Pirates prospect interview: Tyler Gaffney

Outfielder Tyler Gaffney signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in July, deciding to pass up his senior seasons at Stanford where he was a football and baseball standout. As a leadoff hitter for the Short Season-A State College Spikes, Gaffney batted .297 before he was shutdown with a shoulder injury. PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko caught up with Gaffney recently.

GVB – Who are you physically after the shoulder problem?

TG – I'm doing fine and should be doing everything soon in the instructional league. I guess football shoulders don't translate well into baseball. I did more throwing than I ever did before and the arm got tired and the shoulder started drooping more and more. So they shut me down, but I'm fine.

GVB – Was it a tough decision to give up your final year of football at Stanford and sign a baseball contract?

TG – That was a tough decision and I talked to my family and coaches about it before making the decision. The decision wasn't a financial one, I got a happy amount for the contract. It's about the principle of a dream. You only have one shot at this. Some are lucky to get drafted twice. You don't know what could happen your senior year. If I played football, if I played baseball, I could get hurt and there goes my chance at a dream that a lot of boys have growing up. I figured this is my shot. I have to take it and not let it pass by. Football, it was hard. I guess it was a little emotional on their side, especially because I told them I was coming back. I was set on coming back. But I stepped back in my heart and just tried to take everything in. It had to be done. I had to tell the coaches first before the media found it. It was a hard thing to do.

GVB – You were special, not too many guys excel at two sports. I saw a quote where you said "there aren't any Bo Jackson's anymore."

TG – I did say there are no more Bo Jacksons in the world, it's very tough to be good at two sports and I had to make a choice.

GVB – Were you happy with your first taste of professional baseball and what you were able to accomplish?

TG – I was happy with my first season and what I did. It was interesting the daily grind and being able to work on your own and not have constant coaching, but workout some things on your own. I was happy with what I did, but I'm never satisfied.

GVB – Did I read correctly that you were hit by a pitch 20 times in 151 plate appearances?

TG – That's the football mentality, as a leadoff hitter it's my job to get on and I will get hit by a pitch and take the base.

GVB – The Pirates had minor leaguers take Navy Seal training at the start of instructional league, what was that like?

TG – I wasn't able to participate in everything, but I did some of it. Sort of like football, but different. It was good.

GVB – When you really get going in the instructional league what are some of the things they want you to work on?

TG – Basically my approached at the plate, they want me to relax at little at the plate. I've learned that harder is not better in baseball, I need to relax a little. They also want me to strengthen my arm to avoid further shoulder problems.

GVB – The Pirates say your mental approach serves you well.

TG – I put it all out there on the field. I don't have the prettiest swing or prettiest mechanics, but I feel like I try to get things done and make things happen.

GVB – We've talked about hitting, how do you feel about your defense?

TG – I'm happy with my defense, I did well. But you always work on it and try to get better.

GVB – Do you have any timetable for your progression through the Pirates minor league system?

TG – I hope to move up quickly, but I'll take it as it comes.

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