Cannizaro Trying To Prove He Belongs

Cannizaro needs to improve his .224 average

Fighting the stigma of being an early round draft pick can present quite a battle for an up and coming minor leaguer. Columbus Clippers infielder Andy Cannizaro, selected by New York in the 7th round of the 2001 draft, expresses the urge to contribute to the Yankee organization in any fashion. Cannizaro is attempting to meet expectations that are very much desired out of the 27-year old.


Last season, Cannizaro made his Triple-A debut on June 16th at Pawtucket and later smashed his first Triple-A home run on August 23rd at Indianapolis. He finished ninth in all of minor league baseball with a 14.03 plate appearance to strikeout ratio. Cannizaro believes he possesses the tools as well as the mentality to possibly be a future contributor for the Bronx Bombers.

Cannizaro told, "I know if I do what I need to do and take care of my business, it will translate into being good enough to play for the Yankees."

As a Triple-A ballplayer, the next step to the big leagues can seem so close, yet, seem so far away. Cannizaro believes making the Yankee roster may take time, however, he plans to make a significant impact if and when he arrives in the Bronx.

A player's fit within the organization can often be instrumental in the chemistry and overall success of the team. Timing is a key ingredient determining the effectiveness of a player's niche on the roster and Cannizaro is perfectly content on waiting for the appropriate instant.

A minor league baseball player's concentration over the course of a season can vary depending on who you to talk to, however, the focus to consistently improve both offensively and defensively are a definite consensus. In today's day and age, a baseball player isn't worth much if a live bat fails to exist in their repertoire. That remains one of the main focuses of improvement in 2006 for Cannizaro.

"Trying not to give away any at-bats is important to me. I want to be a tough out every single time," said Cannizaro.

While the willingness to be patient in a player's grind for big league stardom can be the ultimate concentration, it is only natural to expect a pressing behavior in their all-around game as the pressure begins to mount. Even with the competition presented in Columbus by the likes of Felix Escalona and Caonabo Cosme, Cannizaro refuses to bite into the pressure that is a consistent norm for an everyday minor leaguer.

"Coming to the park everyday is an enjoyable part of the game. When you come to the park you just relax, play, and do your thing," said Cannizaro.

Judging the season as a whole can be a more useful tactic than analyzing each individual segment. Cannizaro chooses to take this approach as he is well aware of himself as a work in progress and will see where he stands come September. Hot and cold streaks come and go and Cannizaro's fate may be determined by how he handles these situations as they present themselves.

"My deal is to gather a full piece of work, which is the season and hope that front office personnel have realized what I have done," said Cannizaro.

As the first month of the season has come and gone, Cannizaro believes he has opened some eyes within the coaching staff and Yankee organization. The former 7th round draft pick is primed to be that role player or spark off the bench that was all too familiar in New York during the championship run from 1996 through 2000. The great thing about baseball is everyday is a new day and there are countless opportunities to make a lasting impression.

Clippers hitting coach Kevin Long states that Cannizaro will never be a superstar in the big leagues, however, if he plays his cards right, may define the definition of solid defense while providing an offensive spark. Long is unsure whether he will ultimately make a Major League roster. This is nothing new considering the list of doubters concerning Cannizaro's future seems to be never ending.

"Everything would have to go perfect. He would have to continue to improve both offensively and defensively and I think he needs to establish himself a little more at the Triple-A level," said Long.

Cannizaro is well aware nothing is going to be easy in his march for the majors. Playing within the Yankee farm system presents tremendous challenges with so many high-profile names on the big league roster. Even if it is a longshot, the progress Cannizaro has made in the eyes of the organization may show he is on his way back in proving the worthiness of his early round selection.

"I want to show everyone that I can be a shortstop in the big leagues," said Cannizaro.


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