Vitek Getting Stronger

Kolbrin Vitek, Boston's first round pick in 2010, had a solid first full season last year with the Salem Red Sox. Once again proving he can hit professional pitching, while the power numbers were not quite there in 2011 he says he's not too concerned about it long-term.

"I think last year was a very good year for me," he said. "I learned a lot about third base as a position and I feel really more comfortable about myself as a player after last year. I think I developed quite a bit."

Gaining confidence defensively and learning to handle the rigors of a long season for the first time were big stepping points in his development, as was not trying to do too much.

"The biggest thing in my game that I think I improved – you always hear about slowing the game down – I have such a better understanding about that statement now," he said. "I feel like I have the ability of doing so, slowing the game down and making it easier for myself.

"I just have a better understanding of that and the knowledge that goes into the game. It was my first time playing a full season and getting the grasp of it. It was a very big learning year for me."

He also admits getting a bit more consistent on the defensive side of the ball was a big step too even though further tweaking his game in that regard will remain a mantra going forward in the immediate future.

"I think my defense is the biggest area for me to improve," he admitted. "I've put in a lot of hard work at third base and I'm going to continue to do so this spring, and hopefully earn a spot at the next level at third base. I think that's the biggest thing I need to continue to work on so I feel both comfortable at the plate and in the field.

"Just reading the ball off of the bat at third base just because there's so many different plays you can make – you get the hard one-hoppers, the high bouncers – so reading the ball off of the bat and going in the direction I need to go in, that's the biggest thing I need to work on.

"I need to stay relaxed. Third base is a position that you need to keep your glove hand completely relaxed in order to be successful."

While there has been some chatter about possibly getting some reps in the outfield at some point, Vitek remains determined to stick at third base. And while he has proven he has the batting ability to be a run producer, his three home runs with Salem last year are a bit lower than most corner infielders usually provide.

"I'm very comfortable at the plate," he said. "That's always been my strong point in baseball. That's the fun thing about baseball, going up there for four at-bats every game and just seeing how hard you can hit the ball, get on base and run around a little bit.

"I'm pretty comfortable at the plate and I'm pretty solid with my approach I feel like. I go through a few adjustments each season but it's nothing dramatic. I feel like I've kind of got that nailed down."

Nobody questions his ability to hit for average though. It's both his short-term and long-term power potential that remain a question mark for some, but even with that Vitek isn't about to change his game in the name of a few more home runs.

"My concentration at the plate has been about the percentages, getting on base and scoring runs," he reiterated. "That's the biggest thing. Keeping that average up and as long as I'm still driving the ball I think the power will come.

"I'm not going to try and loft my swing or anything because I'd like to keep my average up, I think that's the most important thing."

Currently on his way to report to the minor league complex for Spring Training, Vitek does think he's entering his second full season a little bit better prepared for a power surge now that he has grown accustomed to the wooden bats.

"I do," said Vitek, who has gained ten pounds this offseason. "My preseason work this year, I've never had the ball come off of the bat like it has been. I feel a lot stronger this year, kind of coming into my man strength now that I'm getting older and working harder in the weight room.

"My power has looked good to me so far this year even though others haven't really been able to evaluate it yet. I feel a lot better about it this year and we'll see what happens."


Diehard Magazine Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"I think last year was a very good year for me,\" he said. \"I learned a lot about third base as a position and I feel really more comfortable about myself as a player after last year. I think I developed quite a bit.\"
\r\n
\r\nGaining confidence defensively and learning to handle the rigors of a long season for the first time were big stepping points in his development, as was not trying to do too much.
\r\n
\r\n\"The biggest thing in my game that I think I improved – you always hear about slowing the game down – I have such a better understanding about that statement now,\" he said. \"I feel like I have the ability of doing so, slowing the game down and making it easier for myself.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just have a better understanding of that and the knowledge that goes into the game. It was my first time playing a full season and getting the grasp of it. It was a very big learning year for me.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe also admits getting a bit more consistent on the defensive side of the ball was a big step too even though further tweaking his game in that regard will remain a mantra going forward in the immediate future.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think my defense is the biggest area for me to improve,\" he admitted. \"I've put in a lot of hard work at third base and I'm going to continue to do so this spring, and hopefully earn a spot at the next level at third base. I think that's the biggest thing I need to continue to work on so I feel both comfortable at the plate and in the field.
\r\n
\r\n\"Just reading the ball off of the bat at third base just because there's so many different plays you can make – you get the hard one-hoppers, the high bouncers – so reading the ball off of the bat and going in the direction I need to go in, that's the biggest thing I need to work on.
\r\n
\r\n\"I need to stay relaxed. Third base is a position that you need to keep your glove hand completely relaxed in order to be successful.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile there has been some chatter about possibly getting some reps in the outfield at some point, Vitek remains determined to stick at third base. And while he has proven he has the batting ability to be a run producer, his three home runs with Salem last year are a bit lower than most corner infielders usually provide.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm very comfortable at the plate,\" he said. \"That's always been my strong point in baseball. That's the fun thing about baseball, going up there for four at-bats every game and just seeing how hard you can hit the ball, get on base and run around a little bit.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm pretty comfortable at the plate and I'm pretty solid with my approach I feel like. I go through a few adjustments each season but it's nothing dramatic. I feel like I've kind of got that nailed down.\"
\r\n
\r\nNobody questions his ability to hit for average though. It's both his short-term and long-term power potential that remain a question mark for some, but even with that Vitek isn't about to change his game in the name of a few more home runs.
\r\n
\r\n\"My concentration at the plate has been about the percentages, getting on base and scoring runs,\" he reiterated. \"That's the biggest thing. Keeping that average up and as long as I'm still driving the ball I think the power will come.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm not going to try and loft my swing or anything because I'd like to keep my average up, I think that's the most important thing.\"
\r\n
\r\nCurrently on his way to report to the minor league complex for Spring Training, Vitek does think he's entering his second full season a little bit better prepared for a power surge now that he has grown accustomed to the wooden bats.
\r\n
\r\n\"I do,\" said Vitek, who has gained ten pounds this offseason. \"My preseason work this year, I've never had the ball come off of the bat like it has been. I feel a lot stronger this year, kind of coming into my man strength now that I'm getting older and working harder in the weight room.
\r\n
\r\n\"My power has looked good to me so far this year even though others haven't really been able to evaluate it yet. I feel a lot better about it this year and we'll see what happens.\"
\r\n
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