I had the pleasure of sitting down with infielder Derrik Gibson, who was drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft. What I really enjoyed about my conversation with him was how in depth he went with every single answer. He would even transition into other, relevant topics, and I didn’t even have to prompt him. Gibson discussed his offensive struggles that came with his transition to Greenville, and what he is doing to adapt.
What was the deciding factor, or factors, in choosing to go professionally over going to college first?
There’s a restriction on how many hours you can put on the field in college, and
here I feel like I could start at a young age and develop
right away, and I think the other deciding factor was the academic
side. Going in the second round, the Red Sox pay: They give me a year… [if] I stop
playing baseball tomorrow, they give me a year to be a full-time
student, and my college tuition would be paid for so that made the decision–not easy–but I felt more comfortable.
What was your biggest challenge last year in Greenville?
[The] biggest challenge I guess was playing everyday… playing 140
game schedule. I’m not as physically mature–meaning like not as strong as some
guys who can maintain their strength over the season, so I think that was the
biggest side of it. and just being able to go in there day in and day out and
just try to perform. Even mentally, you know, when you [didn’t have] a so great day
the day before, and kind of coming back and being able to play, and go at it
again, and especially last year last year was a tough year offensively so it
Talk about your transition to Greenville a little bit: do you think your offensive struggles had to do with a new level of pitching? Or what would you attribute it to?
Probably both the pitching and the staying mechanically
sound with my swing, and even I guess mentally. You know when you step in the box,
you should be very confident no matter what your day was like before that, or
how your day is going that game, you should be confident each at bat, and the
pitching each step (ie. level) you get up it’s getting better. They can repeat each pitch, and
you pry see two to three good pitches and you keep going up, and they start to
grow smaller, and so it’s just learning to just fine tune those things, and [trying] to
build the confidence in the mechanics and just have confidence in yourself.
What is your biggest focus this spring?
I think the biggest thing honestly is not trying to be too
perfect. Just hit the ball where it’s pitched, hit it hard, and you can’t control what it does after it comes off the bat; all you can control is
if you put a good swing on it or not… And the same for defensively: I think just
it sounds cliché, and it sounds very simple, but just catch it and throw it to
first–just know what your situations are on the field.
A lot of the times and organization will change a player’s position early in their development. Now I’ve seen you play both second base and shortstop… where do you think you fit in best, position wise?
I would say shortstop because I feel like [that is where] I’m most
comfortable. Second base was a little tough for me because I hadn’t played there
before. I think in Lowell I made 17 errors flip flopping back and forth, and that
was a 70 game schedule, and then last year I played all short 122 games and made
22 errors, so last year was better because if you were to double the games in Lowell,
I would have, say, 34 errors so but I feel like I fit best at shortstop: most
comfortable, most confident there
Did you know where you would be playing… like the week before or something, or was it more random?
It was kind of like I had an idea the day that I’m getting
close to flip flopping with the other guy.. Like he’d go to short for a couple
games, and then we would flip flop, and then I would go to short, and then we
alternate between second, but it wasn’t like it was
planned out like ‘OK this day is where I’m gonna be, that’s where, and sometimes
it’s a little hard because it’s a little different, and to me I knew that I
wasn’t as comfortable at second base as I was at shortstop, so it was an
adjustment, and some games were a little tougher than others where I couldn’t
naturally just do it.
What are the biggest differences for you–mentally, physically, or both–between shortstop and second base?
I guess second base, your feet have to work a
little better. You have to put yourself in better positions to make double plays
feeds, or the ball [comes] off the bat a little differently, so it was just, I
guess, repetition of seeing it and getting used to it– where as opposed to shortstop, I played there most of my life, so I already had the repetition, so mentally
I just told myself: this is pry gonna take time, but I still try to work
hard and do what the infield coordinators tell me to.
Where do you like to bat in the lineup and why?
I pry like one or two just because I feel like you can
really establish what your team is going to do that night, and get to a
running start, being able to disrupt if you get on base–the pitcher
and the team–and then just getting on so the guys behind you in the three, four, five can drive you in and get on the board early. There’s no better feeling
going out the next innings knowning youre up 1-0 or whatever.
A lot of the times the guys in the one and two holes will bunt. What is your opinion on bunting, small ball, suicide squeezes? Do you think that technique is effective?
I definitely think its effective now because with that era
of baseball in the ’90’s of hitting the longball… I think it’s definitely coming
back to guys bunting and playing small ball, and one of my biggest
attributes is to run, and I definitely feel like it’s (ie. small ball) coming back, and I
definitely need to implicate it, and I’m a big fan. The Red Sox signed Crawford
who does it, and Ellsbury who does it, so it’s coming back and it’s good to see
baseball go back to how it once was played.
If you had to pitch against yourself, what weaknesses would you take advantage of at this point?
Right now probably two seamers in… a fastball at
down and in, and then probably after doing that, probably a curveball or slider
away just [because] it’s hard–once they beat you up inside so many times–it’s hard
to get back; to individualize each pitch and so they set you up, and
so I would pry say that’s the toughest and that’s what I do to myself: hard in
and soft away.
As you have transitioned through the levels, what are the little things that you have noticed about the pitchers and how they advance through each level?
Like I said: the repetition. There, they can work both sides of
the plate. They’re going to throw, they’re going to nibble on the blacks of the plate, and
they can repeat good curveballs, good changeups, good sliders, and each one has
better life and better break to it than the levels before. As
we’re developing as hitters, they’re developing as pitchers.
What do you think fans overlook or take for granted the most when it comes to baseball–especially minor league baseball.
They expect us–especially with the young guys–to be almost major
league baseball ready, where all of us are different. And it’s that it’s a process. The guys that you see on TV, they’re not perfect, obviously, but they’re as
close to it as us, and I think that baseball is a game of failure. I
don’t know how much they understand that–I think they understand that, you know,
you hit .300 for ten seasons most likely youre a hall-of-famer and I don’t know
too many other jobs where you can fail 7 out of 10 times and still have a job.
What has been the bright spot of your career thus far?
I enjoy everyday of it. I mean, there are some days that are
tougher than others, but just being able to come out here everyday… good weather,
being able to live the dream… this is what I wanted to do since I could start
throwing a baseball, so I would definitely say just the all around aspect–the
goods and the bads–and just take it one day at a time.