The Boston Red Sox have made a cottage industry out of getting big production from undersized infielders in recent years. Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts are the most recent examples, but there is another player speeding up through the minors behind them in Carlos Asuaje.
The 5’9” and 160-pound Asuaje is 23 and just wrapped up his second professional season. Born in Venezuela but raised in the United States, he became an elite player and wound up attending Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he hit well over .300 in each of his three seasons.
In 2013, the Red Sox made the left-handed hitting Asuaje their 11th-round selection in the draft. He hit a very respectable .269 with a home run and 20 RBIs in 52 games with the Lowell Spinners but didn’t stand out in any one area. That all changed this past season. Splitting time with Single-A Greenville and Single-A Advanced Salem, he appeared in 129 games and hit a combined .310 with 38 doubles, 12 triples, 15 homers, 101 RBIs, and an impressive .393 OBP. He also showed enormous versatility in the field, spending significant time at second, third and the outfield. His performance was also essentially unchanged after he was promoted, which is always a very encouraging sign for a young player.
The 2015 season should be a big one for Asuaje, as he nears the upper reaches of the minor league system. If he can continue showing a potent bat, ability to get on base and play multiple positions, he should be on the fast track for the rebuilding Red Sox.
Recently, Asuaje answered some questions about his career and baseball in general. Make sure to keep a close eye on this rising Boston prospect. In addition to reading this interview, give him a follow on Twitter, so you can keep up with him during the 2015 season and beyond.
Carlos Asuaje Interview
Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: Growing up I always admired Derek Jeter. I think he’s everyone’s favorite player. He’s such a good role model that it’s easy to look up to him. He was the captain of the Yankees ever since I started watching baseball and he was so fun to watch day in and day out.
You play all over the field but which position do you feel most comfortable?: I would say I feel most comfortable at second base. I played shortstop all my life except two years of second that I played in college, but when I go to the right side of the infield I just feel at home really.
Growing up a Yankees fan, how did you reconcile being drafted by Boston?: Yes, I was a huge Yankee fan growing up and my dad was a huge Boston fan and obviously still is. But going into draft day, I really didn’t have a “favorite team,” if that makes sense. It was funny and ironic getting drafted by the team I always rivaled as a kid, but I was just ecstatic to get selected by such a great organization.
How did you first find out that the Red Sox were interested in you, and what was your draft experience like?: After my summer playing in Cape Cod, I had a bunch of meetings with about 15 team scouts. One of them was Willie Romay of the Red Sox, who ended up being the scout that drafted me. In our interview he asked me a bunch of question, and I think my character really made an impact on him. But draft day was a mess. I wanna say everything went as planned but it really didn’t. I don’t think I ate all day I was so nervous. But when I finally heard my name, it was such a weight off my shoulders. I was just really happy and my family was super proud.
How pleased were you with the major jump in production you made in your second professional season in 2014?: I was definitely pleased. It’s funny because there were so many people who looked at my first year and thought of me as “just another little guy,” and after this year they were shocked. There were only a few people, mostly in my small circle, that knew this was going to happen. It felt great showing what I can do with an opportunity. I felt like the work I put in last off-season was deserving of the season I had, and I don’t plan on taking a step backwards anytime soon.
What is the one part of your game that you hope to improve on the most?: I’ve always been a big believer that you can never stop improving as a ball player, in all aspects of the game. I may have had a good offensive year last season, but if I start slacking at all, this game will humble me in a heartbeat. If I had to break it into a few major improvements, I would say I would need to improve on my defense, speed and strength.
What are your top goals for 2015?: My top goals for 2015 would be simple, just like my goals last year. Have consistently good at-bats, make the routine plays, be aggressive on the base paths, and help my team win every time I step on the field.
How much attention do you pay to all of the commotion made about Boston's great farm system, and where do you think you belong in those conversations?: I really don’t like paying all the commotion made about the farm system any attention really. It seems kind of counterintuitive but I feel like focusing on that stuff can really cloud your state of mind. I don’t worry about any moves or deals or possibilities or anything of the sort, I just focus on controlling what I can control, which is going out and playing the game as well as I can every day, and leave the rest up to the people in charge.
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