Thursday, January 26, 2012

Prospect Pulse: Jake Marisnick

Here's my Q&A with Blue Jays prospect Jake Marisnick, age 20, a third-round pick in the 2009 draft out of Riverside, Calif.

What was the biggest lesson learned from your first full pro season? "
Not to worry about things that have already happened. Its a long season. Always look to improve from day to day and not worry about the past."

Is there anything you are doing differently this off-season to prepare for the long grind?
"I feel like my body and mind were pretty well prepared for the long season, so I'm going to keep a very similar off-season schedule."

In terms of development, what aspect of your game needs the most improvement? Have the Blue Jays identified something specific they want you to work on in 2012?
I think just getting stronger and continuing to build on my approach as a hitter are my biggest keys going forward."

Jake Marisnick has a drop-and-drive swing that produced 14 homers and 47 extra-base hits last season. He batted .320 and stole 37 bases at Lansing.

Let's talk about the mental side of the game. I've read that you're a tough self-critic. How do you measure success at the end of the day? "
I really started focusing on the mental side of the game this past year, and I feel it helped me greatly. At the end of the day, I measure my success by the adjustments made during the day, whether it be in the cages, during batting practice, live in the game, defensively or base running. I just remind myself if I take small steps each day, I will greatly improve my game over the course of a long season."

If you were a psychologist, what would you say to Jake Marisnick about his mental approach? "
Just to be easier on myself. I tend to be pretty hard on myself from time to time but I feel like it's a good way to learn. If I'm always easy on myself, it's hard to make corrections that are needed."

How did you get so fast? Where do the good genes come from in your family? "
It's hard to say. I have a lot of pretty good athletes in my family. I lean more towards my mom's side, though. My dad won't agree, but it's probably true."

What's the most memorable game of your amateur career? What's the worst? "
It's hard to pick out just one memorable game, but the worst would have to have be losing the last game of my senior year. After four years in high school, my team lost in the semifinals by one run, and it was hard to grasp that we lost."

Sounds like your mother has done wonders for your career. Explain. (Jennifer Marisnick is a senior director at Reynolds Sports Management.) "She has just given me a lot of opportunities to talk to people with experience in baseball. It has helped me greatly with the mental side of the game. That exposure has definitely helped me become the player I have become today."

What are your personal goals for 2012? "Just to improve my all-around game from day to day."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dear diary, I bought a fungo bat today

While spending the weekend at the Mohegan Sun World Baseball Coaches Convention, mostly to sharpen my skills as an AAU baseball coach, it began to feel like a Fisher Cats reunion. Manager Sal Fasano was there, along with ex-skipper Bill Masse (now a Seattle scout), former outfielder Todd Donovan (Arizona scout), Blue Jays bullpen coach Pete Walker and roving hitting coordinator Anthony Iapoce. Toronto minor leaguer George Carroll also popped up and helped out during a clinic run by Iapoce, who brought great energy and knowledge of the game.

I caught up with Iapoce and asked him what Toronto is looking for from its young hitters. "We're looking for guys we can rely on, guys who are going to give you grinding, quality at-bats and know the strike zone. Once you get to Toronto, it's about helping the team win the World Series. When John Farrell puts you in the lineup, you've got to understand your role and be productive."

What are some of the qualities you look for while developing well-rounded players? "Young players get an opportunity based on their talent and skill, but it's the passion and mental makeup and the love of helping a team win that overrides a lot," Iapoce said. "You've got the five tools a player get drafted by, but we also have three more: Mind, heart and backbone. How tough are you when it comes to the rigors of being away from home? How is a kid going to respond to the buses, the failure, the grind?. Those are things you don't know when drafting a kid."

New fungo, Nikes and swag. I mean, really, how cool is this stuff?

Do you think Travis d'Arnaud has proven he's ready for a shot at the big leagues? "I don't know if you ever really prove it. Guys can get called up because everyone thinks they're ready, and they struggle. Some guys get called up to fill in, and they end up staying for 10 or 11 years in the major leagues. All we want him to do is stay healthy and consistent. He's shown good leadership behind the plate. I wish him luck. He's an exciting player."