Q&A With SIU-Edwardsville Commit Aaron Goecks

By Matt Huck
Area Scout

Aaron Goecks recently committed to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Goecks is currently ranked No. 38 in the Wisconsin Class of 2016. Here is a report on Goecks from the Top Prospect Showcase.

Aaron Goecks7/12/15 - 6-foot, 195-pound, left-handed hitting outfielder with a strong build. Currently ranked No. 38 in the Wisconsin Class of 2016. Uncommitted. Hits from a balanced slightly closed setup. Showed good plate coverage and strength thru contact. 98 mph exit velocity from a tee earlier this summer. Good feel for the barrel with quick hands and strength in the forearms.

PBR:  What were your expectations about the recruiting process? Was it as expected? 

Goecks: My approach for baseball was three parts – training, recruiting and exposure.  It is never easy and never exactly what you expect or imagine it will be. It is different for everyone.

It all starts with the workouts in the off season. Working on the skills to play your particular position or positions takes a lot of time and dedication.  I play 3 sports in high school, football, basketball and spring baseball.  In addition to football, I played fall baseball as my schedule allowed. During the winter, I had basketball 6 days a week and on Sundays I practiced baseball and participated in team workouts for 4 hours.  In addition, I tried to hit baseballs at least 3 times per week on my own. In spring I played baseball for my high school, Brookfield Academy. Then in summer I played summer travel ball for Rawlings Hitters. You have to love the game and be passionate about it to want to put yourself through this kind of effort all year round. I addition to playing sports I also maintain a 3.6 GPA.

I knew a little about what to expect from the recruiting process because my brother is a college golfer and went through the recruiting process a couple of years ago and my Dad works for NCSA. So I knew what was expected from being proactive in contacting coaches, letting them know your playing schedules ahead of time, attending camps, how to write emails and following up and building relationships,  etc… However, it is different when you are the one being recruited and it is your responsibility to do all of these things.  I learned a lot from that, particularly time management and organization, because I did not realize how much time that takes. Especially when you play all day and then need to spend your down time returning emails and phone calls. 

In baseball, exposure is knowing which camps and showcases to attend to get on coaches recruiting boards, executing your skills during these camps and standing out at the camps.  It is true that you never know what the coaches are looking for. Then the other important factor is getting on a good travel team that gets in good tournaments so you can play in front of college coaches. From there it is all your hard work and skills that you have to execute while they are watching.  Again you never know what coaches are looking for…how you look and are dressed coming to the park, how you warm up, how you track down a fly ball, do you hit the cut off, how you run to first base on a ground ball, how you run the bases on a hit and run, can you handle the stick to execute a bunt in a key situation, can you get a clutch hit with RISP, etc…. Displaying your skills and executing is all a product of how you practice. You just need to work to get better every day, play hard and play the game the way it is supposed to be played.

PBR: What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Goecks: I was looking for a school that is on the rise in developing their program as I want to be a part of that success. I wanted to go somewhere I could play right away and have an immediate impact.  I wanted to play for a program and coaches that can push me and further develop me into a better player. I also wanted to make sure they emphasized how important academics and getting a college degree are.

PBR: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

Goecks: Not really.  My parents encouraged me to look anywhere. I wanted to stay somewhat close to home so they would have the opportunity to come and see me play as often as they could.  They never miss a game.

PBR: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Was there a particular game or event that you feel turned the corner for you?

Goecks: My recruiting process really started with the winter camps, gaining exposure, increasing my measurables and getting on recruiting boards.  I had a good high school baseball season which helped. Then as soon as school ended I was on the showcase and tournament circuit. I knew I needed to be aggressive by attending a lot of camps in June in order to move my recruiting and exposure forward.  I scheduled camps in between tournaments, and really had no days off in June.  I attended the Cincinnati Benchmark Showcase/Camp. I performed very well and was the top performer at the camp so I got a lot of interest from that showcase which started my summer out well.  Then I attended the PBR Top Prospect Showcase which also generated a lot of activity from coaches for me.  I attended the Showtime Sports Camp in which I performed very well and was asked to represent the state of Wisconsin in the Wisconsin-Minnesota Challenge later in the summer. The last showcase in June was the Area Code tryout. This also generated a lot of interest.  After each of the camps several coaches contacted me and came out to see me play in games throughout the summer.  I would say these 4 camps/showcases in June really jump started my summer and sparked the most interest.  Then it was the caliber of tournaments we played in and the Hitters reputation that drew the coaches to the ballpark to watch us play.  From the Cincinnati Flames tournament, Midwest Prospect tournament, Music City Challenge, Mid-American World Series, PBR Event, Premier Senior World Series, and Premier Junior World Series.  These are all very good tournaments with a lot of college coaches in attendance.

PBR: Where did the college you chose first see you? How did your relationship develop with them?

Goecks: The SIUe coaches first saw me at the PBR Top Prospect Showcase in IL on June 18. Then they came out to watch me play at the Music City Challenge in Nashville at Lipscomb University. We were playing the Richmond Braves.  We lost 2-1 that game. I was 1-3 that game but I hit the ball hard all three time.  The pitcher we faced is headed to Virginia and was sitting 90-92 that game. From the showcase, they liked my swing, big left handed bat, my plays from 3rd base and my throws from the OF.  During the game they were impressed with my swing and that I hit the ball hard off a very good pitcher.  I also tracked down a few fly balls that game.  After the game, I got an email from Coach Jackson that I responded to.  He expressed their interest in me and asked about my academics (GPA, ACT).  He called me the next day; the conversation was very easy and comfortable.  Coach Stoecklin followed up with an email and phone call asking about my high school season, being a 3 sport athlete, grades and academic area of interest.  I talked several times to both coaches throughout the rest of the summer. We then picked a date for a campus visit between tournaments. I felt very comfortable with the coaches, the facilities, the academics and the campus. Before I left they made me an offer. I did not accept it right away as I needed to be honest with them regarding other schools interest in me and that I needed to visit those schools in order to make my decision.  After I visited some of the other schools I eventually accepted their offer.

PBR: What do you like most about the college you committed to and what were the key factors in making your decision?

Goecks: I wanted to find a place where I felt comfortable. The campus is 2600 acres of woods and bike paths.  As for the academics, they offer multiple paths to get the major I am interested in – exercise science, kinesiology, athletic training, exercise physiology, personal training/strength and conditioning all to get to Physical Therapy. As far as baseball they have excellent facilities to play and practice in. The coaches are great and their philosophy on how to play the game matches mine. They promote the team as a family and encourage competition among the team members.  They are a program on their way up and it is a place where I can complete to play and have an impact right away.

PBR: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

Goecks: IPFW, St Cloud State, IN State, Eastern IL, Richmond, UW-Parkside, Indian Hills, Madison College,

PBR: Who is the best player you have faced in your state, and why?
Ben Rortvedt. He is always consistent. Every swing is so fluid and smooth. He plays hard and competes every single pitch whether it’s hitting or catching. While having all his success on the field, he’s the guy that has the most fun. He keeps everyone on the team loose and relaxed so that they can play to the best of their ability. He has had an awesome summer. I’m glad he is no longer an opponent, but a team mate.

PBR: At what point in your career did you realize you were a college caliber player and became serious about taking your game to the next level?

Goecks: Even though I played multiple sports, baseball was always my passion.  I dreamed of playing baseball in college, but I probably didn’t realize I could play in college until the summer after my freshman year.  I had spent a lot of time during the off season working on my body (getting bigger and stronger).  I put on 20 pounds of muscle that year and totally re-sculpted my body.  The results were I had an awesome summer playing travel ball.  That was the point that I realized I might be able to move everything forward and possibly play at the next level.  I always had a strong arm, but I worked on my throwing mechanics and my fielding mechanics, worked on my hitting to build better bat speed and on my speed.

PBR: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

Goecks: Love the game, play with heart and passion, play the game hard and play it the way it is supposed to be played.  Most of all don’t get out worked by anyone. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort if you expect to get anything out of it.

PBR: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

Goecks:Playing at Miller Park was an awesome experience.  I was fortunate enough to be able to play at Miller Park in high school games through Brookfield Academy the last 2 years based on the generous contribution from one of my team mates parents Mr. and Mrs. Star.  As a high school kid with dreams of playing in the big leagues someday, playing at Miller Park is a memory that will last a lifetime. Being able to play their twice was unforgettable. 

I don’t consider myself a home run hitter, more of a gap hitter, even though I led the state in home runs this past year. So as far as most memorable baseball moment, it was hitting a 2 run walk off home run in the bottom of the 7th inning at one of our high school games this year. We were down 1 run when I hit the 2 run HR.  I had been intentionally walked the last time at bat in the 5th inning and probably should have been walked again, but was glad they decided to pitch to me.  It was an awesome feeling.

PBR: Preview your high school season for us. How do you feel your team will be? What are your expectations and goals?

Goecks: At BA we have young kids who have gained experience by playing so much as freshman last year. With only 2 seniors (Jack and I) we look to make a run under the radar by beating not only our conference champs but the defending division 3 champions Lake Country Lutheran for the first time in 2 years. LCL has gone undefeated in conference the last 2 years and we plan to end that streak.  Last year in the regionals we lost to them12-11. After being so close to the eventual state champs we look to make a run at competing for a conference title and possibly a state title.

PBR: Where do you play in the summer? And what has been your most memorable experience 

Goecks:I play summer travel ball for Rawlings Hitters. We play in tournaments across the Midwest.  Our Wisconsin Elite Team joined Hitters the fall of 2014.  For the most part our team remained the same when joining Hitters (same coach and most of the same players). Joining the Hitters organization was a great move for our team. It gave us access to better tournaments and more exposure.  Since we have only been with Hitters for 1 year, my most memorable experience was when we were with Wisconsin Elite.  It was an entire tournament, not one single moment.  We were playing in the Notre Dame World Series.  We had a come from behind win in the semi-final game in the bottom of the 7th inning. It was a back and forth game and one of the kids batting in the bottom of our line-up who had been struggling had the game winning hit. We ended up losing in the championship 4-3.  For the tournament I was 11-15 had 3 doubles, 3 triples and 1 HR and played really well, but the best moment was seeing Ricky’s face light up when he had the game winning hit in the semi-finals. It made his entire summer. The semi-final game was a great team win.

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