Carrying a Big Stick: Jon Poterson

A big league body, explosive bat, a strong upper cut swing from both sides of the plate, an 18 year old with big time home run potential. It sure looks like the right man and sounds like the right man to replenish a farm system bereft of any major power hitting prospects. While Poterson was not an immediate hit in the Gulf Coast this year, he showed late in the season exactly what he was all about. What can we expect from the switch hitting 18 year old? Well, he certainly carries a big stick.

The question is, just how rare is an 18 year old switch hitting power threat that can also catch? The answer is about as rare as a .400 batting average season. Even though the chances of him staying behind the plate are slim, what is not to like to like about Jon Poterson. Yes, you could look at his numbers this year and some people would turn up their noses at his low batting average but for those who actually paid very close attention to the Gulf Coast League Yankees this season, you could begin to notice just how good Jon Poterson really is.

 

Leading up to the draft, Yankees fans can even admit that they probably had no idea who Jon Poterson was. Why? They were too busy sizing up their chances of landing Gio Gonzalez and Jay Rainville at the 37th pick in the draft. In fact, many still say that the Yankees may have blundered by passing those two up. But, the way I look at it, is this. Besides Poterson, the Yankees selected six pitchers out of their first seven picks. Does it make them bad that they wanted to get at least one heavyweight bat out of this draft? It shouldn't, that's for sure. The fact is, maybe Poterson could have been had in a later round but, who knows, that could have had some effect on whether they could have nabbed pitchers like Jesse Hoover, Jason Jones and Christian Garcia. Maybe, the idea that the Yankees drafted Poterson long before he could have been had is a testament to just how impressed the Yankee scouts were with him in the pre-draft tryouts. It is not too often that you find a young man that has such a projectable bat with tremendous, truly titanic power. So, for all of you out there that still nit pick over the selection of Poterson, when you have a guy that can hit a ball out of the park from one knee, you don't just pass him up. 

 

What an amazing superstar Jon Poterson was in his high school days in Chandler, Arizona. I say that because his stature grew to nearly legendary proportion with his sometimes monumental power hitting displays. One story that adds to his legendary home run power begins when he goes to the Scottsdale training center run by former big league manager, Jim Lefebvre. Lefebvre has many drills for his hitters to do and that includes one in which the players position themselves on their back knee in the batters box and with their front leg stretched toward the pitcher. His students are told to hit from that position as a drill but one of his students did much more than that. Jon Poterson can hit balls out of the park from one knee. That's, right, one knee. "And he does it from both sides of the plate," Lefebvre told The Arizona Republic. He also added that, not one of his students in the past has ever come to close to that feat. But what some have become truly amazed about Poterson are the adjustments he has made. "Coming into the season I've wanted to be more patient and wait for my pitch and then not miss my pitch when I get it. I think that probably impresses scouts more than me hitting a 500-foot shot, they want to see me be a disciplined, patient hitter." Well Poterson, did do that and he went from a top 5 round possibility to a legitimate first or second round possibility.

 

All his life, Jon Poterson was a Yankee fan. A young man who was born in Long Island and lived there until he was 10 years old, what a thrill it had to be to be drafted by the Yankees. The dream began for Poterson in 2003 when he had a monstrous season at Chandler High School. He hit an amazing .465 with 6 home runs that season but he his senior season was all the more impressive. As a senior, he hit .431 but clubbed an incredible 14 long balls. Even so, the highly touted draft prospect did not take anything for granted. Poterson signed to go to college at Chandler-Gilbert Community College as an extreme backup plan to professional baseball. But, as the draft approached, it was obvious that baseball was Poterson's true path. It turned out that Poterson would go higher in the draft than his coach expected and even what some media outlets had predicted as well. The Yankees selected Poterson with the 37th overall pick in the draft. The Yankees became hooked on Poterson right after he came into The House That Ruth Built and put on a Ruthian performance during a pre-draft workout. Using a wood bat, Poterson was crushing balls into the third deck in right field in Yankee Stadium on a consistent basis. That just sealed it for the Yankees right there. They instantly fell in love with Jon Poterson's, no exaggeration, out of this world, work ethic and his overall brute strength and power. "It all kind of came quickly," said Poterson.  "I started dreaming about it a couple weeks ago, and boom, it's here. Now that it's happening, it's all pretty incredible." The young switch hitter was obviously elated after sealing the deal by receiving a $925,000 signing bonus from the Yankees.

 

Poterson got his taste of the big leagues the day he signed. The Yankees happened to be in Arizona and they invited him to take batting practice with the big league club at Bank One Ballpark. A thrill? You bet. But, soon after, Poterson set off to Tampa to play for the Yankees Gulf Coast team, where his true quest to meet his ultimate dream would begin. From the start, it looked like the Yankees wanted to make on thing clear. They did not want Jon Poterson behind the plate anymore. He would be moved to left field. He seemed to have no trouble with the switch as expected. He certainly has the speed. At one high school showcase, he got down the first base line in just under four seconds. By any standards, that is incredibly fast. Poterson did struggle at the outset of his professional career as he hovered around the .200 mark for most of the season. However, his power and patience did not go away. In 198 at bats, he crushed 7 home runs, which is a huge amount for a player in his first pro season. He also drew 22 walks and that is one of the more impressive things about him. Yes, he did bat .202 for the season but at the end of the season and in the Gulf Coast playoffs, he was absolutely on fire.

 

So, for all of the Poterson detractors out there, how can you deny taking a bat of this caliber in this year's draft? Wasn't six pitchers enough for you in the first five rounds? Next season will likely be the season where Poterson makes any doubts around him evaporate. You don't find a kid that works any harder or for that matter, hit the ball any farther. Besides, it is not too often you find a player special enough to hit 400 foot home runs from one knee.

 

 


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