Q&A with Astros' fifth-round pick Wikoff
Versatile shortstop eager to gain experience at next level
HOUSTON -- In the fifth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft the Astros selected shortstop Brandon Wikoff of the University of Illinois with the 161st overall pick. Wikoff is a .343 career hitter at Illinois after posting a career-best .373 average in 2009. He has driven in 127 runs and scored 146 over his three seasons, with 31 doubles, eight triples and six home runs. The Peoria, Ill. native reacted and answered questions about his selection on Wednesday.
On his reaction to going in the fifth round:
"My dad was at the computer and he kind of jumped in the air, and I was like, 'No way!' It was kind of surreal, then my heart got going. Then I got the call and I really knew it had happened. It's pretty exciting. I didn't really know coming into the day what was going to happen. Scouts were telling me that the best case was fourth or fifth rounds or as low as 10-12. It's kind of a thing where you wait and see and then when you see your name pop up on the screen it's pretty exciting. Troy Hoerner, the Astros' scout who has been working with me, gave me a call a couple of days ago and was asking me about signability and whatnot, and he's a guy who talked to me in the clubhouse at Illinois, so I've had some contact with him before."
On being scouted by the Astros and the possibility of signing and forgoing his senior season at Illinois:
"(Hoerner) gave me a call a couple of days ago and he was one of the guys who came and interviewed me in the clubhouse at Illinois. Troy called me earlier today and just said congratulations and that kind of thing. He said within the next 24 hours or so, he was on his way to meet with their second-rounder and then he'd call me. I would say that the chances of me signing are very good. My time at Illinois is probably done. I've had a great time there. I wouldn't trade my three years there for anything. But I think it's definitely time for me to take it to the next level."
On possibly being used as a utility player at the next level:
"For the most part, it's shortstop until I prove that I can't, but they know I can play all three infield positions. And that's what a lot of scouts talked to me about: having that versatility. But for the most part I've heard shortstop until I prove otherwise. I know a guy in their system and he said they're pretty low on shortstops. I'm not really too worried about it. I'm just looking forward to the competition and looking forward to playing."
What part of the game needs to improve at the next level?
"I have to up everything. I don't think there is necessarily one thing to focus on but you have to do everything a little better. I think it's just consistency with my whole game. Just kind of focus on everything a little bit -- my defense, throwing the ball and consistency at the plate, because if you can hit, you can move up through the system. Being consistent can open people's eyes and help you move on."
Jason Grodsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.