Josh Zeid (pronounced Zide) was drafted by the Phillies in the 10th round in 2009 and will turn 25 tomorrow. His first two seasons in the Phillies organization were very impressive. In 2009 he was 8-5 with a 2.94 ERA and a 1.054 WHIP over 15 starts in the New York-Penn League. In 2010, at Lakewood in the Sally League, he was 8-4 with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.137 WHIP in 43 appearances (12 starts). Following the jump to AA and the subsequent trade to Houston in 2011, Zeid didn't show his earlier success as he finished the season with a 6.55 ERA and a 1.494 WHIP over 35 appearances (12 starts), but most think that the 2011 season was just a hiccup in his development. Going into the 2012 season, he is ranked by Jonathan Mayo as #19 in the Astros system for his "plus fastball" and "nasty slider." On to the questions ...
WTH: I've really had a hard time getting a handle on who Josh Zeid is. I've heard glowing reports of a plus fastball and a plus slider, but I've also seen some mixed results since you came over from the Phillies organization. Can you tell me where you think you will be able to fit into the organization and what you bring to the table?
JZ: I'm thrilled to be here in the Astros organization. I think there is a tremendous opportunity here for upward movement, and I'm just looking forward for the chances to come. I think that the mixed results since I came over come from a very small sample, because once the fall league started, I was able to turn the ship around. My month in Corpus was a great experience. No one can quite prepare you for when you get traded, or what comes with it; but I believe that it has made me a better person and teammate. It can be a very stressful time: starting over with a completely new team, with a whole new staff, teammates, and culture, and that takes a little bit of time to work through.
I bring a fire to the table. A real desire to win. In 2010 I played on a South Atlantic League championship team, and that was a great experience, and feeling to be a part of; and I want to be a part of that as a Houston Astro.
WTH: I followed the Arizona Fall League closely and you seemed to have found your groove after a bit of a rough start. Can you tell me a little about the experience (and winning the championship) and what you were able to take away from it?
JZ: 2011 was actually my second year in the AFL. I went as a starter in 2010 with the Phillies, and had a great experience out there. This year's Salt River Rafters team was a very well constructed team. We had a ton of talent, but we also had a lot of team players, who were willing to move guys over and get guys in, when the situation called for it. I was able to pitch out of the pen in a very consistent role, 7th or 8th inning just about every other game, so I was able to get into a bit of a groove. Pitching is all about consistency and getting to go out there more frequently when things are going well. The competition is fierce out there. Especially as a pitcher, every batter you face is one of the top 5 or 6 hitting prospects from every Major League organization. You can not have a mental let down in that league. If you do, you'll get beat every time.
WTH: You played with Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Domingo Santana and Jonathan Villar in 2010 in the Sally League. Did that help in your transition in coming to the Astros? Any insights you'd like to share about any of those players?
JZ: Coming over here with such talents as Jarred, Singleton, Santana and Villar, really helps me feel more comfortable in completely new surroundings. They are all such different personalities, with tremendous skillsets, that I can assimilate at my own pace. The benefit is that with their talents being at such high levels, I feel the need to step up my game to new heights. All I know is that Astros Nation is going to have to get used to hearing "Cosart" "Singleton" "Santana" and "Villar" over the PA system at Minute Maid Park for the next 10-15 years, that's what I have to say about those guys.
WTH: What are you currently working on in Spring Training and how is it going so far?
JZ: I am currently working on just getting ready for the season - to pitch as often as possible, and be as much of a help in any way, shape, or form, to which ever ball club I am placed on this season. Because no matter where you begin the season, the most important thing is where you end.
Spring training is going well. I've been down here since February 24th, getting ready for the 2012 championship season. I've thrown to hitters about 8 times, and every time coming out of those outings feeling way more confident. The level of competition in camp is extremely high this year. The new ownership expects a lot of us, and I think we are in a prime position to really surprise a bunch of people.
WTH: In your college and minor league career, have you encountered any problems or perceived prejudices because of your Jewish faith or has it been a non-issue for you?
JZ: I have not encountered any serious problems with my religion over my long career (high school all the way to current times). One thing that has been kind of illuminating has been the amount of people that have either never met a Jewish person, or who see my necklace, and are taken aback that a Jewish person could play professional sports. I never get offended by it, because Judaism isn't as prevalent in the South or midwest, but that it is growing. I never try to separate myself from guys with other religions. If they say grace before a meal, or pray before a game, I don't walk out, or I don't turn my back to it; I embrace it, and I appreciate their religious background as I hope they would with mine.
WTH: If you couldn't be a ballplayer, what would you do?
JZ: Ive always wanted to go to law school, and become a sports agent; but in another life I think I was meant to be a FBI or CIA agent, because those movies, books, and tv shows always intrigue me.
WTH: Can you tell me something about yourself that most people don't know and might be surprised to hear?
JZ: I really enjoy writing. I studied English and political science at college, and really took a liking to creative writing/fiction.
WTH: Any final words (i.e., anything else you think that Astros fans should know about you)?
JZ: I'm really looking forward to my first full season with the Astros organization, and I hope you all enjoy watching whichever team I'm on, play and win a lot of games this year.
We will, indeed, enjoy that! Thanks for your time and good luck in the 2012 season, Josh.