Patrick Teale

We sat down with Yankees minor league field coordinator Jody Reed to discuss his opinions on Instructs.

We sat down with Yankees' minor league field coordinator Jody Reed for a Q&A session to discuss Instructs. In part two of this three-part series we get his take on the debuts of Hoy Jun Park, Donny Sands, and Trey Amburgey, get his thoughts on development of Dermis Garcia and Leonardo Molina, why Chris Gittens wasn't promoted more aggressively, and much, much more!.

PinstripesPlus.com: Moving on and keeping with the shortstop theme let's talk about Hoy Jun Park.  I know he didn't hit .300 but I thought he had a solid professional debut season this year, skipping a level and doing what he did in Pulaski.  Talk about his development so far; what have you seen?

Reed: Again, another one of our young players getting the opportunity to develop and mature moving forward.  You're excited because you know there's something there to work with.  You've got some talent, you've got ability, you've got intelligence, you've got feel for the game, you've got everything you need [really].  Probably the single biggest thing you're waiting on is for nature to take its course; grow up.  Again, he's 19.  Let's see what happens over the next two or three years as these kids develop into men and see what their game does.  We talked it about it earlier and Hoy is another example -- he has feel for the game, good mind that works out there especially in the middle infield, doesn't get caught off-guard, good game clock, swung the bat well.  Obviously this was, well we'll call it his first full professional season so those are tough.  Everyone has those learning curves in that first full season.  You deal with a lot.  These kids have never played that much baseball and that first year will jump on you a little bit.  In probably any one year your first full year as a professional you learn the most and it sets you up moving forward because now you know what's coming. 

PinstripesPlus.com: So on the heels of that answer it sounds like you're expecting more from Park as soon as next season, no?

Reed: Yeah without a doubt.

PinstripesPlus.com: Earlier you mentioned that you're not holdling guys back promotion-wise, that you'll move guys as soon as their play dictates being moved, and for the most part you guys were aggressive in promotions that way.  The one exception I thought though was Chris Gittens because he tore up the Gulf Coast League and didn't get promoted this year, and he's not exactly a teenager.  You mentioned him as standing out at Instructs -- how did he stand out?

Reed: When Chris came to us this year he was very raw.  Again, you heard me speak of one of our objectives in Instructional League and not just Instructional League but moving forward -- if you're going to play in the big leagues you need to be one of the smartest baseball players in the game.  That's who is in the big leagues, smart baseball players.  And when Chris got here he was very raw.  You could see the tools there but he was very raw in all phases of the game.  He simply just needed to learn.  He needed to learn the game.  That's what we set out to do and that's what he set out to do, and this is in every area of the game.  And possibly more than any player watching Chris develp this year you saw probably more than anybody because [his progress] was so extreme, it really was.  He dealt with some things personally that I think helped mature him as it normally does.  The things we go through and experience we tend to become stronger with.  This kid just had an eventful first year.  He had to deal with a lot of things and he's going to better for it, and we're extremely excited to see where Chris Gittens was at the end of Instructional League. 

PinstripesPlus.com: Is this a kid who now uses the whole field more?  Does he understand the nuances more of playing first base?  Talk specifically where his game has developed the most from the start of the season.

Reed: Obviously he's developed into a promising young hitter that has the ability to hit for power.  He's a big kid and this is going to be a big man.  That's there.  I think the biggest strides that he made this year was in the completeness of his game.  He [now] knows the value and the importance of playing defense.  He knows what he has to do on those bases.  He knows what he needs to be in the clubhouse.  He knows what it takes to be a quality teammate on and off the field.  Those are the things I feel have taken Chris to a different level.  He wants to be a complete player and for a guy who can hit the ball darn near 500 feet, to sit there and say 'I want to be a complete player', that's when you've got an opportunity for a special player.  You know who else is like that?  Greg Bird.  It wasn't too long ago that 'Birdie' was like 'I need to hit' and guys got in his head; 'Birdie we get it but you need to defend, you need to run the bases, you need to be complete.  You don't understand, when you get to New York, when you get to that level you've got to be complete.  You've got to be smart and you've got to do whatever the team needs'.  Now he understands and now he is that guy.  Chris Gittens is going through that transformation now.  He understands it and he wants to be that guy.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about Angel Aguilar because he nows gets lost in the shuffle a little bit with all of these promising shortstop prospects.  He didn't have the greatest year in Charleston this season after starting off on a bad foot with the injury he sustained back in Spring Training.  Where is he in his development?

Reed: Well you hit the nail right on the head; he got hurt.  He had a tough time staying on the field this year and obviously if you're not on the field number one you're losing developmental opportunities, chances to grow, and number two other people are getting the opportunities.  Again, in an environment that we have that's so competitive, especially at that position, if you don't stay on the field and if you're not moving forward then eyes are going to go elsewhere.  You kind of get, I don't want to say overlooked because he is a very good player, he really is, but he wasn't out there and other guys were so your attention tends to go elsewhere.  That's just human nature.  The bottom line is 'Lexi' is a very good, remember this, young player.  He's still a young player with a lot of tools and hopefully he got through the things that needed to physically and will be able to stay on the field because that's what he needs to do.  He needs to stay on the field and let those tools and the things he can do play out over the course of a full season.

PinstripesPlus.com: Couldn't the same thing be said about Dermis Garcia this year?  I know it was his debut season and I realize he's still just a 17-year old kid but he was hurt most of the year. 

Reed: Well yeah, obviously if you're hurt you're not on the field.  That's not rocket science to figure out you need to be on the field.  But again, listen to the ages we're talking about.  17, 19, 18, 20, they really are, they're kids.  And Dermis, yeah he missed some time, but we just need to let this kid grow into his body.  Big body, lots of power.  Throughout the course of Instructional League though you're starting to see the coordination starting to come back in or catch up really.  They go through these growing spurts and it's a little awkward, gaining your coordination and all of those other things to catch up with the body growth.  We got a glimpse of that in Instructional League.  All of the sudden you're like 'wow, look at this'.  He's going to be a big man with a lot of power potential in there and I think we started to see that coming in Instructional League with the BP's and even in the games, and in some of the simulated games we did and the drill packages.

PinstripesPlus.com: Sticking at third base let's talk about Donny Sands, another teenager but one who got to low-A Charleston in his debut season which is kind of unique for the Yankees.  What do you like about his game?

Reed: What don't you like about Donny Sands?  That's a better question.  He's got a nice skillset, he's athletic, he's got a good body, he moves well, has some pop in his bat, has a good feel for the barrel, moves well out on defense, has soft hands, has a strong arm, and runs well for a third baseman.  The kid could handle it so why not, send him up there.  And he did handle it pretty well.  He came to Instructional League hungry.  I think the other kids fed off of him.  This kid is a baseball rat.  Telling kids to be smart baseball players he was just asking questions, 'why, why, why do you do this, what is the pitcher thinking' and that's what you want.  Donny came on and just seemed like he was having fun learning the game of baseball for the four weeks we were there.

PinstripesPlus.com: That's why I asked that question so generally because while he doesn't have the one standout tool he doesn't seem to have a glaring weakness to his game either.  You hate labeling a first-year player a complete player but there doesn't seem to be a big hole in his game.  That's not to say his game is where it should be but there isn't a major hole either.  You agree?

Reed: I agree.  He's pretty sound in every phase.  Again, the biggest objective for pretty much every one of these kids is learn the game.  Learn the game.  Become a smart baseball player.  It's exciting because the clay is good.  You have some really good stuff there to mold.  You can shape it.  It's going to be fun to work with these guys.

PinstripesPlus.com: You mention the clay is good, that it can be molded.  I've felt that way for a while now with Kendall Coleman.  He's got the tools, obviously a bigger kid with longer limbs who has been hurt and that lost development time has worked against him, but it seemed to me towards the end of the year he turned things around.  How did he look there at Instructs?  We talked earlier about being excited to see what guys will be able to do next year -- Estrada, Avelino, etc -- to me Coleman is that guy too.

Reed: He's right there, he's right in that group.  He finished strong, the body is getting bigger and stronger, the shoulders are starting to fill out, you're starting to see the ball travel better off of his bat, and you're like 'okay, let's see where he goes'.  He's 20 years old.  You don't even start to get that baseball body, most of them, until they're 22 or 23.  He still has two more years before they get that body.  Let's see where there at then.  You're seeing the crisper ball off of the bat, the movements in the outfield and the coordination, all of those things, you can just see it.  You can sense it and feel it starting to come together.

PinstripesPlus.com: What about Leonardo Molina then?  He probably falls into that category too.  He didn't have the greatest debut season last year and while there wasn't a dramatic turnaround this year there seems to be some baby steps made this year.  Did he make a few more steps in his development than maybe the numbers would suggest?

Reed: Leo Molina is the perfect example of what we've been talking about, a player starting to grow into his body and his game reflecitng that.  Instructional League for Leo Molina was outstanding because in all honesty in the short six months if we go back to Spring Training and just watching him throughout the year and then in Instructional League, you're like 'wow'.  The coordination is starting to come, all of the sudden the legs are starting to get in line, and the power and everything is starting to come together.  Molina is probably the best example of what we're talking about, just having the patience and waiting for the power, the strength, and the body to develop.

PinstripesPlus.com: What are your initial impressions of Trey Amburgey? 

Reed: Oh, love him.  He's going to be a player, [actually already] is a player.  Surprised at what kind of player he is.  What do you want to say?  Steal of the draft?  How did this guy fall?  What was he, a 10th round pick?  It's like, seriously?  How does Trey Amburgey fall to that round in the draft?  This kid can play.  This is a ball player.

PinstripesPlus.com: I don't know how much of the big leagues you get to watch but I covered the Blue Jays for a number of years and he reminds me so much of Kevin Pillar.  I don't know if you've seen Pillar play or not.

Reed: I'm telling you what, Trey Amburgey has a bunch of fans in his corner.  I'm telling you, this kid has the chance to be a really, really good player.  He can do a lot of good things and he can play centerfield.

PinstripesPlus.com: We're talking about an underrated player, perhaps the steal of the draft, and somebody who comes to mind is Carlos Vidal as somebody who might not have the greatest tools but somebody who is just a good ball player and goes out and produces.  Talk about him, where is he in his development right now?

Reed: Let me ask you this, if we were to look into the big leagues and write down the 25-man rosters on 30 teams, how many of those guys would basically be guys who just play the game and know how to beat you?  A ton of them because they know how to find their way to the big leagues.  You know who that is?  Carlos Vidal.  He just does everything.  He just plays the game the right way and he knows how to beat you, and he'll do whatever it takes.  Here's the deal, when the manager fills out the lineup card each day he wants guys out there that he can trust.  Whose name is he going to put out there?


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