Patrick Teale

Kendall Coleman, a breakout candidate, reported to camp ready for a breakout season.

TAMPA, FL -- There's no debating it, outfielder Kendall Coleman has one of the higher ceilings in the entire Yankee farm system. He's shown it in spurts over three injury-marred seasons but the still 20-year old now says he's ready to take his game to the next level and it's hard not to believe him with the way he's reported to Spring Training camp this year.

He battled injuries in each of his first three professional seasons.  He tore his quad in his debut season back in 2013, had serious shin splint problems in 2014, and a broken thumb in Spring Training last year had him struggling initially upon his return.  He showed his top-shelf potential towards the end of the season, however, hitting .356 in his final 25 games for the Pulaski Yankees.

Finally healthy in the second half of the 2015 season and showcasing the kind of talent he has, he wanted to keep his momentum going this offseason.

"I took about a week off, that's about it," Coleman said. "I was just working out hard, trying to eat the right stuff, and luckily I put on a lot of weight. I've put on weight in the past but this year I feel a lot stronger and still have some speed. I feel good and hopefully I'll be able to keep the weight on now."

He reported to camp this year over 25 pounds heavier than when he ended his season last year and he put the weight on in all of the right places too.  Noticeably stronger in the upper torso and in the shoulder and chest in particular, physically he's never looked stronger.

"When I left Instructs I was 205 [pounds] and I weighed in on report date at 231 [pounds]. I had a good offseason," he said with a prideful smile.

He knows that with three injury-filled years in his first three professional seasons that his 2016 season is going to be a critically important one and he doesn't need to say it, it's obvious with how serious he took his offseason this year.

"I'm very focused," he said with a seriously driven tone. "I've never been more focused on anything in my life. I'm always focused but I think this year -- the first key is to stay healthy -- but I feel like I prepared myself to produce like I should, like I need to.

"I believe in myself now. I trust in my abilities because of what I've done preparing myself work ethic-wise so I believe it's going to be a good year."

He doesn't just look good, he's feeling good too.  He says he can already tell a major difference with the way he's impacting the baseball in camp and with how he feels just in general.

"Yeah, I feel a lot stronger," he adamantly said. "My legs are definitely way stronger because in the past I've been rehabbing two leg injuries so I wasn't really able to lift [with my] legs and run and all of that.

"I feel strong, I feel good, and when you feel strong everything is easier. You don't have to muscle up which is the opposite of what you want to do. I feel pretty good right now."

As strong as he looks, the scary part is he still has a ton of room to fill out and get bigger in the coming years, and it's a concept not lost on Coleman himself.

"I don't think I'm done growing to be honest. I still have some growing to do because I'm only 20 [years old] and when my dad was in college he grew a little bit more. I think I still have a little bit more to go."

First things first, however.  A breakout candidate a year ago, his breakout season was put on hold with the broken thumb.  Finally fully healthy now and feeling stronger than ever, he knows this Spring Training camp is an extremely important one and he believes he is ready.

"I just want to get better everyday. I realize that's a cliche but that's the truth, that's what we're out here to do. We're not out here to try to hit .500. Obviously that would be cool but you want to get better at everything everyday, not just hitting and not just defense but everything; everything with defense, throwing, stealing bases, etc. I just want to get better at everything everyday and be the best player I can be.

"I'm so happy. I'm excited for the season and I've never been more ready," he concluded.

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