Wednesday, May 9, 2012

An Interview with 1B Zach Johnson

1B Zach Johnson made a statement early this season by driving in runs at a ridiculous rate for the Lexington Legends team. In April he had 30 RBI's over 24 games. Unfortunately, his bat has cooled off somewhat in May. Through 6 games in May, he is hitting only .200 with one RBI but he's getting the ball in play (only one strikeout and two walks during that time frame). Once he starts finding some holes again, those numbers should correct themselves. In any event, his 31 RBI's are the most of any Astros minor leaguer at this point by a wide margin.

In explaining Zach's great start, Hitting Coach Josh Bonifay noted that, "He cleaned up his lower half and he made an adjustment mechanically. He doesn't have as much drift in his lower half so he's able to get to some fastballs that he probably wasn't able to get to last year. He stays aggressive with runners on base which is hard to do for a young hitter ... A little guy like that with some power. He's got some torque in his lower half and it really comes through."

I talked to Zach for a very brief few moments, but came away with the impression of a quiet, thoughtful and dedicated young player, one who was willing to put in the time and work needed to be successful. This is what he had to say.

On his fast start to the season: "I changed some things in the off-season. I'm just seeing the ball a little better and I think from my stats point I'm doing a lot better with people on base which is correlating to the RBI's obviously. It's going good so far. Hopefully everyone can start clicking together and I think we'll be really good."

On the top of the lineup (Delino DeShields, Jordan Scott, Zach Johnson and Matt Duffy): "I played with Duff last year so we kind of know how each other hit and stuff. Delino - he gets on a lot. Scott - he walks a lot and gets a lot of hits. It's easier for me and Duff when there's people on and then our job, makes it a lot easier."

On his strengths and weaknesses as a hitter: "Hitting opposite field with more power is something I've been working on a lot. I feel my strength right now is pulling and driving the ball to left field, but trying to work on driving the ball to right field more [and] center field is probably my biggest weakness."

On which Legends pitcher he would least like to face: "Probably Trope [Nick Tropeano] or [Dayan] Diaz. I faced Trope the last day of Spring Training; he wasn't throwing as many change ups that day. From playing defense, I see his change up and so many people swing and miss on that. So in Spring Training, I was looking for his change up and he was throwing fastballs by me [laughs]. Probably Trope in a game would be tough."

On who on the team makes him laugh: "Probably Duffy. He's really funny."

On what he would do if he couldn't play baseball: "Probably want to be a golfer if I could. I think that would be the ultimate job. It's hard to get away from sports."

On something most people don't know about him: "I have a twin brother. A lot of people probably don't know that. Fraternal. He's still in school. He's still playing baseball and hoping that works out. Probably a lot of people don't know that unless from back home. [He goes to] Sonoma State where Alex Todd went to school up in northern California."

Oh, and one more thing. He's got an awesome dog back home. Meet Drama.

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