning is what the coaches stress. Don’t stress over the results. Just keep gathering information and learn new things. It’s better to think about who you are going to be than who you are now. As far as someone who has helped me, Jayce Tingler has been a big help. He played baseball in the minor leagues and he can relate to us and what we are going through. He is great at being there if we need someone to talk too.

Playing in Myrtle Beach is unlike playing in most minor league towns. Is the beach and all the tourist type things to do a blessing to you as a player or can it be a distraction?

I would say it’s definitely a blessing. We have been taught enough how to handle things off the field but  to be in a town like this that there is stuff to do and a beach down the road that is definitely a blessing. On off days you can just go down the road and be at the beach, that’s real nice.

For those who may not know much about yourself and the style game you play, tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a centerfielder, so you know I take pride in the defensive side of the game. I’m still learning but potentially I think I can be a power threat as well as a guy who can run. I am just trying to put it all together. I want to be an all around good hitter, a gap to gap type guy.

A Few For Fun

Who was your favorite baseball player and favorite non-baseball athlete growing up?

Ken Griffey Jr. and Muhammad Ali

Who are you listening too these days?

Drake and The Eli Young Band

Favorite TV Show?

Sons of Anarchy

Since Myrtle Beach is a big tourist destination have you found any favorite spots to eat you would recommend to fans who are traveling to Myrtle Beach?

Well first if you are coming to Myrtle Beach make sure you do get to the beach and then if you want somewhere good to eat there is a nice restaurant called Abuelo’s that serves high quality Mexican food. They have been real good to the team and have excellent food.

A special thanks to Jake Skole for taking some time out of his busy regular season to talk some baseball prior to a recent home game vs the Lynchburg Hillcats. Once again please give him a follow at @JakeSkole15 and follow us at @CTD_Sypien as we follow Jake during the season as he gets closer and close to reaching the major leagues.

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