Q&A with Jon Poterson

Going into the 2004 draft, the Yankees were looking for one young, projectable power hitter in an otherwise pitching dominated draft. They found what they were looking for in Jon Poterson. Here's a Q&A with the 37th overall pick in the 2004 draft.

PinstripesPlus: Where do you see yourself in the coming 2005 season?

Jon Poterson: As far as where I'll be playing, I'm not real sure. But, I've heard Charleston and maybe Staten Island. I'm hoping I showed enough late in the season and mini-camp. I want to play in the full season leagues. I'm pretty confident that's how it will be. My numbers weren't anywhere near what I feel they should be in 2004 so I'm determined to come back strong this year.

PP: What are your thoughts on your move to left field?

Poterson: Really, I don't mind left field at all. I know how the organization feels about me, and they're just thinking about the best way to take as much advantage of my hitting ability as possible. By playing the outfield, I'll be able to be in the lineup day in and day out. I don't have to take so many days off all the time like I would if I was catching. I'm pretty happy about that. I feel comfortable playing out there, its just a matter of getting it down. But, I'm fine with it.

PP: Which one of your teammates were you most impressed with in 2004?

Poterson: Oh man, can I pick more than one? We had such a great team, the best team I've played on for sure. I'll tell you what, "Nacci" (Marcos Vechionacci) was just amazing. For a kid his age, it is unbelievable how good he is. That kid's a a star, I'm telling you. He is a really mature. And, from what I've heard, he made a really big jump over the past year. So, I was pretty blown away by his talent. He's got a lot ahead of him. Another guy I was blown away by was Chris Garcia. His hook is really sick. With that and throwing in the mid-90's, he is flat out nasty. Chris has a huge future.

PP: Is there anyone else that particularly impressed you?

Poterson: Oh, one I forgot was Phil Hughes. That kid can pitch. I had heard all about him and everything but when I got a chance to catch him, I was like, "wow". He isn't your everyday 18 year old pitcher. He is just different from anyone else. I can see why he was the number one pick. It was just fun to have a chance to catch him. Right now, he pitches like a big leaguer. His maturity and polish didn't belong in the Gulf Coast League. In my mind, he's already Major League material. Pitching in the minors is just going to be a formality for him, seriously. He throws hard and his command is pinpoint. He is just fun to catch. That's one thing I'll miss about catching, being able to catch guys like him. That kid's not going to be in the Minor Leagues for very long, I can guarantee that.

PP: What did you think of Mario Holmann?

Poterson: It is pretty funny because I never knew how awesome he was. He wasn't someone I ever really knew about coming into the league. But, once I saw him, he was awesome. I just had no idea that he was that special a player. He is some kind of athlete. He can move and really do it all. Some of his plays in the field were totally unbelievable. He is an acrobat in the field. But, his talent caught me by surprise. Mario's going to be a big league player too.

PP: How special was it for you to participate in the pre-draft showcase at Yankee Stadium?

Poterson: Honestly, that was like the day of a lifetime for me. It was truly a dream come true. Not only is it a day I will never forget but a day that changed my life. I'm convinced that day is what made me a Yankee. I grew up a diehard Yankee fan as a kid and just being at the place I'd always dreamed about playing one day was a dream experience. Just being there and having the experience, maybe the greatest experience of my life, gave me all the more incentive to get back there. I'm driven to make sure that isn't the last time I play there. I'm determined to get back there and play there one day.

PP: Is it true that you were crushing balls into the upper deck that day?

Poterson: Yes, I was. Even, though I knew I had that kind of power, it just felt special that I was able to do that. Just playing where all those great players have was special but actually hitting balls out of there into the upper deck was unreal. Actually, I was in New York this month and I went into the stadium. It was cool because one of the security guards remembered me from that day. So, that me feel pretty good.

PP: What were some of the adjustments for your in your first professional season?

Poterson: For me, the whole deal was an adjustment. But, I am the type of guy that's up for the challenge. If I need to make adjustments, bring it on. The first season was full of adjustments, but I was happy about that. Making adjustments means I'm getting better. Getting better is the biggest part of the game. Just adjusting to the good pitching and working on my swing was key. Also, I'm pretty raw in the field so adjusting to outfield was a big thing this year as well. Just getting the professional experience under my belt was important.

PP: Was the wooden bat a factor in your adjustment?

Poterson: Actually, not at all. I had prepared for pro baseball. In my workouts, I tried to use a wooden bat as often as possible. I was able to get used to it even before I turned pro. I think that worked to my advantage big time once I got going in the Gulf Coast.

PP: Are you able to pinpoint what the root of your struggles at the plate was this season?

Poterson: Well, I was happy with my power production because that's what I do, hit for power. But, I want everyone to know I'm a hitter and not just a slugger. I was very angry at how low my batting average was this year. To be honest, I think it comes down to me being over excited early on. Instead of just going out there and enjoying playing the game, I put way too much pressure on myself. I had to teach myself not to be concerned with where I was selected in the draft and what the organization was thinking about me. I had to convince myself just to go out and play my game. After a while, I realized that the organization trusted my abilities by drafting me so high, so I just had to trust my abilities too. That's what it comes down too though. I just wasn't loose early on and that caused me to be way too overanxious. I just wasn't swinging like I usually do. There was a lot of over swinging and stuff like that.

PP: With that being said, what type of goals have you set for 2005?

Poterson: My goal is pretty straight forward. I want to play my game and have fun. I've learned to just not worry about anything else but my at bats and my game. Having a year of experience now, I'm primed for a huge season this year. I've been working with some Devil Ray's guys. They played in Charleston last year and they've been telling me about the park and what it's like. I like to know what I have ahead of me. That way, when I come to it, I'm ready to take things on. That's the approach I like to take when I'm hitting as well.

PP: If you were a scout, what are some main things you would say about yourself?

Poterson: Power is the big thing with me. I'd say that I'm an excellent power hitter. Also, even though I can be even more patient, I led the team in walks this year in the Gulf Coast. Patience is a huge part of game. I think you'll see that even more this season. I think I could be a good outfield but right now I'd say I'm kind of raw. My arm strength is very good. I had a good arm as a catcher but I think I can really utilize it in the outfield. That is a big strength for me.

PP: Which of your pitching teammates from the Gulf Coast Yankees would you least like to face?

Poterson: I can confidently say that I wouldn't want to face Christian Garcia. With that filthy hook and him bringing it in the mid-90's, I don't think it would be fun batting against him. I'll take on any pitcher but he wouldn't be too much fun to face.

PP: Towards the end of 2004, you really got hot with the bat. What was the difference between you in the beginning in 2004 and you at the end?

Poterson: Yeah, I was really feeling comfortable at the plate at the end of the season. I was locked in. I think the difference was just relaxing and staying within myself. Just learning to not be out there trying to impress anybody because of where I was drafted was one of the biggest factors. Once I just settled into a groove, I was hitting like the guy the Yankees drafted.

PP: As a switch hitter, how do you compare your abilities as a right and left handed hitter?

Poterson: Overall, I think I'm equally as dangerous from each side of the plate. From both sides, I feel I can take one out of the park on any given pitch. That's the part I love about being the type of player I am. I think I can be a high average hitter from both sides. If there is any slight difference, I think I may have more of a natural power swing from the left side. I hit the ball with backspin on it as a lefty. I'd like to level it out just a little but and hit a little more line drives. But, that is just a really minor difference. As a whole, I'm almost totally the same as a lefty and a righty.

PP: Switching gears for a moment, what are your thoughts on Brett Smith?

Poterson: Oh yeah, he's someone I forgot to mention as someone I was impressed with. I caught him a couple times in mini-camp and he looks like he has big league stuff. He's got a big league slide piece, I'll tell you that. That thing looks nasty. I remember him having an excellent changeup too. He's an example of the Yankee's great draft last year. Brett is an extra polished college guy.

PP: What did the instructors work with you on in mini-camp this year?

Poterson: We worked on a lot of stuff. And, I know it sounds like huge changes but they basically took apart my swing and rebuilt it. It seems that I fell into some bad habits when I was struggling. But, they are nothing that will hurt by batting long term. We were able to identify the problem and fix it pretty easily. I was starting to wrap my bat around my shoulder too far before my swing. Like I said, it was just a simple problem like that. It was an easy fix once we worked on it. During the season, I was just wondering how I was missing some pitches. I would just get under a ball and not know how I could have possibly missed it. And, the coaches told me wrapping the bat accounted for a lot of my swings and misses. That should cut back on my strikeouts a whole lot this year. It is a small change that is going to make a really big difference. I'm going into 2005 thinking that my swing is going to be more dangerous than it has ever been before. I expect big things out myself with the changes I've made and my natural ability.

PinstripesPlus.com would like to thank Jon Poterson for his time and efforts in answering these questions.

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