Baseball: Jake Goebbert hanging tough in Astros farm system
By Erik Jacobsen email@example.com July 2, 2012 10:14PM
Hampshire graduate Jake Goebbert recently rejoined the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Double-A affiliate in the Houston Astros farm system. | George Tuley~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 4, 2012 6:34AM
Nobody ever said making it to Major League Baseball was going to be easy for Jake Goebbert.
The 2006 Hampshire graduate enjoyed a rapid ascent through the Houston Astros farm system after being drafted in 2009, rising all the way to Triple-A last summer in his third season as a professional. This year, however, Goebbert’s upward trajectory has hit a plateau.
Goebbert began the 2012 campaign back with Triple-A Oklahoma City, but he was quickly sent down to Double-A Corpus Christi on the first day of the season as the new Astros ownership and management teams made roster adjustments throughout the organization. Goebbert was then called up to Oklahoma City in early June, but he played sparingly during a three-week stint with the team that ended Saturday when he was sent back down to Corpus Christi.
While all the shuffling back and forth isn’t ideal, Goebbert is making the most of the situation.
“The organization wants me to play every day, that’s a big thing,” Goebbert said. “(Oklahoma City) is a very talented team with a lot of guys that have been in the big leagues. I’ve learned more sitting on the bench and gaining experience that way than I ever have.”
Goebbert, who plays both corner outfield positions, also gained valuable experience during spring training when he participated in Houston’s big league camp. In addition to having the chance to measure up with the best players in the organization, Goebbert also rubbed elbows with Astros players and coaches.
“That was a great experience because you really get to know the guys on the club, the lifestyle and a little bit more about the game in general,” Goebbert said.
Goebbert won’t make it to the big leagues this year since he wasn’t one of Houston’s minor leaguers named to the team’s 40-man roster, from which the Astros can call up players throughout the year, particularly late in the season once the minor league season is complete.
There is a fair chance Goebbert will be named to the 40-man roster next year, which would open the door for him to possibly break into the big leagues for the first time. While that prospect is enticing, Goebbert is taking a level-headed approach toward his goal of someday reaching his goal of playing on baseball’s biggest stage.
“In the big leagues you have to be ready,” Goebbert said. “Honestly, that’s going to be something I’m going to look forward to and keep striving for, but I don’t want to go up there unless I’m completely ready and confident in my abilities. Then when I get that opportunity I want to perform and be able to stay.”
Goebbert is batting .255 with four home runs, 30 RBI, 35 runs scored, 13 doubles and a .336 on-base percentage through 73 games this season. Most of those numbers are slightly down from Goebbert’s career totals, but that can be attributed to a 4-for-30 showing at the plate in Triple-A.
Goebbert realizes he has a lot of work to do before making it to the big leagues, but there isn’t necessarily one area he focuses on over others.
“One of the biggest things I’m working on is just becoming more of a consistent player in every aspect of my game,” Goebbert said. “I don’t think there’s one glaring thing I really work on, but it’s just being able to start with a new slate night in and night out.
“You’ve got to be able to let yesterday go, not look ahead to tomorrow and live in the moment as much as possible. It can be challenging at times, but for the most part that’s kind of how baseball players have to live. You live day to day and learn how to separate your baseball life from your normal life.”
As for Goebbert’s personal life, he and his wife Heather bought a home in Pingree Grove as he continues to return to the area during the offseason.
Goebbert still trains at Hampshire High during the winter, working out with Whip-Purs players during open gyms. He gave a baseball clinic at the school last February and teaches hitting lessons during his free time.
“Community in the end is what’s really important to me,” Goebbert said. “I’m a home body, I’m a Hampshire kid and I want to see Hampshire and the area around Hampshire — whether it’s Burlington, Marengo, Jacobs or any school I’ve been associated with — I want to see them succeed. It’s important for me to be able to do what I can to help them.”
Goebbert has certainly come a long way since his days as a three-sport standout at Hampshire.
A solid playing career at Northwestern preceded his minor league career, during which he has enjoyed nicer accommodations, eaten better food and noticed the lights shining brighter and brighter during every step up the ladder.
“There’s a lot of great baseball players that never get the opportunity to play in college, let alone pro ball,” Goebbert said. “To be able to say I’ve been (in Triple-A) and one step away is a blessing, and I thank God every day for the opportunity I’ve had.
“The end goal is to be in the big leagues as long as you can. To do that it takes a lot of preparation and a lot of mental and physical practice. It’s a very challenging and demanding process, but it is very enjoyable at the same time if you allow it to be.”