The Yankees 27th ranked prospect took time to speak with Pinstripe Alley about a variety of topics that will be published in two parts. Here is part one:
Dan Kelly - How have you been staying busy this summer with no baseball games to play?
Brandon Lockridge - I’ve kept busy, I’ve gotten accustom to having a summer, I haven’t had a summer away from baseball in I don’t know how long. When I first got back from Spring Training, in my mind, I don’t know what other guys thought, but we were like oh, this is just going to be a little while. When we left Tampa from Spring Training we didn’t even bring all our gear back, we left a bunch of our gear in our lockers, thinking OK, this is going to be a temporary thing. No one expected us to miss an entire season.
So when I got back, there is a place in Pensacola... its called EXOS. It’s a top notch training facility, so me and another local guy who is with the Mets who I grew up with have been training over there. I look at it like “How many times in my playing career am I going to have a seven month period to just focus on getting my body right. Typically you have two months after the season to get your body right, so now this is crazy how good my body feels from a balance and the stuff they incorporate at EXOS training facility, I feel fantastic and I’m only three months in.
DK - How much have you been in contact with Yankees staff, coaches, are you in pretty regular communication?
BL - They’ve done a great job of communicating. They have different staff members, we have a mental conditioning person reach out, our defensive coaches reach out, hitting coordinators and coaches... At least once a week you are hearing from someone in one of the departments who is asking how things are going and asking “if I need anything” Honestly its been great... I commit my 2-2 1/2 hours to it in the morning, and then I’ve got my work in for the day. Then I go hit.
I’ve been hitting with… you’ve probably heard the name, Travis Fryman, so he is from Pensacola, his son Branden Fryman... is the guy that I have been hitting with, and Travis has been awesome, he is on staff with the Indians. With him being home for this amount of time its been great, he’s been throwing to us. We’ve worked on my throwing mechanics, that was my tool that I really lacked... Being able to focus the last three months I’ve seen the arm strength improvement that I’ve been able to have. Honestly I probably wouldn’t have been able to have that without Travis Fryman directly working with me. As bad of a situation as we’re in, I’ve been able to work on some parts of my that that I would not be able to if we were in season.
DK - You transitioned to the outfield after your second year of college, how long did it take for you to feel comfortable in the outfield?
BL - In all honesty, I do miss the infield. In college as I was about to start my junior year, Coach Smartt, my college coach over there at Troy, he sat me down and said that I think this will be the best for your future, would you be open to moving to center field. At this point I kinda struggled defensively my sophomore year at second base. I was not a great infielder, so I was all for making that transition at the time.... Outfield was just natural. The game is a little slower, being farther from the hitter, but the footwork and the hand and glove work I’ve done my entire life playing on the infield made moving to the outfield seem like, “jeez this is easy.” I can use my legs a little better, because my big tool is being able to run. I could use my instincts out there and just being an athlete... But the one thing I was lacking, I never needed much arm strength playing second base, my throwing mechanics like I said have always been a little funky. But I’m extremely confident, even just going forward from that year my arm had gotten better, but I’d never made the strides, that I’ve made to this point right now. Now I love it, the Yankees have some amazing outfield coaches, and its all history now, I feel like I’ve played there my entire life.
DK - You mentioned your speed, and it is your highest rated tool. Coming up through high-school and college, were you involved in a lot of other sports? I can imagine another coach seeing that kind of speed and asking you to run track, or play wide-receiver?
BL - My dad, and I’m very thankful for everything my dad has done. He has pushed me my whole life, he had me in just about every sport that didn’t interfere with baseball season growing up. So, like, you name it, I played football until my freshman year in high school. My biggest issues, when I got to high school, I hadn’t really grown yet... I was playing my freshman year of football and I weighed 110-115 pounds. I did not deserve to be on that field anywhere. I didn’t play for my own safety... After my sophomore year I started growing, and I had middle of the pack speed in high school, and then as I grew and matured and started lifting weights my speed spiked. By then I already knew that baseball was my thing.
We have more of this interview with Brandon Lockridge coming tomorrow. Please check back as we discuss playing in a talented Charleston RiverDog outfield, developing more power, and getting the call to major league camp during spring training.