Q&A with Estee Harris

Staten Island outfielder Estee Harris, the Yankees 2nd round draft pick in 2003, sits down with PinstripesPlus.com for a Q&A session to give us his thoughts on being drafted by the hometown Yankees, if he sees himself more as a leadoff hitter or a middle-of-the-order guy, what has been the biggest lesson he's learned while playing pro ball, and if he feels more pressure being a high draft pick from New York playing in New York.

PinstripesPlus: You were a second round draft choice by the Yankees in 2003. Did you expect to be drafted that high and did you expect the Yankees to draft you?

Estee Harris: Well from the stuff I heard before that draft I thought there was a good possibility for me to get drafted that high. In the draft you never know who you will be drafted by but it was great the way it worked out that I did end up getting drafted by them.

PinstripesPlus: You are a native New Yorker, playing high school ball in Long Island. Did you cheer for any of the local teams growing up?

Estee Harris: I was always a Yankee fan growing up.

PinstripesPlus: Were you hoping to be drafted by the Yankees or a local team?

Estee Harris: First and foremost I just wanted to get drafted period. I wasn't picky or choosy but if I could have picked a team to get drafted by it would definitely have been the Yankees.

PinstripesPlus: Scouts have labeled you as a 5-tool player with high potential. Do you feel any pressure, especially here in New York, to live up to those expectations?

Estee Harris: There is always high demand in New York, and you try not to think about that and let it affect you. It's just a matter of going out and playing your game. You can't control what people say or think you just have to go out on the field and control what you can control.

PinstripesPlus: You were a track star in High School besides playing baseball and obviously that speed has transferred over to baseball. Now that you're at the professional level have you found out stealing is more than just speed?

Estee Harris: It is more than speed. You notice in the Major Leagues...guys who steal bases and they are not even all that fast, and then you have guys who are fast and they are poor in stealing bases. There is more to it than having speed. Plus there are lots of other intangibles that are involved and have to be put in to being a good base stealer.

PinstripesPlus: You started the season at Battle Creek and struggled a little. Did you think there was a specific reason for that and was it disappointing moving down to Staten Island after being at a higher level?

Estee Harris: It was a bit disappointing because you always want to keep on moving forward, but I did realize that I did struggle there. I don't think it was so much the competition but me trying to find myself at the plate. I just noticed it was an internal slump. I just have to keep working on it and get myself back on track by working harder. Even though I took a step back I feel I have rebounded and am on the right path.

PinstripesPlus: The only negative on you is that you have a high strikeout ratio. Have you made any adjustments to try and improve on that?

Estee Harris: Just working harder on trying to make better contact, and make contact more consistently. In the long run that will just erase the strikeouts. The most important part of hitting is vision, so if you can see the ball better you have a better chance of making contact, and that will decrease your strikeouts also.

PinstripesPlus: Do you see yourself more of a leadoff hitter or as a middle of the order type of hitter in the long run?

Estee Harris: I think I can do both if the team needed me. I think I have a pretty good eye to draw walks, get on base and steal bases also if I am a leadoff hitter, but I know I can also drive in runs and be productive in the middle of the order if that is what the team wants me to do.

PinstripesPlus: Do the Yankees as an organization have a hitting philosophy they try to instill in their young hitters entering professional baseball?

Estee Harris: Just to make sure you get your pitch and put the best swing you can on the pitch. Just try to stay within yourself and if I do that everything else will fall into place. The point is to minimize your strikeouts and put the ball into play and then anything can happen.

PinstripesPlus: Is there a player in the major leagues that you compare yourself to?

Estee Harris: I have always tried to idolize Ken Griffey Jr. I have heard some people compare me to him so that is definitely something I am real proud of. I guess you can compare me to Soriano also because I am not all that big but can hit the ball pretty hard.

PinstripesPlus: The main point of the minor leagues is to develop you as a player, however the Yankees have a philosophy of trying to win in each level, especially here in New York with Staten Island. Is it hard trying to balance developing your fundamentals with the pressure of winning at this stage?

Estee Harris: Both go hand in hand. If you want to win then you have to play good and develop yourself as a player, and if you develop yourself as a better player then you will win games also. By trying to win all the time you can also develop players because you can't win all the time without being good and you can't be good without developing yourself.

PinstripesPlus: Is there someone you credit for your development as a player?
Estee Harris: Definitely my parents for the support they have given me throughout the years. I would not be here if it was not for them. They always told me to try and reach for my goals and always encouraged me at each and every level. That really helps during the rough times when you think nothing works.

PinstripesPlus: What is the biggest lesson you have learned since entering professional baseball?

Estee Harris: You have to keep a level head. You can't get to high and to low. Baseball is a game of failure and you have to have the right mindset, because if you don't it will really mess you up at the plate. You just need to keep a level head and stay positive.

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