By Todd Johnson
Heading into 2017, I was really looking forward to watching Trent Giambrone play every day at South Bend. The 2016 25th round draft pick out of Delta State was an essential part of the 2016 Eugene Emeralds championship run. He played all four positions in the infield while hitting .292 with 4 home runs and 22 RBI in 51 games. He was one of my favorite players on the team as he had great at bats. He often went the other way and never get cheated at the plate. Much to my surprise, when rosters were announced, he was nowhere to be found at South Bend. Instead, he skipped a level to Myrtle Beach.
It’s been an interesting season for him filled with lows and highs. I had the great fortune to talk with Trent about his season and how he has made adjustments.
To begin, the Cubs are not known for having players skip levels. It is happened occasionally with Ryan Williams, Zach Hedges, and Dave Berg. We can now add Trent Giambrone to that list.
Giambrone had a rough April only hitting .256. In May, he went below the Mendoza line into the hundreds (.183). However, Manager Buddy Bailey stuck with him and Trent responded with an outstanding June hitting over .300 with six home runs.
I asked Trent if skipping a level put any pressure on him to begin the year.
Not much. It’s just 60′ 6″, you play the game one pitch at a time and it’s baseball. Baseball doesn’t matter what level you’re at and you take it one pitch at a time. You can’t play two pitches ahead and you can’t worry about pitches that already passed. At the same time I wanted to do well right away. I was having trouble finding holes but at the same time it’s about the process and not about the product. It is about becoming a better hitter and trying to help my team win every night.
On certain nights I get different things from different pitchers. After you face a guy like four or five times, most of the time you know where he’s going to try and attack you. So you can kind of, cheat little bit and I’d be a little more patient. And you can go aggressive in that zone. I’ve kind of gotten away from it this year but it’s something that you’re always taught – to be aggressive in the that zone. Sometimes you can sit on pitches if you know what guys are going to attack you with. A lot of times, I like to sit on zones rather than sitting on pitches.
When it comes to advice he got during his struggling May, he said,
Once you start trying to do things that are out of what you were doing good at, then you start playing to your weaknesses. Play to your strengths and those are the things that help you. For me, I like to drive the ball the other way. So I got to get pitches to drive the other way. I can’t just swing any any pitches. Pitch selection is a major thing. When it comes down to that, I feel like that’s the main thing.
I hope the success he found in June with his daily approach and regimen continues into July and beyond. I think it will because he seems to really depend on the process. Through five games in July, he’s hitting .438 for the month. On Sunday night, he made his first career start in left field. In the first inning, he threw a guy out at the plate. He will adjust just fine.
Part one of the interview can be read at BP Wrigleyville.