After reading over the answers, I must say that Salem has shot up in my mind as one of the greatest minds in the organization and a soon-to-be fun guy to watch/cheer for in 2008. This interview ranks near the tops for me.
For Rays fans who aren't familiar with you, who is Emeel Salem?
Emeel: Pretty deep right off the bat I see. That's a good question. Um...I would have to say that I am a lot of different things. Since I can remember my goal has been to be well-rounded. I don't know why that was appealing to me, but it really was. Ha..I can remember watching people on television doing random things and thinking "I am going to learn how to do that." So I did. I learned how to play instruments, played sports, and kept my grades up. I love being in the spotlight. It's pretty cool how everything has fallen into place.
JL: The Rays, as of late, have been drafting players that are both highly athletic and very scholastic. What did you major in at Alabama and what kind of a job would you be looking for, had you chose not to play baseball?
ES: I majored in Marketing and minored in Spanish at Bama. To be honest, I didn't think that far ahead as to what I would have done in terms of a career had baseball not worked out. Grad school most likely would have been in my future, probably law school. It's crazy though, sitting behind a desk doesn't appeal to me really. I like to be active. I like working with kids. I like being able to influence people. So I really don't know.
JL: You come from a very athletic family, moreso known for producing football players, but your dad also was drafted by the Cubs out of HS. Did you have to choose between baseball or football or was it already decided before you finished HS?
ES: Baseball had always been my main focus. I loved playing other sports when I was younger, but I knew my future was in baseball. Football is great to watch, and I do have a lot of family members that played. It really wasn't for me though.
JL: Is there any particular game at Alabama that you feel as the most memorable of your college career?
ES: That's a tough question. If I had to narrow it down to one game, I would have to say my junior year Friday night against Auburn. Playing AU was always a big deal, and we had a packed house at home. I ended up hitting a walk-off homerun in the 10th inning. That was an incredible feeling.
JL: What does it feel like to be the first Lowe's Senior CLASS Baseball Award winner?
ES: It's a huge honor. It always feels good to be rewarded for more than just baseball. The idea for the award is great too. It helps players realize that regardless of how good you are, there is always more than baseball. Getting an education has always been my first priority.
JL: The Rays have a long, storied history of drafting "toolsy" Outfielders, do you fit that mold? If so, which "tool(s)" do you feel as your biggest strength and which would you like to improve upon?
ES: I would like to think I fit that mold. My biggest strength would probably be my speed. College helped me become comfortable on the base paths and hit line drives so that I can actually use my speed. In terms of improvement, I can always improve on everything. I think I still have a lot of potential. That's the best thing about this game, there is no satisfaction.
JL: Was there anything in particular at Instructs that the organization wanted you to work on or did they just feel that they needed more than just the HV season to get a better grasp on what kind of a player you are?
ES: I worked on my bunting a lot. That is one thing that I neglected throughout college. I think that I've already made strides since being drafted. If i can get this bunting thing down, it will open up a new dimension to my game.
JL: You were a member of the NY-Penn League's All-Star Team, how was that experience?
ES: It was a lot of fun. I got to know a lot of guys that I had played against over the years. I had a blast.
JL: Any idea on where you're headed next season?
ES: I'm really not sure. All I can control is how I play and how prepared I am for spring training. My goal is to continually move up and never stay put. We'll see what happens.
JL: If you had to describe yourself or your playing style in 1 word, what would it be?
JL: Is there anything that you'd like to say to Rays fans or fans of yourself?
ES: Stick with me. The best is yet to come.