The Ducks' roster has been flooded with former major leaguers this season, but their most consistent hitter has been a player who's spent his entire five-year career in the independent leagues. Joash Brodin, 26, went undrafted out of the College of Charleston and played three-and-a-half seasons in the Frontier League before coming to the Ducks midway through the 2012 season. This year he leads the Ducks in hits, runs, walks, and stolen bases and was tied for the team lead in doubles as of Friday. That's carried over from last year's postseason, where the switch-hitter hit .359, including .476 (10-for-21) in the Atlantic League Championship Series that helped lead the Ducks to the title. Brodin, who plays outfield and first base, currently leads all first baseman in the Atlantic League's All-Star voting, which lasts through July 3. We asked Brodin about his hot hitting, his Ducks' teammates, and the upcoming Atlantic League All-Star Game on July 10 in Waldorf, Md.
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What would it mean to be selected to the All-Star game? Do you keep track of the voting?
"I don't keep track on it all the time but I do like to look at it. I set personal goals for myself to keep me motivated throughout the season but I don't really worry about it. I pay more attention to the at-bats I take on a game-by-game basis, make sure that I take the best at-bat that I can every time that I step up to the plate. But it'd be an honor to get picked to go to the All-Star Game. It'd be a great opportunity for me, anything I can do to get some more exposure can only help me. If I get picked, I'll go down there and do the best that I can."
What was last season's postseason run like for you?
"I thrive on those moments. I love being up in big games in big situations and I always have been. I've had my failures in those spots too, though. I struck out to end my college career and that was a situation where there was some pressure and I didn't come through, but I've learned from those failures. Two years ago I was in the playoffs and was a little bit antsy because it was my first playoff experience so I learned from that, and last year in the playoffs I was a lot calmer and that was a huge difference for me."
What's the secret to hitting in the clutch?
"It's just confidence. told me a few years ago that pressure is all self-imposed. We put pressure on ourselves, people don't put pressure on us. That really makes me calmer in any situation. Every at-bat is the same to me. I just go up there with the same approach every time and hope to get the job done. It was a good visual for me. The situation puts the pressure on, but the individual can decide if he accepts or rejects that pressure, so it made sense to me and I've tried to apply that."
There are a handful of former major leaguers on this team, how do you learn from them?
"Just by watching. I've always been a learner and try to learn as much about the game as I can. When you have eight or nine former big-leaguers on your team, it's a great opportunity every day to learn something new about the game that you didn't know before. They've had the best coaching in the world up at the major league level so why wouldn't I take something they learned up there and try to apply it to myself? I try to be coachable and learn every single day, and my favorite part about being here is just the learning . . . I had always said if I didn't get signed then I would want to play in the Atlantic League because it's the top level of Independent Baseball, and if I can make it here and show what I can do here, then I might have an opportunity to sign with a [major league] affiliated team.
What's been the key to your success this year?
"This year I've been more patient and have been trying to work some counts and take walks when I get them, and knowing that I have five big leaguers behind me in the order probably helps too. I know the pitcher would rather face me as opposed to Ben Broussard, Bill Hall, Josh Barfield or Bryant Nelson, so I figured I'll get more pitches that way."
What would you be doing if you weren't playing baseball?
"I'd be coaching baseball, for sure. And that's another reason why I like learning from all these guys. I feel like I'm building my resume for down the line. If I don't make it with an affiliated team, then oh well, I love baseball, I love the game and just the opportunity to learn every day and gain more experience, maybe that will help me down the road as a coach. I'd like to be a Division I college coach, that was always my dream if I wasn't playing, but I think it'd be fun to coach with an independent team and it might be good to work to affiliated ball that way."