Thursday, May 11, 2017

PhoulBallz Interview: Threshers second baseman Drew Stankiewicz

Drew Stankiewicz, image- Jay Floyd
Clearwater second baseman Drew Stankiewicz has been lighting it up offensively in recent weeks.

The 23-year-old lefty batter has used a sizzling stretch in which he's gone 15-for-34 (.441 avg) over his last 10 games to launch himself into the Class A Advanced Florida State League's batting average leaders and has helped the Threshers stay atop the North Division standings with a 20-14 record.

Son of former big leaguer Andy Stankiewicz, Drew was the Phils' 11th round draft choice out of Arizona State University in 2014.

This week I talked with Drew about his hot streak, the team's success, not being held in the same regard as some other second base prospects, his family and much more.  Read ahead for that interview.


-With a lot of success for you recently, I wanted to ask what has led to the improved results?  Any changes or anything like that?

Right now, I'm just sticking with my plan.  My hitting coach Rob Ducey has emphasized sticking with my plan and trusting my ability to have success.  That's what I've been doing lately and it's been working.

-Are you working with Ducey pretty heavily or is it guidance and encouragement mostly?

A little bit of both.  If I'm going good, he doesn't want to kind of mix up the chemistry of anything, but whenever I need a little tweak or something like that, I go to him and, I've had him the last two or three years now and he knows my strengths pretty well and it's good to have him real close to me.

-Is confidence a big factor for you lately?

Big time.  I don't think you can play baseball without having some confidence.  Knowing that you're going to go out there and succeed in a failure game, so right now it's really high for me and it's working out.

-Along the lines of what I first asked about, but comparing your batting average with Clearwater last year at .204 to where you are now at .337, what has been the biggest difference between then and now there for you?

I think last year I was kind of put off as a utility guy and I would get some spot starts and when I did start, I tried to do too much.  But when I got to play, that's what really hurt me.  I tried to be a player that I wasn't.  And now, me and Ducey had this talk prior to the season starting, to not have the same results as last year, you can't do the same things, so I really emphasized me sticking to the player that I know I am and I think that's the thing, what I'm doing right now, how my play has been and how the team is doing.

-Beautiful.  So, you mentioned how the team is doing and I know the Threshers have been atop the division standings for a while.  There's a lot of good stuff going on with other players too.  What do you think the biggest part of the team's success has been?

I think the biggest part of the team's success is definitely how close we are as a team.  It sounds a bit cliche, but our pitchers know that our hitters are going to get them runs and our hitters know the pitchers are going to have shutdown innings. So, it's pretty nice to have the confidence that we have in each other an the team confidence is pretty nice.

-I know there is a catchphrase that has helped to unify some of the guys within the Phils system and it helps with positivity and boosts morale in a game of failure, as you called it.  I talked with Cord Sandberg about it last month and I'm wearing my shirt with the motto on it right now.  What are your thoughts on "It's all part of it"?

The "it's all part" thing it's definitely prevalent in our clubhouse.  Cord's just a good buddy with all of us.  We definitely use it on a daily basis and just like Cord said, I read (your article on it) too and if something weird happens or something bad happens, it's all part (of it).  It definitely is a little morale booster, as you said.  It gets us through the days in the long journey of the minor league grind.

-Something else I wrote about recently was the depth of talent the Phillies have at the second base position throughout the organization with Cesar Hernandez, Scott Kingery, Daniel Brito and Jesmuel Valentin.  I talked with (Phillies director of player development) Joe Jordan before your production picked up about all those guys.  Since that article came out, you have been scorching on offense.  At any point, have you felt overlooked at that position?

I don't feel-- I don't really get caught up too  much in that.  I know the player that I am and I know how good I am.  I don't really-- there isn't any concern about outsiders and what they think.  I know how good of a player I am and I know that I can produce at the big league level and I know what I can do on the field to help the team win.  I don't really concern with, "Oh, I'm not a prospect or I'm not top 100 MLB whatever".  I don't concern myself with that.  I just want to help the team win and just try to make it to the big leagues.  That's all I care about.

-Absolutely. Mentioning getting to the big leagues, your dad's been there and that's something I wanted to get to.  You talked about influence from hitting coach Rob Ducey.  Is there still any influence that comes from dad?

Oh, yeah.  It's actually pretty funny.  Rob Ducey and my dad actually coached together when they were both in the Yankees organization coaching.  So, it's pretty-- I don't know if it's a little annoying having Ducey there sometimes from my dad's point.  And of course a son doesn't want to listen to his father all the time, but it's kind of funny how that played out.  But my dad will definitely give me a call when he's not busy doing his thing over in Arizona (as the head baseball coach at Grand Canyon University).  It definitely gives some insight and he knows when to lay off and he knows when to press on me.  So, it's a good mix.

-From your social media postings, speaking of your family, I can see that you're very close with them.  Do you get a lot of support from other members of your family aside from your dad?

Oh, yeah.  Me and my sister and brother and, actually, my other sister now- it's kind of crazy how fast she's growing up- but they all send me texts and they follow the Threshers and MiLB on Twitter and they see how I do and they screen shot it and they send me it and say, "Good job!"  All my family, we're very close and it's really nice to see that back at home, that kind of support.  In the sport and playing in the minors leagues, it's much needed.

-That minor league life, all the travel and being away from home, that can be a drag, I'm sure at times.  But it's the life.  It's all part of it.  Outside of the slogan though, what do you feel may be the secret to peace of mind for all these months with all the travel and minimal days off and everything you go through in the minors?

I think separating when you're at the field and when you come back to your three bedroom apartment with six dudes in it, I think separating that and, honestly, the friendships that you build are going to last a lifetime.  Just all that stuff.  Honesty, it's a breath of fresh air when you come back and you're buddy-buddy with the team that you live with and very rarely do you talk about baseball outside of the field.  So it's nice to get that break and the number one thing is the friendships that you have here- it's awesome.  The grind that you're going through is what they're going through as well.  And it kind of eases your mind a little bit to know they're going through the same things you're going through and vice versa.  And you know what, the grind is what we're going to miss in 20 years, or whatever it is, when we're done playing baseball.  And we're going to miss these days.

-Who are you rooming with?

I'm living with Mark Laird, Zach Coppola, Damek Tomscha, Luke Leftwich and Matt Hockeberry.

-How much fun are you guys having?  I saw you post a story on Instagram messing around with Zach after he fell asleep, getting an absolute close up of him.

It's a blast.  We have to keep on our toes, 'cause if one of us does something embarrassing, you know another one is going to give each other crap for it.  It's awesome.  It's just the camaraderie of it and it's definitely all part of it!
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