Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Leonardo Gil, IF

Standing at only 6'1'' and weighing 160 pounds, Leonardo Gil appears to be an unlikely candidate to be a run-producer. However, the infielder has been just that for the Kane County Cougars in 2010. Gil, a native of Venezuela, is tied for third in the Midwest League in RBIs with 29. In 15 May games, Gil has driven-in 19 and hit three homeruns. David Malamut spoke to Gil for a Q&A…

Note: Oakland A's roving minor league infield instructor Juan Navarette served as a translator for this interview.

David Malamut: How has your season gone so far?

Leonardo Gil: I think at the beginning we were working on our timing. We tried to get in a good rhythm. We keep playing. I think we are getting better, and I'm feeling better as the games go on.

DM: Growing up in Venezuela did you dream of playing baseball in America?

LG: I never thought I was going to play in the States. It never went through my mind that I was going to play in the States. I just kept playing and all of a sudden the offer came to sign with the A's and I'm here, trying to make it.

DM: What did you learn from playing for Oakland in the Dominican League?

LG: The basic things to be a professional baseball player. Fundamentals. Being in Venezuela, just playing ball it was different, going to the Dominican Republic, learning the fundamentals of the game, it was way different. I learned a lot of fundamental stuff.

DM: Was there a culture change?

LG: It's a different culture from Venezuela.

DM: How big of a transition was it from the Dominican to Arizona?

LG: The food, the language and the heat. That was a big, big adjustment.

DM: What did you learn while in Arizona?

LG: It was more demanding as far as making the adjustments to the fundamentals, being more consistent, executing the fundamentals, and adjusting to the language. That was the biggest adjustment.

DM: How was playing in Vancouver?

LG: Cold. It was a nice experience playing in front of fans, because in Arizona you never play in front of fans. In Vancouver that was the most exciting part of it.

DM: Last year you came to Kane County in July. How big of a change was that, and what kind of adjustments did you have to make?

LG: The change I wanted to do was on my hitting. I had a slow start, so I was working on my hitting. As a little hitter, it was a new experience for me. I had never led-off before, it was a great challenge. So my challenge or goal was to get on-base. Get on-base anyway I could, working trying to get on-base.

DM: How is that different than this year where you are hitting in the middle of the order?

LG: Not that much of a difference because I need to get on-base. As a leadoff hitter my job was to get on-base, see pitches, take pitches, but now, it is my job to drive runs in. So now my job changes from getting on-base to driving them in.

DM: Last year you moved around the infield a lot. Did that help you?

LG: That helped me a lot, because I feel with confidence that I can play anywhere in the infield, as well as tell the manager that he can play me anywhere.

DM: This year you have played mostly third base. Are you comfortable there?

LG: I feel very, very good. That was my original position. I feel comfortable.

DM: Your top 5 artists in your iPod?

LG: Lady Gaga, Drake, Black Eyed Peas.

DM: What's your approach at the plate?

LG: Hitting to the opposite field.

DM: How was Winter League?

LG: Very good. I was up and down from the major leagues to the minor leagues this year in Venezuela. I got the experience playing with the big boys, the major leaguers. I learned from Gregorio Petit, especially on defense. I learned quite a few things at shortstop. I won the batting championship in the minors.

DM: How was the playoffs last year with Kane County?

LG: I played with a lot of confidence, and on top of that, my manager gave him a lot of confidence, so I was playing comfortable and felt like I could do anything I wanted as far as fundamental hitting. It was a great experience.

DM: What are your goals for the year?

LG: Stay defensively strong and drive-in a lot of runs.

DM: What do you like to do besides baseball?

LG: Sleep, listen to music and watch movies.

DM: Who was your hero growing up?

LG: Omar Vizquel. I liked to watch him play, and see how easy he plays the game.

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