Monday, June 3, 2013

An Interview with Astros SS Jiovanni Mier

I had interviewed Jio Mier previously, but it was an email interview and I was looking forward to meeting him in person. He was rehabbing an injury when I went to Lancaster last season and our paths had never crossed. After a successful season in Lancaster in 2012 and a terrific Arizona Fall League season, Jio struggled in his first month at AA Corpus. He has, however, shown definite signs of turning things around at the plate, hitting .265 with a .432 OBP in his last 10 games. He has also turned around his strikeout numbers as he has struck out only four times while walking 10 times during that same time period.

With Jio, it always comes back to the bat because there is no question about his defense. He is extremely exciting to watch in the field. Corpus Christi Manager Keith Bodie says of Mier, "Outstanding defensive player. I love the way he plays shortstop."


Jio Mier - May 2013
Photo by Jayne Hansen

I talked to Jio last weekend and this is what he had to say (edited for brevity and clarity) ~

What has he accomplished and what is he working on?: "I think it's kind of been the same thing over my career. The good thing has always been my defense. I think I've been playing great defense here and kind of shown that I can play defense over the years but I think the big [question] has always been my bat. I'm just trying to be more consistent and at this time I should be more consistent. I'm kind of giving away at-bats. It's been an up-and-down thing. I'm just trying to be who I am, be as natural and athletic as I am, but that's really where I'm at right now. I just [need to] find myself again and kind of get back to the player I am and who I know how to be. When you get away from who you are, [it's] kind of hard to rebound. Your body's telling you one thing, but your mind's doing it different. So that's been a work in progress for me."

On the Arizona Fall League: "It was fun to be out there. I took the success I had last year into the fall league and that gave me a lot of confidence. The competition that was out there and the success I had kind of gave me big hope for this year and I still have that confidence. I'm trying to find it and kind of put two and two together right now. It's coming. I know it is. [On playing third base in the AFL] It was fun. Actually, I hate third base. There are a lot of infielders that say it's easier to play third, but I hate it. Coming from shortstop, it is just so different for me and with having good instincts and trying to play it over there which is all instincts. I'll leave it to Jonathan Meyer to keep that going. It was definitely an adjustment. Second base is easy but third base, that's tough."

On Corpus: "I love it here. This place is amazing. This crowd is something I've never played in front of before. Around this  league, there are great crowds. It's really fun to play here. I love this team. It's just a great group of guys."

On the great pitching on the team: "Almost every other team, I have one or two guys that I know and the first thing they [say to] me is, 'We don't want to play you guys. Your pitching is unbelievable.' You look at our starters, our tandems, and they are unbelievable. It's impressive to play defense behind them."

Is there a manager or coach who has really impacted your career?: "I don't know if you guys know this, but I've actually only played for one manager up until this year. I've always been with Rodney, every single year of my career since 2009 to 2012. I've played with him every single year, even the fall league. So I've never had a different manager [until this year] and in the beginning I had [Hitting Coach] Stubby [Clapp]. So the two of them together, they've been huge in my career. You know at times when I was really doubting myself, they always made it a point to [remind me] that I have the ability to take off, and they've always been so supportive and positive in my career. Those two guys, it's been pretty special to play [for] them. I'm kind of happy I'm not playing for Rodney this year [back in Lancaster], but he's awesome. I'm very fortunate to have been with him the last four years.

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Bodie went on to say this about Jio, "We're looking for Jio to make consistent contact and be able to use all fields to hit in and handle the bat a little bit better than he is at the present time, but we know that he's capable of doing that. You know you've got to make adjustments and that's going to be the key to Jio. If he makes the adjustments, he's going to be a very good player."

Personally, I have faith that Jio will make those adjustments much as he did last season in Lancaster, adjustments which he carried into the very tough Arizona Fall League. And once he does, watch out, because his defense is truly a thing of beauty.

Thank you for your time, Jio, and the best of luck as the season unfolds.

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