Days removed from watching former teammates and players he coached begin their professional baseball journey, Lance Miles has done the same.
The former Sam Houston State infielder, who served on the Bearkats’ staff for the past two seasons, recently accepted a coaching position within the Texas Rangers organization.
Miles has already arrived at the club’s facility in Surprise, Arizona, and will fly to the Dominican Republic on Monday, where he is set to take over managerial duties for one of the Rangers’ teams that is participating in the Dominican Summer League.
“I never got the chance to play pro ball. I went straight into coaching and stayed at the college level,” Miles said. “It's something you dream of when you're a kid. That's why I played baseball, to make it to the pros. ... Once I got the support from Coach Deggs and the rest of the staff at Sam, it was an absolute no-brainer for me to jump on this opportunity.”
Miles, a 2012 graduate of The Woodlands High School, arrived at Sam Houston State prior to the 2015 season as a transfer from Kansas State. He played three seasons for the Bearkats, starting 114 games and helping lead the team to its first ever NCAA super regional appearance in 2017.
Following his senior season, Miles remained with the Bearkats as part of head coach Matt Deggs’ staff. He was director of player operations in 2018, handling travel, academic performance and the program’s baseball camps. Miles then took on a more hands-on coaching role last season as a volunteer assistant.
“Lance has been instrumental in taking our program to where it is today," Deggs said. "In five years as a player and coach, he has helped Bearkat baseball reach new heights. He will be missed, but we are so happy that he is getting the opportunity to chase a lifelong dream.”
In the Dominican, Miles will coach a team of 15- to 18-year-old prospects, based out of the Rangers’ development facility in Boca Chica. He will also spend part of the year in Arizona, where the organization’s rookie league team and spring training site are located.
“Lance has been on our radar for a couple of years," Rangers assistant GM Mike Daly said. "He is an outstanding person and has been an impactful coach while at Sam Houston State. He has played and learned under one of the very best in Matt Deggs, and we are excited to have Lance join the Texas Rangers."
In particular, Miles is looking forward to making a ground-floor impact on the Latin American baseball community.
“For a lot of them, it's their only way off the island,” Miles said. “I just want to immerse myself in that culture and gain a full understanding of what that's like. We're so blessed here in America with all the opportunities, and it's hard for us to wrap our head around what it's like for those dudes to climb the ranks and eventually make it to the pros.
“To get over there on the ground level and teach kids at such a young age is a blessing.”
Trevor Rainey, who most recently worked under Todd Shelton at Panola College, will immediately take over Miles’ role as the Bearkats’ volunteer assistant.