Don't Forget About Taveras

From Jesus Montero in Double-A to Austin Romine in high-A, to Kyle Higashioka in the short-season leagues to newly signed Gary Sanchez, the Yankees have recently enjoyed unprecedented catching depth in their farm system. But folks looking over their high-ceiling catching prospects shouldn't scan by Damian Taveras.

Damian Taveras often gets overlooked because he was signed over three years ago and he still hasn't made it the United States. Throw in the fact he hit just .229 in 2008, on the surface there might not be much to like.

But considering last year was his first as a full-time catcher, the former third baseman had an awful lot on his plate at one time.

"The first year when you move to the position it's a little tough because you're tired a lot, especially your legs," Taveras said through the help of a translator. "You're not used to all the work.

"Your legs aren't used to catching and then hitting, I was trying to focus more on catching than worrying about the hitting. It was a challenge for me to do both."

He admits it was a rough adjustment trying to learn a brand new position, especially one as physically demanding as catcher, and yet still stay fresh at the plate. But with a year under his belt, he bounced back this past season to hit .396 with 15 extra-base hits in just 30 games.

"It was very good," he said of his 2009 season. "I put a lot of effort into the season. I was trying to have my head in the game and improve everyday."

He continues to improve up to this day and he was easily one of the more impressive hitters at Dominican instructs, mostly because it's tough to overpower him in the batter's box.

"My strength offensively is hitting fastballs," he said. "I'm a fastball guy and I'm always trying to get ahead in the count to get that fastball."

Taveras does admit, however, that he has learned better selectivity and pitch recognition since moving to catcher, and he believes he has the overall game to sneak up on some folks at an already deep position for the Yankees.

"I think I can do it," he said flatly. "Everybody's work [pace] is different and everybody has their own mindset on how they're going to go about it. I have my own mindset and my game is coming together now."

So even though some of the best hitting prospects in the organization happen to play the same position as Taveras, he is happy he made the position switch.

"It was hard at first," he said. "It was tough to get used to the position, but I've been getting accustomed to it.

"I can throw and I can catch so it hasn't been too difficult since I learned all of the things involved with the position. Everything has worked out, thank God. I feel good the way everything is going right now, catching and hitting better."

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nDamian Taveras often gets overlooked because he was signed over three years ago and he still hasn't made it the United States. Throw in the fact he hit just .229 in 2008, on the surface there might not be much to like.
\r\n
\r\nBut considering last year was his first as a full-time catcher, the former third baseman had an awful lot on his plate at one time.
\r\n
\r\n\"The first year when you move to the position it's a little tough because you're tired a lot, especially your legs,\" Taveras said through the help of a translator. \"You're not used to all the work.
\r\n
\r\n\"Your legs aren't used to catching and then hitting, I was trying to focus more on catching than worrying about the hitting. It was a challenge for me to do both.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe admits it was a rough adjustment trying to learn a brand new position, especially one as physically demanding as catcher, and yet still stay fresh at the plate. But with a year under his belt, he bounced back this past season to hit .396 with 15 extra-base hits in just 30 games.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was very good,\" he said of his 2009 season. \"I put a lot of effort into the season. I was trying to have my head in the game and improve everyday.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe continues to improve up to this day and he was easily one of the more impressive hitters at Dominican instructs, mostly because it's tough to overpower him in the batter's box.
\r\n
\r\n\"My strength offensively is hitting fastballs,\" he said. \"I'm a fastball guy and I'm always trying to get ahead in the count to get that fastball.\"
\r\n
\r\nTaveras does admit, however, that he has learned better selectivity and pitch recognition since moving to catcher, and he believes he has the overall game to sneak up on some folks at an already deep position for the Yankees.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think I can do it,\" he said flatly. \"Everybody's work [pace] is different and everybody has their own mindset on how they're going to go about it. I have my own mindset and my game is coming together now.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo even though some of the best hitting prospects in the organization happen to play the same position as Taveras, he is happy he made the position switch.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was hard at first,\" he said. \"It was tough to get used to the position, but I've been getting accustomed to it.
\r\n
\r\n\"I can throw and I can catch so it hasn't been too difficult since I learned all of the things involved with the position. Everything has worked out, thank God. I feel good the way everything is going right now, catching and hitting better.\"
\r\n
\r\n

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

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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