By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published June 24, 2010
On the day Jake Skole was the 15th selection in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, he was sitting in the stands with his family at Georgia Tech. They were watching his older brother Matt, an All-Atlantic Coast Conference and third team All-American third baseman with Georgia Tech, play in the regional championship against the University of Alabama.
An excited Skole, a 2010 Blessed Trinity High School graduate, said, “Since I was not able to watch the draft live, I got calls from friends informing me that I was drafted by the Texas Rangers.”
Jake, a two-sport athlete at Blessed Trinity, was planning to play football and baseball for Georgia Tech. The two brothers were poised to compete together again like they did during Matt’s junior and senior year and Jake’s freshman and sophomore year at Blessed Trinity. The younger Skole excelled in football as a defensive back and a wide receiver. Last fall he was selected first team all-county and all-state.
Despite his success in both sports, Jake felt he would end up in baseball.
“I think my skill set is better suited for baseball. I also feel attracted to baseball because of the longevity the sport provides,” he said.
Skole started playing baseball when he was 4 or 5. He took up football in the fifth grade. He has also played in the elite East Cobb baseball program since he was 11. The East Cobb program has produced local baseball professionals like New York Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur and Atlanta Braves rookie sensation Jason Heyward.
After an ankle injury sidelined Skole for most of his senior baseball season, he returned for the playoffs where he hit six homeruns and had 21 runs batted in and a .457 batting average. In his last full season as a junior, Skole had a batting average of .427, with four homeruns and 32 RBIs. He also stole 34 bases.
Andy Harlin, head varsity baseball coach at Blessed Trinity for the last eight years, was watching the June 7 draft live with his wife.
“We had him (Skole) at a baseball camp before he came to BT, and you could tell he was something special. He was a starting player for us as a freshman,” Harlin recalls.
Describing what he tries to impart to the players coming through his program, Harlin said, “We try to teach them how important the concept of ‘team’ is. Not worrying about scouts and being a prospect but rather playing the game and doing what you can to help your team out. We have been blessed with great kids, and they understand that.”
Skole added, “I had great coaches at Blessed Trinity. They taught me how to get better at the game. They built the foundation of the game for us. They also contributed to my growth as a player.”
Two other Blessed Trinity alumni have gone on to play professional baseball. Tyler Flowers, a 2004 graduate, made his MLB debut with the Chicago White Sox last September. Flowers plays catcher with the Charlotte Knights, a Triple-A minor league White Sox affiliate. Drew O’Neill, another 2004 graduate, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2008. O’Neill is pitching for the Kannapolis Intimidators, a Class-A farm club in the Chicago White Sox minor league chain.
The Texas Rangers made the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Skole their first draft pick. In a June 7 press release, Rangers’ general manager Jon Daniels said Skole had been high on their radar for some time. Daniels said the team “focused on premium athletes with a makeup and a feel for the game,” and Skole fit the profile. Skole is just the second high school outfielder ever selected by the Texas organization with its top pick.
For now Skole is a member of the Arizona League Rangers, the rookie-level minor league team of the Texas Rangers. While undergoing the final stages of rehabilitation on his left ankle, he made his rookie debut June 21, going one for two, with a hit during his first at bat and a ground out to the shortstop his next time up. Skole is expected to remain in Arizona for another 10 to 14 days before he heads up to Spokane, Wash., to play centerfield for the Ranger’s minor league affiliate, the Spokane Indians of the Northwest League.