Viewed one way, Paul Goldschmidt's success should not come as a surprise. The numbers he put up at Texas State indicated that he would perform well at a professional level in which he would face a lot of inexperienced pitching. On the other hand, Goldschmidt is not drawing enough national praise for the season he had overall. Between college and the pros, he banged out 46 double, three triples, 36 homers, and 150 RBI. The big first baseman walked 90 times, batted .342, and even stole nine bases.
After that long, grueling summer in which he more than doubled the number of games he'd ever played in a single collegiate season, Goldschmidt went to the Diamondbacks' fall Instructional League, where he wowed the coaches and player development personnel as one of the most impressive players there.
FutureBacks.com: This was a much longer season than you are used to. How were you feeling towards the end of it?
Paul Goldschmidt: By the end of Instructs, I was getting a little tired. But for most of the season and for the first part of Instructs I was feeling good. There was a brief period when I was in Montana - I think in August - when my whole body shut down and I felt tired all the time. I don't know what it was - if I didn't get enough sleep or what - but it lasted about four or five days. But besides that, for the whole season I felt pretty good.
FB: Your production seemed to be pretty consistent all season. How did you maintain that level of consistency?
PG: Trying to make every game important to you. Because when you're playing every day, some days you feel good, other days you feel horrible. When you're on the baseball field, you need to make that your priority. That's what I try to do, at least: take every game and make it important.
FB: Were you surprised at how well your collegiate success translated to the pros?
PG: I don't know about surprised; I have confidence in my abilities. But there is that period where you're trying to get adjusted to wood bats or professional baseball. That took me a little bit. I think in my second half with Missoula and at Instructs I made that adjustment.
FB: Was the wood bat the biggest adjustment you needed to make or was it the quality of the pitching?
PG: I don't think the wood bat was the biggest adjustment, since I'd swung a wood bat in BP since my sophomore year of high school and played two summers in college where we used wood bats. I think it was just a combination of everything from being in a new place to different kinds of pitchers, to new teammates, to how they're going to pitch you. It's a lot of little adjustments that just take a little bit of time to get used to. It'll be the same thing for my whole career, at least that's what I think. Next year it will be a new place, new teammates, a better level of competition, all that stuff, and it'll be a bunch of new adjustments that I've got to make.
FB: So you were pitched differently at Missoula than you were at Texas State?
PG: Yeah, in college, when hitters use their metal bats, the pitchers are so scared to throw their fastballs consistently, especially inner half. So a lot of college guys can look at the outer half of the plate and keep flipping out breaking balls, changeups, or sliders. Then when I got to Missoula, a lot of organizations stress command of the fastball and a lot of guys have better fastballs. You don't have a wood bat, and the wind's not blowing out all the time. So they use their fastball a lot more, and I'd say that's a huge difference.
FB: So do you consider yourself more of a fastball hitter or more of a breaking ball hitter?
PG: I don't know. Everyone likes to hit the fastball, but going to college for three years and hitting in the middle of the lineup, I definitely saw a bunch of breaking balls, changeups, and sliders. You learn to hit what they throw. I think you see the younger guys struggling more with the breaking pitch because they haven't seen it as much, whereas guys who come out of college see the offspeed pitches a lot more. At least at the beginning, they're more ready to hit those pitches. Now the high school guys and Latin guys obviously learn to adjust, because the guys in pro ball are still throwing all those pitches.
FB: Then you're really glad you went to college? You feel more prepared than had you gone straight out of high school?
PG: Yeah, for sure. Some guys are ready. We had a ton of high school guys on our team in Missoula, and I think they all made the right decision because all of them are so talented and are mature kids. But me, coming out of high school, I wasn't ready. I would have been ready, it would have just taken longer to adjust. In college, it was closer to home with a smaller group of people. It definitely helped. I'm glad I went to school.
FB: What were you working on during the Instructional League?
PG: I worked on everything. I talked with our hitting instructor a lot about mental approaches to hitting and staying positive when things aren't going good. To look for different pitches in different counts, how to pick up patterns, and stuff like that. Defensively, with all the instructors there, we kept working on my footwork. Just a lot of little things that they had seen throughout the year. I'm so glad I went and am so thankful that the Diamondbacks wanted me to go, because I learned so much in three weeks' time. It was awesome.
FB: Are you mostly a pull hitter being a power guy, or do you spray the ball a little bit?
PG: No, I think one of my strengths is that I'm able to use the whole field. I work on hitting the ball the other way a lot and have since high school, so it's something I'm comfortable with. Being a strong guy, obviously pulling the ball, hitting home runs, and hitting doubles is what the organizations want. But for me, being bigger [means that] if I square up the ball, even if I hit it the other way, I'm able to get a double. So I'd say [my hit distribution is] more even, to all fields.
FB: Did you play first base all throughout college or did you play anywhere else?
PG: My freshman year, I played at third base. Then my sophomore year, I played a few games at third, but then moved to first.
FB: And how do you feel about yourself defensively at first base?
PG: I feel that I've got an opportunity to be a real good defender. It's something I take a lot of pride in. If I'm going to be out there, I want to be the best first baseman I can be. So I'm going to keep working hard at it. I've got a lot of stuff to learn, and the Diamondbacks instructors are teaching me every day. I've just got to keep working on it and hopefully become a great defender.
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