Friday, November 23, 2012

Geoff Klein From The Australian Baseball League Blogpost #1

The St. Louis Cardinals for the first time in the re-opening of Australian Baseball League history sent two players to the down under.  Adam Melker was assigned to Perth and Geoff Klein to Sydney.  Klein has agreed to update the Redbird fans on how things are going as he plays in the winter league this offseason.

Three years ago Santa Clara University's catcher Geoff Klein was co-West Coast Conference batting champion and the following spring was named a preseason All-American.  The now 24-year old switch hitter was also selected for ballot among the nation's top catchers for the 2010 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award and First Team All-WCC player in his final two seasons at Santa Clara.  The right-handed throwing catcher finished the 2010 season with a .346 AVG, 19 doubles, and 47 RBIs and ranked in some the top offensive categories in school history. 

In June of 2010, the St. Louis Cardinals made Klein their 15th round (469rd overall) selection in the Major League amateur draft.  He was assigned to Short-Season Single-A Batavia to begin his professional career.  He finished with a .295 AVG, 11 doubles, 12 RBIs, and 14 walks in 30 games and even had a short stint at A-Advanced Palm Beach for one game.  2011, Klein was assigned to Single-A Quad Cities where he only saw 53 games of action batting .268 with 17 doubles, four home runs, 33 RBIs, 19 walks, and 57 strikeouts.  The California-born catcher made his return to Palm Beach in 2012 where he went 87-for-353 (.246) with 17 doubles, seven home runs, 34 RBIs, 30 walks, and 93 strikeouts in 102 games.

Klein could be one of a handful of catchers that might get a call to attend major league camp this coming spring.


Geoff Klein From The Australian Baseball League Blogpost #1

Oi Cardinal Nation! G'day from Down Under! Its Thanksgiving today back home and I'm missing out on the turkey, football, and my awesome family and friends, but as much as I miss all that I wouldn't have it any other way because being down here is a blessing. Having the opportunity to play baseball and improve my game while also getting to experience the culture of another country and meet so many amazing people in the sport is definitely shaping up to be my most exciting and productive offseason, since I was drafted in 2010.

The idea of playing winter ball came about with about 2 weeks left in the season, when Palm Beach hitting coach Jeff Albert approached me about playing in the offseason to continue working on the things I focused on this season. We agreed that more at bats with the offensive approach I worked on developing over the course of the season would help get me even more comfortable with it and roll it into next season. That approach includes being more selective at the plate-specifically swinging at pitches I can drive, not just pitches that I can make contact with. Developing this approach with Jeff this season helped me to hit for more power, driving the ball to the gaps and out of the park, even in the big yards of the Florida State League. The other part of this adjustment was a slight mechanical adjustment and a focus on driving the ball to the outfield. It did take a while to get comfortable with, as with anything mechanically there is a learning curve and it wasn't until the second half of this season that I started to get a feel for it. Even then, Jeff and I agreed that more at bats could only make it better, so here I am loving Sydney and feeling great about getting live at bats this offseason.

Having played in the Florida State League this year, I played against a lot a very talented players. Top prospects like Garrett Cole, Jameson Taillon, Jesse Biddle, Christian Yelich, and Nick Castellanos was a great look into what the next level, as well as higher levels will be like. Other flame throwers like Bruce Rondon from the Lakeland Flying Tigers, and of course our own arms-Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal (last year in Quad Cities) opened my eyes as to how much talent I am exposed to on a daily basis. It seems like I played with/against guys like Rosie and Avisail Garcia weeks ago, and then they're both making their presences felt in the MLB playoffs, its crazy and exciting to see those guys on TV. 

Its similar down here playing with and against former big leaguers like Chris Oxspring, Dae Sung Koo, Virgil Vasquez, and Chris Snelling as well as other up and coming Aussies and Americans. Its fun playing with guys from other organizations and guys on the back end of their careers- just learning from their experiences and hearing their stories is awesome. Its fun playing with guys from other organizations and guys I played against this year like James Robbins from the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Working with pitchers who have big league experience (like Ox) has been great-learning what makes him go, how he likes to attack hitters and getting on the same page has been a fun chess game setting up hitters and making adjustments as well as a learning experience I can apply with other pitchers. 

Thus far this season down under has been a great experience and I'll keep checking in to let everyone back home know more about how its going! Cheers Mate.

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