Could land in Portland down the road

Interview with Red Sox prospect Derrik Gibson (written by Elizabeth Dresson)

Derrik Gibson was drafted out of high school in the second round of the 2008 draft as a shortstop. He had a fantastic season in short-season, single-A Lowell in 2009 collecting 74 hits in 67 games and posting a .290 batting average. He also posted spectacular numbers in a short stint with the Gulf Coast League coming out of high school in 2008 (.309 avg. with 29 hits over 27 games). Gibson was humbled in his season with Low-A Greenville in 2010, where he saw his average plummet 60 points from his 2009 season.

The jump from Lowell to Greenville is tough because for many players, it is their first full season playing professional baseball. They go from playing approximately 70 games, to over 120. Gibson’s numbers in Greenville epitomize the difficulty of the transition.

“The biggest challenge I guess was playing everyday…playing [a] 140-game schedule. I’m not as physically mature–meaning not as strong as some of the 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 try to perform.”

The tough thing about Greenville is that the adjustment is both physical and mental. Players at higher levels are consistent in their mechanics, but in Greenville,players are still learning them. Gibson attributes a lot of his struggles to a lack of confidence when it came to maintaining his mechanics with the new level of pitching.

“When you step into the box, you should be very confident no matter how your day is going that game. You should be confident each at-bat. And the pitching each [level] you get up is getting better. They can repeat good curveballs, good changeups, good sliders, and each one has better life and better break to it than the levels before. It’s just learning to fine-tune those [mechanics,] and [trying] to build confidence in the mechanics and in yourself.”

Gibson also lacked confidence in his fielding. Even though he was drafted as a shortstop out of high school, the Red Sox organization has had him play a lot of second base as well–a position that did not come as naturally to him.

“Second base was a little tough for me because I had not played there before.  I knew that I was not 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 just naturally do it.”

What were some of the biggest adjustments Gibson had to make?

“[At] second base, your feet have to work a little better. You have to put yourself in better positions to make double play feeds, or the ball [comes] off the bat a little differently, so it was just [the] repetition of getting used to it. [At] shortstop,

I played there most of my life, so I already had the repetition, so mentally I just told myself this is probably going to take a little time.”

Gibson is ready to put his 2010 season behind him and move on to Salem, where he will likely start the 2011 season. This spring, Gibson continues to try and maintain a level head when it comes to his mechanics both offensively and defensively.

“I think the biggest thing [I’m focusing on] 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 thing defensively: it sounds very simple, but just catch it and throw it to first–know what your situations are on the field.”

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