The Mets minor league talent pool consists of many players that have played college baseball in the United States to those that have come from other countries. What they share in common is a love for the game; it doesn’t really matter what path they have taken, because once they arrive in pro baseball, their journey begins and the dream becomes a reality. Having the opportunity to talk and get to know these players has not only been an honor, but has given me a better understanding of their ultimate goal of making the major leagues, which will change their lives dramatically. Players like Yeixon Ruiz, truly begin their journey when they sign on the dotted line, and work towards reaching their highest potential.
The Mets signed Ruiz out of his home country of the Dominican Republic at the age of 19. In 2010, he made his pro baseball debut in the Dominican Summer League and batted .260, with 28 runs scored, 5 doubles, 4 triples, 26 RBI’s and 19 stolen bases. In 2011, while still in the DSL, he played in 65 games, batted .245, with 44 runs scored, 4 doubles, 3 triples, and 20 stolen bases. In 2012, he was promoted to Kingsport and in 41 games, batted .250, with 24 runs scored and 3 doubles. In 2013, he remained in Kingsport and batted .304, with 34 runs scored, 9 doubles, and 12 stolen bases.
Ruiz was part of the 2013 Kingsport Mets team that made history when they won their Division for the first time in 17 seasons. The team unfortunately did not advance out of the first round of the playoffs, but Ruiz still felt good about how it all played out, “We won the division and even though we lost in the playoff’s, we were proud that we left it all on the field and we walked away with our heads held high”, says Ruiz.
The speedy switch hitter has shown signs of developing into a very good ball player. As he progresses through the minors, his abilities will continue to flourish and the Mets will have another talented player to consider.
This interview was originally conducted in Spanish, but I translated it for publication on MMN. Enjoy…
David – Is there anything about you that the Mets fans do not know, that you would like to share?
Yeixon - Well the first is the fans don’t know how to say my name (smiles). My name is pronounced in English, Jason, the same as in Spanish, Yeison. The difference is that there was an error when my Birth Certificate was drafted and they put an X in my name, Yeixon.
David – While growing up in San Jose de Ocoa, Dominican Republic, who introduced you to the game of baseball?
Yeixon - Well, who introduced me to the game of baseball was my coach Basilio Franco, in the Dominican Republic before I signed. He showed me a lot about baseball.
David – You were signed by the Mets at 19 years old, where did you play baseball before playing in the Dominican Summer League?
Yeixon - I played in a baseball program in San Cristobal, DR, which is the city where I live now. Here in the Dominican Republic there isn’t a school system like the United States, which is more organized in baseball.
David – Who was your favorite player growing up and did you model your game after him?
Yeixon - My favorite player is Jose Reyes. I liked the way he plays always happy, motivated and aggressive. I wish I had that type of play equal to or better then him.
David – Was it an easy transition for you to be able to adapt to living in the United States compared to living in San Jose de Ocoa, DR?
Yeixon - It wasn’t difficult for me because I already had an idea more or less how life was in the United States. I always asked for advice from other people I knew that were more experienced with living there. So when I had the opportunity to come, I already knew how everything was.
David – Do you feel comfortable speaking in English, and has it been easy to learn?
Yeixon – I can’t tell you that I know English, but I understand more than before. When I am in the United States it is much easier to learn, because I practice with my American teammates and like that I learn a bit more.
David – How did your parents feel with you leaving home to play professional baseball?
Yeixon - My parents felt good but at times sad because I would be away from their side for a long time. But they are my reason to keep working hard and moving forward every day and they support me 150%.
David – What was it like to be a part of a Kingsport team that won the Division in 2013?
Yeixon - That was for me an unforgettable experience, because with the unit we had as a team, it led us to win a division title that we deserved and we became a championship team.
David – Is there anything in your approach to the game that you feel you need to improve on?
Yeixon - I need to keep working on my defense, on strengthening my body, and more power in my batting. These are the areas I feel I need to work on to reach the next level.
David – What do you consider to be a big part of your game offensively; hitting for average, power or speed?
Yeixon - My greatest strength is my legs; I consider myself a fast runner and also being able to put the ball in play.
David - Do you feel you are ready to make the jump to Savannah or beyond? If not, what do you feel you need to work on?
Yeixon - I feel ready to play in whatever league; I consider myself a person that can adapt to things very quickly and I always need to work more to give my best everyday. I hope to have the opportunity next year, if God allows, to be in either Savannah or Port St. Lucie.
David – Being that you are a switch hitter, you give yourself more opportunities to play against both left and right handed pitchers, which side of the plate do you feel is your strongest?
Yeixon – Naturally I have more power on the right side, which is my natural side since I started playing baseball, but from the left side I put the ball more in play and make better contact.
David – What have you done each off-season to get ready for the regular season? Do you have a regular workout routine or do you follow the organizations workout regimen?
Yeixon – I follow the program of the Mets organization and that helps me prepare my body, but I always do extra to prepare myself for the next level and to always stay healthy.
David – Is there a coach or manager that has helped you in your development and growth?
Yeixon - Yes my manager Jose Leger, who I played with the last four seasons in pro baseball. He always helped me by telling me the things I need to improve on, but all the coaches also in some ways have helped me.
David – Do you want to share anything with the Mets fans?
Yeixon – I will like to share with the fans my life since they are also the inspiration that one strives for every day and more so during the season.
Thank you Yeixon for feeling comfortable enough to share with me and the Mets fans your story and your dreams with playing baseball. I see so much promise with the players in the Mets lower level teams that in the many years to come, Mets fans will have the great opportunity to finally see really good talented players that we all hope will make a huge impact to the roster. Yeixon is another good young man just hoping for that opportunity and I wish him all the best.
(Photo Credit – TricitiesSports.com and TimesNews.net)