By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
May 11, 2009
Jiovanni Mier is about as refined defensively as any high school shortstop you will find. His feet always move, his hands are soft, he has range, he has above-average athletic actions, and he re-directs the ball from glove to hand and gets rid of it quickly.
Most of your high school or college shortstops can’t stay at shortstop after they sign on that dotted line, but Mier will. That is why he is coveted in the 2009 draft and will find himself drafted in a good spot.
What Mier doesn’t want is the good-field, no-hit tag. It’s something that he doesn’t feel is accurate, but also concedes that he is a work in progress offensively.
He’s got help from his two older brothers, especially Jessie Mier, a 24-year old minor league catcher in the Dodgers organization. Jessie, who was a 12th round pick from Lewis & Clark in the 2007 draft and also noted for his defense, is playing close to home this season.
Playing for the Dodgers Class A Cal League Club in Inland Empire means Jessie can bring Jiovanni to work with him. That has allowed Jiovanni to work with older players and go through the pro routine with a wood bat.
It’s a path he expects to follow. Baseball Beginnings caught up with the Bonita HS (La Verne, Calif.) product and USC recruit, who may or may not be Grant Green’s replacement in 2010.
Baseball Beginnings: How do you feel you have come along this year, for yourself, not for the scouts?
Mier: I think this year I’ve come along tremendously. I know last year a lot was said about my bat. People said my bat in general was weak and my body type was weak. I know I don’t look like much, but I really got stronger working out with my brother. I feel I’ve come along a way.
Baseball Beginnings: Is that the rap you’ve heard all the way though the process?
Mier: Yeah, because before, in my junior year, I didn’t hit many balls hard. This spring I’ve dropped a couple of home runs, so I think people have started to look at me like I have put some strength on.
Baseball Beginnings: You strike me as a very up-the-middle guy. Is that the core of your approach?
Mier: Yeah, definitely. Last year I was all pull side. I always wanted to go to left field. My coaches here and my brother helped me to stay middle and use all fields. I really work hard to use the middle of the field and I think the bat will go from there.
Baseball Beginnings: Was it always, ‘We know he’ll play defense, but he has to hit for us’?
Mier: Always. Defense has always been my strongest asset. Any time someone would talk about me, it was always, ‘His glove, you gotta see his glove.’ I wanted to be more than that.
Baseball Beginnings: How do you think you developed the defensive skills?
Mier: From what I remember, it’s always been natural. I always played soccer, so I always had quick feet. It’s always come from that. My Mom will be the first one to tell you I get my feet from soccer. My hands are natural. My brother has always told me, ‘You have a natural gift on defense.’
Baseball Beginnings: How important is your brother to you as a player?
Mier: He’s always been helping me out. Both of my brothers have always told me that I can go a long way.
Baseball Beginnings: How beneficial is it to have the older brother in pro ball?
Mier: Very beneficial. He’s getting me prepared. He’s had me out to a couple of practices to see what it’s like. I’ve practiced with that team and I know a lot of players don’t get to do that. I just get to see what the minor league life is like. I’ve done cage work with them, I’ve hit on the field. I’ve done everything they do up to the game.
Baseball Beginnings: Do you feel like you have to slow your bat down in high school games?
Mier: I feel like I have to slow everything down.
Baseball Beginnings: When you have to slow things down, do you think you get scouted fairly or accurately?
Mier: Yes and no.
Baseball Beginnings: How so?
Mier: Yes because when you slow it all down it really just shows your swing. It shows them everything when they get it on video. No, just in the sense that it’s slower pitching and it’s harder to adjust to.
Baseball Beginnings: What are your priorities at the next level?
Mier: Consistency with my bat. I have minor flaws I keep coming back to. Just stupid mistakes I fall back into. I got a hanging curveball today. Instead of keeping it closed and letting my bat fly, I got pull happy and tapped it. I come back into the dugout and ask myself, ‘What am I doing there?’ It’s all about being consistent with myself.