LAKELAND, Fla – Raph Rhymes knows that small town dreams can go a big way.
The Detroit Tigers minor-league outfielder followed in his grandfather Ray Rhymes Jr.’s footsteps, playing for the Louisiana State University Tigers.
When Rhymes learned his grandfather was a former LSU alumni with three baseball lettermans, his mind was set that he would carry on the family legacy at the school.
“I always looked up to him and being from Louisiana you always want to play at LSU, you go to games and watch it all the time,” said Rhymes at Tiger Town, Detroit’s spring training facility.
“When I found out he played there I made it a goal for me to play there. It was a childhood dream.”
The 25 year old knew that living up to his grandfather’s standards would be tough, but it was confident it could happen.
“I looked at it as an opportunity to not only represent myself and the university but represent him too,” Rhymes said. “I always try to look at things in a positive aspect, I took it as something to look forward to, to make him proud.”
When Rhymes started at LSU, he was aware that he would deal with the every day challenges of college. Rhymes relied on a key piece of advice from his grandpa to get through.
“My grandfather told me to soak it in and have a great time. He said he had a great time at LSU and he wanted me to do the same,” said Rhymes. “He said don’t get caught up in worrying too much about school.
“That will take care of itself and you will learn how to take care of things, go down there, have fun, be responsible and enjoy your time.”
Grandpa Ray knew what he was talking about. The all-American outfielder’s hard work paid off, making the younger Rhymes as a desired prospect for the major leagues.
In his last season he had a .256 batting average, with 135 hits, nine home runs, and 71 runs batted in, in 134 games.
In 2011, Rhymes was drafted in the 40th round of MLB’s Amateur Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was selected again in the 20th round of the 2012 Amateur Draft by the New York Yankees.
Rhymes turned down both teams, instead opting for LSU.
“It’s always tough when you’re name is called on draft day to turn that down you know it doesn’t matter who the team is its a hard thing to do, especially to tell anybody no from me I’ve always had a hard time doing that so it was tough but I knew my heart was still at school and I wasn’t ready to leave.”
The Monroe, La., native was overwhelmed with emotions when he heard his name called in the 15th round of the 2013 draft by Detroit.
Optimistic Rhymes, is hopeful and looks forward to his upcoming season.
“My goal is to help whatever team I am on,” Rhymes said. “I just want to win a championship. I think it would be really cool to do that in pro ball.”