Interview with Mike Aviles

Since being drafted in the seventh round of the 2003 draft, infielder Mike Aviles has put together a pretty solid offensive track record in the minor leagues. This year for Omaha, Aviles hit .296 while launching 17 home runs, a nice improvement over his 2006 numbers. Over the weekend, RC caught up with Aviles to talk about his season, his approach at the plate, and what he still needs to work on.

Royals Corner: Mike, how do you feel about your performance this year?

Mike Aviles: I feel like we had a good season. I wish we would have been able to come out on top, but we had a tough division. Overall, I think we played well and had a pretty good season.

Aviles hit .296/.332/.463 with 17 home runs this season

RC: Overall, you had a pretty good season this year, and made an improvement over your 2006 numbers. What was the biggest factor in your improvement?

MA: Basically I just came into this season thinking that I needed to improve and make some adjustments. Last winter, I went to Puerto Rico and made some adjustments, just trying to drive the ball more into right field, to wait and be more a little more patient at the plate and become a better hitter. And also, on defense, just try to minimize my errors and not try to make routine plays harder than they are. But I feel that I went out and did what I was supposed to do -- make my little adjustments to make myself a better ballplayer, and try to help the team win.

RC: What's your approach at the plate?

MA: My approach at the plate probably isn't different from most hitters. You look for a pitch you can drive early in the count, and with two strikes, you just try to protect and put the ball in play. For the most part, early in the count, I'm looking for a pitch I can drive in the gap to get a double, triple, sometimes a homer, just trying to get on base and see if I can get into scoring position for the next guy to knock me in.

Aviles led the O-Royals with 77 RBIs this season

RC: What part of your offensive game do you think still needs the most work?

MA: I still think I can be a little more patient. There are times when I'm patient and wait for my pitch and don't miss it, but there are also times when I just go out of my plan and swing at a pitch that I normally wouldn't swing at, and it turns into a wasted at bat. I think I can be a little more patient and try to get a little bit more walks, and probably a few more hits, but for the most part, I'm happy with my season. But there's always room for improvement.

RC: Let's talk about your defense. You've moved around quite a bit between shortstop, second base, and third base. Do you have any preference?

MA: Actually, before, I would rather play short. Now, it's honestly second, third, or short -- they're all the same to me. I've played so much at all three, all year, it's basically pretty much an even split all the way around. On any given day, it doesn't matter to me what position I'm playing. They're all the same to me. I've gotten so comfortable at all three that they all feel exactly the same to me.

Aviles has played extensively at shortstop, third base, and second base this year

RC: What would you say is the biggest thing you need to improve defensively.

MA: Minimizing my errors on routine plays. If you make a nice play, it's usually not a play that's expected of you. But I would like to minimize the errors on my routine plays, and make sure I make those plays, because those are the plays you get more often than not.

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