Catcher Aaron Munoz is known as a defense-first receiver who was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 34th round of the 2011 Amateur draft. Selected from Northwestern State University of Louisiana, this 24-year-old right handed hitter has made his way into A-ball for the Blue Jays organization, and has been able to hold his own offensively despite the challenge of limited playing time.
So far this season, Aaron has been having his best year offensively, hitting .257 in 38 plate appearances in Dunedin but was sent to Lansing earlier this week. While the demotion to Lansing might be seen as a step down, if I’m right, it could be an opportunity for Aaron to play every day with starting catcher Santiago Nessy on the DL. He will also provide Lansing with solid defensive skills behind the plate, a real weakness for them this season. Munoz has not had a season in professional ball where he’s thrown out less than 35% of base-stealers and is a very sure-handed receiver behind the plate.
Blue Jays from Away: When did you know that playing professional baseball was a real career possibility?
Aaron Munoz: I knew baseball was a real career possibility after my junior year in college. That’s when I started getting noticed for my defensive ability behind the plate.
BJfA: Did you know that the Blue Jays were interested in drafting you before draft day? What was your reaction when you found out that you had been selected by the Blue Jays?
AM: The Blue Jays did seem interested in drafting me. The scout kept me informed at the time but it wasn’t a for-sure deal at the time. I was a little nervous during the draft but I actually was woken up by a phone call saying I was drafted. After that it was excitement and a little relief knowing I was still going to play the game I love.
BJfA: How is professional ball different than college ball? A) in the culture around the game, and B) in the game itself? Have you noticed any differences at each level you’ve played at?
AM: Pro ball is different than college because I don’t have to worry about any homework. There is a lot more preparation physically and longer hours on the field itself in pro ball so a routine is very important. In the game itself you start noticing the details of the game and how important they become in getting better as a player. I think in college you rely a lot on your coaches and in pro ball you are given more freedom to develop and the attention to detail the coaches have is better than I had in college. With video, stats, etc., there is a little more experience and more baseball savvy players as I moved to each level. Every team that I’ve been on has had tremendous talent and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of them.
BJfA: How are the different communities that you’ve been playing in different?
AM: Bluefield was my first year and the fans of such a small town were very supportive. Lansing is more of a college town so the atmosphere there is great and fan support was even better. Dunedin is an older community so it’s more laid back but it’s next to the beach so I can’t complain one bit.
BJfA: As a catcher, how important is it that you know both your own pitcher and the team that you’re playing against? Does the position that you play change the way that you prepare for a game?
AM: Working with Sal Fasano our catching coordinator has showed me how important the prep work to being a catcher is. Knowing the pitchers is very important for me so I can develop the trust and relationship.
BJfA: You said in an interview last year that that the one area of the game that you’re working on the most is your hitting. What are you trying to do with your approach at the plate and with your mechanics? Are you seeing improvements since last year?
AM: Working on my hitting has always been a goal of mine. I think my approach has improved in becoming a good professional hitter. My mechanics still need improvement. thankfully we have good hitting coaches to guide me along the way.
BJfA: You just had a big game for the Dunedin Blue Jays where you went 3 for 4 against the Tampa Yankees. (Note: The game was on April 16. You can find the box score HERE.) Can you tell us about each of those hits? What was the pitcher doing, or trying to do, and how did you react to it?
AM: That Tampa game was one of my better offensive games I’ve had. But the first hit was a hit and run single to left. The second was an RBI single to center. I was just looking for something out over the plate and was fortunate to put a good swing on it. And the last hit was a straight battle-mode at bat. I had a 2-2 count fouling off tough pitches but finally singled to center field.
BJfA: In between the time that Aaron had agreed to answer our questions and the time that he was able to do so, he was sent down from Dunedin to Lansing. We asked Aaron if he wanted to share some feelings about the upheaval that life as a professional baseball player inevitably involves.
AM: Being moved around and sent back to Lansing is part of the game. Of course you always want the move to be forward but being sent back is not always a bad thing. It’s humbling. I’m always a glass half full kind of guy. I feel that as long as I’m given an opportunity to play, I don’t care where it is. At the end of the day I’m still playing the game I love and I’m very grateful for that.
You can follow Aaron Munoz on Twitter: @AMunoz07
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