Giarraputo Gains Confidence

In his second year in the farm system, the 2006 12th round pick aimed to make serious advancements in his all-around play. With much room to grow both at the plate and in the field, the Kingsport third baseman was determined to bring attention to his game and his abilities.

"Going through another spring training and being in the system for another year was a big boost. Things went really well this season and I feel really good about what I've done," said Nick Giarraputo when reflecting on the passing season.

Fresh out of high school in 2006, he was sent to Gulf Coast League where he began his career on the right side of the infield. Not known for any power, Giarraputo was drafted on the promise of infield talent. But what he quickly found out was hitting, even in the GCL, was vastly different at the professional level. In 47 games with the GCL Mets, he hit just .215 (39-for-181), with on-base and slugging percentages both under .300.

"Even though I got my chances in the GCL and the Instructional League after I was drafted, I know I had a rough season last year. So, anything I could improve on from last year is big," he disclosed.

First and foremost, he needed a professional approach at the plate. Last season, Giarraputo stepped to bat without any guidelines on how to attack his pitches. His pitch recognition was lacking as was his situational hitting in unfavorable counts. As a result, he averaged nearly one strikeout per game and accumulated only 46 total bases in 47 games.

"I had no plan when I stepped into the box last year," he said. "I've wanted to get in there and not try to do too much. I step to the plate just trying to get my average up and get the job done. If I try to do too much, I'll end up pressing which will only cause more bad things."

Moving up to Kingsport this season required him to seek out as much guidance as possible. With tougher and more dynamic opposing pitching, Giarraputo knew it would take greater effort and repetition to get the results he sought.

"This year, I raised my ability to prepare well for each at-bat, and I've been seeing the ball has been much better than last year. Both of those were things I looked into a lot and really picked the brains of the coaches both in spring training and during the year to find out how to get better each time I'm at the plate," he explained.

He worked closely with Kingsport hitting coach George Grier on a more fluid, yet repeatable batting stance. Giarraputo admitted that last season he was too stiff at the plate, often taking poor, erroneous swings that led to poor contact or none at all.

"[Coach Grier] told me that I need more movement in my swing. Last year, I was too stiff in the box and it made me jump at the ball," he detailed. "That's why we focused getting me a plan when I stepped in the box, so I could be more relaxed and smooth when I swing. It's also helped me recognize certain pitches. Say, I'm looking for a fastball and I get a hanging curve, I can still bang it for a hit. Overall, I'd say my entire plate discipline has improved a lot."

What may be greater discipline in his eyes does not translate to the stat sheet. Though he rose his average into the .270's this season, his walk total actually decreased from the 13 free passes he earned last season. He had just nine walks in 263 at-bats this season. Though coaches impress patience upon him, he is open to the fact that at this level he will remain a free swinger.

"Last year, I came in with a little pressure and it made me try to do too much. This year, instead of trying to think of certain pitches or situations, I went in there blocking everything else out and just went in swinging. I think next year, I'll try to get my walks in, but it'll still be a focus of mine to hit the ball around the field."

On the other side of the ball, he spent this season learning the hot corner. Given that third base is much more of a reaction position, Giarraputo's footwork and timing have been a priority as they go hand-in-hand. A strong first and second step is what spawns strong defense, and he is not taking the work load lightly.

"I'm a hard worker. Third base is a huge spot, so I'm going out and trying to improve everything, he said. "Moving over there can be tough, especially since as I move up the games are only going to get faster. My footwork has gone a long to way to making me a better third baseman and I credit that to spring training and in-season programs."

At last came his arm strength. It took quite some time for him to build up the strength while shifting to third base. He found himself short-arming throws which decreased velocity and accuracy; a problem he believes is behind him.

"Last season, because I was short arming the ball too much, I struggled throwing out quick runners," he said. "I know I can get rid of the ball faster to get a quick runner. Or the opposite, I can take my time throwing a guy out now. I've been able to lengthen and strengthen my arm by getting away from short-arming it."

Giarraputo, by his own admission, will not be a traditional slugging third baseman. His goal is to provide consistent, reliable defense and contribute at the plate when it is his turn in the order. However, he will give his teammates and coaches everything expected and asked of him. At his age, he has not nearly reached his physical peak, which is something he will work on expediting in an important, upcoming off-season.

"I'm just trying to work on everything. I'm going to work on getting bigger. I left the GCL last year about 185-188. I came into camp this year at about 200-205 and I just want to keep getting bigger and build that strength up. I will try to improve all points of my game simultaneously and hope that it all comes together quickly," he concluded.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"Going through another spring training and being in the system for another year was a big boost. Things went really well this season and I feel really good about what I've done,\" said Nick Giarraputo when reflecting on the passing season.
\r\n
\r\nFresh out of high school in 2006, he was sent to Gulf Coast League where he began his career on the right side of the infield. Not known for any power, Giarraputo was drafted on the promise of infield talent. But what he quickly found out was hitting, even in the GCL, was vastly different at the professional level. In 47 games with the GCL Mets, he hit just .215 (39-for-181), with on-base and slugging percentages both under .300.
\r\n
\r\n\"Even though I got my chances in the GCL and the Instructional League after I was drafted, I know I had a rough season last year. So, anything I could improve on from last year is big,\" he disclosed.
\r\n
\r\nFirst and foremost, he needed a professional approach at the plate. Last season, Giarraputo stepped to bat without any guidelines on how to attack his pitches. His pitch recognition was lacking as was his situational hitting in unfavorable counts. As a result, he averaged nearly one strikeout per game and accumulated only 46 total bases in 47 games.
\r\n
\r\n\"I had no plan when I stepped into the box last year,\" he said. \"I've wanted to get in there and not try to do too much. I step to the plate just trying to get my average up and get the job done. If I try to do too much, I'll end up pressing which will only cause more bad things.\"
\r\n
\r\nMoving up to Kingsport this season required him to seek out as much guidance as possible. With tougher and more dynamic opposing pitching, Giarraputo knew it would take greater effort and repetition to get the results he sought.
\r\n
\r\n\"This year, I raised my ability to prepare well for each at-bat, and I've been seeing the ball has been much better than last year. Both of those were things I looked into a lot and really picked the brains of the coaches both in spring training and during the year to find out how to get better each time I'm at the plate,\" he explained.
\r\n
\r\nHe worked closely with Kingsport hitting coach George Grier on a more fluid, yet repeatable batting stance. Giarraputo admitted that last season he was too stiff at the plate, often taking poor, erroneous swings that led to poor contact or none at all.
\r\n
\r\n\"[Coach Grier] told me that I need more movement in my swing. Last year, I was too stiff in the box and it made me jump at the ball,\" he detailed. \"That's why we focused getting me a plan when I stepped in the box, so I could be more relaxed and smooth when I swing. It's also helped me recognize certain pitches. Say, I'm looking for a fastball and I get a hanging curve, I can still bang it for a hit. Overall, I'd say my entire plate discipline has improved a lot.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhat may be greater discipline in his eyes does not translate to the stat sheet. Though he rose his average into the .270's this season, his walk total actually decreased from the 13 free passes he earned last season. He had just nine walks in 263 at-bats this season. Though coaches impress patience upon him, he is open to the fact that at this level he will remain a free swinger.
\r\n
\r\n\"Last year, I came in with a little pressure and it made me try to do too much. This year, instead of trying to think of certain pitches or situations, I went in there blocking everything else out and just went in swinging. I think next year, I'll try to get my walks in, but it'll still be a focus of mine to hit the ball around the field.\"
\r\n
\r\nOn the other side of the ball, he spent this season learning the hot corner. Given that third base is much more of a reaction position, Giarraputo's footwork and timing have been a priority as they go hand-in-hand. A strong first and second step is what spawns strong defense, and he is not taking the work load lightly.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm a hard worker. Third base is a huge spot, so I'm going out and trying to improve everything, he said. \"Moving over there can be tough, especially since as I move up the games are only going to get faster. My footwork has gone a long to way to making me a better third baseman and I credit that to spring training and in-season programs.\"
\r\n
\r\nAt last came his arm strength. It took quite some time for him to build up the strength while shifting to third base. He found himself short-arming throws which decreased velocity and accuracy; a problem he believes is behind him.
\r\n
\r\n\"Last season, because I was short arming the ball too much, I struggled throwing out quick runners,\" he said. \"I know I can get rid of the ball faster to get a quick runner. Or the opposite, I can take my time throwing a guy out now. I've been able to lengthen and strengthen my arm by getting away from short-arming it.\"
\r\n
\r\nGiarraputo, by his own admission, will not be a traditional slugging third baseman. His goal is to provide consistent, reliable defense and contribute at the plate when it is his turn in the order. However, he will give his teammates and coaches everything expected and asked of him. At his age, he has not nearly reached his physical peak, which is something he will work on expediting in an important, upcoming off-season.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm just trying to work on everything. I'm going to work on getting bigger. I left the GCL last year about 185-188. I came into camp this year at about 200-205 and I just want to keep getting bigger and build that strength up. I will try to improve all points of my game simultaneously and hope that it all comes together quickly,\" he concluded.
\r\n
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