SARASOTA, Fla. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Yankees camp, it was No. 29 prospect Donny Sands.Donny Sands caught the eye of the Yankees while playing
SARASOTA, Fla. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Yankees camp, it was No. 29 prospect Donny Sands.
Donny Sands caught the eye of the Yankees while playing for one of their scout teams, and then further impressed club officials with his natural hitting ability during a workout at the team's Spring Training complex in Tampa. He signed for $100,000 as an eighth-round pick in June and made his pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where he hit .309/.405/.364 with 26 RBIs and more walks (24) than strikeouts (15) in 48 games. The performance earned Sands a late-season promotion to Class A Charleston of the full-season South Atlantic League. This spring, he's undergoing a position change after moving behind the plate from third base.
MLBPipeline.com: What was the transition like going from high school to the Minor Leagues?
Sands: I feel like people always want to say that it's easy, but it was actually pretty hard. Being away from home and getting used to being a pro, but there are a lot of good people in the Yankees organization who helped me and taught me how to do things the right way.
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MLBPipeline.com: Since this is your first Spring Training as a pro, what has it been like to be around the entire organization, both players and coaches?
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Sands: It's been awesome. I'm just trying to soak in as much as I can and pick everyone's brains, finding out what they like, what they don't like, what works, what doesn't work. I want to be an open book here.
MLBPipeline.com: Salpointe Catholic (Tuscon, Ariz.) had two players drafted last year: you and Mariners 14th-rounder Jio Orozco. Have you guys stayed in touch since beginning pro ball?
Sands: Yeah, we're pretty good friends. Actually, I just saw him before I came out here. We were back at [Salpointe] and discussed our seasons, traded stories, talked about different players -- that kind of stuff.
MLBPipeline.com: After playing shortstop in high school and manning the hot corner last year in your pro debut, the Yankees are now converting you to catcher. How do you feel about that, and how difficult has the transition been to such a physically grueling position?
Sands: I've bought into it, completely, which is the only way you really can get better regardless of the position you're moving to. It's a great opportunity the Yankees are giving me, and I've very thankful for it. I've caught before, but it was a long time ago and nothing close to this level of competition. It's a lot different than every other position; you get beat up and tired but still have to be the backbone out there and maintain focus. I like being mentally involved on every pitch.
MLBPipeline.com: When did you learn that you officially would be moving behind the plate?
Sands: They first brought it up to me during the offseason at Captain's Camp, where I got to talk to a lot of people and listen to Jorge Posada tell the story of how he was converted early in his career. But I didn't know it was for sure until I got here, so I spent the winter training as I normally would have -- taking groundballs, hitting, lifting -- and then I got here and they told me I wouldn't need my infield glove anymore.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.