Patrick Teale

Donny Sands is beginning his first full year catching and he says he really prepared for it this offseason.

This time a year ago Donny Sands was a solid third base prospect for the Yankees but one with less than desirable power at such a power-hitting position. The Yankees moved him to catcher in Extended Spring Training last year as a result and now after his first full offseason preparing as a catcher and enduring his first Spring Training at his new position Sands says he is really prepared for what lies ahead.

"I feel like it's going well," Sands said of Spring Training.  "I'm taking it day by day, getting my routine down, showing up early in the morning, and I feel like it's going well."

The 20-year old seemingly has been around in the Yankee organization for a while but yet this has been his very first Spring Training working at the catcher's spot from the very start.

"Yes, my first one," he reiterated.  "I worked on it all offseason.  I stayed down here in Tampa the whole offseason to work on catching but yes this is my first full camp working on catching.  I kind of know what I'm doing a little bit [now]."

Quite humble, Sands' transition behind the plate appeared pretty seamless a year ago when he broke Extended Spring Training camp with the GCL Yankees and later the Pulaski Yankees but that process was only sped up exponentially by an entire offseason dedicated to mastering his craft with some intense one-on-one training.

"It's going great," he said of his transition to catching.  "Like I said, after Instructs I stayed here the whole offseason with our catching coordinator Josh Paul.  I moved down here and we worked out everyday so I didn't have much of an offseason [time-off--wise] and dedicated most of it to getting after it catching-wise.  I really prepared and now I'm ready for the season."

He says they worked on everything imaginable, not just from catching and receiving but to the mental side to even working diligently on getting stronger.

"Everything; strength-wise, we made everything as hard as possible," he said with grin.  "We did things with a weighted vest on, to [working] on balance beams, receiving, blocking, the mental side of the game, we pretty much did it all."

If it sounds like a crash course on catching it's because that's what it truly was.  And the one-time third baseman who was playing the position as recently as a year ago has completely transformed himself behind the plate.  In fact, just from when Instructional League ended in October until now has Sands feeling completely different.

"I believe a drastic amount," he said emphatically.  "J.P. [Josh Paul] is huge on the small details.  From day one he said 'alright, we're going to pay a lot of attention to the little details' because they really matter.  It's helped out tremendously.  In the first day of [Spring Training] camp you could noticed it's paid off."

He looks so much stronger physically too.  It's tough to not see a huge difference in his body even from just a few months ago.

"The strength and conditioning guys came in with me everyday this offseason when they could have been home with their families and we put on a good ten to fifteen pounds of great weight," he said.  "I watched what I ate and got after it a lot."

Stronger, quicker, much better defensively in all aspects, and as confident as ever, Sands has come an extremely long way in an incredibly short period of time.

"100 percent.  Again, I feel uncomfortable when I'm not prepared so now my legs are as strong as possible, I'm stable.  I'm telling you, I worked with a 50-pound weighted vest on doing catching drills, wrist weights on during receiving drills, and it was quite an offseason so I'm really prepared.

"Coming out of high school as a scrawny kid you think you know everything but you really know nothing.  This offseason we went to square one with the mental side, the weight side, and got a whole new look at things.  I honestly feel so different over these past [few] months.  I'm not talking and just listening a lot more."

He says he's gone from not knowing what to do at his newest position a year ago to now being so well prepared at the spot that he can now relax a little bit more and just play his game, and that is one of the best feelings ever.

"It's going to be a blast," he said of the 2017 season.  "Seeing the guys and how hard everyone's working -- we all talk about winning a World Series, even if we're in the minor leagues -- but we want to win. 

"I feel relaxed.  When you're prepared your skills unfold because you're prepared, relaxed, and I know I put in the work this offseaso so now I'm just having fun out here. I feel great," he concluded.

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