Nunez Getting More Confident

A web-gem worthy double play in the eighth inning of last weekend's 2-1 victory over Charlotte summed up everything Eduardo Nunez has been working on throughout the early part of the 2010 season and it's just one of the reasons why his confidence continues to grow.

"Defense," said the sixth-year man out of the Dominican Republic. "I've been working hard at it all year."

With the Yankees clinging to a slim 2-1 lead in last Saturday's game, and the tying run on first, Charlotte's Jordan Danks laced a shot up the middle that zipped past reliever Mark Melancon. Second baseman Reegie Corona laid out full extension near second base, snagged the ball off the dirt, and flipped it to Nunez, who barehanded the throw and, while being taken out at second, rifled the runner out at first.

The play not only short circuited the potential scare, but displayed the defensive prowess of both players, who have been a middle infield tandem for quite awhile.

"We've been playing together for a long time, we're good friends, but we've never had that kind of play," said an ecstatic Nunez. "We're comfortable with each other, and you have to be comfortable to make that play. I know when he dives, where the ball is going to come."

Since arriving in the Yankees minor league system six years ago, Eduardo Nunez has been considered one of the club's most intriguing young prospects. Although he has shown flashes of brilliance over the years, it was not until after a breakout 2009 season with Double-A Trenton that he started to fulfill the promise that made him a highly touted prospect.

Thus far in 2010, the bulked up Nunez [who now checks in at 215, up from his 155 he weighed in at as a rookie undrafted free agent in 2004], has built upon his terrific 2009, and is in the midst of another career year with triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"He's matured mentally a lot," hitting coach Butch Wynegar said. "I didn't know him much before, but from what I've heard and what I've seen now, he's done a nice job of mentally maturing and he's got a better idea of what he's doing up at the plate. He's done a lot better job of battling with two strikes, whereas last year he didn't battle as well."

As of May 23rd, Nunez is hitting .331 with a .372 on-base percentage and just 19 strikeouts. His batting average is ahead of last year's career high, but it's his ten walks in just 42 games after walking just 22 times in 123 games last year that has been most impressive. For the time being, it's a groove that the 4th year hitting coach does not want to interfere with.

"Right now he's got the mindset that he's up there to do battle and stick his nose in there and grind at-bats out," Wynegar stated. "He started out good and I kind of stayed out of his way so I didn't mess him up."

Known as somewhat erratic at the plate in years past, a permanent switch to the right side of the plate has clearly benefited the 22-year-old shortstop. Nunez came into the organization as a switch-hitter, but decided on batting righty exclusively just a couple of years ago.

"It's definitely helped [giving up switch-hitting]," said the 6-foot-2 righty. "Right now I'm walking; I'm not taking too many swings. I'm looking for one pitch and I am hitting it."

Considered a five-tool prospect by many coming into the organization, Nunez has found a steady home at shortstop. It's at short that he routinely displays the cannon arm that many regard as the best infield arm in the Yankees organization.

According to Wynegar, Nunez's biggest strength in the box are his quick hands, it's just a matter of using them more in his at-bats.

"He's got great hands, and I want him to hit with those hands and keep his body out of the swing a little bit," said Wynegar. "Right now his body is kind of creeping into it and that negates his hand path a bit. [It's] minor, but just enough to where it could affect his at-bats."

After a stellar rookie campaign with Staten Island in 2005 where he hit .313 with 37 runs in just 73 games, Nunez failed to get back over the .300 plateau while bouncing around single and Double-A.

That was until last season.

With double-A Trenton in 2009, he hit a career best .322 with 26 doubles, and 55 RBI. The career year led him to being named an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star, an Eastern League Post-Season All-Star, and a Topps Double-A All-Star. This year, his stellar play at short has many talking, amongst them general manager Brian Cashman, who said that the youngster has been "going off at short."

"That gives me a lot of confidence," Nunez said humbly. "They see that I'm working and they know that I can play. It makes me excited when I hear them say that, it's great."

To continue to improve, Wynegar was committed to cracking down on Nunez's discipline in the box during at-bats, as he was known as somewhat of a free swinger coming in.

"[He needed work on] his plate discipline," said Wynegar. "Trying to be more selective especially early in the count, and not trying to put everything into play; and he's done that for the most part."

Nunez felt the same way. He came into the season focused on improving his on-base percentage, and wanted to draw more walks and be more patient at the dish.

"I've been working on my defense the most, but also my on-base percentage, and my walks," said Nunez. "The more walks, the more on base I am to help out."

There still are a few minor nagging intricacies that Wynegar is trying to work on for Nunez to reach his full potential.

"There's a couple of things to keep an eye on with him," said Wynegar. "He's gotten into a couple bad habits right now and I think he's just trying to be a little overaggressive and trying to do a little bit too much right now."

Along with taking care of the bad habits, Nunez's goal is simple: he wants to be in the majors, and that's what he's working towards.

"I want to go to the big leagues," Nunez said bluntly. "I don't have control [of that], so all I can do is play and do what I can.

"I keep working and keep working and try and let it happen. That's all I can do is keep working. When you play every day, you get more and more confident."

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"Defense,\" said the sixth-year man out of the Dominican Republic. \"I've been working hard at it all year.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith the Yankees clinging to a slim 2-1 lead in last Saturday's game, and the tying run on first, Charlotte's Jordan Danks laced a shot up the middle that zipped past reliever Mark Melancon. Second baseman Reegie Corona laid out full extension near second base, snagged the ball off the dirt, and flipped it to Nunez, who barehanded the throw and, while being taken out at second, rifled the runner out at first.
\r\n
\r\nThe play not only short circuited the potential scare, but displayed the defensive prowess of both players, who have been a middle infield tandem for quite awhile.
\r\n
\r\n\"We've been playing together for a long time, we're good friends, but we've never had that kind of play,\" said an ecstatic Nunez. \"We're comfortable with each other, and you have to be comfortable to make that play. I know when he dives, where the ball is going to come.\"
\r\n
\r\nSince arriving in the Yankees minor league system six years ago, Eduardo Nunez has been considered one of the club's most intriguing young prospects. Although he has shown flashes of brilliance over the years, it was not until after a breakout 2009 season with Double-A Trenton that he started to fulfill the promise that made him a highly touted prospect.
\r\n
\r\nThus far in 2010, the bulked up Nunez [who now checks in at 215, up from his 155 he weighed in at as a rookie undrafted free agent in 2004], has built upon his terrific 2009, and is in the midst of another career year with triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's matured mentally a lot,\" hitting coach Butch Wynegar said. \"I didn't know him much before, but from what I've heard and what I've seen now, he's done a nice job of mentally maturing and he's got a better idea of what he's doing up at the plate. He's done a lot better job of battling with two strikes, whereas last year he didn't battle as well.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs of May 23rd, Nunez is hitting .331 with a .372 on-base percentage and just 19 strikeouts. His batting average is ahead of last year's career high, but it's his ten walks in just 42 games after walking just 22 times in 123 games last year that has been most impressive. For the time being, it's a groove that the 4th year hitting coach does not want to interfere with.
\r\n
\r\n\"Right now he's got the mindset that he's up there to do battle and stick his nose in there and grind at-bats out,\" Wynegar stated. \"He started out good and I kind of stayed out of his way so I didn't mess him up.\"
\r\n
\r\nKnown as somewhat erratic at the plate in years past, a permanent switch to the right side of the plate has clearly benefited the 22-year-old shortstop. Nunez came into the organization as a switch-hitter, but decided on batting righty exclusively just a couple of years ago.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's definitely helped [giving up switch-hitting],\" said the 6-foot-2 righty. \"Right now I'm walking; I'm not taking too many swings. I'm looking for one pitch and I am hitting it.\"
\r\n
\r\nConsidered a five-tool prospect by many coming into the organization, Nunez has found a steady home at shortstop. It's at short that he routinely displays the cannon arm that many regard as the best infield arm in the Yankees organization.
\r\n
\r\nAccording to Wynegar, Nunez's biggest strength in the box are his quick hands, it's just a matter of using them more in his at-bats.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's got great hands, and I want him to hit with those hands and keep his body out of the swing a little bit,\" said Wynegar. \"Right now his body is kind of creeping into it and that negates his hand path a bit. [It's] minor, but just enough to where it could affect his at-bats.\"
\r\n
\r\nAfter a stellar rookie campaign with Staten Island in 2005 where he hit .313 with 37 runs in just 73 games, Nunez failed to get back over the .300 plateau while bouncing around single and Double-A.
\r\n
\r\nThat was until last season.
\r\n
\r\nWith double-A Trenton in 2009, he hit a career best .322 with 26 doubles, and 55 RBI. The career year led him to being named an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star, an Eastern League Post-Season All-Star, and a Topps Double-A All-Star. This year, his stellar play at short has many talking, amongst them general manager Brian Cashman, who said that the youngster has been \"going off at short.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"That gives me a lot of confidence,\" Nunez said humbly. \"They see that I'm working and they know that I can play. It makes me excited when I hear them say that, it's great.\"
\r\n
\r\nTo continue to improve, Wynegar was committed to cracking down on Nunez's discipline in the box during at-bats, as he was known as somewhat of a free swinger coming in.
\r\n
\r\n\"[He needed work on] his plate discipline,\" said Wynegar. \"Trying to be more selective especially early in the count, and not trying to put everything into play; and he's done that for the most part.\"
\r\n
\r\nNunez felt the same way. He came into the season focused on improving his on-base percentage, and wanted to draw more walks and be more patient at the dish.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've been working on my defense the most, but also my on-base percentage, and my walks,\" said Nunez. \"The more walks, the more on base I am to help out.\"
\r\n
\r\nThere still are a few minor nagging intricacies that Wynegar is trying to work on for Nunez to reach his full potential.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's a couple of things to keep an eye on with him,\" said Wynegar. \"He's gotten into a couple bad habits right now and I think he's just trying to be a little overaggressive and trying to do a little bit too much right now.\"
\r\n
\r\nAlong with taking care of the bad habits, Nunez's goal is simple: he wants to be in the majors, and that's what he's working towards.
\r\n
\r\n\"I want to go to the big leagues,\" Nunez said bluntly. \"I don't have control [of that], so all I can do is play and do what I can.
\r\n
\r\n\"I keep working and keep working and try and let it happen. That's all I can do is keep working. When you play every day, you get more and more confident.\"
\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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