This afternoon I had the privilege to talk with Miami Hurricanes catcher Yasmani Grandal, a junior who has played his way into the mix of first round prospects in the upcoming MLB draft. As a sophomore, Grandal hit .299 with 16 home runs and a .414 on-base percentage in 59 games. This past season Grandal hit .428 with 54 RBIs on his way to being named ACC Player of the Year, which was announced earlier today. Once the ACC tournament is over in Greensboro, the team could head to the NCAA tournament, which would play right up and potentially through the MLB Draft. I want to thank everyone with the Miami Hurricanes and Yasmani Grandal for his time with this interview.
ELI: When did you first start catching?
YASMANI: My dad was the coach of a baseball team and they needed a catcher, so I filled the spot. I used to play third before I made the switch.
ELI: When did you realize you had a knack for catching and the duties that come with it?
YASMANI: You really don't think about all the possibilities on the field before high school, so I'd say my first year of high school. I had to start thinking about how to make all the right plays.
ELI: You were taken by the Red Sox when you were a senior in high school, what was that experience like?
YASMANI: I was not really thinking about the draft when I was in high school. I knew people that went through it, but I was committed to Miami.
ELI: Was there any doubt in your mind after you were drafted that you would forego college and turn pro?
YASMANI: No. I knew pretty much after the signing that I was going to Miami. If I give you my word, I follow through with it.
ELI: What has been like playing in Miami where so many players have turned pro? Jemile Weeks, Yonder Alonso, to name a few.
YASMANI: Miami is a great baseball school, high-caliber play. You have to be good to play and produce, and I had to step up my game to improve. Overall, it made me a better player.
ELI: The MLB is in need of catching. Do you think the shortage of catching will impact where you go in the draft?
YASMANI: There is always a need for catcher and pitching, so we'll just see what happens. I don't think it will change much.
ELI: You're off to Greensboro, how is your upcoming schedule out there?
YASMANI: It's pretty good. I think we play Florida State this week, we also may play Boston College or Virgina. It is a pretty tough schedule.
ELI: You have been in the tournament before, have you changed your approach at all coming in this time around?
YASMANI: Our expectations have not changed, they are to win it all. We want to win the ACC tournament and then NCAA tourney.
ELI: How would you say your game has improved since coming to Miami?
YASMANI: I think I've improved overall in every aspect. I guess I have improved my offense the most. My first two years of school I focused more on my defense, but this past year I brought everything together and it has been a lot better.