Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Jake Goebbert Q&A and Scrimmage Talk
Headed into a campaign in which he finds himself buried beneath an extraordinarily competitive outfield depth chart, former Rockhound sensation, Jake Goebbert, is hoping to reciprocate his Texas League dominance upon the Rivercats roster after a brief 85 plate appearance August opportunity to conclude his 2013 organizational debut with Oakland as he debuts upon a AAA roster for the first instance in his career. Originally acquired in a swap prior to the regular season for Travis Blackley in response to a putrid spring for the Australian, Goebbert would acclimate once more to Texas following his previous performances upon Corpus Christi's ballclub, including a 2012 where he surged forth as one of Houston's most awe inspring statistical contributors within their minor league system, hitting .304/.399/.473 through 433 PAs with a cumulative professional best 144 wRC+ and .390 wOBA that vaulted him upwards to Oklahoma City for a minute stint before another seemingly assured Corpus 2014 assignment.
It would've been unfortunate for Goebbert, who has continuously prided himself upon being a marvelous catalyst for practically every amateur and minor league affiliated ballclub he has received opportunities with. Hailing from Northwestern, Goebbert lacerated his kidney in what would ultimately be his collegiate finale due to injury as he collided into the outfield wall attempting to complete a catch. Despite the noticeable pain pulsating from his abdomen, Goebbert refused to leave the contest, strided up to the plate the following frame, and smacked a double before he was pinch run for; illustrating Goebbert's devotion to his Northwestern team in what would translate upon arriving within the professional ranks. After recuperating, Houston plucked the Illinois native during the 13th round of the 2009 Draft festivities and plopped him in Lexington after an immediate and initial assignment within Tri-Cities, as Goebbert stampeded to South Atlantic League All-Star honors with a league leading 48 doubles through his 591 PAs to coincide with his .291/.363/.445 slash line and 130 wRC+ that convincingly slotted him in Lancaster for the 2011 campaign. However, after a mere 117 plate appearance California League stint, Goebbert rapidly would ascend to the Texas League for his AA debut and then progress through to Oklahoma for a 100+ PA try as well en route to a AZFL berth in a whirlwind season for the then 23 year old corner outfielder. With 2012 proving once more his deserving placement within the Pacific Coast League, Goebbert would be made to undergo a preliminary audition with the Rockhounds as transitioned into the Athletics' organization for his Midland debut, now under the ownership of Billy Beane in hopes of capitalizing upon Goebbert's annual MiLB success.
For Midland, Goebbert went upon the power crusade that shattered previous ststistical marks for the former Wildcat, amassing a .268/.352/.480 slash with a .212 ISO (6th in the Texas League) between his 458 PAs and was in contention for the organizational dinger lead with 18 as he headed forth to Sacramento for another August PCL attempt. Through his 21 bouts as a Rivercat, Goebbert excelled with a 15:16 BB/K and 7 XBH (4 HR) that has since granted him with the luxury of a cozy Sacramento home as he has been placed on the kitten roster to commence this nearing 2014 campaign. As the season approaches, I discussed briefly with Goebbert on his sophomore attempt in green and gold:
CK: After having been dealt for Travis Blackley, what was the whole experience like for you in getting acquainted with your new organization?
JG: Definitely was cool to meet a whole new group of guys. I came up through Houston's organization, and being traded kind of opened my eyes to what professional baseball is about and the commeraderie of the clubhouses. I played against most of the guys [in Midland] so I knew them really well, and then to come up [to Sacramento] at the end of the season was great
CK: Last season saw you finish just behind Max Muncy and Matt Olson as the Oakland MiLB home run champion. Is that something you put more emphasis on during your 2013 season?
JG: Thoughout my career my home run numbers have steadily increased every year and I feel as though it's something that comes as you mature as a player. You just have to put a swing on the ball in every at-bat. And I was fortunate enough to hit 22 last year, but I just want to keep improving, and whether that's a little better average or more homers, that's for the season to tell. My goal is to hit as many doubles as possible, but a lot of them wind up turning into home runs
CK: Upon arriving in Sacramento, your walks drawn noticeably spiked in your brief time here. You were pretty solid on the discipline front in Texas too, but what can you attribute that increase to?
JG: The increase of walks was just a product of at-bats. I feel like there was nothing really special that I did, I just tried to string together consistent at-bats. My goal more so is to get some more hits this time [In Sacramento]. I think the biggest difference in AAA is the pitcher's ability to place the ball around the plate wherever they want, and sometimes that can lead to more walks.
CK: Now with Kent Matthes earning another 40 man spot as an outfielder and Shane Peterson there too, is there pressure to perform with those guys in the clubhouse with you?
JG: I just want to do my best and take what comes... I just want to do my best and be the best player and person I can be and whatever happens happens. I'm going to do everything I can to put me in the best position to get to the big leagues.
CK: Is there anything specifically, offensively or defensively, you're looking to improve upon this season?
JG: Defensively, I want to work on getting better jumps, but I feel like that's something I can improve on every day during batting practice.
CK: What was the entire experience like for you this spring, especially getting the opportunity to appear in as many major league games as you did?
JG: It was a great experience, getting to know all the guys in the clubhouse and everything. It's tough only getting to come in during the 8th inning and maybe get an at-bat, but you've just got to do your best and take what comes and run with it...
Stockton and Sacramento partook in their annual scrimmage this Tuesday as well following inclement weather the previous day that thwarted the contest in Sacramento from taking place. Following the bullpen from Shawn Haviland during pregame, as even more significant rainfall was anticipated that evening, the game began following the start time being moved up to 6:05 as Matt Buschmann and Jonathan Joseph acquired starting duties for the central Californian ballclubs. Joseph struggled initially, walking Peterson on eight pitches before a Stephen Vogt opposite field double, but then induced a Freiman popout and Matthes strikeout to conclude the frame. Buschmann retired McKinney and Healy promptly before a Pinder bloop double, one of Stockton lone baserunners that evening, in a lone eventful offensive appearance for the Ports. Stockton proceeded to alternate arms, expending practically their entire relieving core between Barfield, Duran, Doolittle, Hall and Healy prior to the cancellation of the game in the 6th inning. Barfield, following an initial Carrithers double, would induce a Jose Martinez groundball, a surprising Anthony Aliotti strikeout, and succeeded in beating Crumbliss to first base on a 3-1 grounder to record a spotless preseason frame in one of the more impressive performances of the evening. Sacramento would wind up plating two runs off Omar Duran, as he walked Carrithers with the bases loaded and a grounder burst through into the outfield after a ricochet off Matt Olson's glove. The other Sacramento run would originate from Hiroyuki Nakajima, as he squeaked an opposite field grounder past Chad Pinder into RF to place Sacramento within a firm 3-0 advantage. A notable Stockton performance did come from Billy McKinney, who laced a double off Buschmann over Nakajima into left-center field and successfully sprinted into second base after the ball skirted past Peterson and Crumbliss (Now unofficially 6-15 this spring). After Buschmann, Fernando Nieve appeared and permitted a walk to Aaron Shipman that immediately preceded Ryan Gorton smacking a near dinger into LF that plated Shipman in what was the closest thing to a homer in the exhibition due to the gusts blowing towards home plate. Finally, Tucker Healy's 6th inning would conclude following a five pitch walk to Jake Goebbert as the conditions had become too unbearable to continue onward, resulting in a 3-1, albeit irrelevant, kitty cat victory. Jake Elmore was the only positional reserve from either squad not to perform within the scrimmage as the affiliates head to Salt Lake City and Visalia to open their campaigns on April 3rd. Billy McKinney, who I spoke to before the contest, is quite possibly the most unforeseen Oakland organizational farm system placement during this 2014 campaign, and was additionally taken aback by the announcement.
"As for Stockton, I didn't have any clue I would be heading out here until the final day. I thought I was going to Beloit and that's what they told me in instructs. I guess I showed them something they thought I could prove out here" Said McKinney, who also was quick to disassociate himself from any Addison Russell comparisons. "[Addison Russell] is a freak... I'll let him do what he does and we'll leave it at that"
In regards to his MLB opportunities, McKinney was grateful for his placement within a clubhouse brimming with stalwart major leaguers: "It was fun. It was great getting the experience over there. I liked seeing how they act and seeing how they played the game and learning from them too. They had a lot of knowledge, so all I did was just try to take it all in"