Patience Pays Off For Christian

For Yankee outfield prospect Justin Christian, the road to Triple-A has been a long and winding one. When the 27-year old came out of college a few years ago, he was not signed by any Major League franchise. Instead, the Lincoln, Nebraska native had to start at the one of the lowest rings of professional baseball, the independent Frontier League.

In 2004, Justin Christian was signed by the Yankees and on June 22nd of this year, his journey to the highest level of minor league baseball was complete. For the newest member of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster, he is just happy to put on the Yankee jersey each day.

"It [playing in Triple-A] feels good," Christian said. "It's kind of rejuvenated me a little bit actually."

One thing that Christian has taken from his short time in Triple-A is the fact that he finds himself surrounded by experienced veteran players, something that you rarely come across in some of the lower levels Christian has played in the last few years.

"You have a bunch of guys in this locker room that have been around a little bit and they approach the game a bit differently than the younger guys," he said. "Me being a little bit older, it's good to be around guys that are my age and have the same work ethic I do. It's just a good thing to watch."

Before Christian joined the Triple-A roster, it was known in most parts of the Yankees organization that he was known for one thing - his speed on the base pads. In just 16 games, he has already stolen six bases and scored 17 runs. However, Christian believes his aggressive nature on the bases can actually hurt his team.

"It's ([base running a thing where I have to tone down my aggressiveness," he said. "I want to be able to be aggressive, but aggressive in the right way."

"If there's a stolen base opportunity there, I got to go out and take it. But, at the same time, there's a thin line of trying to force it sometimes. You just have to use your instincts and your experience because you can hurt yourself and the team if you try to be overly aggressive."

Since his promotion in June, Scranton manager Dave Miley put Christian in two important spots. First, Christian was put in the leadoff spot in the batting order, something that Christian is used too. Christian is already batting .324 with eight RBI and an on base percentage of .360. But, he understands what the role of a leadoff hitter is.

"When you leadoff, you have to have a good strike zone discipline", he said. "You don't want to go up and swing at balls because that hurts your chance of getting on base. For me, I just try to get a good pitch and work from there. I just try to put the ball on the ground and let my legs create opportunities."

Another role the Scranton skipper put Christian in is as the team's centerfielder. This was a role that Christian was not used too, as the former infielder elaborated on.

"Last year was my first year ever in the outfield, and I have played my majority of games in center here in Scranton," he said. "I'm getting more comfortable in the position each game, as there are some things you have to get used to, like taking control of the outfield and making sure guys are in the right position. So far, I think I've done a pretty good job defensively".

At the end of the day, Justin Christian is just happy to have the opportunity to play everyday and realizes his role on the team.

"The main thing I try to do is to stay in my mental approach and try to get on base the best way I can", he said. "Whether it be a walk, hit by pitch or a hit, my job is just to be able to get on base and let the guys behind me in the order knock me in."

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\r\n \r\n\r\nIn 2004, Justin Christian was signed by the Yankees and on June 22nd of this year, his journey to the highest level of minor league baseball was complete. For the newest member of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster, he is just happy to put on the Yankee jersey each day.
\r\n
\r\n\"It [playing in Triple-A] feels good,\" Christian said. \"It's kind of rejuvenated me a little bit actually.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne thing that Christian has taken from his short time in Triple-A is the fact that he finds himself surrounded by experienced veteran players, something that you rarely come across in some of the lower levels Christian has played in the last few years.
\r\n
\r\n\"You have a bunch of guys in this locker room that have been around a little bit and they approach the game a bit differently than the younger guys,\" he said. \"Me being a little bit older, it's good to be around guys that are my age and have the same work ethic I do. It's just a good thing to watch.\"
\r\n
\r\nBefore Christian joined the Triple-A roster, it was known in most parts of the Yankees organization that he was known for one thing - his speed on the base pads. In just 16 games, he has already stolen six bases and scored 17 runs. However, Christian believes his aggressive nature on the bases can actually hurt his team.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's ([base running a thing where I have to tone down my aggressiveness,\" he said. \"I want to be able to be aggressive, but aggressive in the right way.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"If there's a stolen base opportunity there, I got to go out and take it. But, at the same time, there's a thin line of trying to force it sometimes. You just have to use your instincts and your experience because you can hurt yourself and the team if you try to be overly aggressive.\"
\r\n
\r\nSince his promotion in June, Scranton manager Dave Miley put Christian in two important spots. First, Christian was put in the leadoff spot in the batting order, something that Christian is used too. Christian is already batting .324 with eight RBI and an on base percentage of .360. But, he understands what the role of a leadoff hitter is.
\r\n
\r\n\"When you leadoff, you have to have a good strike zone discipline\", he said. \"You don't want to go up and swing at balls because that hurts your chance of getting on base. For me, I just try to get a good pitch and work from there. I just try to put the ball on the ground and let my legs create opportunities.\"
\r\n
\r\nAnother role the Scranton skipper put Christian in is as the team's centerfielder. This was a role that Christian was not used too, as the former infielder elaborated on.
\r\n
\r\n\"Last year was my first year ever in the outfield, and I have played my majority of games in center here in Scranton,\" he said. \"I'm getting more comfortable in the position each game, as there are some things you have to get used to, like taking control of the outfield and making sure guys are in the right position. So far, I think I've done a pretty good job defensively\".
\r\n
\r\nAt the end of the day, Justin Christian is just happy to have the opportunity to play everyday and realizes his role on the team.
\r\n
\r\n\"The main thing I try to do is to stay in my mental approach and try to get on base the best way I can\", he said. \"Whether it be a walk, hit by pitch or a hit, my job is just to be able to get on base and let the guys behind me in the order knock me in.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

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