Instructs Beneficial For Lopes

After signing with the Jays in mid-August, 2011's 7th round pick Christian Lopes got his first taste of pro ball in Dunedin for the Instructional League. As instructs ended last Friday, Lopes, the 18-year-old right-handed shortstop prospect, spoke about his experience there and his mindset going in.

"I was ready to start my pro career. I got the high school phase over with and I was blessed enough to be drafted by an organization such as the Jays. I came in and I tried to stick to my plan. If any coaches had anything to say, I was gonna listen willingly, be open to anything because coming in without ego is something my parents always dug into me," Lopes explained.

"It doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter what you've done — they're gonna teach you some stuff, you're gotta listen. That's what I did, and I felt like I learned a lot over the course of the six weeks."

The approach Lopes took to beginning his career was keeping himself healthy. He focused on eating properly, working hard in the cages but making sure to conserve himself as well. He wanted to put himself in a prime position to hit well on a daily basis, while at the same time not overdoing things. Lopes assessed his performance during Instructs.

"I felt like I played well. I showed well and had good at-bats, stuck to my plan. I made sure I got up in the morning, got my lifts in and I got stronger, better just overall — fielding especially."

Instructs is exactly what it's labeled as — a place and time for the younger prospects to get much needed instructions on what and how to improve. And after six weeks of taking in information and utilizing it on the field, Lopes said he definitely leaves Instructs feeling like a better player.

"I've never had instruction like this before in my life, especially fielding-wise. I've never been able to take as many ground balls as I did, or hit as many pitches as I've seen over the course of this," he said. "The type of people you have around you and the type of instruction that you're receiving is unbelievable."

One thing in particular Lopes touched on was how a member of the fielding staff, Mike Mordecai, made sure he put his top hand over the glove so that he would trap the ball. Lopes said that Mordecai went over five aspects of playing the infield; footwork, fielding, funneling the ball, firing the ball and following your throw.

Offensively, Lopes said he felt good about the fact that the coaches only had so much to tell him about his swing, other than to keep his posture up.

"They didn't really change anything hitting-wise. They told me my hitting approach was good."

Though he was just drafted out of high school, Lopes is still in his age group at this level. At 18, he is two years off from being the youngest player on his own team. He said he felt comfortable with the level of competition he faced while at instructs, and appreciated the people he had around him.

"I feel that all of us are here for a reason; we have work to do and that's what they want to accomplish. We're competing against each other as well and we're trying to beat the other team, but it's a good atmosphere around here. I felt comfortable, I felt like I belonged."

Lopes now has a few months off before Spring Training begins, and he can continue to improve his game. At such an early stage of his career, he has a ways to go. He did share, however, a few of the major leaguers who he admires and likes to model himself after.

"I look up to plenty of guys. I like to take bits and pieces of everybody. Of course I want to be my own guy, but I love the way that guys like [Albert] Pujols play the game. He puts himself in a good position to hit every day.

"Guys like [Chase] Utley, guys like David Wright—his character, his leadership, all that stuff. And guys like [Derek] Jeter. I grew up watching Jeter play and this dude just knows how to win."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"I was ready to start my pro career. I got the high school phase over with and I was blessed enough to be drafted by an organization such as the Jays. I came in and I tried to stick to my plan. If any coaches had anything to say, I was gonna listen willingly, be open to anything because coming in without ego is something my parents always dug into me,\" Lopes explained.
\r\n
\r\n\"It doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter what you've done — they're gonna teach you some stuff, you're gotta listen. That's what I did, and I felt like I learned a lot over the course of the six weeks.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe approach Lopes took to beginning his career was keeping himself healthy. He focused on eating properly, working hard in the cages but making sure to conserve himself as well. He wanted to put himself in a prime position to hit well on a daily basis, while at the same time not overdoing things. Lopes assessed his performance during Instructs.
\r\n
\r\n\"I felt like I played well. I showed well and had good at-bats, stuck to my plan. I made sure I got up in the morning, got my lifts in and I got stronger, better just overall — fielding especially.\"
\r\n
\r\nInstructs is exactly what it's labeled as — a place and time for the younger prospects to get much needed instructions on what and how to improve. And after six weeks of taking in information and utilizing it on the field, Lopes said he definitely leaves Instructs feeling like a better player.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've never had instruction like this before in my life, especially fielding-wise. I've never been able to take as many ground balls as I did, or hit as many pitches as I've seen over the course of this,\" he said. \"The type of people you have around you and the type of instruction that you're receiving is unbelievable.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne thing in particular Lopes touched on was how a member of the fielding staff, Mike Mordecai, made sure he put his top hand over the glove so that he would trap the ball. Lopes said that Mordecai went over five aspects of playing the infield; footwork, fielding, funneling the ball, firing the ball and following your throw.
\r\n
\r\nOffensively, Lopes said he felt good about the fact that the coaches only had so much to tell him about his swing, other than to keep his posture up.
\r\n
\r\n\"They didn't really change anything hitting-wise. They told me my hitting approach was good.\"
\r\n
\r\nThough he was just drafted out of high school, Lopes is still in his age group at this level. At 18, he is two years off from being the youngest player on his own team. He said he felt comfortable with the level of competition he faced while at instructs, and appreciated the people he had around him.
\r\n\r\n
\r\n\"I feel that all of us are here for a reason; we have work to do and that's what they want to accomplish. We're competing against each other as well and we're trying to beat the other team, but it's a good atmosphere around here. I felt comfortable, I felt like I belonged.\"
\r\n
\r\nLopes now has a few months off before Spring Training begins, and he can continue to improve his game. At such an early stage of his career, he has a ways to go. He did share, however, a few of the major leaguers who he admires and likes to model himself after.
\r\n
\r\n\"I look up to plenty of guys. I like to take bits and pieces of everybody. Of course I want to be my own guy, but I love the way that guys like [Albert] Pujols play the game. He puts himself in a good position to hit every day.
\r\n
\r\n\"Guys like [Chase] Utley, guys like David Wright—his character, his leadership, all that stuff. And guys like [Derek] Jeter. I grew up watching Jeter play and this dude just knows how to win.\"
\r\n
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