This week, I got to talk to Washington Nationals catching prospect Nick Rickles about his season last year and playing for Team Israel in this year’s World Baseball Classic
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of interviewing Washington Nationals minor league catcher Nick Rickles. Rickles played 25 games last season (24 of them with double-A Harrisburg and one with triple-A Syracuse). It was his first season with the Nats organization after being in the Oakland Atheltics minor league system from 2011-2015.
Rickles was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 14th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Stetson University. In his first couple years of professional baseball, he was known for throwing out runners trying to steal. From 2011-2013, he threw out over 40% of runners trying to steal each season (according to Baseball Reference).
However, Rickles ended up having to miss the 2014 season because of a torn labrum. When talking about the rehab from that injury, Rickles told me the rehab “was one of the hardest things he ever had to do in his life.” But, he was able to come back before spring training in 2015 and was three months ahead of schedule on his throwing program.
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During the 2016 season, Rickles hit .228 with four home runs and ten RBI’s. One of those home runs was a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the tenth for the Senators on July 10 against the Akron Rubberducks (Cleveland Indians).
This past September, Rickles was part of the Israel baseball team that won the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Brooklyn, New York. With their win over Great Britain, Israel will be in the World Baseball Classic for the first time in the country’s history.
Rickles will be one of the catchers on the roster when the team plays in South Korea next month against teams like South Korea, Chinese Taipei, and the Netherlands. While that is tough competition, Rickles said “they know they can play with anyone” and “we aren’t looking at ourselves as significant underdogs.” He added, “I think we are going to surprise some people.”
During this interview, you will hear my conversation with Rickles about some of his favorite players growing up, his thoughts on what playing for Team Israel has meant to him, what stood out to him about one of the pitchers he caught in college, Jacob deGrom, and much more.
All of us at District On Deck wish Rickles the best of luck in 2017 both with the Washington Nationals and with Team Israel as they will begin the WBC Monday, March 6 in Seoul, South Korea as part of pool A.