"I feel really good right now," Juan Miranda said through the help of a translator. "It felt weird when I first got here because I didn't know anybody, but now I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable, making adjustments in every at-bat, so I'm seeing the ball a lot better and getting good pitches to hit."
Miranda's pro career in the U.S. started out slowly, as he hit just .238 in April with single-A Tampa, striking out 25 times in 84 official at-bats. But since being bumped up to Trenton in mid-to-late June, Miranda has hit .310 with 19 RBIs in 71 at-bats with an OPS of 1.013.
The Cuban slugger, listed at 24-years old, stands at 6-foot and 220 pounds - and he is every bit of that; his powerful lower and upper body makes the ball jump off his bat from the left side - has hit 12 home runs and 25 two-baggers on the year.
But despite a tremendous turnaround after his first month in American pro ball, Miranda said he is still working to adapt to baseball and life in the United States.
"[Baseball] is a lot more technical here than it is over there," he said. "Right now I'm playing with a lot of young guys, and over there I was playing with older players with much more experience."
"I've been making a lot of adjustments on my swing, because here there are a lot more of the hard throwers, whereas in Cuba there are a lot more slow-pitch guys. So we've been trying to work with the hitting coach over here to try to get my swing back on with the fastball here."
Miranda's most apparent imperfection so far has been the disparity between hitting righties and lefties — Miranda has handled right-handers at .292, including .316 in Trenton, but against southpaws this year he is down at .222.
"The left-handed pitchers are a little bit more difficult than the right-handers [to pick up], so I'm just trying to make the adjustments all the time. I am working on it, but the left-handed pitcher is a little bit more difficult than the righty is right now."
However, Miranda said he does not change his approach against left-handed pitchers and simply takes the same approach every time up.
"I just watch the pitcher...I just go up there and don't look for a specific pitch, just try to get the ball on the fat part of the bat."
After signing Miranda to a four-year, $2 million contract, the Yankee organization continues to be high on the prospect, including general manager Brian Cashman, who was on hand Wednesday to watch the Thunder first baseman go 2-for-3 with a walk against Binghamton.
"We're excited about Juan," Cashman told PinstripesPlus.com. "I mean here's a guy that hadn't played for the last two years in terms of organized baseball...this guy can play, he's got a great deal of talent. He was knocking the rust off down in the Florida State League and he got off to a slow start."
"The scouts are always talking about how this guy takes a walk, he's got power to all fields, he hits it the other way with power, and I have to credit Carlos Rios' personnel; we've been very aggressive on the international side, and [Miranda's] an example of that, and he just signed and he's already producing here at double-A," he said. "The more he plays, the better he'll be."
Since making the move up to Trenton, Miranda has split time almost evenly between first base and designating hitting duties. And after playing almost exclusively first base in Tampa, Miranda said he prefers spending time out on defense.
"I like first base better because it keeps me in the game better than just pinch-hitting and designated hitting," he said."
After three and a half months of organized baseball in the U.S., Miranda continues to work hard to adjust to the new surroundings, aspiring to reach the Major League level as soon as possible.
"It's been a little difficult because I don't speak the language here, but I've been getting more comfortable because I have all of [my teammates] helping me out. I'm going to get it, and I'll be fine," he said.
"My main goal is to play in the big leagues, and that's always going to be my main goal until I get there."
Miranda Adapting Well
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