FutureBacks Q & A: Jarred Ball

<p>Jarred Ball might not be the top prospect in the Diamondback organization, he's not even the top center field prospect in the organization, but he made the Top 30 FutureBacks.com Prospects, and he might be the most complete option in the organization by the time he's ready for his BOB debut.&nbsp; Managing Editor James Renwick talked with Ball about his offseason workouts, the rise in both his power numbers and strikeouts, and what's next for a prospect at the Hi-A level.</p>

James Renwick:  You showcased a lot more power this year, how did that happen?

Jarred Ball:  I put on 25-30 lbs over the last couple years.  Eric Fox was my hitting coach, and he's worked with me a lot, Wally Backman helped too.  They say the ball carries well in Lancaster, and it definitely did, but physically I was a lot stronger too, so I think there was a combination of things.  

James Renwick:  Was it a good thing? 

Jarred Ball:  On my left handed different stroke I know I was pulling the more than I needed to.  I've been getting stronger, but it got me out ahead of the ball more.  I hit some balls real hard down the line, but I also know that when I'm that far out ahead, I have problems with off speed stuff.

James Renwick:  With that power came more strikeouts, is that something you're working on, or are the D'Backs comfortable with that?

Jarred Ball:  I really haven't talked to anyone about it.  Most of the strikeouts came when I was hitting lefty, because I was out in front pulling the ball.  It's something I've really worked on a lot this offseason, just letting the ball get deeper into the strike zone, trusting my hands to get through.  If I can stay back just a little longer it will help a lot with the off speed pitches.

James Renwick:  You've hit all over the lineup.  First, second, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth.  Where do you like hitting?

Jarred Ball:  I liked hitting leadoff, there's not as much pressure but there's a lot more to think about.  I liked hitting two and five, and ninth was fun, because you get to see a lot more pitches.  In the leadoff spot you take as many pitches as you can, really trying to let the other guys get a look at the pitcher.  It's obviously not the same approach hitting in all those different spots, but for me leading off was great.  I got to do it a lot because a lot of the other guys had a lot of strikeouts hitting leadoff.  So it would be a big bonus if I was hitting leadoff, to try and cut down the strikeouts.

James Renwick:  I know you said you liked hitting leadoff, but you showed a real knack in clutch situations, hitting .324 with Runners In Scoring Position and 2 out, do you feel comfortable in those spots?

Jarred Ball:  I think its actually less pressure hitting when somebody is on and there are less than two outs, than when nobody's on base.  You just hit the ball in the air or try to move the guy over.  I try to take the same approach when there are two outs, just make solid contact, put the ball in play, but knowing somebody is on, I guess unknowingly maybe you focus a little more.  Just a little sharper I guess.

James Renwick:  One of your biggest attributes is your switch hitting?  You've got power from both sides, about the same average from both sides, you're a good hitter from both sides.  When did you start switch hitting?

Jarred Ball:  Real young, I remember myself swinging both ways as young as when I had one of those big read whiffle ball bats.  I guess I was ten or eleven when I started doing it more consistently.  It was my sophomore or junior year of high school when I started doing it full time.  I've got more of a power swing as a righty, I'm not really a power hitter, but just my natural right handed swing has a little more lift to hit.  Lefty though I have been pulling the ball more so I think that's where the power comes from on the left side.

James Renwick:  Some have questioned your ability to play centerfield consistently.  You've got the speed, what do you need to work on defensively?

Jarred Ball:  Not so much on my routes, I've really learned a lot about running routes.  I think a big thing is that I tend to drift a little, especially close to the wall.  I worked a lot last year on my defense, and I think I made a good improvement last year.  I was getting to where the ball is going to be, not coasting to it.  It's been one of the big things I've worked on this offseason.  I'm just trying to get better, trying to work on first step.  Not getting faster, but getting that first step even faster, just really breaking on the ball.  

James Renwick:  Really?  You're working that hard on defense?

Jarred Ball:  Center field is where I want to play, so I'm going to work hard.  I mean, I don't care where I am playing if I'm in the big leagues, but I like playing center, and so I am going to work on my defense.

James Renwick:  Scout yourself for me, what kind of player are you?

Jarred Ball:  Really?  Scout myself?  Okay, I need to cut down the strikeouts, I've got good speed, a pretty decent arm, I'm not a power hitter, I guess I'm a pretty average player.

James Renwick:  You've seen guys like Marland Williams and Luis Terrero, how do you compare?  What can you offer that maybe they can't?

Jarred Ball:  Mainly switch hitting, that's got to be a big plus on my side.  Both of those guys are great hitters and great outfielders.

James Renwick:  What would you take from their game?

Jarred Ball:  'Smoke' can fly, I mean I'm pretty fast, but he's in his own category, and Terrero's got a great arm from what I've seen, I'd love to have that cannon.

James Renwick:  What are you doing during the offseason?

Jarred Ball:  I work out with some guys, not a lot of actual baseball stuff right now, a lot of work on my speed and lifting weights just to stay strong.  When I do work on hitting I'm just keeping it simple, just trying to cut down on the strikeouts by staying through the ball.  There's a couple defensive drills I'm working on too.

James Renwick:  Who are you working with?

Jarred Ball:  Josh Barfield everyday, we take one day off a week.  He's real competitive, he talks more smack than anybody I know.  We talk every other day in season, to , and we played against each other all through high school.  He says he never liked me in high school, but after our first season in rookie ball, we worked out together with the same strength coach and we have been working out together ever since.  I hear from him every time he hits a home run, I know that.

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