Kyle Day Calling the Shots

The Cubs waited until the 19th round of this year's draft to select catcher Kyle Day from Michigan State. So why does the 577th overall pick want top-round money?

A 20-year-old left-handed hitter, Day batted .295 with three home runs, 12 doubles and 26 RBIs for the Spartans in his sophomore season recently.

Since being drafted, the Fort Wayne, Ind., native has appeared in 11 games with the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod League, where he's batted .302.

Whether he decides to return to East Lansing for his junior year of college ball or report to Mesa, Ariz., to begin his pro career after honing his skills in the Cape this summer will hinge on Day's decision ... and whether or not the Cubs are willing to shell out top dollar.

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Your school bio lists Jason Varitek as your favorite player. As a fellow catcher, how much do you model yourself after him?

Kyle Day: I'm a Red Sox fan and I love the way Jason loves the game and is a leader out there. He's getting a bit older, but he can hit as a catcher. I take pride in hitting; it's what I do, so I like to see catchers that can hit. At the same time, I take pride in my defense and I think he's the complete package, so I like watching him play. I don't necessarily model myself after him. When I watch games on TV, I like to pick up as much as I can from different guys. Everyone has a different style. Jason is one of my favorite players, but I don't say that I want to be like him; I want to be like Kyle Day. That's how I look at it. But I love the way he plays and it's fun watching him and learning as much as I can.

How much has the Cape Cod League and the Jayhawk League helped you mature as a hitter?

Kyle Day: As a hitter, wooden and aluminum bats are two totally different things. Hitting with wood is obviously what you want to do and it really helps you learn as a hitter how to use your hands, and it just really prepares you for the next level. As a hitter, you mature. All summer, you get in a lot more work I feel because you don't have classes. The summers are very important and obviously you want to have a great one. The most important thing for me is to get better and improve my status.

When the Cubs drafted you, did you inform them of your intention to play summer ball or did they ask you to play before negotiating with you?

Kyle Day: I knew I had a chance to go in the top five rounds, but I got injured this year. I tore my hamstring up pretty good this year and a lot of my numbers fell off. Some guys kind of wondered what happened, so I slipped out of the top five rounds. It was one of those things where I had a chance to look at the money here and if I don't like it, they can watch me all summer. They can watch my form before the universal signing date (August 15) now that I'm healthy.

It sounds like the ball is completely in your court as to whether or not you decide to sign.

Kyle Day: Yeah, I was drafted as a sophomore so I have all the leverage going in. I can go back to school, so if they don't want to give me what I want, I'm going back to school and am going to have a good summer out here. That's going to help get me a lot of money and if I can follow it up and stay healthy with a good (spring) at Michigan State, things are going to turn out real nice when it comes June. I'll be a junior then and will have already been through the draft process, and I'll still have leverage. So the ball's in my court and I can prove myself out here and follow it up with a solid junior season at Michigan State. Whatever happens, I have all the leverage

What skills in particular are you trying to hone right now in the Cape to convince the Cubs to meet your demands?

Kyle Day: Right now, I'm seeing the best pitching in the country so I want to get better with my approaches and mature as a hitter. I need to get some work in behind the dish defensively just to keep getting reps. Catching good pitchers is going to help me a lot and we've got a good staff and the best arms in the country are out here. I'm catching every day. Just getting as many reps as I can is going to be most beneficial for me to mature behind the plate. The same goes with hitting, too. (Defensively), it's more about getting repetition and honing all of my skills: receiving, blocking.

Are you pleased with the work so far?

Kyle Day: So far, I feel I've been having quality at-bats every time. I've thrown a couple away, but for the most part I feel I've had quality at-bats and have hit the ball hard. I've had a lot of hard outs, but for the most part I'm feeling good and just want to continue having those quality at-bats throughout the summer. I feel like it's going to turn out to be a great summer for me.

You had some pretty solid numbers in the stolen base department (14 of 17). Is your running game something you put a lot of stock in?

Kyle Day: Yeah, I run surprisingly well for a catcher. Not many catchers run well, but I do so I take pride in it. People ask me if I can steal bases and I tell them I can. It's something I still have to work on, and as I move on to the next level, I don't think I'll be much of a base-stealer. But if I can be, I will and I'm working as hard as I can. I'm not getting any slower right now. I take pride in being fast and I can play the outfield a little bit, too, so that helps me out with some versatility. Whatever is going to get me to the next level, I'll do it.

How much experience do you have in the outfield as opposed to catching?

Kyle Day: I'm a catcher first and this year when I pulled my hamstring, I didn't get to play the outfield that much just because I was injured. It helps me get some days off and I get to get out there, play a bit and rest my arm. I'll do whatever it takes. Obviously I want to advance as a catcher, but I can play the outfield and I take pride in being out there. In batting practice, I'm out there every day.

Is catching still what you're working on the most this summer?

Kyle Day: Yeah, I'm doing more catching than I am the outfield. But every day in batting practice, I'm taking reps out in left field, trying to get reads and trying to get better. Mostly, it's catching.

What are you working on in that regard?

Kyle Day: I'd say it's about receiving and getting more polished. I'm working on my blocking, getting down, and working on my transfers and my release. I'm working to get the ball out as fast as I can down to second. I've got a good arm, but it does nothing for me if I have a slow release. So I'm working to get good hands with my transfer. I'm working on everything behind the plate to be the best that I can be, but mostly I'd say probably receiving and my transfer and footwork are what I'm focused on right now.


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