PinstripesPlus.com: Let's start right at the top and give us your initial impressions of Gleyber Torres [in the photo above] since coming over from the Chicago Cubs.
Jody Reed: Obviously we've had limited looks [so far] but after having seen him at the end of the season and through Instructional League -- and he's even here [in Tampa] right now -- he's a great kid, hard worker, talented. Pretty much everything we had heard about him was accurate; real quality hitter, smart baseball player, the kind of player you really enjoy watching.
PinstripesPlus.com: What's his biggest weakness? Does he even have one?
Reed: I haven't found one to be honest with you. That's one of the things that grabs you, this kid can do everything. He's a quality hitter, he has a feel at the plate, he can put the barrel on the ball consistently, he has some surprising pop, in the field he plays a plus defensive shortstop, now can play second base so you're comfortable there, and he's an average runner. Yeah, there's really not too many things that you don't like about him, if anything. You'd be hard-pressed to sit there and say 'I don't like that' about him, not with Gleyber.
PinstripesPlus.com: This time a year ago it was Jorge Mateo who was the talk of the farm system, the top prospect then. He didn't have the type of season many had expected for him last season though. However, do you like the way he ended last season and with the mindset he has coming into this season?
Reed: Yeah I was going to caution you say anything about any less expectations or if we think any less of 'Georgy', absolutely not. We feel blessed to have two quality athletes at a premium position. It's exciting to see the potential the organization possesses in these two players. It's just like I commented with Gleyber, you talk about fun to watch and 'Georgey' Mateo is fun to watch. He's electric out on the field.
PinstripesPlus.com: It seems like Mateo is in a good spot right now. A year ago the expectations were really high and now with Torres around, and with the year Mateo just had last year, perhaps the expectations aren't nearly as high, a little less light might be shed on him, and then there's also the fact that Torres plays the same position so there's going to be a competitive thing going on too. It seems like a perfect storm of sorts for Mateo to have a big rebound season.
Reed: I don't know about the pressure. We're talking about young men, 19, 20, and 21-year olds. There's some figuring out that they're going through and it takes time. It takes a long time to build a Major League baseball player and it's a process, and it's not just on the field. It's learning how to deal with the pressures if you will, learning how to deal with different circumstances, the mental side of it. There's a lot that goes into it, into developing a young man ready for the Major Leagues. This is all part of it.
PinstripesPlus.com: How much better do you expect Mateo to be in 2017 after having gone through the season he had last year and learning the things he most likely learned?
Reed: Who knows, let's just watch him play baseball. That's what I love about going into our affiliates now because literally at every level we have guys now -- it's fun to go in there and watch these kids perform. They are at every level and it's a good time right now in the player development system.
PinstripesPlus.com: You mentioned Torres and his ability to barrel the baseball, and Blake Rutherford comes to mind as another guy who does that so consistently. He seems to have an advanced bat. What do you like best about him?
Reed: The athleticism, the things he can do on a baseball field. We'll get to what a fine young man he is but he has natural hitting instincts, a beautiful left-handed swing, has a pretty good idea at a very young age what he wants to do at the plate, has a good feel for putting the barrel on the ball -- I'm not going to say he's already a plus Major League defender but he's already a plus defender for his age -- he runs well. Again, it's a young man we're really excited to have in our system and watch develop. They're all part of the excitement. It's great.
PinstripesPlus.com: Is there a Gleyber Torres-like quality to him in that even though he is young and inexperienced that it's still very hard to find a real weakness in his game? It seems to be that way for me.
Reed: No you're exactly right. You'd be hard-pressed to say you don't like this about him. They've got that covered. These kids, and I call them kids, they're motivated and they're goal-driven, and they're focused. They know what they want and they're working their tails off daily to get where they want to end up. Like I said, it's fun to watch. The work ethic these guys are showing is off the charts. They're willing to do whatever it takes and when you have players that are committed like that it's fun to come to work every day. And as my wife would tell me, 'you never go to work, you just play all day'.
PinstripesPlus.com: Last question on Rutherford, looking at the success he had last year in Pulaski is it safe to assume he's going to move pretty quickly at least short-term and start the year in Charleston?
Reed: Oh Patrick, we don't assume anything. We'll see how it plays out.
PinstripesPlus.com: You know from our previous conversations that Miguel Andujar is and has been one of my personal favorites for some time. He had a mini-breakout season last year. Do you like the progress he's shown these last couple of years? He seems ready to take that next step in his development. Do you see that?
Reed: Absolutely! You're right, he did have a breakout season last year and what I mean by that is he went to the next level. You could see that back in Spring Training [last year], his body had gone to a different level of strength and the things he was able to do we were able to see that right out of the gate. He's continued to do the things that he needs to do and we're obviously hoping that it's just a steady progression to now to work his way up to put on the Major League pinstripes pretty soon. We'll see what happens.
PinstripesPlus.com: Any guys who this year stands out as coming back like Andujar did last year in a noticeably different body strength?
Reed: It's unbelievable, the commitment all of these guys are showing. You can tell these guys aren't just going home and resting in the offseason, they're going home and working because they know that's a 365-day a year process, and all you're doing in the offseason is looking at a different part of the process. Yeah they're coming in and ready to go, and we're seeing it.
PinstripesPlus.com: Anybody specific come into camp so far this year looking different from a year ago?
Reed: Tyler Wade came in looking a bit more muscular. You can tell his body is starting to transform into that more mature body you know they're eventually going to get. Mike Ford is a guy who can hit and he came in and his body was noticeably different, and he's moving around noticeably different at first base. We're not just talking about the [top] prospects if you will but all guys in the organization working hard in the offseason and it's showing when they get here.