|MLB reports: Welcome to the Reports, I appreciate you taking the time to join us today. First question: I’ve heard the name before….ever get mistaken for another semi-famous Zach Johnson?
Zach Johnson: Yeah, my dad played some professional golf after he went to college in the 70’s and he created a golf domain (protourgroup) and we have it on some of our credit cards. After the PGA tour golfer Zach Johnson won the masters over Tiger Woods, I’ve gotten some double looks as well. People often ask me if I’m that pro golfer, especially after people look at my credit card and read Zach Johnson and Pro Tour Group below.
MLB reports: You played for the Oklahoma State University. Great baseball school. Tell us about that experience and why you chose Oklahoma for school?
Zach Johnson: It was a great experience playing in the Big-12. I won Big-12 newcomer of the year and some other awards. OSU was really one of my only D-1 opportunities coming out of junior college. I had a prior commitment to NAIA’s Lewis-Clark State, before getting offered to play at OSU.
MLB reports: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
Zach Johnson: Being from the Bay Area and my family being Giants season ticket holders, I always like Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent.
MLB reports: Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
Zach Johnson: I admire Chase Utley because of how hard he plays the game everyday and leaves it all out on the field.
MLB reports: What are your goals going into the 2012 season?
Zach Johnson: My goals are to continue staying healthy and being durable for my team. As well as being consistent.
MLB reports: You were drafted by the A’s in 2010 and then the Astros last year. Tell us about that process and why you waited the extra year to sign.
Zach Johnson: It was a frustrating and fun process at the same time because waiting to hear your name is always stressful; and then being drafted is what you always dream about growing up. I thought waiting an extra year and experiencing D-1 ball would be beneficial. It ended up helping me move up 33 rounds from the previous year.
MLB reports: As soon as you signed you were off to Troy to play for the Tri-City ValleyCats. What the heck is a ValleyCat?
Zach Johnson: Yes, New York was a great experience. I still have no idea what a ValleyCat is!
MLB reports: Know a guy by the name of Neiko Johnson well? Neiko recently appeared on the Reports!
Zach Johnson: Yes, Neiko happen to be one of my roommates during the summer. He’s a great guy and ball player. He’s also a pro-tweeter.
MLB reports: How did you feel going from school to professional baseball? What was the transition like for you?
Zach Johnson: The transition was a bit hard at first. After the first couple of weeks, you get used to how everything works each day and get more comfortable with your teammates. Then it’s just the same game you’ve played your whole life.
MLB reports: I see you played a ton of 1B in your first year. You also grabbed some time at 2B and even 3B. What position do you see yourself at long-term?
Zach Johnson: Actually, I was drafted as a 3B both by A’s and Astros which is my “natural” position. It happened to benefit both Oklahoma State and the ValleyCats this summer for me to play 1B for each of the teams. Throughout the summer, I started working out early each day on 2B (which I had never played before this summer), as well as 3B, since I felt like I’ve never played there either after learning to play 1B for the first time at Oklahoma State. I feel that with my size, I would expect 3B or 2B to be a long-term position. Whatever position it happens to be- if not all of them. I don’t mind being that “utility” guy.
MLB reports: What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?
Zach Johnson: My best baseball skills probably come from the plate. I’ve been able to stay consistent with my average and power throughout each college level and into my first summer of pro-ball.
MLB reports: What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?
Zach Johnson: I would definitely like to improve on my agility and lateral movement defensively and base running.
MLB reports: What do you need to do in order to be successful in this game?
Zach Johnson: I need to continue to stay healthy and have an open/positive mind. With hard work, everything else should fall into place.
MLB reports: If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?
Zach Johnson: I really have no idea when I could potentially make it to the big leagues. I can only control what I do with my opportunities. I feel if I can continue to stay consistent and show improvement with my versatility throughout the game, I should be fine.
MLB reports: Favorite pre-game meal?
Zach Johnson: I don’t like to eat too much before a game. I would probably say a banana and protein bar.
MLB reports: Have you been to Houston yet? Do you own a cowboy hat and boots?
Zach Johnson: I haven’t been to Houston yet. I don’t have a cowboy hat or boots. But I got my first taste of that being in Oklahoma for almost a year.
MLB reports: Final Thoughts?
Zach Johnson: I just want to thank you for the opportunity to be a part of MLB reports and to share some of my insights and thoughts! Baseball is right around the corner!