Offseason Q&A with Armand Gaerlan

InsidePitchMagazine.com sits down with GCL utility player Armand Gaerlan for an offseason Q&A session to talk about his professional debut last year, to find out about his college career, what type of role he believes he'll have in the Mets' farm system, who he compares himself to at the Major League level, and a whole lot more.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: Tell us a little bit about your career at the University of San Francisco. What position did you play? What were your numbers like? What order did you hit in the lineup? Did you earn any awards or have any accomplishments that we should know about? Give us some details on that type of stuff.

Armand Gaerlan: As a freshman, I played both shortstop and second base. I was more of a floater that year, but wound up playing shortstop for my sophomore, junior, and senior years. I batted pretty much third or cleanup in college. I had one home run as a freshman, but it was a game-winner against Stanford so that we pretty cool. I hit nine home runs my sophomore year, eight my junior year, and three my senior year. I was All-Conference four straight years and I did have a 24-game hit streak in college too.

Inside Pitch: You batted third and cleanup as a senior too? Why the big drop-off in home runs that year?

Gaerlan: Teams began pitching around me more in my sophomore and junior years and that's when I guess I began to learn to be more selective at the plate and start taking more walks. The pitchers pitched me backwards and not straight up and I became more of an on-base guy as a result. Instead of getting the 2-0 fastballs, I was getting the 2-0 curveballs. I just learned to lay off the junk they were throwing me and I learned to have a better mental approach to hitting. It carried over to my first pro season last year and it made my transition to adjust to pitch recognition a lot easier.

Inside Pitch: Were you expecting to be drafted on the second day of the draft? Were you disappointed at all going that late?

Gaerlan: As a four-year college player, I was expecting to go either late on the first day of the draft or early on the second day. I realized that not many four-year guys get drafted too early so I figured I'd go later in the draft. I knew I had nothing to lose since I got my degree. I am just thankful I have an opportunity to play. I'm back here at school now, working out, and getting ready for Spring Training.

Inside Pitch: Tell us about your first professional season last year in the Gulf Coast League. You obviously were a patient hitter. You were run producer in college. What type of hitter were you last year?

Gaerlan: Well, like I said, I had learned to become more of an on-base guy throughout my college career, so Bret Butler had me hitting primarily leadoff and in the second hole in the Gulf Coast League last year. It wasn't a big transition at all. My objective was to get on base and let the power hitters drive me in. I became more of a line-drive hitter and play more small ball. Because we had a few injuries, I wound up playing a bunch of positions and I liked serving that utility role. I've been trying to incorporate the little things into my game, like moving runners over, bunting, stuff like that. I am not a flashy player. I am a hard-nosed player that is looking to draw walks and do the little things to help my team win. I define myself as a utility player now.

Inside Pitch: So is that what you see as your future role in the organization? A utility player? Do you think you'll settle in one position but still help out as a utility player when needed?

Gaerlan: When I was at the Instructional League, they moved me over to second base and I think that's going to be my new position. I was a shortstop in college but the coaches felt I would have a hard time adjusting to shortstop in the pros as a full-time player because of my range. My feet are not as quick as they should be to be a shortstop in the pros, and that's something I am really working on so I can play there well when called upon. You could say my range is not up to standards to be a full-time shortstop as a pro. I mainly want to go up as a second baseman, but serve as a utility player. All the coaches were telling me that the more positions I play, the more playing time I'm going to get, which is only going to add to my value as a prospect.

Inside Pitch: Give us a scouting report on yourself. What are your strengths and what do you believe you need to work on?

Gaerlan: Well I'm not your typical middle infielder. I have average speed. I am sure I could steal 10-20 bases a year, but I need to work on improving my quickness. I have a good eye at the plate and I'm able to drive the ball to all fields. I'm not flashy and won't ever hit 30 home runs or anything like that. But I'm a good contact hitter that has the ability to hit a fair number of home runs and triples. But I look at those as an added bonus. I have good hands and I pride myself on being a good defensive player. My versatility is certainly a strength. The one part I want to work on is strengthening my legs and improving my speed.

Inside Pitch: Who do you think your game compares to at the Major League level?

Gaerlan: That's a really good question. Boy, I'd have to say Orlando Cabrera. Nobody really thinks of him as a "go to" guy, but he's very consistent and does all the little things to help a ball club. He's underrated and you need one of those type of guys to help solidify the offense and defense. I mold myself after Cal Ripken Jr., but I'd say my game is more like Orlando Cabrera.

Inside Pitch: What is your goal for next season? Where do you think you'll break Spring Training?

Gaerlan: Where I start is really out of my control. I am working hard right now to break camp in low-A ball at Hagerstown. I'd like to start there and stay there if I can. If I was to start there but then move down to Brooklyn, that would be fine too. Of course, there's a chance I could be in Extended and break camp with Brooklyn, but I'll be working hard to start in Hagerstown. Really, what it comes down to is I want to play everyday. I want to try and maximize my playing time. That was really important to me in the GCL last year.

Inside Pitch: You were in the Instructional League last year so you had an opportunity to see other players, besides your GCL teammates. Give us one guy you've seen, among the positional players, that you believe has the highest upside?

Gaerlan: That's easy - Lastings Milledge. He's a threat on offense and defense. I mean, he's a true five-tool player. He can do it all. He can run, throw, play defense, hit for average and power, everything. He's a threat to do it all.

Inside Pitch: Okay, among your GCL teammates, which positional player do you think has the highest upside?

Gaerlan: Boy, we had a lot of talent in the GCL last year. You could pick a bunch of guys off that team and they all have really good upside. You've got Carp and Evans. They have a similar style. Their power and average will come up with plate discipline and more reps. They're both really good. You've also got Scott Henry and Cory Wells. Those two should develop into good players as well. You can't forget Carlos Gomez or Jesus Flores either. Flores is a good battery behind the team and can hit for power. I think you could look at our GCL team last year and realize that we're very underrated as a minor league farm system.

Inside Pitch: I know the answer already, but go ahead and give us the GCL pitcher from last year that you believe has the highest upside.

Gaerlan: (laughing) Well Gaby has the highest ceiling. He's going to be a special prospect. He has great command of the strike zone for such a young player. As he develops more and gains more experience, I think he's going to move up really fast. I also like Blake Eager and Jose Sanchez too. Eager had a few bad innings, but you could really count on his stuff. Sanchez works hitters fast and makes the game flow quickly. You've got like that from a defensive perspective.

InsidePitchMagazine.com would like to thank Armand Gaerlan for taking the time to answer our questions this offseason. We'll be checking in with Armand throughout the 2005 season. Who were you a fan of growing up? Do you have a favorite team?

Gaerlan

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: Tell us a little bit about your career at the University of San Francisco. What position did you play? What were your numbers like? What order did you hit in the lineup? Did you earn any awards or have any accomplishments that we should know about? Give us some details on that type of stuff.
\r\n
\r\nArmand Gaerlan: As a freshman, I played both shortstop and second base. I was more of a floater that year, but wound up playing shortstop for my sophomore, junior, and senior years. I batted pretty much third or cleanup in college. I had one home run as a freshman, but it was a game-winner against Stanford so that we pretty cool. I hit nine home runs my sophomore year, eight my junior year, and three my senior year. I was All-Conference four straight years and I did have a 24-game hit streak in college too.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You batted third and cleanup as a senior too? Why the big drop-off in home runs that year?
\r\n
\r\nGaerlan: Teams began pitching around me more in my sophomore and junior years and that's when I guess I began to learn to be more selective at the plate and start taking more walks. The pitchers pitched me backwards and not straight up and I became more of an on-base guy as a result. Instead of getting the 2-0 fastballs, I was getting the 2-0 curveballs. I just learned to lay off the junk they were throwing me and I learned to have a better mental approach to hitting. It carried over to my first pro season last year and it made my transition to adjust to pitch recognition a lot easier.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Were you expecting to be drafted on the second day of the draft? Were you disappointed at all going that late?
\r\n
\r\nGaerlan: As a four-year college player, I was expecting to go either late on the first day of the draft or early on the second day. I realized that not many four-year guys get drafted too early so I figured I'd go later in the draft. I knew I had nothing to lose since I got my degree. I am just thankful I have an opportunity to play. I'm back here at school now, working out, and getting ready for Spring Training.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Tell us about your first professional season last year in the Gulf Coast League. You obviously were a patient hitter. You were run producer in college. What type of hitter were you last year?
\r\n
\r\nGaerlan: Well, like I said, I had learned to become more of an on-base guy throughout my college career, so Bret Butler had me hitting primarily leadoff and in the second hole in the Gulf Coast League last year. It wasn't a big transition at all. My objective was to get on base and let the power hitters drive me in. I became more of a line-drive hitter and play more small ball. Because we had a few injuries, I wound up playing a bunch of positions and I liked serving that utility role. I've been trying to incorporate the little things into my game, like moving runners over, bunting, stuff like that. I am not a flashy player. I am a hard-nosed player that is looking to draw walks and do the little things to help my team win. I define myself as a utility player now.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: So is that what you see as your future role in the organization? A utility player? Do you think you'll settle in one position but still help out as a utility player when needed?
\r\n
\r\nGaerlan: When I was at the Instructional League, they moved me over to second base and I think that's going to be my new position. I was a shortstop in college but the coaches felt I would have a hard time adjusting to shortstop in the pros as a full-time player because of my range. My feet are not as quick as they should be to be a shortstop in the pros, and that's something I am really working on so I can play there well when called upon. You could say my range is not up to standards to be a full-time shortstop as a pro. I mainly want to go up as a second baseman, but serve as a utility player. All the coaches were telling me that the more positions I play, the more playing time I'm going to get, which is only going to add to my value as a prospect.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Give us a scouting report on yourself. What are your strengths and what do you believe you need to work on?
\r\n
\r\nGaerlan: Well I'm not your typical middle infielder. I have average speed. I am sure I could steal 10-20 bases a year, but I need to work on improving my quickness. I have a good eye at the plate and I'm able to drive the ball to all fields. I'm not flashy and won't ever hit 30 home runs or anything like that. But I'm a good contact hitter that has the ability to hit a fair number of home runs and triples. But I look at those as an added bonus. I have good hands and I pride myself on being a good defensive player. My versatility is certainly a strength. The one part I want to work on is strengthening my legs and improving my speed.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Who do you think your game compares to at the Major League level?
\r\n
\r\nGaerlan: That's a really good question. Boy, I'd have to say Orlando Cabrera. Nobody really thinks of him as a \"go to\" guy, but he's very consistent and does all the little things to help a ball club. He's underrated and you need one of those type of guys to help solidify the offense and defense. I mold myself after Cal Ripken Jr., but I'd say my game is more like Orlando Cabrera.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What is your goal for next season? Where do you think you'll break Spring Training?
\r\n
\r\nGaerlan: Where I start is really out of my control. I am working hard right now to break camp in low-A ball at Hagerstown. I'd like to start there and stay there if I can. If I was to start there but then move down to Brooklyn, that would be fine too. Of course, there's a chance I could be in Extended and break camp with Brooklyn, but I'll be working hard to start in Hagerstown. Really, what it comes down to is I want to play everyday. I want to try and maximize my playing time. That was really important to me in the GCL last year.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You were in the Instructional League last year so you had an opportunity to see other players, besides your GCL teammates. Give us one guy you've seen, among the positional players, that you believe has the highest upside?
\r\n
\r\nGaerlan: That's easy - Lastings Milledge. He's a threat on offense and defense. I mean, he's a true five-tool player. He can do it all. He can run, throw, play defense, hit for average and power, everything. He's a threat to do it all.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Okay, among your GCL teammates, which positional player do you think has the highest upside?
\r\n
\r\nGaerlan: Boy, we had a lot of talent in the GCL last year. You could pick a bunch of guys off that team and they all have really good upside. You've got Carp and Evans. They have a similar style. Their power and average will come up with plate discipline and more reps. They're both really good. You've also got Scott Henry and Cory Wells. Those two should develop into good players as well. You can't forget Carlos Gomez or Jesus Flores either. Flores is a good battery behind the team and can hit for power. I think you could look at our GCL team last year and realize that we're very underrated as a minor league farm system.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: I know the answer already, but go ahead and give us the GCL pitcher from last year that you believe has the highest upside.
\r\n
\r\nGaerlan: (laughing) Well Gaby has the highest ceiling. He's going to be a special prospect. He has great command of the strike zone for such a young player. As he develops more and gains more experience, I think he's going to move up really fast. I also like Blake Eager and Jose Sanchez too. Eager had a few bad innings, but you could really count on his stuff. Sanchez works hitters fast and makes the game flow quickly. You've got like that from a defensive perspective.
\r\n
\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com would like to thank Armand Gaerlan for taking the time to answer our questions this offseason. We'll be checking in with Armand throughout the 2005 season.\r\n\r\nWho were you a fan of growing up? Do you have a favorite team?
\r\n
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