MIAMI—When J.J. Gould was a teenager, he had a drum kit in his room, but his parents begged him to wait until they left the house on an errand before he started banging away.
These days, the biggest noise Gould is making is with his bat after slugging 18 home runs in 2016. He hit nine in 202 at-bats in his senior season at Jacksonville and then nine more in 238 at-bats in his pro debut after the Marlins made him a 24th-round pick.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Gould played mostly third base at short-season Batavia then shifted to shortstop at low Class A Greensboro following a promotion.
The Marlins have big plans for the 23-year-old in 2017.
“At instructional league,” Gould said, “our infield coordinator told me he wanted me to lean up. They want me in great shape so I can play shortstop every day.
“Playing shortstop for 140 games can be a grind, but I’m excited. That’s the position I played the most growing up.”
Gould, who played at Sarasota (Fla.) High, was a preferred walk-on at Florida State. But after getting just seven at-bats as a freshman, he fled to Eastern Florida State JC and, ultimately, Jacksonville University.
Gould has added significant strength in the past year.
“The ball is coming off the bat in a different way,” Gould said. “It’s carrying in a different way. The balls that you don’t quite get are still getting to the fence or going over.”
Gould, who is just two courses shy of earning his Bachelor’s degree in English, said his power surge was due to a couple of factors.
“Some of it is mechanical,” Gould said. “I started engaging my hips more at the plate. I’m trying to get every ounce of power out of my swing.
“But I’ve also tapped into a different mindset. Now I’m going up to the plate looking to do damage. I’m not just trying to square a ball up—I want to hammer something.”
• The Marlins signed former University of Florida center fielder Matt den Dekker to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
• Miami also picked up former Gators lefthander Nick Maronde in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. He pitched in the Indians system in 2016 and was a 2011 third-round pick by the Angels.