Cyclones' Hambrice making adjustments

It has to be shocking for anyone who has grown up in America's heartland to come to Brooklyn. For Jeremy Hambrice, who grew up in a town that has as many people as there are fans at KeySpan Park, it left him awe-struck.

"Oh, my gosh," said the 20-year-old native of Magnolia, Arkansas. "Where do I start?"

Hambrice is a 6'2", 215-pound right-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder who was drafted by the Mets in the 31st round of this year's amateur draft, the 934th player taken overall.

He batted .281 in his junior year for the Southern Arkansas Muleriders with three home runs and 43 RBIs, along with 41 stolen bases.

Hambrice is currently batting .250 in limited time, with one home run and six RBIs. He platoons with Tim Grogan at first base for the Cyclones, playing when there's a lefty opposing the Cyclones on the mound and occasionally spot starts in the outfield.

His adjustment to Brooklyn and the New York City lifestyle has been a challenge.

"I never really left town until now," said Hambrice. "In New York, there's so many people. There's 10,000 people where I grew up and everything is really slow there. Here, it's crazy. The tallest building in my town is three stories. I've never been to a big city and New York is the biggest of them all."

Hambrice said he'd idolized and modeled himself after a particular player, although it's one Met fans aren't exactly to fond of.

"I grew up a Braves fan and Chipper Jones was my favorite player," he said. "The New York Mets probably don't like that. Growing up, I played third base, I wore number 10. As far as everything else, I think I carry myself like him."

Hambrice has moved across the diamond to first base, a place that he said that can be more tricky than people assume it is.

"People think it's an easy position but you have do a lot of different things at first base," said Hambrice. "But it's a lot easier because you have more time to field a ground ball, block it, keep it front of you, that's your job."

His job description certainly has changed from his time at Southern Arkansas. While Hambrice played everyday with the Muleriders, he's now playing sporadically with the Cyclones.

"It was hard at first," he said. "I never sat the bench in my entire life. I don't like it but that's your role on the team and that's what you got to do. I keep proving to myself and prove to other people that I'm an everyday player."

Hambrice said he may play in the instructional leagues this winter to get some more playing time and impress the organization enough to move him up to stiffer competition in higher leagues.

Hambrice gave a self-scouting report on his game and laughed when he was asked about it.

"I better not tell you that, I don't want anyone to know what my weaknesses are," chuckled Hambrice. "A lot of times I just try to let the ball get deep and see it as long as possible early in the game. I ask myself, ‘Can the pitcher beat me with his fastball?' A lot of times I try to drive the ball and just hit it hard."

It'll be interesting to see if Hambrice gets the opportunity to hit the ball more often this season. One thing is certain: he's not in Magnolia anymore.


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