Last season was a learning year for Lavisky
Catcher Alex Lavisky is back at Low-A Lake County this season. He played the first two and a half months there last year before being shuttled off to short season Single-A Mahoning Valley where he finished the season.
Lavisky, 21, is from the Cleveland area so he welcomes a return home to Lake County so his friends and family can see him often, but he is hoping he can use last years’ experience to get things right and move on to High-A Carolina at some point this season.
“It feels awesome to be back and close to home,” Lavisky said. “Last year I was here in the same situation just a year out of high school. It was fun last year and I am excited to get after it. Having that first year under my belt gives me more comfort and makes me feel more grounded and know more of what to expect.”
Last season was definitely a learning year for Lavisky. As an 8th round draft pick out of high school in the 2010 Draft, he was assigned to Lake County last season, a level a lot of players fresh out of high school do not see at the start of their first full professional season. His assignment to Lake County was a testament to how talented the organization thinks he is and how much they think he could handle the grind of a full season.
Last season Lavisky hit .207 with 8 HR, 24 RBI and .643 OPS in 49 games at Lake County before he was sent to Mahoning Valley in June when their season started and hit .201 with 5 HR, 28 RBI and .604 OPS in 68 games for them. He was fairly productive in that he hit 13 homers and had 52 RBI in the 117 combined games between the two stops, but he struggled at the plate hitting just .203 on the year with a .266 on-base percentage, and also struck out 137 times in 443 at bats.
The numbers were not pretty for Lavisky last season, but if you talk to any evaluator they will often say they never really pay much attention to numbers in the first season for a player, especially those straight out of high school. You obviously want to see the player perform, but there are so many adjustments being made that first season for a young player that it can sometimes take a full year for things to click.
It was a learning year for Lavisky and he made a lot of adjustments. He believes that with all of the adjustments he made last season and also knowing what to expect that he has the proper foundation to start to put things together this season.
“I think last year making all the adjustments were tough, especially the ones from the cage to the game on a daily basis,” Lavisky said. “I was able to really hammer things out in the offseason and get more comfortable with my swing and more comfortable behind the plate. I am going to trust the process and take it one day at a time and see where it takes me this year.”
One of the toughest things Lavisky had to adjust to last season was not necessarily facing the more advanced pitching than what he saw in high school, it was the length of the season and understanding that he did not have to be so perfect every time out.
“I feel like the thing I learned the most was how long the season is and how important it is to really trust the process,” Lavisky said. “To not come out here and try to be too fine or too perfect too early as progress each day is what we are striving for. You really have to trust the process and work on the adjustments each day. Pretty much the whole offseason was dedicated to making the adjustments that I had to make in the games last year. I really wanted to feel more comfortable and hammer it out.”
In the offseason Lavisky spent a lot of time in Tampa, Florida working out in warmer weather and also had the chance in November to spend three weeks in the Indians’ development program out in the Dominican Republic.
“I finished up last season and went to Instructs and then actually had the opportunity to go down to the Dominican Republic for just over 21 days,” Lavisky said. “It was a great opportunity and was definitely a lot different and eye opening as it was a little bit of a shock compared to everything that is here. It was a great experience and it gave me an opportunity to go down there and see a whole other side of everything.”
Not only do the Indians hold an offseason instructional program in the states for about four weeks from mid-September to mid-October, but they also have a three to four week instructional program in November out in the Dominican Republic where they do a lot of work with their Latin American talent. They often bring in a few players from the states to get them some extra work and expose them to the different culture.
“I went out there with LeVon [Washington] and two others and we were just able to get reps and practice every day,” Lavisky said. “It was more for the cultural experience as we only played in maybe two or three games.”
As a catcher and a leader of the team, the cultural aspect of the trip was important for Lavisky. The Indians wanted him to get the extra work, but the main reason for the trip was to expose him to the culture that a lot of the Latin players come from. To have a better understanding of how hard it is for those players to come to the United States and make that transition to a new country and a completely different culture.
“I think that was the whole thing behind it, especially with me probably being one of the leaders in the locker room,” Lavisky said. “Going over there and seeing their side of things, where they come from, and how they adjust when they come over here. It definitely helps when you have that common ground in the locker room as it makes things easier for everyone.”
Lavisky and the Indians can only hope last season’s learning experience on and off the field translates into more success this season. With a year to adjust he now has to start showing some improvement with his performance, and with the season getting underway just a few days ago, that time is now.
Follow Tony and the Indians Prospect Insider on Twitter @TonyIPI. Also, his new book the 2012 Cleveland Indians Prospect Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.
Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.