Lagares Talks His Development

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - The last few seasons have been a constant struggle for St. Lucie's Juan Lagares. For the fourth season in a row, the 21-year-old outfielder has seen his season disrupted by injury. This time, however, the injury comes after a strong to the season in Savannah. Lagares spoke with Inside Pitch about the work he continues to do around the injuries.

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NOTE: This interview was done before Lagares went on the disabled list on July 28

Juan Lagares enjoyed a very productive first half of the season. He left Savannah for St. Lucie with a .300 average and 87 hits in 67 games. After joining the St. Lucie squad the talented outfielder found some resistance at the plate.

"The pitchers have better command, and better pitches. They have a lot better accuracy than Savannah," Juan said. "The pitchers are a lot more advanced here."

Before going on the disabled list, Lagares hit .231 with 31 hits in 33 with St. Lucie and was optimistic about getting back on track at the plate. He knows improving his patience will do his batting average wonders.

"From the spring until now I think my patience has improved, but still needs a lot of work. I can hit the ball pretty well I have a good eye, but I know I can get a lot better," he stated.

"Its not much difference for me hitting here versus Savannah. I've had some success, but not as much as there. I think it's more of me making mental mistakes."

The Mets have a versatile defender in Lagares, he has a great combination of speed with a strong arm. He's rarely out of position and says maintaining his focus during games is a huge part in finding his niche in the outfield.

"I play every position in the outfield. For me its not hard though, I just stay focused while I'm out there," he explained, "Speed is the biggest part of my success in the outfield. A good outfielder always has to have good anticipation and have a good idea of where that ball is going."

Lagares has a secret when it comes to his knack for anticipating a batter's tendency. He has become a student of the line up, and with the help of the St. Lucie coaching staff; he's refining his skills.

"In St. Lucie the coaches give us signs, but we need to know the hitters and the lineup and not rely on the coaches too much. They've shown us how to study a line up and what to take from it. We still have to know where to play, but it's a definite advantage," Lagares outlined.

The St. Lucie coaches are not just focused on developing Lagares's defense, his swing has gotten a lot of attention since he's arrived in Florida.

"During batting practice they really watch out swings and make sure we have good form. Its really an important time for us because we get a lot of one on one time with them then," he replied.

"They film our at bats during the game and go over it with us if they see something that we need to fix. Its nice having another set of eyes helping you out on your swing besides yourself."

Lagares enjoys the atmosphere set up by the St. Lucie coaching staff. The relaxed locker room is more conducive to improvement in his eyes, and its something he was quick to take notice of.

"Here the coaches let you development on your own to an extent. They want you to improve as quickly as possible and really look out for you here, but at the same time want you to learn a lot on your own," Lagares explained.

When asked about what the coaches wanted him to improve on the most the outfielder replied his patience when at bat, but a close second was improvement on his base stealing ability.

Lagares is right on board with their suggestions, and was even focusing on it before the staff brought the issue up.

"I think I should be stealing more bases, and have also made that a focus as well. I need to have smarter at bats and try to get walked a little more too," Lagares discussed.

"The coaches have encouraged me to try and get more steals, and I think I can but the opportunities haven't been there quite yet."

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