Damon Sublett was a two time all-state player at Northwest High School in Wichita, KS before enjoying a starring two year stint at Wichita State. He was the Valley Conference Player of the Year in his sophomore year and received All-American honors as well.
Time will tell if Damon Sublett replaces Robinson Cano at second base, but for now he's a hard working young prospect trying to work his way up the Yankees system. We had the chance recently to do a Q & A with him and here are the results:
Q: Who was your favorite player(s) growing up? When did you first get a sense that maybe you could make it to the major leagues one day?
A: I was always a big Kirby Puckett fan when I was little.
After I went to the Team USA tryouts, and then played in the Cape, I realized that I could play with those guys, and so maybe I have a chance. I also think that if I hadn't been coming straight off of my hamate surgery, I would have done better at both of those places.
Q: You went to Northwest High School in Wichita and then didn't have to go far for college, Wichita State. Was there ever any doubt that you would be a Shocker?
A: Wichita State was always my first choice, ever since I was a little kid. It wasn't a difficult decision, even though there were several other D1's (Division I schools) who were interested in me.
Q: Gene Stephenson is a legend at the college ranks. What was it like playing for him?
A: Gene is a great coach. He can be a tough guy to play for, and he definitely demands a lot out of his players, but how can you argue with his success?
Q: You had success as a pitcher in college. Ever wish you were still on the mound?
A: I will admit there are times I miss pitching. I loved closing. It was such a rush to be the last guy on the mound to finish the game in a big situation.
Q: The Yankees selected you in the 7th round of the 2007 amateur draft. Were you considering returning to school or was the Yankees offer one you "couldn't refuse"?
A: I was ready to play pro ball. I really didn't consider going back to school. I was ready to move on.
Q: You certainly made a smooth transition from college to rookie ball in Staten Island (.326, 8 HR, 53 RBI, and an impressive .957 OPS in 68 games). Why do you think that was? What was it like going from Kansas to the Metropolitan area?
A: Well, I didn't start out very well at SI. I think it was just a lot of hard work with the coaching staff out there. I loved working with Ty Hawkins (Staten Island's hitting coach). Also, I think a large part of it was because I stayed healthy.
It wasn't a big deal coming from Kansas; I've traveled a lot so it wasn't like something I've never seen before.
Q: You were injured much of last season, limiting you to just 42 games at Tampa. What happened and are you healed up now? Do you still have any lingering effects from the hamate surgery you had while in college?
A: I rolled my left ankle, rupturing two ligaments, and I had to wear a walking boot for two months before I could even start rehab. It's tough to miss that many games, but that type of injury has to be brought back slowly. I'm doing good now. I'm just ready to get back out there.
My hamate surgery has been no big deal. It might have slowed me down a bit for a short time afterwards because I kinda rushed my return, but now I would never even know that I had the surgery if it wasn't for the scar.
Q: What's the best part of your game? What do you think you need to work on most?
A: I guess the best parts of my game are probably my patience at the plate, and my drive to keep learning and getting better. I probably don't have the most amazing tools in any one area, but I think I have a good all-around game and can do most things pretty well.
I think I need to work on my running game and my defense the most, but I want to improve on just about everything. You can always get better, just have to keep learning and working.
Q: What do you do to relax during down time? Who are your closest friends among your fellow prospects?
A: I read sometimes and like to keep up with what's going on in the world. Also, I enjoy playing Xbox from time to time.
I got to be pretty good buddies with all the guys I went to Hawaii with- (Austin) Romine, (Andrew) Brackman, and (Jeremy) Bleich.
Q: You got to play winter ball in Hawaii this off-season. How cool was that?-
A: It was a very good experience. I got to play with some great players, and to make friends with some guys that I didn't have the chance of meeting in the FSL (Florida State League).
Q: Have the Yankees given you any indication of what level you will be playing at this season?
A: I really have no idea where I'll be headed this year, but I know that I just need to keep working hard no matter where I am.