Laird Will Focus On Defense At Instructs

Laird hit .377 in August (Photo by Mark LoMoglio)

It's hard to have a better professional debut season than Gulf Coast League Yankees' third baseman Brandon Laird had this past year, leading his club in batting average, home runs, and RBI. With Instructs set to start on Thursday however, the young slugger is making defense his top priority for mini-camp.

Drafted in the 27th round this past year, which is another story in itself, Brandon Laird not only impressed everybody with his scintillating bat - hitting .339, 14 doubles, 8 home runs, and 29 RBI - but it was the adjustments he made in the field that has many thinking he could be the steal of the 2007 draft.

After committing six errors in his first 22 games, the former Southern California High School Player of the Year was charged with just one more in his final 23 games.

"I felt I did good," he said of his defensive game. "I got better as I was out there longer. I was learning more and the coaches were helping me a lot. They helped me with my quickness.

"With my size, I need to improve my range. They said they love my hands over there and that I was getting better and becoming more of a professional third baseman."

One of the knocks on the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Laird was his defensive game. Some scouts were unsure where he would fit defensively at the professional level and that perhaps is one of the reasons he inexplicably fell in the draft after having both pedigree and amateur results on his resume.

A two-way player in both high school and college, he actually closed for the Cypress College Chargers this past year and clearly has the arm to play the hot corner after leading his team in saves.

"Staying in shape and getting that first-step quickness, that's actually my number one concern," he admitted. "My hands are good enough and I have a good arm, I just need to improve my range. My main concern is my range and my flexibility."

Confident he will continue to hit, he is set to begin his first Instructional League with the goal of getting his offseason workout plan and working on his defensive game to be a more complete player.

"I'm going to go over there and make sure I get my defense better," he said of his plan for Instructs. "I'm going to take a lot of ground balls and take in all the information I can that's going to help me. I'm pretty excited. This is a special invite so it's going to be good for me."

(We will have an extended feature on Brandon Laird in our next issue of PinstripesPlus Magazine, so be sure you get your copy!)

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