Spring Report: Corey Ragsdale

Primed to improve upon the disappointment of last season, Corey Ragsdale hopes 2007 launches him closer to the big leagues. A stud with the glove, he looks to fill the holes in offensive production to make the jump he desires. Entering his third season at Double-A Binghamton, he eyes a strong spring to kick start his season.

Corey Ragsdale struggled mightily at the plate last season as he batted .204 in 129 games. With such a glaring shortcoming in his overall game, He worked all winter in the cage and off tees as he searched for the muscle memory required at the plate.

"The glove has always been there, I've been fortunate. I just worked on the hitting which I definitely struggled with more. I spent my winter with the weights and just hitting and hitting some more. At this point, the defense isn't a concern, but my hitting needs to come around," he said.

He recalled apprehensive feelings as he entered camp in 2006 after his first campaign at the Double-A level. With renewed focus and stability, the shortstop reported to St. Lucie determined to shake it all off.

"I had it pretty bad last season. I was anxious to get going. I look forward to put last year behind me and have a strong season. This year could turn out to be a very important one," he explained.

Ragsdale boasts solid gap power; a valuable commodity for a potential top of the order guy. However, he experiences the inconsistencies at the dish that plagues many young hitters. Inconsistencies require the mental toughness needed to fight off road blocks. A test the 25-year-old has batted for some time.

"There were mechanical issues I've had to work on. But it's been the mental for the approach of the game more than the technique. The toughest thing mentally is getting a plan that I stick with and not abandoning it when things go wrong" he said.

What went wrong for him was the eruption of strikeouts he collected last year. In his 129 games, he fanned 182 times. At that ratio, any production is welcomed. Admittedly, the toughest challenge he faced was pitch selection and body control at the plate.

"Last year my balance was off and my approach to the ball took me away from it. Now it has to be more through the ball. I pulled off sliders and didn't have a chance against fastballs down and away. My shoulder opened up," said Ragsdale.

It certainly will not get any easier for him if he intends to make his climb up the organization ladder sooner than later. As he faces more experienced and talented opponents, pitchers are sure to pump him full of sliders and other breaking pitches designed to throw a wrench in his stabilized mechanics.

Despite the trouble with certain pitches, unlike many of his peers Ragsdale finds comfort in situational hitting and hitting in unfavorable counts. He uses it to harness and execute the skills that he practices.

"(Situational hitting) doesn't really give me trouble. It's is something I can enjoy. I feel confident it's something I am good at. I need to stay on the ball so that when I do get the curveball I recognize it and I take the right approach so I can put it in play instead of pulling off it. Whether it's hit and run or nobody on and 2 outs, it's going keep me stable more," he detailed.

If Ragsdale cannot excel and contribute at the plate in the manner he would like, he knows he can help his team in other capacities. He is a stellar shortstop with a plus-arm and great range. As well, he wants to recapture his base stealing ability. Although he stole only 12 bases in 21 attempts last year, he wants to expand those numbers given the opportunity.

"I'd like to get more bags. I like to read pitchers and get counts. I may not be the best at when I'm told to steal, but I'll get a bag when I can read and time the pitcher" he said.

His defense and speed will a long way towards his future with the Mets. His excellence in these areas will offset some of his pitfalls with the bat. Yet he knows exactly what type of hitter he is and the future he envisions.

"I want to be a hitter for an average, I know I can be. Once I cut the strikeouts down, the average will go up. When I put the ball in play, I hit it hard. I like to hit the ball to the gaps and run the bases. Once I get (the average) up, that's what will get me to the big leagues," explained Ragsdale.

He has already built a reputation as a hard worker and a gamer. Given his position, and what he can accomplish without the bat in his hand, Corey Ragsdale has the chance to reach his goals. Nevertheless, it is imperative he take advantage before his window of opportunity closes.

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