I got to do something that I will always remember. Field Coordinator Tim Cossins called me over and all the players stood around me. He talked about the grind -- a word that has a negative connotation with some, as it implies a high effort guy with no talent. But among ballplayers, it's a positive word. Nothing comes easy no matter how talented you are. Baseball is always about the journey: from prospect to MLB player, from spring training to fall, from game to game and even from pitch to pitch -- you grind away because at this level everybody is good. It's too big a game to conquer at once, so you keep grinding away -- and if you don't, then you can be sure someone else will.
As I was going through treatment, I often called it a grind as well -- and I meant that in a positive way. One of the things that kept me going was understanding I wasn't going to beat this all at once. It was going to be a journey and it wasn't always going to be easy. I was going to have to grind away at it. I was going to do everything I had to do, day after day, and stay positive even when I felt exhausted.
And so along that theme, I said a few words to the players about grinding through the process. You have to feel that you are going to make it though, you trust that if you keep grinding away, you will get there.
In Grind We Trust.
I am not sure I was all that eloquent. I was certainly a little nervous. but I was still proud to share my grind with theirs. As different as our end goal may be, the journeys have parallels -- there will be struggles and breakthroughs, but you never stop grinding until you get to where you want to be.
First day Impressions
You don't want to take too much out of the first day, so I will keep this brief. Here are a few things of which I took note...
- Kwang-Min Kwon has trimmed down, both in terms of his body and also his swing, which was noticeably shorter than it was last fall when he was launching long BP HRs, but had trouble translating that power to games.
- There are no 2016 IFAs in camp but one player who missed all of last season, 17 year old IFer Christopher Morel, grew physically as well. He suffered a badly lacerated arm and did not play last year. He looked like a skinny kid -- you could almost mistaken him for a bat boy. Not this year. He is still skinny -- but he certainly looks taller and has filled out slightly. He has long levers and while he may struggle early in his career to get them all in sync, he showed some batting practice power today. He looks like he can be a monster physically as he continues to mature. I think he'll outgrow SS but may develop the power to play 3B.
- Robert Mejia is a physical monster already and was playing 1B. He struggled with throws at 3B but did show occasional raw power at the plate. From a physical size standpoint, he reminded Phil and I of Brewers 1B Chris Carter.
- I didn't ealize how big catcher Jhonny Pereda had gotten since last year. He seems to have grown a couple of inches and looks much more filled out. He was more of a defensive catcher last year but showed some pop this year in the AFL.
- Catcher Miguel Amaya looks to have put on some muscle weight, something many scouts and front office members told me he would need to do. Amaya is already a good defensive catcher with strong natural leadership skills. As a hitter he has a mature approach and a solid stroke, though he has been more of a line drive hitter to this point. I am interested to see if he hits for more power this fall.
- Aramis Ademan is never going to get all that big but there's a nice sound off his bat. I think he'll hit enough to be a starting SS. He can certainly stick there defensively.
- OFer Jonathan Sierra showed a smooth stroke and was working on getting his lead hand through the zone quicker so that he can better turn on pitches for power. He did so successfully toward the end of his BP session.
- Eddy Martinez had a cleaner stroke than I remembered last year, when he sometimes showed a slight hitch. We know his approach got better as he got more reps under his belt.
- Players from Eugene and Myrtle Beach have been given extra time to report to camp -- and with good reason as both teams extended their seasons with titles.
I have partial rosters here and you can see the full rosters from AZ Phil at The Cub Reporter here.
Oscar de la Cruz
* Jordan Minch
* Carson Sands
* Justin Steele
P. J. Higgins
* Alberto Mineo
* Carlos Sepulveda (2B)
* Jason Vosler (3B)
* Donnie Dewees (CF)
Eddy Julio Martinez (RF)
And as a reminder, the Arizona Fall League representatives will be...
- Victor Caratini, C
- Ryan McNeil, RHP
- Steve Perakslis, RHRP
- James Farris, RHSP
- Ian Happ, 2B
- Eloy Jimenez, OF
- Duane Underwood Jr, RHSP
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