Q&A with GCL Yankees2 Manager Pat Osborn

We sat down with Gulf Coast League Yankees2 Manager Pat Osborn for a Q&A session. In part one of this two-part series we concentrate on the hitters, including his thoughts on shortstop Angel Aguilar, how he compares to Jorge Mateo, his early impressions of Junior Valera, Yancarlos Baez, and Tyler Palmer, and much, much more.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's start with the hitter production-wise from your team -- shortstop Angel Aguilar. What were your impressions of him in 2014?

Pat Osborn: He's a hell of a prospect. His numbers speak for themselves obviously. I would have voted for him as the best player in the league and that's from the teams we saw. You're talking about a guy that's 19 years old that plays a premium position and can play it. He's not a guy I think will have to wind up having to move unless he outgrows the position so first and foremost he can play shortstop and the bat though is what's going to carry him. I think he profiles as an offensive middle of the diamond player with a chance to hit for a lot of power. It's surprising because he's not the biggest guy but somehow, some way he generates a lot of bat speed and can really impact the baseball.

PinstripesPlus.com: You know Jorge Mateo was the one that entered the season with a lot of expectations and perhaps that allowed Aguilar to fly under the radar a little bit and has a really great year. He can hit for some power and you mentioned he profiles at shortstop -- do you like where the speed is?

Osborn: He's not a burner. He's probably average from the right side. He'll steal you a base [though]; he's smart, he's got good instincts on the base paths, and he runs well enough to do that but by no means is he going to flash some times that Mateo is going to. He's 19 so he's going to get bigger and stronger. If he does lose a step then you're talking about maybe seeing him over at second or maybe even third base, depending on how that power develops. For right now though he can play short [so you] keep him there and see where he goes with it.

PinstripesPlus.com: We mentioned Jorge Mateo's name. I realize he played on the other GCL team but I'm sure you got some looks at him in Extended Spring Training and at Instructs. Just talk about what you've seen from him thus far?

Osborn: He's just one of those kids that doesn't come around very often, especially in baseball. His skill set I'd guess you say, or his tools, you're looking at a guy who in my opinion -- and I've said this to multiple people -- if he grew up in the United States you might be seeing a guy who is a Division 1 football player, a big-time Division 1 football player. That's the kind of speed, talent, and athleticism this kid has and it's not just that, he has baseball skills; he has good hands, he has good instincts, he has a very good arm, he has some power. [The power] didn't show up like Angel's did but in BP I've seen 'Georgey' hit some balls in Extended off of the batter's eye in centerfield and kind of make you shake your head and say 'where did that come from'. He's special. He's a special talent. He's been blessed by God with a ton of ability and he's exciting. I don't think there's a guy in the system that has his ceiling.

PinstripesPlus.com: I know you haven't been with the Yankees forever but the Yankees have had some extremely toolsy players over the years. Mateo is different than the others though in my opinion because he comes across as highly intelligent and more so the desire to be great. Do you see the mental aspect kind of being the glue that puts all of those great tools you mentioned together?

Osborn: He and Angel both have that. You can tell that they want to be great, they want to learn, they're going to work, they're hard on themselves but I think it's in a good way because they expect to be much better than their peers so it definitely shows up in both of them. And 'Georgey' speaks pretty good English already [which is] very rare for a kid his age. It's not just the baseball side of things, I think their characters profile very high as well.

PinstripesPlus.com: Well here's a collective question about both of them then -- they're both really young and relatively inexperienced -- do you think though that they both have a chance to move relatively quickly given the high character you've mentioned and the fact that they seem more polished than most teenagers?

Osborn: Yeah I wouldn't be surprised if the two of them get pushed in terms of the level they're profiled to play at but then again they both need to play and that's the tricky part. Maybe one of them or both of them start to play a different position just so they can be in the lineup everyday so they're playing, but they're definitely going to get pushed. I think their ability warrants that but also with their character they'll be able to handle it.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about another shortstop, Yancarlos Baez. He's a little bit different in that he might not be nearly as polished as Aguilar and Mateo, and I realize you didn't have him for a whole season obviously, but what were your initial impressions?

Osborn: I really liked him. Like you said, I didn't get to see a bunch of him. He came up when Angel got hurt with a couple of weeks left in the season. He's very, very good defensively for a kid who's 6-foot-3, long, wiry, very rangy, he can really play short. I was very impressed by that. I was a shortstop growing up and I had a similar body type and I was nowhere near the defensive player he is. Offensively I think it's there, it's just going to need some more work, some mechanical stuff here and there. We'll let our hitting guys take care of that. I liked what I saw though; very good head on his shoulders, plays the game the right way, and a very good base stealer [which is] something else that stood out to me. I don't know if he got thrown out but he stole a bunch of bases in the DR, stole a few for us. I liked what I saw. He's a kid who has some ceiling.

PinstripesPlus.com: Another shortstop -- Tyler Palmer -- I know he played a little bit for you as well. I don't know how a guy with his tools goes undrafted but what were your initial impressions? What did you think of him?

Osborn: Like you said, a very interesting case. It's a hell of a job by our scouting department to find him. He's a kid who has been blessed with a lot of ability and he just needed to play. He's a very good shortstop. He's a very good shortstop, a very good second baseman, he's a very good athlete. He's a kid you could put anywhere on the diamond and he's going to play well. He can run, he has a good arm, good instincts, great body control. He's a great athlete. He showed some power, showed the ability to steal a base whenever he wanted to. I don't think he got thrown out the whole season. He's going to have to use the whole field offensively; right now he's pretty pull-happy. He's a very intriguing kid though because he's undrafted, went to a small school. I'm not sure where we found him but the kid has a lot of ability.

PinstripesPlus.com: When I spoke with Travis Chapman he mentioned that shortstop was absolutely Palmer's best position. Do you agree?

Osborn: Yeah it is. He played third for me, a little short when Angel needed a day off, but the days he played short he made some plays that kind of made you shake your head. And he kept doing it and doing it. That's what stood out to me, this kid is first and foremost a shortstop..

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move on to Junior Valera. He's been around for a while now but this was only his first year in the United States. Talk about what you saw from him this year.

Osborn: I absolutely love Junior. He's a guy who is a little bit older and like you said it was his first time in the States, but the one thing about him is he's Luis Castillo's clone. I don't know if you remember Luis Castillo from the Marlins and then the Mets but it's his clone. They're identical not only in the way they look but in the way they play, the way they wear their uniform, it's crazy. That's the first thing that stood out to me. I first saw Junior in Extended [Spring Training] and I didn't see much but I initially had some question marks in my head about him but I had him everyday on the GCL team and the kid can play. I hope he continues to improve. His offense is ahead of his defense right now. He needs to improve at second base but offensively you're talking about a guy who profiles at the top of the lineup or even hitting ninth -- I don't think you'd want anything else. He's an extremely good bunter -- I don't think I've ever seen a guy who can bunt like him. He can fly, he showed a little power, he can steal a base, he puts the bat on the ball, and he just creates havoc with what he can do with his legs. He's someone I'm very excited about and looking forward to seeing how he develops.

PinstripesPlus.com: Outfielder Frank Frias is another older guy who's just recently made his way to the United States. He put up some numbers this year. I know he had the bad injury but what did you see from him before he got hurt?

Osborn: Yeah poor kid, he was one of our better players all year long until the ankle injury. He's very steady, very consistent. He just goes about his business the right way, plays hard everyday, competes, can play all three outfield spots and play them well, he has a very strong and accurate arm, he has a line-drive swing [too]. I think there's some power in there just looking at his body. He's a plus runner. I don't think you'd ever guess it looking at the kid but shoot I got him [as a] 4.1, 4.2 consistently down the line. You look at him and he's a big, strong kid. It was sad this his season was cut short because I think he would have continued to improve and really finished the season well, and put up some even better numbers. He's another unheralded kid from what I know that came over and performed.

PinstripesPlus.com: Frias, Valera, these are more 'sleeper' type guys. Would Allen Valerio fit in that mold? Does he have enough power to profile as a corner guy?

Osborn: That's the question with him. I think everything else profiles very, very well. For me he's a plus defender at third base. He's an athletic kid and he has a great swing. If the power comes I think he's very intriguing. If the power doesn't come I think he will [still] play a long time but probably more as a utility type guy, a guy who can play third, first, corner outfield, maybe even some short, that type of guy. He's another one of my favorites. He did a heck of a job for us. He's got a good head on his shoulders, he plays the game the right way, and if the power comes then we may have something.

PinstripesPlus.com: Just a general question, who for you stood out at Instructs this year? And it doesn't necessarily have to be somebody from your GCL squad.

Osborn: I'll tell you what, the Korean kid, Hoy Jun Park, he's very, very intriguing to me. From the little game action I saw [of him] he looked to be pretty advanced for his age. He's 18 so that would make him a high school senior type kid. He has a very, very good idea at the plate. I think you're going to see a kid who doesn't strike out a lot -- he's going to get a lot of hits. I think he's just that type of player. He finds a way to get the barrel on the ball. He plays a very easy shortstop. You watch him play and you're like 'is he even trying'. He's fun to watch. There's an outfielder too, Carlos Vidal. I liked him a lot; a little left-handed hitting centerfielder. Good swing, competed in the box, looked like he could play centerfield. And then you have Wilkerman Garcia who is a high profile sign that plays shortstop. He seemed to be pretty good already. All of those young kids that we signed are really talented. Those three though -- Park, Garcia, and Vidal -- I really liked. Of the older guys, I really like Greg Bird. He was there for a little bit before he went on the Arizona Fall League and what he did there speaks for itself. I think he has the chance to be a superstar with the way he carries himself and the way he works. He's humble too. I really, really, really like Greg.

PinstripesPlus.com: On the subject of Bird, and I mentioned this to Travis Chapman and I know he's not there yet, but I could Drew Bridges becoming Bird-esque in the coming years. You've seen Bridges too obviously -- do you see the comparison?

Osborn: Yeah you're right, even their personalities are pretty similar even though Bird is probably a little more outgoing. But yeah, I can see that.

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