Rays Prospect Q & A: Lucas Bailey

Lucas Bailey was a fourth-round selection by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2009 June Amateur Draft. Last year at Low-A Bowling Green, Bailey posted a .223 batting average with 7 home runs and 35 RBI in 247 at bats. Defensively, he is known for having a strong arm and controlling a game very well. We caught up with Bailey after a spring training workout on Tuesday. Inside is our interview.

Rays Digest: How as your spring training experience been so far? What kinds of things have you been doing?

Lucas Bailey: It's been good. Defensively, we've been working on all sorts of things. Catching-wise, we've been working on blocking and getting quicker with footwork. It's always a main goal to control the pitching staff better, by finding ways to work with guys and figuring everybody out. There's been a lot of talk in the bullpens trying to see how our pitchers click and what we got to do to help them. Defensively, it's been very productive so far.

Offensively, I'm trying to be more selective at the plate. I want to lower my strikeout numbers and increase my walk numbers and be more productive for the team by getting guys in when they are in scoring position and just being more selective at the plate.

Rays Digest: You have a good amount of power and the problem for you - as you said - seems to be strikeouts. Is there anything specifically in terms of your approach or swing that you have been working on to cut down on the strikeouts and make more consistent contact?

Bailey has been working this spring on shortening up his stroke and being more selective at the plate.

Lucas Bailey: Definitely. I'm trying to shorten my swing up. Ever since my surgery, I have had a long swing. I took a year off from baseball and was rehabbing. I went through the rehab program and when I came back, my swing was really long. That's been the main thing - shortening that up. I've been trying to be more down to the ball and direct to it, instead of muscling up and trying to hit the ball out. I've shortened up my swing a lot and just taken the whole home run thing out of mind and just tried to hit more line drives and be more productive.

Rays Digest: You were talking a little bit about your defensive work. One of the great things that I've heard about you from scouts is that you are really good at controlling the game and working with pitchers and obviously you have a very strong arm. Defensively, what is your mindset when you're on the field? Specifically, how do you work with pitchers and what's your way of getting on the same page with them?

Lucas Bailey: Basically, my whole goal defensively for that day or game is to make that pitcher look as good as he possibly can. Throwing guys out and stuff like that comes along with helping that pitcher out. Making a play but getting a pick-off at third, that kind of stuff goes towards helping a pitcher out and relieve some pressure. I want him to pitch to the best of his ability without worrying about pressure or distractions. If I can pick a guy off or something, then I'm all about that.

The main thing is working with that pitcher and figuring out what I can do - if I need to go out to the mound and get on him or if he is a guy that you go out to and say "hey man, you're doing great" and talk him up and build him up. But I talk to the pitcher every game before we go out there and learn how he wants to pitch that game. We go over all the batters. I get the scouting report and study that before the game. Really if I can make that pitcher to throw the least amount of pitches possible and get him through 7 or 8 - that's the main goal for the day.

Rays Digest: Jose Molina, who just signed with the Rays this off-season, is a master at framing pitches. He is one of the best in the major leagues. Is that something that you focus on in the minor leagues as a catcher? Because obviously that is something that can really help out a pitching staff.

Lucas Bailey: Yeah. We have drills that we do all the time. We do the machine drill to help us catch pitches and receive them better and make the pitches look as good as they possibly can. We don't want to go out there and not show that pitcher that we aren't trying as hard as we possibly can to make that pitcher look as good as possibly can.

Rays Digest: If you could pinpoint a couple of goals for yourself for the season as far as personal goals or stuff you want to work on - what would they be?

Lucas Bailey: I want every pitcher - wherever I go, what ever staff it is - to want me to catch. I want them to want me in the lineup, regardless of where I'm batting or what I've done the day before. I want them to want to throw to me and to feel comfortable with me and trust me throughout the whole game.

John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at raysdigest.com@gmail.com.


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