Joey Hage: A Baseball Life

St. Louis Cardinals minor league outfielder Joey Hage recently spoke with our Dustin Mattison.

The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Joey Hage in the 23rd round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft. A graduate of Douglas High School in Florida, he was a frequent participant of the showcase circuit.  Hage would play in the high school Cape Cod League and various other wood bat tournaments. Before signing with the Cardinals, the toolsy outfielder had committed to Florida International University.

 

The organization kept him close to home in his first professional assignment, going to the Gulf Coast League. Home cooking agreed with Hage as he hit .393/.452/.714 in seven games. The outfielder was then moved on to Johnson City and must have gotten homesick, hitting only .208/.273/.244 in 168 at bats.

 

After participating in extended spring training in 2008, Hage appeared in one game in the Gulf Coast League before returning to Johnson City.  His second trip to the Appalachian League proved to be more successful than his first.  In 158 at bats, he hit .272/.299/.323.  

 

A son of a ballplayer, Joey's father was a New York Yankees farmhand for a couple of seasons in the late seventies. 

 

After his first full season as a professional, Joey took time to discuss growing up with baseball as his main focus. 

 

 

 

Dustin Mattison: How do you think your game has progressed from your first season of pro ball?

 

Joey Hage: I feel that my game has progressed a lot since my first year, not only physically but mentally, as well. I've learned not only by playing the game but by watching it when I was not in the game.

DM: What is the biggest strength of your game?

 

JH: My biggest strength is my hitting.  Since I was a kid, I was very fortunate to have a batting cage in my backyard. My dad and I hit almost everyday.  On the days my dad couldn't throw to me, I either set the machine up or hit off the tee.

DM: What part of your game do you feel that you need to improve upon to keep working your way up the organizational ladder?

 

JH: I need to work on my speed. I get very good jumps on the ball and I can read pitchers, so I feel if I can improve my overall speed that it will help my game out tremendously.

DM: You played a lot on the showcase circuit while you were in high school. What is life like on that circuit? How did playing against that type of competition help you adjust to playing pro ball?

 

JH: I loved traveling from town to town playing in all the showcases and tournaments. I owe a lot to them. Playing in the showcases lets you test your skills against some of the best players in the world. I've noticed that a lot of friends that I have made from the showcases are now also in pro ball now.

DM: If you weren't playing baseball, what would you be doing?

 

JH:  To tell you the truth, baseball is my life. I have to be around the game. If I weren't playing, I would either be teaching or coaching it.

DM:  Did you hang out with on your Johnson City teammates? What do you guys do when you are not playing baseball?

 

JH: The thing about our team is that everyone became really good friends. We all hung out together. We didn't really have too much time to ourselves because we were always on the field but on our down time we would either relax by the lake or go to the movies.

DM: How do you like eastern Tennessee? Were you able to go to Dollywood?

 

JH: I have lived in Florida most of my life, so when I got to Tennessee it was definitely a culture shock.  But I got used to it quick. It was a more relaxed setting and the views were amazing so overall I enjoyed my stay. I didn't have time to go to Dollywood but hopefully one day.

DM: What team did you root for growing up? What did you know about the Cardinals when you were drafted?

 

JH: As a kid I grew up a Yankees fan. My Dad played for them in the seventies and he was from New York, so that's the team we always watched. The Cardinals are the team that is giving me my chance; so right now they are my favorite team by far. I knew that the Cardinals spring training complex was in West Palm Beach so I was very happy that my family would be able to come watch me play whenever they want.  It's great to know if I ever need anything I only live 30 minutes away.

DM: Was there a player that you modeled your game after when you were growing up? Is there a current player that you would compare your game to?

 

JH: I have been told I play like Alfonso Soriano. He is an all-around player and a gamer. He's not the fastest guy out there but he goes and gets the ball. Also, his power developed over time and I feel, as I get older, my power will come, as well.


DM: Who is the toughest pitcher you have had to face?

 

JH: During spring training I was lucky enough to face three of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball; Chris Carpenter, Jason Isringhausen, and Mark Mulder. There is no doubt that they are the toughest guys that I've had to face. I went 4-for-5 against them and my Dad was able to see it, so I will never forget that day.

DM: What are you doing this off-season?

 

JH: This off-season I am giving it my all. Next year, I'm going to take my game to a whole new level. I am training five days a week: lifting, running, and swimming. I want to come out next year bigger, stronger, and faster. My goal next year is to make a full season team, so I am going to do all I can to better myself for spring.

DM: If you didn't know it already, but there are thousands of Cardinal minor league fans that follow the organization very closely. What should these fans know about you that they might not already know?

 

JH: I have dedicated my whole life to baseball; it's what I love to do. But when I'm not playing baseball I enjoy all other sports: fishing, ping pong, racquetball, anything that keeps me moving.

 

 

Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

 

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