Named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week for the week ending July 8th after going 2-0 with a 0…
Speed Is The Advantage For Strong
"My speed has always helped me so much," Jamal Strong admitted. "It's one of those things you can't teach and it can help you in every area of the game. You can get out of the box faster and snag a single, you can stretch a single into a double, and you can make it from first to third on certain hits. It helps you chase down fly balls better and get better jumps too."
He has the tools of an ideal leadoff hitter: a good eye, a slap hitting swing, and most importantly - speed. Throughout his career, Strong has been relied upon to use his speed to generate runs and chase down long fly balls.
This past off season, Strong went to Spring Training with the Boston Red Sox, but was released a few days before the season began. Things seemed bleak for the former Mariner prospect, but everything changed after a call on Easter Sunday.
"I went to camp with Boston until the final days and I was cut. Easter Sunday, I got a call from the Yankees, and I'm so thankful for the great opportunity they gave me," said Strong.
Strong reported to Double-A Trenton, and immediately responded to the energetic atmosphere there.
"My time with Trenton was enjoyable, the environment was great and everyone played the game hard and still had fun."
After batting .264 with a .407 on base percentage and nine stolen bases, Strong was promoted to Triple-A Scranton at the beginning of June. He responded with two triples in his first game with Scranton, against the Rochester Red Wings.
With the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, Strong is batting .286 with a .4275 on base percentage.
"The season overall has been good so far, I started out hitting .270, but I feel better at the plate right now. Overall, I'm getting some good at-bats, I'm seeing lots of pitches and working the count pretty well," said the 28-year old.
"Most importantly, I just want to finish the year strong. The Yankees gave me an opportunity and I want to show them what I can do. I could be at home, but the Yankees gave me a chance," he added.
Strong has made the best of the opportunity; he's displayed his terrific patience and plate discipline, and has shown the Yankees why the Mariners drafted him in the sixth round of the 2000 amateur draft.
"My discipline goes back to my college days; I always try to take the first strike and always work on improving my patience. Also, I don't try to do too much, just see the pitches and wait for a good one."
"I've always had great speed, and my coaches told me that if I learned how to get on base every way possible, I could be a great leadoff hitter."
Strong has been a very effective fourth outfielder for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees this season, and has helped spark an otherwise speed deprived lineup. If Strong continues to improve his plate discipline and base running ability, don't be surprised to see him pop up in the majors sometime in the future.
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