Q&A with Field Coordinator Jody Reed - Part 2

We sat down with Yankees' minor league field coordinator Jody Reed for a Q&A session. In part two of this two-part series we ask him who has stood out for him among the new International signings, if Rob Refsnyder is big league ready, how close Jacob Lindgren is, if Eric Jagielo has a lot more left in the tank, how the system compares now to when he was first with the Yankees, and much more!.

PinstripesPlus.com: Between Tampa Instructs and Dominican Instructs a lot of the new International signings got to see some game action. I realize it's early in their development but who among the new signings has stood out for you?

Jody Reed: We signed a number of young players. Obviously Dermis Garcia, Wilkerman Garcia, Diego Castillo, all of these guys are young infielders and they're very impressive. And to think that they're just 16 years old is ridiculous with some of the skill sets that they're showing. There was a lot of excitement with that group as there is moving forward. We're excited to see how they develop and I know they are too.

PinstripesPlus.com: All of the guys we've talked about thus far are position prospects. I mentioned to our subscribers heading into last season that the prospect depth was starting to lean towards the position prospect side of things and it's certainly played out that way, and continuing to play out that way. I realize you're in player development and not necessarily part of the scouting department but is it safe to assume that securing more pitching in the amateur draft in June and in the International market will be a focal point over the next year or two to help balance things out? It would seem to me that has to be the next play here.

Reed: Like you said I might not be the person to address this but it would make sense knowing that our strength [is], that we're pretty set from a position prospect standpoint. Obviously I think that targeting the pitching side of it would probably make sense.

PinstripesPlus.com: I bring that up because not only do you have the young International position prospects you just signed and obviously the likes of Bird, Judge, and others we talked about, and even guys like Mateo starting to filter up from the rookie leagues, but there seems to be another group of guys, players like Kendall Coleman, Drew Bridges, Alvaro Noriega, etc, all of whom seem pretty close to emerging. These are guys who haven't really put up number just yet. Do you see that, players that I mentioned or maybe some others that I didn't mention, beginning to emerge?

Reed: It's funny that you mention that because all of those guys -- we talked about the need if you will for a Pulaski -- all of those guys are perfect examples of guys we talked about needing to get out of the GCL and guys we need to get going a little bit to enhance their development. And every one of those guys are guys we're talking about. Yes, there was that thinking that we've got these young guys and we need this level so we can push them forward and let them get the experiences that they need because like I said we're going to be aggressive. The feeling is some of these guys are really going to excel and push their way up the ladder, and guess what, if they're ready to go they'll go.

PinstripesPlus.com: On the subject of being aggressive, I hadn't seen a pitcher like Jacob Lindgren come in and have the immediate success he had, and move as quickly up the minor league ladder as he did probably since Joba Chamberlain. What were your impressions of Lindgren last year? Obviously he just got drafted in June but how close is he to being big league ready?

Reed: Well he's going over there [to big league camp]. Obviously that's a decision for the major league staff -- Joe [Girardi], 'Cash', Billy Eppler, and those guys need to make, but he was absolutely dominant and quite honestly that's why he made those jumps. It's like 'this kid is doing the job at these levels so let's get him to the next level'. I think that's going to be the philosophy moving forward. Players are going to move now when the players show us he's ready. If you're ready you're going and I think that's exciting for the player. That's all the player wants to know, 'if I'm ready and my skill set, and my development says it's time to go' they want to go, and I don't think we're going to hold them back anymore. It's good because the sooner we can get you up there the sooner you can help the Major League club.

PinstripesPlus.com: Jose Campos and Slade Heathcott were released from the 40-man roster this offseason, moves that were used by some as a criticism of their talent and/or the Yankee developmental program. Did you see their release from the 40-man as any sort of indictment of their talent or the player development program or was this just a happenstance of two guys being hurt at the wrong time?

Reed: I think the latter is exactly what happened. Both of them have spent extensive time off of the field due to injuries. I also think [their release] is an indication of the strength of the organization. When you have players who have the potential that they have --- but we're reaching that level where the strength of the players we have are forcing us to make decisions like that. We still love them as players. They're very talented and their skill set is off the charts, and they both signed back and we're excited to have them. You know what though? Let's get back on the field, show us what you can do, and get you back on track, and get you up to the Major League level.

PinstripesPlus.com: Just like the shortstop position at the A-ball and lower levels where there is a glut of guys, you seem to now have a similar growing problem with outfielders at the Double-A and Triple-A level, especially with Heathcott being back in the mix. How are you going to get all of these guys reps? Is that just another good problem to have?

Reed: Great problem to have, I absolutely love it. More importantly they look at all of those guys and the guys coming up from below them -- competition is a good thing. It's great. We talked about teaching guys how to fight for time and fight for things, fighting to stay on the field and fighting for your position, those are all good things because guess what, when you get to the big leagues you're going to constantly be fighting for your job. You're constantly going to have to prove your worth versus a young guy coming up. One of the things we're teaching them is we don't fear competition, we relish it. We look forward to it.

PinstripesPlus.com: Okay in that vein then I know in years past guys have been showing up earlier and earlier each year in preparation for the new season. I realize it's extremely early now but in the spirit of this breeding competition you're talking about, are guys starting to show up now?

Reed: It is very, very early. I know on the 18th we're bringing in a group of rehab players to get start throwing. We're also bringing in a 'Captain's Camp', a group of players we feel we want to do some things with, mainly setting the tone. We feel they possess leadership skills both on and off the field. We're looking for this group to elevate those around them and the idea is if we get an organization filled with players who understand what it means to be New York Yankees, how we go about our business, our expectations on and off the field, and develop that accountability amongst the players, now you've got something special brewing.

PinstripesPlus.com: How many players are going to this 'Captain's Camp'?

Reed: I think we have 15 guys and it starts January 18th.

PinstripesPlus.com: You're talking about captains so let's talk about Rob Refsnyder because in my opinion he certainly falls in that category. He had a tremendous year last season. A lot has been made of the Stephen Drew signing and what it means to Refsnyder's immediate future. I realize it's not your call if he makes the big league team or not but where do you think his game is right now? Is it just a little more fine-tuning defensively? How close is he to being big league ready in your opinion?

Reed: Well you know what I think that's up to Rob. I think Rob is going to show us when he's ready to play in the big leagues. That's all you can expect as a coach, as an organization, and as a player. You show us when you're ready and guess what, when you are that's when you'll be there.

PinstripesPlus.com: Still on the subject of the 'Captain's Camp', Luis Torrens fits that mold in my mind too as one of the younger guys. This is a guy who hasn't put up the great numbers yet but when you talk to any scout they love the kid. Do you think he's closing in on being in the pantheon of elite prospects sometime here soon?

Reed: So Patrick you think he should be on that list? Well guess what, he is. Of course he is.

PinstripesPlus.com: I bet I could come close to naming everyone one of those 15 guys.

Reed: I bet you can too. The point being is though that those guys stick out. They stick out in how they go about their business, they stick out in how they play the game, how they communicate and get along with their fellow teammates. That's why they're coming. And Luis Torrens is one of those guys. Not only does the industry think very highly of him but so do we. Last year he made some very big strides especially being converted from an infielder to catching. He took to it great. It was a great learning process behind the plate from game calling, to receiving, to framing, to pitcher relations, the whole nine yards. Are we excited about Luis Torrens? Absolutely, because of all the things he demonstrated last year. So we're going to get him in here and I guess show him a little more what it means to be a New York Yankee and a professional player, and the demands, especially at his position.

PinstripesPlus.com: I don't want to say Eric Jagielo has been getting killed in the media or anything but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of attention on him yet. I know he didn't have the greatest numbers last year but I feel like there's a lot more hitting potential left in his game. Do you feel like this is a guy who is really only scratching the surface of what he can do?

Reed: I do. I think Eric learned a lot about the game of baseball. There's physical tools and physical talent but with James Rowson coming in I know he spent a lot of time with these guys on the mental side of the game, on setting up at-bats, and game planning, and video. In today's game information is king. One of the things you have to do is to teach these kids not only to how to acquire [the information] but how to apply it. I think 'Jags' is one of those guys who really started to understand the value of it and how to apply it, and the bat got better as the year went on. To take that, what he learned last year, and move forward into a new year, it's exciting. Again, you talk about this being a big year for some guys, Jagielo is one of those.

PinstripesPlus.com: You mentioned this being a big year for some, including Jagielo, Mason Williams, and Cito Culver. The strength of a farm system isn't only just in the younger players emerging but it's also in the ability for some guys coming off of disappointing years to bounce back and reverse their prospect status. Angelo Gumbs could certainly fit in that category. Do you see one or a number of these guys, maybe even a Gosuke Katoh to some degree, making that next step in their development and turning things around this coming year?

Reed: We certainly hope so. I think those are the guys in any organization, because every organization has them, they're the difference-makers. They're the ones for whatever reason people say they're stalling or they had a setback, or people use the term they've hit their ceiling -- you know what -- that's when as a group, and that includes the player, the coaches, all of the resources that are available, if you can go in and figure out how to get him back on track and get back to that prominent level, that might be one of the most rewarding things that you do. The first part of that is getting them to buy into believing in themselves again. A lot of times seasons like that set you back confidence-wise. If we can reestablish confidence back in themselves, get them to believe in the path that we're taking with them, and get out there and demonstrate the results, quite honestly for me those are the guys that elevate your development organization.

PinstripesPlus.com: How excited are you for this upcoming season? How much better do you think the farm system can be in 2015 versus last year?

Reed: Based on all of the elements we talked about, based on the guys at the upper levels that are near the point of being considered or breaking into the Major League level, talking about the young guys coming up, making their way up the ladder and forcing the competition, discussing the guys who maybe haven't reached their potential or their proposed potential, the prospects who have "stalled", the opportunity to take all of those players and enter a new season and have strong pushes forward, positives impact, that's probably the excitement of each year. We've obviously identified and know these guys, and every guy in the organization we feel strongly about. We feel every guy has a chance. But when we talk about the attitude coming in when guys are going to start showing up, that kind of organizational philosophy and excitement it's viral, and it's spreading quick. There's a lot of excitement going into the 2015 season, not only as an organization but with the player development and even at the Major League level because there's some really, really good things happening right now.

PinstripesPlus.com: You coached at the Gulf Coast League level a number of years back before you left so you had a pretty good sense of the farm system back then. How does the farm system now compare to it back then before you left?

Reed: The New York Yankees have always been in my mind one of the top of the line organizations because it's so well organized, it's so well structured. The personnel that's involved understands what it wears the "NY". It's special. The requirements are more but that's okay, we accept that. I think the players understand what it means to wear the "NY" and they're excited for it. I don't think that has changed at all, I really don't. It's an honor. It's an honor to be a New York Yankee. It was back then and it still is. That's the one constant that hasn't changed and it never will. We're the New York Yankees.

PinstripesPlus.com: I guess a better way of asking the question is depth-wise how is the farm system different now versus back then?

Reed: In all honesty the talent at the upper levels, and when I say that I mean Double-A and Triple-A, the options, the opportunities to help the Major League club, are so much stronger now. Back then we had younger players but there really wasn't the depth or I felt like the options to help the Major League club to be able to do a whole lot of stuff. Now? When you look at the Double-A and Triple-A rosters, oh, there's a lot of things that are available to the Major League clubs in a lot of different ways, be it contributing directly or the industry sees quality baseball players and there's things that you can do.

PinstripesPlus.com: I absolutely agree with you and I'm not sure that the lower levels right now aren't deeper than what they were when you were here with the Yankees initially all of those years ago.

Reed: Well they are, especially at from say to Charleston down. There are so many young, and when I say young I mean under 20-year olds; there are so many. Of course we always dream of 'if these guys can do what we want them to do over the course of the next four years', this could be an exciting time for the organization to make available players to contribute to the Major League club and for an extended time. That's ultimately your goal, to establish a period where for the next 'x' amount of years creating players that are ready to break into the big leagues and if you need them that they are there. I think if you look back at the history of the Yankees at what was obviously one of the most fruitful periods in their history when they had the 'Core Four' -- where did they come from? Wouldn't it be nice to have history repeat itself? And that's what we're hoping.

PinstripesPlus.com: In my opinion it's tough to argue that the farm system isn't in great shape and that it's trending upward.

Reed: We hope the industry recognizes what we feel should be, that there's a lot of players here that are going to surprise some people this year.


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