PinstripesPlus.com: We've talked about all of these younger guys, the 20 to 21 year olds as you put it, at the lower to middle minor league levels and we haven't talked about Clint Frazier yet, a guy who finished last season as a 21-year old at Triple-A [who's now 22]. Where do you see his game going?
Jody Reed: Again, he came over in a trade so we haven't seen a whole lot of Clint yet. He's very athletic. I'll tell you what, he's got some lightning quick bat speed. I'll tell you that for sure. That doesn't take long to figure out. He can do some special things on the field. I probably need to watch him more to get a more qualified feel for where's he at, where he's going, but the tools are there for sure. He runs, he throws well, he can play multiple outfield positions, he's got good barrel awareness, and he's got fantastic bat speed. Again, like we started this whole thing [interview] off, I love going into the affiliates and watching this guy play.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move on to a guy you have watched from the beginning -- Dermis Garcia. We know he can hit a bunch of home runs but we also know he struck out a good bit too. In your opinion, what does he need the most short-term? Is it more plate awareness, pitch recognition, discipline, what? What does he need the most to make that next step?
Reed: I'll tell you what, now that you mention Dermis -- earlier you asked about which guys have come into camp so far in noticeably better shape -- he's one of the guys who came in and took a noticeable change body-wise. He looks leaner, more athletic, and then he gets out on the field and he's moving around, and his flexibility has improved, and you're like 'alright, okay'. He obviously did a lot of work in the offseason on his body and doing some of the things he needed to do. He's probably even younger than the other guys we're talking about; the Estradas, the Mateos, etc. He's even younger than them so he's even further down the developmental totem pole if you will so he's only at the point where he needs information, he needs repetitions, he needs to play ball games and get at-bats. He's just so young right now that he needs to keep doing what he's doing, and keep working hard.
PinstripesPlus.com: But you're encouraged with the way he's shown up this year?
Reed: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I mean this kid is what? 18? 19? Have you seen the ball come off of this kid's bat? He hits them over the batter's eye [in centerfield] and you're like 'really?'. Because he's 18 let's project this even three or four years down the road and you're like 'oh my' when by the way he'll still only be 22 [years old] at that time. So yeah, we really like where Dermis is at. The thing that's exciting about these kids like Dermis is you look at their work ethic, you look at their desire to go out there, their motivation, you feel really good that these guys have a chance because of the characteristics and personalities that they have. They're willing to pay the price for it.
PinstripesPlus.com: I'm so glad you said that because I think Nelson Gomez this time a year ago is a perfect example. He went into that offseason without the greatest body around and you didn't really know how motivated he was, but then he reports to camp last year in awesome shape and squashed any potential questions about his desire. How big was that for him to make that next step in his game even mentally? Has he turned a corner even approach-wise?
Reed: Yeah here's too and he looks good. Again, you're talking about 18 and 19-year olds that can do some things out on the baseball field, especially with the bat, where you just shake your head and say 'really?'. In all honestly he and Dermis are very comparable in that area. Over the last couple of seasons we've seen Nelson grown up. His work ethic has improved dramatically. I think he's figured some stuff out. They grow up. Remember when we were teenagers. We try to get them help along the way. It's a process, it's a long process.
PinstripesPlus.com: You mentioned a long process and we both know fans and media alike grow a little prospect fatigue sometimes when they've heard a name for a while and that player hasn't had a breakout season yet. Leonardo Molina comes to mind as somebody a lot of fans seemingly have overlooked lately. He's been around forever it seems and he's still only 19 years old.
Reed: Because of the way it is with International players you can get them at 16. Some are here for like 4-5 years and you turn around and they're still only 20 years old whereas when you draft a kid out of high school or even college and they're already 20 or 20 in one year. It happens even with us sometimes. Sometimes you see a kid for like four years and you still have to remember he's only 19 or something. I'll be honest with you, I'm a huge Molina fan. I love this kid. I love his work ethic, he's a great kid, a great teammate, and his body is changing too. He came in [to the organization] as this tall, skinny kid and sure enough that body is getting stronger and bigger, and he's able to make those moves at the plate, and you're like 'hold on, watch out, I'm telling you'. Two or three years from now when he's 22 years old this kid is going be able to do some things. I'm just a huge fan. I think Leo Molina is going to play in the big leagues. I do.
PinstripesPlus.com: You're talking about young skinny kids and boy does Oswaldo Cabrera come to mind. He is body-wise now where Molina was when he first signed. How does he look now?
Reed: He's not skinny any more Patrick. I'm telling you, you're right, he was a skinny little shortstop but he's not anymore. He's been working and when you come down you'll see, he's changed. He's another young -- he's even younger than Dermis, Nelson, and Molina. Throughout this interview you're seeing the tiers of young players that we have that quite honestly are part of the excitement of where we're at. Look through the organization and through the age groups, and there's a real opportunity to sustain some stuff right here.
PinstripesPlus.com: You mentioned he's getting bigger. Is he a position-switch candidate in your opinion?
Reed: Again, he's so young you just let him go out there and play. They'll always answer that question for you.
PinstripesPlus.com: What about Chris Gittens? How has he looked physically since reporting?
Reed: He looks good. The ball is coming off of his bat good, he's moving pretty well. He had a knee thing so we're limiting how much running he's doing because we don't want any setbacks or anything but he looks good. Hopefully he can pick up where he left off and head back in the direction he was going because he has some electric power in that bat.
PinstripesPlus.com: Everybody knows Donny Sands can hit but talk about the thought process behind moving him to catcher and how does he look early in that transition?
Reed: I can speak personally because Donny moved to Tampa this offseason and he's been here [at the minor league complex] literally everyday in the offseason working his tail off on his game at catcher and getting to know that position. He looks fantastic. The position of catcher is so physically demanding that you need to literally convert your body so you can play that position. He's converted his body. He looks great, he moves great, he's taken to the position. I'm excited to watch Donny play this year. I think he's going to be fantastic.
PinstripesPlus.com: You know, for years you guys were noted for your great catching depth and in the past six months you've graduated Gary Sanchez to the big leagues, lost Luis Torrens to the Rule 5 Draft, and even 'Higgy' is on the big league precipice. Your catching depth is waning. However, do you like the restocking if you will of the catching depth at the lower levels? Do you feel you're not in as bad a position as you could have been considering you have the likes of Donny Sands, Jason Lopez, etc.?
Reed: You're right, a while back you had Montero, Romine, Sanchez, Murphy, etc. You're just not going to maintain that kind of depth at that position forever. But yeah, we've got some young guys but we'll have to see with the timing of everything. It might work out. There's no doubt though that there's some talent at the position that we're having fun watching develop.
PinstripesPlus.com: You know we're talking about all of these players but I think lost on the fact that you guys have a good farm system now is that it was a good farm already even before the trades last year, just that the trades beefed up the system even more. I think people lost sight on the fact that you guys were already pretty good and rather deep too. How exciting is it to have the kind of farm system you have in place now to potentially have the kind of season this year that you think collectively you all can have?
Reed: You hit the nail right on the head. We did -- we were excited about the players we had, we were excited about the place we had gotten to, we were excited about the players that we arriving in the big leagues and those that were progressing up and down the ladder towards there, and we made those trades and brought in I think it was ten or eleven quality young players to in addition to what we had. It's really fun right now, I'm not going to lie to you. It's fun to look up at those names on the board, go out on the fields, and watch these young players playing the game and seeing the potential they all have. I've got to agree with my wife, it doesn't feel like work.
PinstripesPlus.com: I have to ask the question about eliminating one of the DSL teams -- what are the ramifications of getting rid of it, both positive and negative? How do you see this playing out?
Reed: Let's see what happens. I wouldn't be comfortable predicting one way or another. It was the decision that was made and we'll see what happens. I'll be honest with you, we still have a ton of players in the organization, maybe even more than anybody still. History will show us.
PinstripesPlus.com: We've focused this interview on the hitters because I plan on talking to Danny Borrell about the pitchers specifically, but just a general question about the upper level pitchers -- you've got a number of arms -- Chance Adams, Jordan Montgomery, Dietrich Enns, Brady Lail, etc, etc -- who are closing in on being big league ready. Do you feel you guys are stocked and prepared to help supply the big league club with whatever they need pitching-wise in the short-term?
Reed: Oh yeah. Like I said, it's exciting. We look on the position player side and it's exciting, and we look on the pitching side and it's exciting too. We look up and down the farm system on both sides of the ball in the organization and what we have, not just what we have on the horizon in the immediate future but in years to come, and yes it's exciting. We've got the guys you mentioned, we've got [James] Kaprielian, a number of young players who can help not just now but in the not-too-distant future too. That process of making that push is well underway.