Sweet-Swinging Lefty Sets Sights on the Bigs

The calendar's turn to April means two things, winter's fade and baseball's return. In Columbus, baseball signifies the start of a new battle for these young Clippers who hope to make their mark, not only on their team, but for the big club in the Bronx. One of the Clippers established stars is Kevin Reese. The 28-year-old lefty is primed for a strong season in Columbus after two years of striking improvement.


Reese's flame only grew hotter as his hitting ignited the Clippers offense in 2005, leading the International League in doubles (38), third in runs scored (92), tied for fourth in extra-base hits (59), and was fifth in hits (149).

By season's end, he would reach career highs in triples (7) and home runs (14), showing why Yankee brass was quick to call him up mid-season to fill an outfield position.

Coming into this year's Spring Training, Reese hoped to show scouts and executives what he could offer to the ball club in the future.

"Being down in Florida was definitely better being on the big league side than the minor league side...little bit of a different lifestyle, gets your adrenaline going," Kevin Reese told PinstripesPlus.com at Columbus' season opener on Thursday. "Seeing how those guys prepare for games, seeing what it takes to get yourself going to play at that level, see what it takes, and get an idea of what you can do for yourself."

Asked about his performance in Tampa, Reese stated he was pleased with his defensive performance and that he showed he could be valuable playing all positions in the outfield. Offensively, he felt unsure of his performance but believes that personnel in the organization are aware of his abilities at the plate.

Reese feels little pressure this year after two successful seasons in Columbus, hoping to impress the new manager and keep improving himself. His short stint with the Yankees last summer gave him "a taste" of what lays ahead of him.

Until then, "the best thing I can do is keep to keep playing hard, develop my game and help this team win. It doesn't matter where you are, you want to succeed."

With mounting success at the Triple-A level, the outfielder still wants more. Reese is hungry to return to the Bronx, this time for a longer stay. "You go up to the big leagues and you see what it's all about, 55,000 fans at Yankee Stadium and being a part of that for a few day...that was awesome."

To get that long term call-up, areas of Reese's game still need improvement. His strikeout to walk ratio is still on the negative side and a drop in batting average showed that consistency is needed to fully round out his game. An element which eludes many young players, Reese feels consistency, as well as timing and hitting, will gain him a concrete spot at the next level.

"Being in the right place at the right time, play good defense, being able to play in left, right, center, getting the bat on the ball, and doing what I know I can do."

While trying to lead the Clippers to the top of the International League, Reese has set bigger goals for himself for 2006. Spending four days in the majors last year wets his palette for more.

"I need to get as much time in the big leagues as I can, be solid down here, hopefully get up there, and if I'm down here all year, I'll just put good numbers and help this team win."

For the Clippers, however, they may want him to stay right where he is as he continues to prove to be one of their most valuable players by flashing the leather in the field and knocking in runs from the corner-outfield position.


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