Lansford Developing Nicely

Josh Lansford's development this season at Class-A Peoria has been a welcome sight to both the Cubs and their sixth-round draft pick from a year ago. It has even been described as the most promising thing to have happened in Peoria all season to date.

"The best thing that's happened on that team is the development of Josh Lansford," said Cubs Minor League Hitting Coordinator Dave Keller. "He has really cleaned up his mechanics from last year and continues to improve."

Through 68 games at Peoria this season, Lansford is batting .287 with three home runs, a team-best 15 doubles, and 39 RBIs.

As his last name denotes, baseball runs in the family.

The soon to be 23-year-old Cal-Poly alumnus is the brother of Oakland Athletics pitching prospect Jared Lansford, and the son of Colorado Rockies Triple-A hitting coach and former A's big leaguer Carney Lansford.

His uncle, Jody ("Joe") Lansford, played with the San Diego Padres for parts of two seasons while fellow uncle Phil Lansford was a first-round draft pick by the Cleveland Indians in 1978.

For his part, the Cubs third base prospect has drawn a few comparisons to his father and would not mind putting together a similar career.

"He played for 15 years and won a batting title," notes Lansford. "I wouldn't mind that one bit."

Apparently, neither would his father.

"He has pretty much tried to teach me to hit exactly like he did when he was playing, and that is gap to gap," Lansford said.

Despite belonging to different organizations, the father-son duo talk regularly on the phone throughout the season about hitting techniques and the various up's and down's of professional baseball. Once the off-season arrives, the two put in valuable time together in the batting cages.

It was Carney Lansford, in fact, that pointed out what he viewed as a noticeable flaw in his son's approach this past off-season.

"He saw something with my two-strike approach that wasn't what he thought it should be," Lansford recalled. "So we focused mostly on the mental part of that; to not be afraid of getting jammed with two strikes.

"If you get beat on the inside half of the plate, it's not all that bad. You kind of have to set your pride aside with two strikes," Lansford added.

Meanwhile, Cubs coaches and instructors like Keller have noticed an improvement in the quality of Lansford's at-bats this season.

After striking out 43 times through 62 games a season ago with short-season Class A Boise of the Northwest League, Lansford has fanned just 27 times through roughly the same number of at-bats this year.

As such, his average is up, and his ability to drive the ball from gap to gap has been on display more frequently.

"He has been a steady guy the whole year and it's been very encouraging from our standpoint having him do so well to this point," Keller said. "With our younger level kids, I don't care that much about power; I want these guys to hit for average. I want them to understand how to handle the strike zone and the variety of pitches they see during their at-bats.

"(His improvement) is a very big thing from our standpoint as coaches when we're trying to project what kind of player this guy has a chance to be."

But projections, particularly from coaches, are also a Catch-22, Keller says.

"Sometimes, we can over-evaluate players when we really don't need to," he explained. "It's a lot better if we can just find a way to let them play. They're going to tell us what kind of player they are in a couple of years anyway, so we don't have to force the issue too much."

From projections to possible promotions, Lansford's play this season has not gone unnoticed by the Cubs. With the second half in full swing, he could be in line for a promotion to Class High-A Daytona at some point.

"I have thought about that a little bit, but (Cubs Director of Player Development) Oneri Fleita was in town and he sat me down and said, ‘Just keep playing. You let me handle my job ... You do your job, I'll do mine, and we'll all be happy in the end.' So I've just focused on putting together good at-bats and playing good defense," Lansford said.

And for all the similarities Lansford and his father may end up sharing on down the road, Josh Lansford is his own man in the fashion sense.

Just look for the one player in the Peoria infield that always wears his cap with a straight bill.

"It's kind of a California thing," he said. "I've always worn it like that ever since high school. My Oakley's fit perfect with it. They all give me a hard time about it. I guess it has turned into a little bit of a superstitious thing."

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