The 24-year old lefty hitting Jake Goebbert was a 13th round pick by the Astros out of Northwestern in 2009. He plays the corner outfield positions with good doubles, on base and defensive skills and projects as a solid fourth or fifth outfielder on a major league club. At Corpus Christi this season, he hit .279/.354/.438. I interviewed him on the afternoon of Friday, June 8th. He went three-for-four that night and was promoted to Oklahoma City the next day. His coaches described Geobbert as a smart player, a solid player. He's definitely quite smart, thoughtful and well-spoken. Here's what Jake had to say to me.
On his season so far: "There's a lot of room for improvement right now. I feel like I've had spurts of really good at bats and quality swings and spurts of not-so-great ones but overall I feel like I've hit the ball hard. I've hit the ball well. I'm increasing my walks and lowering my strikeout to walk ratio by a lot which is something signficant that I've wanted to do this year. As a team, we're playing a lot better. We're taking strides in the right direction and we're looking forward to the second half because I feel like we really kind of gave it away in the first half. We had a nine-game losing streak and a couple four or five game losing streaks that really hurt us that we could have minimized and we'd be right in the thick of things right now if that wasn't the case."
On the Arizona Fall League: "I really enjoyed it. It was a great experience. Numbers wise, it was after a long season so my numbers were not where I wanted them to be but the experience itself being on a championship team was incredible. Getting to know some of those guys on other teams was a new experience for me in professional baseball. And being able to talk to them and look at how they're doing on line and actually have friends in other organizations now is a pretty neat thing to have. There's a lot of camaraderie in the game."
On his defense: "Defense is something that I feel like I can really control. It's more of a controlled environment. You can't necessarily control the pitches you get in an at bat or what you do with the pitch you do get. You always try to give yourself the best opportunity you can. But defensively, I try to just go hard all the time. And if I can do that, I feel like I'll make fewer mistakes and be in a better position to succeed."
On his success vs. lefties in 2012 (hitting over .400): "It's something that I'm trying to figure out, to be honest. I think my career average is probably .260 against lefties and probably .310 against righties, approximately, so I don't really understand. Right now I think it's kind of having less of an expectation at the plate against a lefty and just relaxing more and against a righty maybe expecting too much out of myself and trying to do too much. So I'm trying to find a little bit more of a balance between both of them and keep hitting well against lefties, but kind of bring that same approach to the plate when I face righties."
On the competition in the Texas league: "It's very good competition. It's the best I've ever played against. Quality pitching every night. There's really no free days. There's no days when you go in and say, 'Man I'm going to go in and get four hits tonight.' It's the attitude I always want to have but you have to be ready for every at bat and there's a lot of good players, a lot of good pitchers and just good quality teams."
On which Astros organization pitcher he would least like to face: "I would probably not want to face Oberholtzer because being left-handed and he's kind of a power left-handed pitcher. He'd probably be the one for me personally that I wouldn't want to face."
On Corpus: "Love Corpus. I absolutely love Corpus. It's a great set up, good fans, great stadium, great people, the nice breeze off the water. It's been an excellent experience."
On something most people don't know about him: "I'm married. I've been married for a year and a half. I grew up on a pumpkin farm about an hour west of Chicago in a small town called Hampshire, Illinois where my family does a big agritainment business in the fall. In the spring we do flowers. I grew up a farm boy in a real small town."
On what he would do if he didn't play baseball: "I went to school for Psychology and Pre-Med but most likely I would work on the family farm. You don't realize how much you love it until you leave it."
Any final words? "Keep up with the Astros. We're coming. We're coming fast. It's going to be a fun couple of years. I'm excited and hope that I can be a part of it. It's been a great year. We've obviously seen a lot of change. Just keep with us and look foward to the future because there's a bright future for this organization."
Thank you for your time, Jake. Good Luck in Oklahoma City!