The Trenton Thunder organization was kind enough to set up an interview with Austin Romine for us. He was the no. 2 Yankee prospect heading into the season, but considering the gap between his and Jesus Montero's seasons so far (.307/.371/.453 vs. .216/.298/.330), he may have vaulted into the top spot.
TG: You're hitting better this year than any previous season. Why?
AR: A lot better approach at the plate. I'm not trying to hit everything like I was last year... taking my walks. I think I have almost as many walks as I did all of last year. I figure when I walk, I can hit too because I'm getting good pitches to swing at. I think that's why I'm having a lot of success, because I'm swinging at good pitches and not swinging at pitcher's pitches.
TG: Are you spending more time in the cage?
AR: No more time than normal. Maybe less quantity, more quality. Like I said, I may have 20 balls thrown at me, I might swing at 10, just cause I'm trying to lock in on one pitch and not swing at bad ones.
TG: What jumped out about Double-A pitchers as a hitter?
AR: That they have a clue. Not that high-A pitchers don't have a clue, but they're a little bit more polished. They know what they can do. They know what their strengths are... where they can go. They move the balls in and out very well. It's not one's here, another one's at the backstop... pitches move a little bit more. Better two-seams, guys have better control of their changeups... it's a bigger step than high-A. Guys have a lot more control.
TG: Would you say the same from a catching perspective?
AR: Yeah, it definitely is. I had a lot of these same guys last year so... I know how they throw and stuff... I've seen that they're starting to control everything that they throw... they're throwing their off-speed pitches better.
TG: What about holding runners on base?
AR: They hold them on as much as they can. They've got stuff they're working on, I understand that.
TG: Your catching's been called ML-ready. Do you agree?
AR: I would like to. I'm never going to say that though because... I'm major league ready when they think I'm major league ready. I still feel that I have a lot to learn behind the plate, and that comes with a lot of games. I am 21. I'll be the first one to admit to you that more time behind the plate, getting in more games, a lot of time here in Double-A has helped me out a lot. I've learned so much in just 40 games. More than I did all of last year, so I'm just happy that I'm learning.
TG: What are your strongest and weakest areas?
AR: I feel like I block well. I try not to let anything get by. (laughter) My game-calling's getting a lot better. I've always been able to throw hard to second, so I guess you could say I have a good arm.
Part 2 coming soon...