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Choice is right at home with Rangers01/13/2014 10:17 AM ET
By John Parker / MiLB.com
The last few months have been a whirlwind for outfielder Michael Choice. The 10th overall pick in the 2010 Draft out of the University of Texas at Arlington, he made his Major League debut for Oakland on Sept. 2 and appeared in nine games down the stretch for the AL West champions.
Choice has been among baseball's top prospects since 2011, when he slugged 30 home runs for Class A Advanced Stockton. Last season, the 24-year-old established career highs with a .302 batting average and a .390 on-base percentage in 132 games for Triple-A Sacramento before getting the call to Oakland.
Choice immediately became the Rangers' No. 3 prospect (No. 91 overall) after the trade and figures to compete for a starting job in a Texas outfield that has lost Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz over the last two seasons.
MiLB.com: Being traded to your hometown team has to be pretty exciting. Were you surprised at the deal or was it something you were expecting?
Michael Choice: I was pretty surprised. It's one of those things where in the back of your mind you think, "It would be cool to play at home," but I never imagined it happening like this.
MiLB.com: What else have you been up to during the offseason?
Choice: Not too much. I've been working out with the Rangers trainer since we're both here -- no baseball workouts, though, just general strength and fitness training.
MiLB.com: You haven't been with the Rangers very long, but have you noticed any differences in organizational philosophy between the two clubs?
Choice: It's only been a few weeks, but from what I've seen so far it's pretty different. The process with the Rangers seems more detailed than what I'd experienced with Oakland.
MiLB.com: Your first big league game happened to be against the Rangers (in Oakland on Sept. 2). Were you completely amped up for it?
Choice: I was really pumped up -- having the Rangers in town was an extra little bonus. I mean, every baseball player dreams of that moment from when they were children. It was amazing.
MiLB.com: Did you run into any sewage problems at the O.co Coliseum?
Choice: Yeah, I was in the dugout when that happened! I had to find a different spot to sit. Oakland is different from any other place I've played. It's a little rough, but it's a lot of fun and it's a huge home-field advantage for the A's.
MiLB.com: Back in 2011, you hit 30 homers for Stockton in your first full year as a pro. Since then, the power numbers have gone down some, but so have your strikeouts. Has putting the ball in play been a focus for you the last few seasons?
Choice: I don't think my power has changed any -- it's more that I was playing in some hitter-friendly parks [in the California League], and those conditions are hard to duplicate. Striking out less has been a function of having more experience as a hitter and having a better approach at the plate.
MiLB.com: You played exclusively in center field your first few years as a pro before getting some time in left -- and a little bit in right -- this past season. How comfortable are you at the corner outfield spots? Do you have any sense of where the Rangers are most likely to use you?
Choice: I'm pretty comfortable in the corners, especially after this past season. When I was up with the A's, I played all three positions [four games in right, two in center and two in left]. I'll probably bounce around all three spots for the Rangers, plus some DH. Anywhere is cool with me.
MiLB.com: You were a pitcher/catcher in high school -- how did you end up moving to the outfield?
Choice: I was just OK pitching-wise, maybe a little above average -- I didn't really get my arm strength until my junior year of college or maybe I'd have been better.
I actually played mostly middle infield for my summer league team, the Dallas Mustangs, and when I went to UTA I was expecting to play in the infield. The way it worked out, though, is that we had too many infielders and not enough outfielders, so Coach [Darin Thomas] asked me if I'd be interested in the outfield. I asked him, "Will I start?" He said yes and I said, "OK!"
MiLB.com: You must be a Cowboys fan, right?
Choice: Well ... I say I'm a half-hearted Cowboys fan. They've hurt me so much that I've tried to back away, but deep down? Yeah, I'm a fan.
MiLB.com: If you weren't playing baseball for a living, what do you think you'd be doing?
Choice: If things were different, I think I'd probably go to school for electrical engineering. I've always enjoyed messing around with things like that and found it really interesting.