One of the first lessons Jake Goebbert has learned about professional baseball is geography.
“I’d never been east of Ohio before this year,” said Goebbert, a Hampshire graduate.
Only three weeks after arriving on the East Coast to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League for top college baseball players, Goebbert is transitioning into a new role.
He is the starting left fielder for the Tri-City Valley Cats, the short-season Class A minor-league affiliate of the Houston Astros.
“Getting paid to play baseball still hasn’t set in yet,” said Goebbert, who was drafted June 10 by the Astros in the 13th round and signed a week later after three games with the Cape Cod League’s Harwich (Mass.) Mariners.
“I don’t have to worry about homework or anything else,” said Goebbert, who earned a 4.0 grade-point average this spring as a junior psychology major at Northwestern. It’s all about baseball. I’m really enjoying it. It’s everything I’ve dreamed about.”
After seven professional games, Goebbert is hitting .238 for the Valley Cats. But he is far from discouraged.
“I’ve gone 0-for-4 one night, and I’ve gone 2-for-4 with a triple [Wednesday],” Goebbert said. “There are a lot of ups and downs. I just try not to get too emotionally drawn out one way or the other.”
A source with knowledge of the negotiations said Goebbert received a $100,000 signing bonus from the Astros and an additional $50,000 to be used to complete his college education.
“The Astros had been in contact with me since October,” Goebbert said. “They showed a lot of credibility. That made the decision to sign a lot easier.”
Goebbert said he plans to continue his college education, but his focus is on baseball first.
“This is a one-time opportunity, and I want to make the most of it,” he said.
Part of his baseball education has been dealing with free time.
“There is a lot of down time,” Goebbert said Friday from New York City, where the Valley Cats were playing a series with the Brooklyn Cyclones. “But I’ve been able to read on the bus just for pleasure and catch up with a lot of people I haven’t had time to talk to because I’ve been so busy. This has been a wonderful opportunity.”
Iowa’s best: Coe College baseball teammates Pat Richmond (Dundee-Crown) and Adam Nisenson (Crystal Lake Central) both earned All-Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors this season.
Richmond, a junior first baseman, was a first-team choice. He led the Kohawks (25-19) with a .432 batting average while posting team highs in runs (44), doubles (17) and slugging percentage (.605).
Richmond, who was 12-for-12 in stolen bases, also earned second-team All-Central Region honors and was named to the Academic All-IIAC squad.
Nisenson, a freshman outfielder, earned second-team honors after batting .396, which ranked second on the team, with 31 RBIs. During the five-game IIAC Tournament, Nisenson batted .500 (9-for-18) with four runs scored and five RBIs.
Marian Central grad Katie Sharp, a freshman outfielder at Loras College, earned honorable mention All-IIAC honors in softball. Sharp posted a team-high .507 slugging percentage this season for the Duhawks (14-17) and tied for the team lead with three homers. Sharp hit .288 with 17 RBIs and made only one error.
Red-hot rookie: Jacobs grad Annie Smith earned Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Rookie of the Year award in women’s tennis from the D-III program’s coaches.
In singles, Smith posted a 29-4 record while playing in the Nos. 1-4 spots in the lineup. She played the most matches at No. 3, where she finished 12-2.
Smith helped the Warhawks finish 23-4 this season and advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com and check out his On Campus column every Saturday in the Northwest Herald sports section.