Just five years ago, a South Carolina freshman came up big on college baseball’s biggest stage. He even started the National Championship game versus Texas. After four seasons in the Gamecock rotation, Aaron Rawl is in his second professional season as a minor leaguer in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. Before the season Rawl took some time with Diamond Prospects to look back at that title run and share with us what he wants in the future.
DP-Please list any college statistics of importance, awards won:
AR-Dean’s List, SEC Academic All-American, SEC Player of the Week, Pre-Season All-American, 3rd Team All-American, South Carolina Male Student Athlete of the Year…the list goes on.
DP-Please list any major high school accolades:
AR-All-State, All-Region, MVP, Mr. Baseball Finalist…
DP-What are some of your nicknames?
AR-ARawl, Bulldog, AA
DP-What is your greatest high school thrill?
AR-Winning the first and third game of the State Championship as a sophomore.
DP-What is your greatest thrill, or two, beyond high school?
AR-Pitching in the CWS, winning the SEC Championship and playing at the Sarge.
DP-Who are the three toughest hitters you faced in high school and the three toughest after high school?
AR-High School: Steven Tolleson, Steven Drew (JD’s brother) and those are the only two I remember.
College: Hung Cho (Houston), Khalil Greene (Clemson) and Steve Thomas (South Carolina).
DP-What was your toughest adjustment (in and out of baseball) after high school?
AR-No more getting by with a “meat” fastball. Also juggling the school and social life with baseball.
DP-What is the biggest crowd you’ve ever performed in front of and where?
AR-I don’t know, but it was a lot at Rosenblatt. At the Sarge…anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000. In Lakewood (Minor Leagues)…anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000.
DP-Tell people out there what draft day was like for you?
AR-Not too exciting. I wasn’t expecting much. I didn’t go until the second day. I heard my name and turned the radio off. That was all I wanted to hear.
DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a person and why?
AR-My dad. Because everything he did with me molded me into what I am today. I believe that I’m a lot like him.
DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a baseball player and why?
AR-My Dad. He taught me all I know until the later years of ball, and still for some reason he’s the only one I hear when I’m playing giving me pointers from the stands throughout the game.
DP-As a true freshman in 2002, you started the National Championship game for the Gamecocks and had won a big game earlier that week. Describe the rollercoaster of emotions you experienced during that World Series. Also, how did that week prepare you for the rest of your baseball career?
AR-My emotions have never really been a problem for me. I don’t really get nervous or freak out. I’ll get a little nervous before a game, but everyone does, but as soon as that first pitch is thrown it’s just me and the catcher. As for helping me later as a pitcher, I’m sure it did, but I don’t know how. I treat every game the same. Even though it was the National Championship game, it was just another game for me to win. Unfortunately, I didn’t.
DP-What has been the biggest difference between professional baseball and the college ranks?
AR-It’s not about winning anymore. It’s about development and money. Everybody is looking out for #1, without stepping in #2.
DP-Who is your favorite athlete (non-baseball)?
DP-Who is your favorite MLB pitcher and position player and why?
AR-Pitcher: Roger Clemens, self-explanatory.
Position Player: Ozzie Smith, started as a no name and then became the best. Smooth and not a showboat.
DP-Who is your favorite MLB team (optional)?
DP-What is your favorite sport to play other than baseball?
DP-What is your favorite sport to watch other than baseball?
AR-Football (I HATE watching baseball.)
DP-What goals do you have for yourself in and out of baseball?
AR-Just to be successful at whatever I do. Baseball or not.
DP-If you could have dinner with three people in history, who would they be and why?
AR-1) Oscar Wilde: Because he was a very unique writer, and I’m a big fan of the way he thinks.
2) Bill Clinton: Not because I’m a Democrat, but because he’s, in my mind, the greatest politician ever.
3) Ted Turner or Richard Branson: They have a lot of insight into the business world and I think they would be fun to hang out with…not Trump or Gates.
DP-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
AR-Wherever the good Lord takes me. I really don’t know. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
DP-What do you feel Diamond Prospects can provide high school players in the future as compared to what was around when you were a prep athlete?
AR-It offers another way to get noticed. The more ways out there, the better. Plus the internet is the new newspaper.
DP-Give a high school player who is reading this article one piece of advice.
AR-The weight room is the great equalizer. (Don’t use steroids!!!)
Aaron, Thanks a ton, I really appreciate your doing this for us. Good luck this summer!