Interview with Astros Prospect Trent Woodward
The Houston Astros through the ‘Process’ has built a pretty good minor league system that should provide the Astros the needed depth needed to replace players when needed. The went through a long period of stinking to get back to the playoffs picture like they did in 2015 behind a youth infusion. The success was also seen in the minor leagues with seven of the teams reaching the playoffs in 2015, with two of them winning their respective leagues championship.
One of those players in the minor league system has risen to the top very quickly, this player reached Triple-A in his second season after being drafted. Trent Woodward is one of the players who have defied the standard Astros mo of slowly bringing prospects up. The catcher made a rapid accent through five teams in two years, after spending the entire 2014 short season with the Greeneville Astros. Doing the math, Woodward went through four teams in 2015, with his shortest stint being two games at Double-A Corpus Christi.
Between the four teams in 2015, Woodward batted .284/ .361/ .345/ .706 with one homer and 14 RBI’s in the season. His offensive numbers don’t jump off the page, but he thinks that there is more offensive power in store for him in the future. He was a big part of the Fresno Grizzlies winning the Triple-A championship. Let’s catch up with one of the Astros prospects and see what he has to say.
Trent Woodward Interview
CTH: The Astros drafted you in the 20th round of the 2014 draft by the Astros, where were you when you found out?
Woodward: I had the luxury of being at home with my family. I was a little surprised when the Astros called because they weren’t one of the more proactive teams, but I was ecstatic to get the phone call and the opportunity to play for a great organization and play professional baseball.
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CTH: You were drafted last year, and you are already at Triple-A Fresno. Why have you risen so quickly and how did the managers tell you were being promoted at each level (esp.the short stint ones)?
To be honest, I don’t think too much into the reasoning or how it all happened. I have always been extremely professional and understand there is always a job to do. Regardless of where I was at, my priority is to go out, work hard, compete, be a good teammate, and bring something to the table to help the team win.
CTH: What has been the biggest adjustment that you have made as you have advanced from college to Triple-A?
Woodward: I think the number one adjustment I have made was taking pride in my defense as a catcher. I caught a little bit in high school, as well as college. But, this was the first full season where I got the majority of my repetitions as a catcher. I was able to work with outstanding coaches in pro ball and feel like I am beginning to come into my own as a catcher defensively.
CTH: Looking at your stats in the minors, you are not exactly crushing the ball. What is your best asset as a baseball player?
Woodward: I am a firm believer in trusting the process. This past season I began making a lot of adjustments within my approach and swing that I feel will benefit me in the long run. My strongest quality is my ability to handle a staff and to get the best out of my pitchers. A catcher is the field general. He needs to be in control of the tempo, the rhythm and it is important to know what buttons to push from pitcher to pitcher, pitches to throw in what situation, and when its time to speed a pitcher up or slow him down.
CTH: Your numbers scream to me Brad Ausmus, who would you compare yourself too?
Woodward: Brad Ausmus is a great person to be compared too. Shoot, he played in the big leagues for 18 years. I would like to think of myself as a Jason Varitek type player. As I continue to make adjustments, I would like to generate more power. I am a fairly physical size catcher. I also value the leadership Varitek showed, and his ability to communicate with a staff was second to none.
CTH: Who is the pitcher that you caught that you felt like he had great stuff?
Woodward: This is probably the toughest question so far. Ha Ha, I think there were a lot of outstanding pitchers I caught this year. Mark Appel has electric stuff. Jandel Gustave has an electric fastball. Jordan Jankowski has a lights out slider. Chris Devenski has the best change up I have ever seen. It is really difficult to choose because the Astros have so much depth up and down the organization.
CTH: You were able to catch Mark Appel, can you describe his stuff and can you remind him to do my interview?
Woodward: Mark has incredible stuff. It was awesome to catch him and see him grow even throughout the season. He has a great fastball (95-98), a dynamite slider and a change up that gets better and better every outing. But, his makeup and ability to focus on the next pitch and stay composed is incredible. No matter what the situation is, he stays composed and focuses on making a quality pitch right now.
CTH: You were batting .292 and a .370 on-base percentage, which stat is more important to you as a player?
Woodward: I think getting on base is the name of the game. Whether it is by a base hit or a walk, I just want to help put my team in a good situation to win.
CTH: Did you start setting up housing arrangements in Corpus before you were promoted after 2 games there?
Woodward: Yeah I did actually. It was pretty awesome how quickly everyone made me feel at home. Greg Blankenship was kind enough to open up his house, and I was looking forward to getting to know Greg and his family.
CTH: Which stadium in the Astros minor league system have you liked playing in the most? Is it Fresno because that’s where you played college ball?
Woodward: I really enjoyed Corpus Christi. Corpus had an incredible environment and great fans, along with the awesome bridge in the background. (I Wasn’t there long enough to figure out the name) Ha ha. But Fresno felt like home. I still had a good amount of friends who I played with at Fresno State, so it was a great environment to play in front of friends and family again.
CTH: What are three things that Astros fans should know about you?
Woodward: Probably the biggest thing to know is I am always going to give it everything I have. In all aspects. On the field, off the field. I am going to work to be the best I possibly can at anything I do. I am very competitive. I love to win. I dream about winning. I work to win. Third, it’s going to be hard to find me without a smile. I don’t take this opportunity for granted, and I am going to enjoy every minute of this process.
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CTH: What part of your game are you working on improving?
Woodward: My biggest focus this off-season is flexibility; create more rotational explosiveness, and catching skills. I think it is important to grow in all aspects of my game.
CTH: You did a mission like trip this offseason; describe to us what you did.
Woodward: The Astros took myself and 7 other guys in the minor league organization of a cultural immersion trip down to the Dominican Republic. The front office wanted us to better understand the Dominican culture, live at the academy, train with the Latin players, and experience what it is like being unfamiliar in another country, not being able to speak their language, so we could bring back our experience and share with teammates. It is extremely important to understand our teammates and by seeing where they came from can help bridge the cultural difference when they come over to the states. We had the privilege to go to local communities and take field trips to take food, clothes, and meet people from their culture. We were able to see some of the hometowns and cities where some of the guys from our organization came from. It was incredibly enlightening and humbling to experience a different culture and see where some of our Latin players came from.
Thank you, Trent, for taking the time to do this interview, I hope to one day get to meet you because of the goods things I have heard about you. If you would like to follow Trent Woodward on Twitter, you can do so at @Twoodward_3.