By: George Redak
Canadian Baseball Network
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Mike Reeves knows the final steps in his development belong to him.
The Toronto Blue Jays catching prospect has received much advice over the years, realizing that his on-field success is now on his shoulders alone.
Reeves, a 24-year-old Canadian, was adamant when discussing his current goals as a member of the Blue Jays organization.
“My main goal this year is to stay present,” said Reeves, taking a break from practice Tuesday afternoon at Bobby Mattick training facility. “Not look to the future, not look to the past because you know I can’t control any of that stuff.
“Whether I get sent up, sent down, it’s out of my control. All I can control is Mike Reeves and do my best to stay present, hitting the ball and catching the ball.”
He focused on catching and hitting equally this off-season, and applied visualization techniques meant to improve his performance.
Reeves enters the 2015 season hoping to excel with both his bat and glove. The Peterborough, Ont., native struggled in the 2014 campaign with both facets of his game.
“Last year was tougher,” said Reeves, who was drafted twice by the Blue Jays, the latter in the 21st round in 2013. “I didn’t know everybody; it was my first spring training.
“I was trying to learn guys, now that I’ve been here for two years, I’m starting to get a feel for most guy’s pitches.”
In his 232 plate appearances, Reeves posted a paltry .213 batting average playing in Vancouver, Lansing and Dunedin.
“Hitting is the toughest part for any baseball player; you fail seven out of 10 times and you’re a hall of famer. Hitting is always a constant struggle, overall it’s just staying consistent.”
The Florida Gulf Coast University product has received plenty of advice from past coaches and teammates along the way as his desire to win has been engrained in his character at an early stage in his career.
“I give a lot of credit to Shawn Travers and Dan Bleiwas, those guys would really help me. I would go to college, then come back and they would really help me see how to put fun in the game while playing hard.
“The Intercounty Baseball League is a bunch of ex-pros and Canadian college kids, and there’s nothing that they want to do more than win. It’s amazing to be on a team like that, said Reeves, who played for the Oshawa Dodgers and the Barrie Baycats in 2010-11.
When asked about the role of the catcher, Reeves remembers a discussion he had with Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, fueling his will to win even more.
“I was a little nervous meeting him, because he is a legend,” said Reeves. “So I’m thinking of an answer and he stepped in and he said: ‘it’s catching the ball. Whatever you do just catch the ball.’”