Teammates for the entirety of the 2016 season with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, outfielder Hunter Cole and corner infielder Ryder Jones are teammates once again playing in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Both players admitted to having just "okay" campaigns this summer, and are working on consistency in a league where finding a rhythm is difficult and playing time is in high demand.
Cole and Jones provided Giant Potential a nice five-minute interview before Wednesday afternoon's game in Scottsdale at Salt River Fields, where Cole provided the Scorpions with three RBIs and Jones drew two walks.
GP: Hunter, how did you feel about your season? You had one month where you were just on fire.
Cole: It felt good, obviously. It was really my only good month of the season. It really saved my season. There were some ups and downs but you just have to roll with it. It’s baseball. You’re going to have those. But I made some adjustments throughout the season and finished out with okay numbers. Not where I would envision myself being, but it was a solid year.
GP: What made June such a productive month for you offensively?
Cole: Everything was simple. I made one mechanical change with my hands and in my stance and things just took off. I think gradually, as the season went on, I had a breakdown in those mechanics and I didn’t stay as polished on them as I would have liked to. But it’s something I can learn from and build off of moving into next year.
GP: How about you, Ryder?
Jones: It was good. Obviously hearing about the jump to Double-A, it was good to get a taste of it. My first half I started out pretty slow but made some adjustments like Hunter. It’s a game of adjustments. You face a lot of relievers because you’re in Double-A so there are a lot of double switches. A lot of guys come in for one batter, especially for me because I’m a lefty so they get the lefty on left. You just start to read tendencies and realize what teams want to do to you. In the second half, I did a lot better job picking up pitches I could drive and pitches I can’t hit well.
GP: Ryder, you've been playing some first base lately. Has that been an easy transition since you've played mostly third base the last few years?
Jones: I don’t know if it’s been easy, but it’s been different. It’s obviously a little bit less action ground-ball wise, but it’s a whole different side of the field so we get a lot of early work in. I’m getting better at it. If you work at it, you’ll be alright.
GP: Hunter, you got some looks in 2015 playing second base, but with Richmond you played then entire season in the outfield. Is that where you think you'll be from here on out?
Cole: Yeah that’s what it’s looking like. I was drafted as a third baseman and then they switched me to second base after the end of my first year and I had never played second base. I tried to work at that and get better. Then I was in San Jose playing a bit of second but then [Christian] Arroyo and [Austin] Slater came back from injury so they bumped me to the outfield to keep me in the lineup. I can play right or left, and I played every single game in right last year. I’m thinking that’s where they’re going to be keeping me.
GP: What has been your take on having Tim Tebow as a teammate?
Jones: I think it’s been easier than we thought it would be. He deals with the media pretty well. He separates it from the locker room. I thought it was going to be pretty chaotic and crazy but he’s good at keeping it separate. He kind of keeps to himself and he works hard. He’s definitely taking it serious. He’s not taking it as a joke.
Cole: It’s been good for me. He comes in and gets his work done. He’s working in the cage every day with one of the Mets’ hitting coaches. He’s trying to treat it like everyone else and he’s trying to get better every single day.
GP: What are the major keys for both of you while getting some extra playing time here in the Fall League?
Jones: Defensively, just learning a couple new positions. First base and I’m doing a little bit of work in left field. A lot of early work in left field. I don’t know if I’ll play a game out there but they want to know if I can play out there a little bit. Offensively, just having quality at-bats and trying to square balls up. I think it’s such a short sample size and it’s tough to get in a rhythm.
Cole: Having a more consistent approach at the plate, knowing which pitches to swing at and when to lay off. Trying to hit the pitch that I want to hit and not the pitch the pitcher wants try to get me to hit. It’s like everything else, there are adjustments you have to make. My big thing is to try to cut down on strikeouts. I had a rough week last week but I’m working on something mechanically and making some changes since I’ve been here. So I know I have to take things in stride. While making changes, you play four games a week or three sometimes, and like Ryder said, you can’t get in too big of a rhythm. But at the same time, you don’t want to play every single day because we've already played a full season. We’re just trying to work and overall improve our game.
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