Paul O'Neill Light?

When the Yankees traded Tony Womack to the Reds they received two intriguing prospects in return. While most Yankee fans are excited about the potential of second baseman Kevin Howard, the Yankees could have gotten a real sleeper in outfielder Ben Himes. In fact, Himes seemingly profiles as another former Red and Yankee outfielder - Paul O'Neill.

It wasn't as if Ben Himes hadn't been noticed by prospect followers. Ranked among the Top Ten Reds' prospects by Baseball America before the Tony Womack trade despite being considered old for the levels he played in, Himes had one of the more solid all-around games in the organization.

Drafted in the 9th round of the 2003 MLB Draft as a four-year senior, Himes' physical attributes are eerily similar to those of former Yankee right fielder Paul O'Neill. Both players are 6'4", each range from 210-215 pounds, and both are left-handed gap hitters with surprising speed for guys their size.

"For being as tall as I am, I think I have really good speed," Himes told PinstripesPlus.com in a recent interview. "I didn't have an opportunity to run too much this past season. I'm going to be looking to see what kind of running policy the Yankees have. I like liberal ones."

While some players have a hard time leaving the organization that drafted them and spent years developing their game, Ben Himes has a different opinion about joining the Yankees.

"I'm so stoked about it," said Himes about being traded to the Yankees. "I was at the gym the morning I was traded and it took a while for it [the news] to set in. I am the first guy from my draft class to get traded, so I'm trying to appreciate it. I couldn't have asked to get to a better organization. It's awesome. I just love it."

Part of Himes' excitement could be joining an organization with a lack of depth at the right field position. While his preference would be playing another position, he understands why he's playing there.

"I was a center fielder in college but I've been playing right field mostly now," revealed Himes. "I have a really good arm and getting assists is one of my favorite parts."

A down and dirty player who goes all out in the field, Himes has altered his approach at the plate recently. Once a player who swung for the fences, Himes has decided to become a better overall hitter and let his power numbers fall where they may.

"I used to try and hit for more power, but now I'm just trying to stay within myself and my average jumped up this past year," said the 24-year old outfielder. "I'm a doubles hitter and I enjoy being on the bases."

Himes hit just .212 in 2004 for the Dayton Dragons with 121 strikeouts in just 312 at-bats. He realized then that a major change in philosophy at the plate was needed.

"My biggest goal this past year was having more hits than strikeouts," Himes revealed. "Strikeouts were a problem for me earlier in my career and I keep trying to improve there. I just want to keep my doubles going and steal some more bases. If I have the freedom to run, I'll pursue more stolen bases too."

With 105 hits and just 104 strikeouts in 2005, Himes accomplished his pre-season goal and successfully transformed his identity in the batter's box. It is his newfound professional approach to hitting that has scouts now comparing him to O'Neill.

"I'm feeling really comfortable with my swing right now," a confident Himes told us. "I worked a lot with Chris Sabo this past year and I think the time I spent with him really helped out a lot."

Setting career highs in just about every offensive category in 2005 has the big right fielder feeling at the top of his game as he switches organizations.

"I hesitate to say that mentally I'm able to get it, but there are very few days where I'm not where I should be mentally," the sweet-swinging lefty continued. "At this point, I feel my weaknesses are just the little things. I feel really confident right now and I plan to go to Spring Training ready to go and be in Trenton next year."

In fact, when asked about his weaknesses to his game right now, Himes struggled to come up with an answer.

"Hitting sliders from left-handed pitchers," Himes continued, "is the hardest pitch for me to hit. But I think that is the hardest pitch for any left-handed batter to hit."

Starting anew in a different farm system, Himes realizes he has to impress a new set of coaches and showcase his skill set to a new set of prospect followers. So who does Ben Himes thinks he compares to at the Major League level?

"I don't think there is one guy that I would compare my game to," said Himes. "I have traits of a few different players. I throw a lot like Vlady [Vladmir Guerrero]. I think I have a swing like Griffey and the hustle and winning attitude of Derek Jeter and A-Rod."

But if you had to zero in on one player to compare Himes to at the Major League level, given his physical attributes, tools, and approach at the plate and in the game, Paul O'Neill is the one name that seems most appropriate.

"Lots of people have told me that before," said Himes as to the comparison to Paul O'Neill.

The Yankees and their fans are hoping that Ben Himes, one of their newest acquisitions, can come close to that comparison.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nIt wasn't as if Ben Himes hadn't been noticed by prospect followers. Ranked among the Top Ten Reds' prospects by Baseball America before the Tony Womack trade despite being considered old for the levels he played in, Himes had one of the more solid all-around games in the organization.
\r\n
\r\nDrafted in the 9th round of the 2003 MLB Draft as a four-year senior, Himes' physical attributes are eerily similar to those of former Yankee right fielder Paul O'Neill. Both players are 6'4\", each range from 210-215 pounds, and both are left-handed gap hitters with surprising speed for guys their size.
\r\n
\r\n\"For being as tall as I am, I think I have really good speed,\" Himes told PinstripesPlus.com in a recent interview. \"I didn't have an opportunity to run too much this past season. I'm going to be looking to see what kind of running policy the Yankees have. I like liberal ones.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile some players have a hard time leaving the organization that drafted them and spent years developing their game, Ben Himes has a different opinion about joining the Yankees.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm so stoked about it,\" said Himes about being traded to the Yankees. \"I was at the gym the morning I was traded and it took a while for it [the news] to set in. I am the first guy from my draft class to get traded, so I'm trying to appreciate it. I couldn't have asked to get to a better organization. It's awesome. I just love it.\"
\r\n
\r\nPart of Himes' excitement could be joining an organization with a lack of depth at the right field position. While his preference would be playing another position, he understands why he's playing there.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was a center fielder in college but I've been playing right field mostly now,\" revealed Himes. \"I have a really good arm and getting assists is one of my favorite parts.\"
\r\n
\r\nA down and dirty player who goes all out in the field, Himes has altered his approach at the plate recently. Once a player who swung for the fences, Himes has decided to become a better overall hitter and let his power numbers fall where they may.
\r\n
\r\n\"I used to try and hit for more power, but now I'm just trying to stay within myself and my average jumped up this past year,\" said the 24-year old outfielder. \"I'm a doubles hitter and I enjoy being on the bases.\"
\r\n
\r\nHimes hit just .212 in 2004 for the Dayton Dragons with 121 strikeouts in just 312 at-bats. He realized then that a major change in philosophy at the plate was needed.
\r\n
\r\n\"My biggest goal this past year was having more hits than strikeouts,\" Himes revealed. \"Strikeouts were a problem for me earlier in my career and I keep trying to improve there. I just want to keep my doubles going and steal some more bases. If I have the freedom to run, I'll pursue more stolen bases too.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith 105 hits and just 104 strikeouts in 2005, Himes accomplished his pre-season goal and successfully transformed his identity in the batter's box. It is his newfound professional approach to hitting that has scouts now comparing him to O'Neill.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm feeling really comfortable with my swing right now,\" a confident Himes told us. \"I worked a lot with Chris Sabo this past year and I think the time I spent with him really helped out a lot.\"
\r\n
\r\nSetting career highs in just about every offensive category in 2005 has the big right fielder feeling at the top of his game as he switches organizations.
\r\n
\r\n\"I hesitate to say that mentally I'm able to get it, but there are very few days where I'm not where I should be mentally,\" the sweet-swinging lefty continued. \"At this point, I feel my weaknesses are just the little things. I feel really confident right now and I plan to go to Spring Training ready to go and be in Trenton next year.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn fact, when asked about his weaknesses to his game right now, Himes struggled to come up with an answer.
\r\n
\r\n\"Hitting sliders from left-handed pitchers,\" Himes continued, \"is the hardest pitch for me to hit. But I think that is the hardest pitch for any left-handed batter to hit.\"
\r\n
\r\nStarting anew in a different farm system, Himes realizes he has to impress a new set of coaches and showcase his skill set to a new set of prospect followers. So who does Ben Himes thinks he compares to at the Major League level?
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't think there is one guy that I would compare my game to,\" said Himes. \"I have traits of a few different players. I throw a lot like Vlady [Vladmir Guerrero]. I think I have a swing like Griffey and the hustle and winning attitude of Derek Jeter and A-Rod.\"
\r\n
\r\nBut if you had to zero in on one player to compare Himes to at the Major League level, given his physical attributes, tools, and approach at the plate and in the game, Paul O'Neill is the one name that seems most appropriate.
\r\n
\r\n\"Lots of people have told me that before,\" said Himes as to the comparison to Paul O'Neill.
\r\n
\r\nThe Yankees and their fans are hoping that Ben Himes, one of their newest acquisitions, can come close to that comparison.
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