The Oakland A’s selected both corners of the Florida State infield this season, taking third baseman Jose Brizuela in the 16th round and first baseman John Nogowski in the 34th. The A’s signed both and they remained teammates once turning pro – first in Arizona and then in Vermont for the bulk of the short-season.
Nogowski had a distinguished career for the Seminoles. As a sophomore, he posted an 821 OPS and this year he batted in the middle of the line-up, posting an 875 OPS. He drove-in 49 in 60 games and walked nearly twice as often as he struck-out (43 walks to 27 strike-outs).
Nogowski continued to show a strong sense of the strike-zone during his pro debut. After eight games in the AZL, Nogowski went east to Vermont, where he posted a .259/.357/.329 line in 50 New York-Penn League games. He connected on his first professional homerun and drove-in 20. Nogowski maintained a nearly 1:1 K:BB (20 walks to 23 strike-outs).
Donald Moore spoke with the Tallahassee native during the Lake Monsters’ final roadtrip about his professional debut season.
Donald Moore: How is everything going for you this season?
John Nogowski: It's great and I love it. It's everything you hear about. It's a little bit of a grind from the full college season to here, but I love it.
DM: What were your goals for this year?
JN: Number-wise, I really didn't have a lot of goals, but I just want to learn as much as I can. I want to come back to spring training again next year and know that I learned something. I'm trying to pick up anything I can, whether it's from Tommy [Everidge] or Newby [David Newhan], or some of the older guys and just try to be the best player I can be. But not too many goals number-wise.
DM: What do you consider your biggest strength as a baseball player?
JN: I think part of my biggest strength is not having one big strength, you know. If I can play great defense and drive in runs and get big hits, hit for average and try do just do everything right, minimize the mistakes. I think that is what my biggest strength is -- just trying to be well-rounded.
DM: What would you'd like to improve on?
JN: Playing first base, everyone wants to see home runs and stuff, but I want to make sure I have quality at-bats every time and become a pro hitter. Grinding out at-bats and doing it the Oakland way. Making sure I'm seeing a lot of pitches at every at-bat and get that pitcher's count up and then get to the bullpen.
DM: How are you adjusting to pro baseball?
JN: So far, so good I think. My body is a little sore, but I love it. I'm blessed to be doing this and it's something I've dreamed about growing up, so getting to do it every single day, it's a blessing.
DM: Any pregame routines?
JN: Not really. Usually drink a cup of coffee before I head to the field and try to get some energy. Maybe take a shower before game-time, but that's about it, though.
DM: Any hobbies?
JN: I love to fish, I love to hunt. Being from down South, I love watching baseball and college football and rooting for Florida State. So that's really about it. Fish, hunt and watching baseball and football.
DM- Favorite team growing up?
JN: I was a Red Sox fan. My dad is from just outside of Boston, so growing up, we were rooting for the Red Sox, but now it's a little bit weird. It's the A's now, so he's [his dad is] on board.
DM: If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
JN: My dad. No question. He's been my hitting coach all the way through, even in college, really. What he has done for me, not only him, but my mom, too. What my parents have done for me is incredible. The only way I can give back is to give 150 percent out here everyday.
DM: Where do you see your baseball career in the near future?
JN: Just like every guy here, you know. I just want to make it to the big leagues. Whether that be in four years, three years, five years, eight years, who knows? But, if I get as good as I can, we'll see where things go down the road.
DM: Thank you so much for your time and the best of luck to you and your future.
JN: No problem, and thank you very much.