We sat down with Staten Island second baseman Russell Raley for a Q&A session to get his thoughts on…
Q&A with Seth Fortenberry
Seth Fortenberry: Oh man, it's been a very exciting season. I kind of got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I picked it up there about the middle-half of the season and got my numbers up pretty good. I was lucky enough to be selected to the All-Star team and that's been a great experience. Down in Aberdeen, it was everything I thought it would be and they did a great job putting that on there. It's been a great season with these guys. These are all great guys. It's been exciting. We got to keep it up.
PinstripesPlus: What would you say is your biggest strength as a ball player? What do you bring to the field and to your team?
Fortenberry: My biggest strength is probably my speed. The best thing I can do for the team is probably get on base and make things happen on the base paths, whether it's stealing bases, or trying to score from first base on a double in the gap, or scoring from second on a seeing-eye single. Just trying to get on base and use my speed on the base paths.
PinstripesPlus: Heading into the off-season, what do you need to work on the most to be ready for next season and what will you be doing to work on it? What's your biggest weakness right now?
Fortenberry: My biggest weakness is definitely hitting the ball to left field. I struggle with that a little bit. I'll work on that a little bit in the off-season. I'm struggling with the changeup right now, and I've been working on that in the cages with [hitting coach] Ty Hawkins. I'm trying to get better at that and hitting the ball to left field, hitting the ball on the ground the opposite way.
PinstripesPlus: To give our fans a better idea of the type of player you are, who would you compare your game to at the Major League level and why?
Fortenberry: Maybe kind of like a Carl Crawford or a [Scott] Podsednik, someone like that maybe. Because they're both kind of speedy guys who can pop it out of the yard every now and then. Both of them play great defense. I try to play the defense I can, give it all I got out there, but I'd like to say those guys.
PinstripesPlus: Which position player on the Staten Island team do you think has the highest ceiling and why? What do you like about his game and what do you think he needs to work on the most in order to develop into a big leaguer?
Fortenberry: Oh man, there's so many guys. It's tough to narrow it down just to one. But Hilligoss is up there, Colin Curtis is up there, Larsen, all those guys have the potential to make it to the big leagues. Hilligoss has the ability to take the ball to left field whenever he wants. We give him a hard time because he fouls so many balls in the dugout over here, but the guy takes the ball the other way so well. If he polishes it off to where he can put it down to the pullside a little more — which is rare because you mostly see guys who have trouble going the other way, he'll be fine. Him and then Curtis is the same way. He's able to take the ball to all fields. He's got a little bit of speed and can run a little bit and has got a little bit of pop in his bat. He's doing well. And Kyle Larsen, the guy's a big guy and he can knock the ball out of the park. If he just gets his average up a little bit, he'll be just fine.
PinstripesPlus: Which pitcher do you think has the highest big league upside and why?
Fortenberry: I've been most impressed with George Kontos this season. The guy has got a good live arm, throwing the ball in the low-90s. He's got two off-speed pitches that he throws with good command, with his changeup and his breaking ball. I've been very impressed with the way he's thrown all season.
PinstripesPlus: Who do you think is the biggest sleeper prospect, position prospect or pitcher? Who do you think will fly under the radar, doesn't get the attention he deserves, but will become a quality big leaguer? Give reasons why.
Fortenberry: I think Cervelli and Pino. I've been saying it all year. Both of them made the All-Star team, so they're getting a little bit of attention, but both of them hit a quiet .300. Pino was up at the plate one day and I look up at the board and he's hitting .320, .330, something like that. And I'm like, ‘Goodness. That's a quiet .330.' And he's kind of been a sleeper all year for me, and he's definitely got the ability. He's got a great defensive glove in the field and if he keeps hitting the ball, he'll be just fine.
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