Jeff Fiorentino: Heating Up

After an unconventional major league call-up straight from A-ball, Jeff Fiorentino has been the subject of heightened expectations. While he struggled for much of this season, he has been turning it back on lately. ITW caught up with the outfield prospect and he set a few things straight.

2006 has largely been a forgettable season for Jeff Fiorentino. He's battled a variety of leg injuries and failed to hit over .229 in any full month before July. There were some positive signs, of course. Fiorentino has maintained strong plate discipline against advanced competition, walking 51 times against 55 strikeouts in 366 at bats. And he's shown a willingness to adapt to any position in the outfield or in the batting order.

That's not to say that his recent performance hasn't been enlightening. In fact, Fiorentino is 16 for his last 38 (.421) with three homeruns. For the month of August, he is hitting .378/.281/.556, all leading up to his selection for the Arizona Fall League. ITW discussed this and more when we caught up with before a recent Baysox game.

ITW: Congratulations about your selection to the AFL. What are your feelings on that?

Jeff: Good. It means they think a little highly of me and I get to go out there and show my stuff against elite competition.

ITW: You seem to be swinging the bat a lot better lately. What kind of adjustments have you made?

Jeff: Just going out there and focusing and, really, just being healthy. I've had nagging injuries the whole season. I sprained my ankle, pulled my hamstring a couple times, so this is the first time all season that I've really been healthy.

ITW: When the Orioles called you up out of Frederick last year, it was a pretty unconventional move. How do you think it has impacted your development?

Jeff: I think it helped me. Everyone thinks that it set me back and is hurting me, but it absolutely didn't. I've learned so much since then and I think I'm a better and more complete baseball player because of it.

ITW: Speak a little bit about the differences between playing in Frederick in the Carolina League and Bowie in the Eastern League.

Jeff: Just more consistency, same as the difference between here and the big leagues. The guys go out there day in and day out and have a consistent approach and a consistent outcome. And that's what I've been trying to work on.

ITW: You've moved around the outfield quite a bit. Do you have a favorite position?

Jeff: It doesn't matter. When you're in right field, the balls going to move one way. In center and left, another. As long as you're prepared for it, you're going to be fine.

ITW: Any goals as you wrap up the season and head into fall ball?

Jeff: Yeah, I want to finish up like I've been doing. I'd like to push my average up to .280 and have a nice respectable season. Hopefully, I'll get a call up. If not, I'll go out and show them what I got in the Arizona Fall League and start fresh in spring training next year.

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