Stewart Plays for Position in Binghamton

Caleb Stewart finds himself amongst a pool of deep talent in the Binghamton outfield. As he plays alongside the likes of Ambiorix Concepcion, and most notably Fernando Martinez, he struggles to find his own spotlight. Hard work and determination have helped him discover who he is as a ballplayer. He shared some of his thoughts with Inside Pitch on Tuesday night.

Caleb Stewart made a significant step in 2007 when he earned a promotion to the B-Mets after two successful years in St. Lucie. After the injury which caused him to miss the first half of last season, he is ready and conditioned with hopes to divert eyes away from his heralded teammates.

"It was probably the best spring I've had so far. The first spring I didn't get to play a lot, my second spring I got hurt and this one I stayed healthy. I played everyday, got comfortable at the plate and ended up with a break with a new team. It was very exciting for me," he said.

Stewart is not blessed with the natural gifts of those around him. He always looks for new ways to advance and improve his game. He focused acutely on the dynamics of his swing. In camp, he worked closely with hitting coaches to find small yet effective ways to alter approach. He tweaked the timing of his swing which he said made all the difference.

"Overall, the swing feels good. I have kind of changed up my approach in the box. I moved from a little top tap from last year to a leg kick. The bat moves much more comfortably," he said.

Despite his hard work, Mother Nature has prevented him from executing his new swing and building consistency. Seven of the 13 B-Mets' scheduled games this season have been washed out, snowed out, or frozen out. He admitted that he his swing regressed every so slightly with the lack of consistent playing time and live action pitching. Nonetheless, he is confident that once the thaw passes, he will regain the fluidity of his swing.

He fought through injuries and unproductive times in the past. Now, he faces the challenge of contribution. The Binghamton outfield revolves constantly. Stewart knows that each time he gets in the lineup, he must make it count.

"I've got to find that groove so that I can play everyday. It's important that when I fall into bad times, I remember what the groove was like, so I can get back to it. When I struggle, I get back to basics and take the ball to center and right-centerfield. It puts me back to where I need to be. I try not to worry about pulling the ball. I need to stay inside of the ball. I need to keep everything simple when I'm having bad times," he detailed.

Stewart falls back on his defense during offensive lulls. He came up in A-ball strictly as a rightfielder, but has recently seen time at all three outfield positions, specifically centerfield. He has keyed on his defense mightily this spring as he hopes to capture the position.

"I've been working on trying to get the centerfield job, so I've worked on staying more focused in the outfield. I feel like I've played some great defense so far when I have gotten out in the field. I was playing mostly right field throughout spring, but I've been moved around a bit this year. The toughest part of playing each position is reading the ball's flight. Instead of expecting the ball to break over my left shoulder, I need to get used to it breaking to the right and away from me," he explained.

All his tools on both sides of the ball will need perfection if he is to receive added playing time. Although the B-Mets outfield is crowded, he denies any competition amongst his teammates and recognizes that his future is in his hands.

"We all know there is nothing we can do about our playing time. We don't make the lineups; we just go out and play. I can't get caught up in what the other guys are doing," he said.

When asked about the young man playing along side him, Stewart quickly offered a stellar review.

"Fernando Martinez amazes me every day I see him play. The way he can come up and throw the ball, I think, ‘oh my goodness, how is that possible?' He doesn't look like he'd have a cannon, then he picks up the ball and fires the thing. He's really impressive. He's a got a lot of pop for a young kid, too. He can hit the ball to all fields which you don't see much from the real young guys, or even guys my age. He's a real, strong five-tool talent."

As for his own game, it's going to take a great increase in his production. He demonstrated positive signs after his midseason return in 2006 when posted a .259 average, 14 home runs and 42 RBI in 243 at-bats. Now, he will need to continue that pace during an entire season. With the surrounding talent, each time he is in the lineup, strong results are necessary. A higher batting average and increased power numbers could allow him to leapfrog his teammates in the organization's depth chart. To reach that point, a slot in the everyday lineup is mandatory.

"I want to do all the things that will make me more valuable to the organization. Once all that clicks for me, I feel like I will show people that I can play not only at this level, but beyond," he closed.

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