Miguel Andujar has been plagued by slow starts each of the previous two seasons in the long-season leagues despite being all-worldly in his respective Spring Training camps. He hit just .212 in the first half of the 2014 season in Charleston before tearing the cover off the ball in the second half that year to the tune of a .319 average. While he didn't hit quite as well in the second half last year in high-A Tampa [he hit .278], it was far better than his .212 average in the first half.
"Last year sometimes I felt a little lost at the plate during some parts of the year," Andujar said through the help of a translator, "but for the most part it was a good year."
Referencing how he finished the season stronger than he began it, he is fully aware that his slower starts to his seasons have been somewhat problematic and he spent this past offseason reflecting on what the issue could be.
"I learned I have to have a better plan at the plate with what I want to do so when I step into the box I have a clear mind what I need to do in certain situations," he admitted. "That's the main thing I learned, that I have to have a plan at the plate in every at-bat, and not take at-bats off."
A naturally gifted hitter, the recently turned 21-year old has begun to realize that talent alone is simply not enough. He needs to become more of a student of the game and more professional in his general approach.
"I need to take it one at-bat at a time, that's what I need to focus on," he continued. "I always tell myself [each year], 'sh*t, I'm running out of time' and that's when I start taking every at-bat [seriously].
"Every pitch counts and that's my plan for this year, start off the very first game and the very first at-bat with that mindset that every pitch counts. I feel better prepared this year. I know what to expect and I know my pitfalls so now I know how to attack them better."
He says like always he worked on his defense and his hitting in the offseason, and he also made getting stronger a priority too. He reported to camp a full ten pounds heavier than last year -- all good weight -- in an effort to beef up his strength and endurance to better handle the rigors of a full season.
"I worked a lot on my body so I can stay healthy the whole year," he added. "That was one of my main goals."
Not surprising and par for the course given his previous Spring Training performances, Andujar has once again been one of the better hitters in this year's Spring Training camp. Unlike previous years, however, he feels different heading into this season.
Older, more experienced and mature, and a bit wiser, he thinks he's a different player now.
"I've been feeling good. I'm doing whatever I can to be ready for the season. I feel like I can improve a lot and I feel like I will improve a lot because of the way I'm preparing myself."
Nearly everyone from scouts around baseball to former Yankee great Reggie Jackson have been waiting for Andujar to put it all together. Andujar himself has been waiting to take that next step in his development and he says he's ready to do so in 2016.
"I'm positive this year, God willing, it's going to be a great year for me. I know where I'm at right now so I'm predicting this is going to be a positive year for me," he concluded.