Vidal Has The Goods

PULASKI, VA - Despite the ho-hum 6-6 start to the Yankees’ debut season in Pulaski, there are plenty of bright spots. Centerfielder Carlos Vidal has taken over the leadoff spot in the Yankees’ lineup and has found success quickly. Through the team’s first twelve games, Vidal has hit .300 with five walks and quickly has shown the natural instincts of a ball player.

“I still think I can help the team more,” Vidal said through the help of a translator. “I want to do more so I can help this team win more games.”

“Some guys from the beginning just look like ball players,” Pulaski Yankees manager Tony Franklin said. “We see the actions on the field, the way he throws and the way he handles himself, he just has a pretty good feel for the game. Carlos is one of those guys. You put him in the game and watch him play, he can run, hit and throw. He has very good instincts.”

Vidal, who signed with the Yankees last year and debuted in the Dominican Summer League to the tune of a .361 average, played in the Yankees’ Instructional League last fall and participated in Extended Spring Training this year before being assigned to Pulaski.

“I tried to get strong and work out," Vidal said. "I wanted to take care of my body for the beginning of the season. I studied a lot of pitchers and tried to become an overall better hitter. I really wanted to concentrate on that.”

Franklin thinks that Vidal, who is listed at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, can still have success, even if he isn’t a big player.

“(Baseball) is a physically demanding sport,” Franklin said. “Fortunately we have conditioning people with us on a daily basis that recognize and know that if you’re not strong and it doesn’t mean you have to bulk up, but you have to be strong enough to withstand to go through it every single day out there. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5-foot-10 or 6-foot-4, you need the strength to play.”

Vidal said the assignment to Pulaski was disappointing at first. He was expecting to be assigned to the Charleston RiverDogs, the low-A, long-season affiliate for the Yankees.

“I wasn’t happy,” Vidal said. “But now that I’m here I’m ready to give it all I have out there on the field. If God wants me to, I’ll end up in Charleston.”

“I think he’s at a good level right now to find out just how good he’s going to be,” Franklin said. “We thing he’s going to be a pretty good baseball player.”

With his start, Vidal has made the Yankees organization notice him. He’s impressed teammates and coaches alike.

“There are some guys that just play the game very well,” Franklin said. “He always seems to be in the right spot and he never seems to be surprised by anything on the field. That’s a sign of a pretty instinctive baseball player."

Not only has Vidal, a native of Columbia, impressed on the field, Franklin said he’s made the cultural transition too.

“I think he’s done it tremendously,” Franklin said. “He didn’t speak very much when he first got here but now during games he’s very vocal. He speaks a little English, he’s developed a good rapport with the guys. He’s a very likeable guy. He’s growing in every aspect of the game. You have to be comfortable where you are and hopefully we’ve made him comfortable.”

Franklin said that all International players will be offered English classes starting this week.

“Playing in Columbia, there were a lot of fans, so it isn’t much different” Vidal said. “Baseball-wise, it isn’t much different. I don’t really focus on the differences off the field, I just worry about baseball.”

Franklin normally likes to change up his lineups from game to game to get a look at all of his players. Vidal, however, has started all eleven games he has played in centerfield.

“He’s in one of those key positions in centerfield and he performs his duties well out there defensively. Offensively, he can hit, he runs well and has the ability to steal bases. For a young player, this being his first year, he’s moving in the right direction,” Franklin said. “I think he has the goods.”

Vidal is nowhere near a polished player but at this level, Franklin says, no one is.

“Players at this level always need to recognize pitches better, develop better strike zone discipline, walk more and increase OPS,” Franklin said. “Everything we talk about here needs to be polished. You have to be very polished at what you do.”

“I’m learning every day,” Vidal said. “I’ve learned to swing at better pitches, I’ve learned to steal bases. I feel like I’ve learned a total package so far.”

Franklin said he isn’t sure how far Vidal will go in baseball but says by the end of the season he’ll have a better idea.

“They’ll let you know where they are by the end of the year,” Franklin said. “The game will let you know where they are. That has never failed.

"Carlos will let us know and I’m sure it will be somewhere down the line. He’ll let us know where he’ll end up.”

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