Maruszak Brimming With Confidence

Earlier this year in late February the Yankees played an exhibition game against The University of South Florida. That's when they got their first glimpse at the player who would become their 17th round pick in this season's draft, Addison Maruszak.

They not only liked what they saw, but they also liked the confidence and composure of the 21-year-old short stop. That's because Maruszak didn't back down when Joba Chamberlain called him out during a banquet dinner the night before the exhibition showdown.

He has a reason to be confident, Maruszak has been the star pupil of former Yankee Tino Martinez these past couple of years. Martinez has worked with the skinny middle infielder on everything from hitting to playing shortstop.

"He knows so much about the game and about hitting," Maruszak said of his former mentor. "He doesn't pressure you to do what he does because he had his own style of hitting. So if something doesn't work for me he's not going to pressure me, he's going to show me something he's picked up from other people."

Today Maruszak shows great admiration of Martinez in the way he talks about how much he's helped his game. Martinez has had such an affect on Maruszak that when he was interviewed by his school earlier this May about what team he'd like to be drafted by he responded that it was his dream to be picked by the Yankees. Just a month later his dream has come true.

There was a reason he was called out by Joba Chamberlain earlier this year, he was South Florida's best hitter. In 2008 he batted .364 and showed incredible patience posting an on base percentage of .474. Those were good enough numbers for the Yankees to take him in the draft, but if he's going to move up through the organization it will be his hustle and strong defensive skills that will lead the way not his bat.

"He's a team player and he hustles," said Staten Island Yankees manager Pat McMahon. "And he's playing very well defensively for us. He's a very good defender at shortstop. He's worked hard and he continues to improve on a regular basis."

Being a team player is not something that has come by accident. Working down at the University of South Florida has taught him that kind of work ethic.

"They teach the game kind of like west coast style," Maruszak explained. "They play the game real hard, like running as hard as you can, diving for everything, getting the dirtiest uniform. Even if there is a ball I think I can't get to I'm going to dive anyways because you just never know. So that's how I play the game, as hard as I can every time."

Part of Maruszak's defensive game is his strong throwing arm. In fact, his arm is so strong that before the draft a lot of the team's he spoke with talked about drafting him as a catcher to better take advantage of that cannon.

"It was everybody's idea because I have a good arm so they see me as good potential behind the plate," said Maruszak. "I don't have great shortstop speed, I'm a below average runner at short. I'm not slow but I'm not as fast as every other shortstop."

Now that he's with the Yankees, they feel that he is strongest in the field and plan on keeping him there. If he does ever move behind the plate it will not be this year because despite the fact that he may be a "slow," shortstop, Maruszak has fine tuned his defensive game.

"Since I've played there for many years so I've figured out ways to cheat to get to balls," he said. "I kind of know where they're going to go and our pitchers do a pretty good job of hitting their spots so it kind of makes it easier for me to play short."

Still Marszak isn't taking anything for granted. He prides himself on how hard he works on improving his game offensively and defensively. He also says that while he is in the Yankee organization he will always have the dirtiest jersey on the team.

Most of all he is happy that he will get an opportunity to work with Tino Martinez again.

"I love it," Maruszak said excitedly. "My home town is in Tampa so if I make it there he'll be right in my backyard too. I feel really blessed because I'm with the Yankees. This is the best organization. We get respect just by wearing the pinstripes."

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