This is the ninth in a series of interviews conducted by Steve Potter.
Minor League Spot Light: Jack Zoellner
Phillies 2017 9th Round Draft Pick Jack Zoellner Jack is yet another ballplayer from the state of Arizona to become part of the Phillies system, he hails from Gilbert, Arizona where he attended Gilbert High School. He led the state in home runs as a high school senior with 13 and was named All-Conference, All-Tribune and All-State.
Zoellner went on to play four years for the University of New Mexico Lobos where he hit .333 in 711 at bats with 26 home runs and 150 RBI’s. Jack had a .427 OBP and a .963 OPS for his college career. During his senior season he hit 12 home runs and drove in 56 amassing 128 total bases in 50 games (193 at bats). He was named the Tony Gwynn Co-Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference for this season.
Jack also played summer ball in Alaska in 2015 for the Matsu Miners.
Here’s some questions I asked him and his responses :
I read your favorite baseball player is Mike Trout, he’s very well regarded in the Philly area as well. How cool would it be to become his teammate if he were to sign with the Phillies in the future?
“Mike Trout is not only a great baseball player but I love the way he carries himself on and off the field. Seeing him in a Phillies uniform would be very cool and exciting.”
Green Chile Enchiadas is one of your favorites? Ever had a Philly Cheese Steak?
“Haha! I am a HUGE fan of Philly Cheese Steaks. If I could, I would probably eat one of those everyday they are so good. I might have to make an exception and put Cheese Steaks over Green Chile Enchiladas.”
Did you know the Phillies were interested in drafting you? When and how did you find out that you were selected?
“Yes, throughout the course of my senior year in college I was talking to the Phillies and I knew they were interested. During around the 7th round in the draft, Brad Holland (area scout for the Phillies) gave me a call and told me that they were ready to select me in the 9th round. I am so excited to be a Phillie and it was a great experience for my family and I.”
I read you suffered a hand injury this season which cut your senior year a bit short, how were you injured, what was the injury and have you healed yet from it ?
“During the end of my season, I was hit by a pitch. I suffered a fractured metacarpal in my left hand. Fortunately, my rehab I am currently doing is making great progression. But I am also being careful not to rush it and make sure it’s 100% ready to go.”
You grew up in Arizona but played your college ball in New Mexico, how different or alike was your college experience in regards to Arizona?
“Arizona and New Mexico are quite different. Both states are in the desert so it gets hot at times but going to college at the University of New Mexico was awesome and some of the best years of my life. I learned a lot about the game of baseball, got an education, and made lifelong friends.”
The Phillies drafted you as a third baseman but I also see you played a lot of first base, where are you most comfortable?
“I am comfortable anywhere. Wherever the Phillies put me I will be glad to play.”
What do you know about the Phillies and our fan base? What are your expectations?
“I know the Phillies have been one of the best organizations and fan bases since baseball started. I am ecstatic to be apart of this organization. You can never go wrong with die hard fans that only wish the best for you. I expect only great things with this organization because that is what these fans have given for years.”
The Lobos had a great hitting team this year and you were smack in the middle of it, is that the strength of your game? What type of hitter would you describe yourself as?
“Hitting is definitely a big part of my game. But I also bring a great defense to the table and a strong mindset. I describe myself as a gap to gap hitter who will drive in a lot of runs.”
You had more walks than strikeouts during your senior season and you struck out a lot less than your three previous years yet hit more home runs, was pitch selection and plate discipline something you specifically worked on?
“The biggest thing I worked on was keeping a consistent short swing. The shorter I am, the longer I can see the ball and read pitches better. This helped me with my approach and reduced my strikeouts.”
I see you played in the Alaskan League one summer, what was that experience like?
“Alaska was a trip of a lifetime. It was beautiful out there and I encourage anybody to take a trip and experience it. I suffered a concussion while there so I didn’t play much but it was still a great experience.”
Have you been to Clearwater before? What are your impressions of the Phillies Training Complex?
“This is actually my first time out here in Clearwater and I love it. The training complex is in tip top condition and I am glad to be a part of it.”
What should Philly fans know about how you play the game? What should we expect to see from you on the field?
“Phillies fans should know that I am fighter. I will keep fighting and won’t stop til I reach my goals. On and off the field I play the game with respect. You will always see me with a smile playing this game.”
Thanks to Jack for taking time to answer these questions, I wish him well and hope he has a long and great career with the Phillies as a professional ballplayer, we Phillie fans will be rooting for him!