Monday, February 9, 2009

Q & A with Mitch Hilligoss

In what we hope will be a continuing series of Q &A's with the Yankees family, we recently did an email interview with prospect Mitch Hilligoss.

The former Purdue Boilermaker talks about hitting, the future, and what he hopes to get out of the coming season.

What position(s) did you play in high school?

A: In high school I played mostly shortstop and pitched a little. In college I played left field and then eventually moved back to short.

Q: Did you have a favorite player(s) growing up?

A: My favorite player growing up was always Ozzie Smith.

You attended Purdue for 3 years before going pro. Why did you choose to become a Boilermaker? Did you ever consider finishing out your collegiate career or was going pro a no-brainer when the Yankees drafted you?

A: Choosing a college was an extremely tough decision for me. It came down to Purdue and three other schools, but in the end Purdue just felt right. I was comfortable with the staff there, the academics are of course excellent, a Big Ten school, and playing time possibilities were all significant in the decision making process.

As for the second part the answer is yes I did. I never wanted to commit either way until I was ready. I don't think I fully made my decision to leave until the week of the draft. The college season was over and scouts really started hounding me. That's when I personally knew I was not going back.

Q: 2007 was of course a big season for you. A 38 game hitting streak to be exact. Players talk about how well they see the ball or what superstitions they follow during a hot streak. What was it like for you during the streak and do you have any particular baseball superstitions?

A: That was a pretty awesome experience to say the least. I really don't think I thought much about the streak until it hit 30 games and then media and opponents started asking more about it. My teammates did a great job of keeping me grounded. They were awesome throughout the whole thing. The coaching staff was just as important. They were just a huge part of it.

I guess the only superstition was we really didn't talk about it much. It was kind of like the no hitter after the seventh inning, this just lasted a little longer. It might have been mentioned after the game, but we never said much about it.

Q: You've always been a successful hitter, but last season you hit just .241 at Tampa. What do you think happened?

A: Well, last year was a struggle for me. I still look at that number above and say 'wow'. At the time of the struggles I don't think I really knew what was wrong. Looking back now, and working over this winter, I realized i just had way too much movement in my body and my head to ever really drive the baseball and be consistent. So, that is what I've been working on with my old manager from Charleston, Torre Tyson. So far its been going good, but I have to carry it over to games now.

Q: What's your greatest strength as a ball player? What part of your game do you feel you need to work on most?

A: My greatest asset has probably been being able to put the ball in play at a very high percentage. At the same time that is also a weakness and something I must work on. Meaning, I think I can sometimes hit anything and then I get myself out. This is a major cause of my lack of walks. Other things to work on is becoming a better defender and improving power numbers, something I think could come if I accomplish the process of less movement in my swing.

Q: Have the Yankees given you any indication where you'll be playing this season, or is that all depending on how Spring Training goes?

A: I'm sure they have an idea, but I don't. Obviously, I hope to be the everyday third basemen for Trenton, but there is a lot I am sure they are taking into account. What happens in spring training will play a part I am sure.

Q: Were you ever able to take in a game at Yankee Stadium?

A: No, we did get to go take the tour when we played at Staten Island, but never a game. We had an opportunity after we won the New York Penn League, but rain outs prevented it.
Q: What do you like to do for relaxation?

A: I enjoy just hanging out with the guys and going out to eat in season. In the off season, just going home and getting away from it. I help on our farm when I get back and really enjoy deer hunting. Its a time for me to get away from baseball for a couple of months and re-charge the batteries.

Q: What are you hoping to accomplish this season?

A: I would like to play in double A this year and finish there, and maybe if possible higher. Obviously, I would love to start in Trenton, but we will have to wait and see. I just have to control what I can.

My Pinstripes: Thanks Mitch and good luck this year!

Mitch: No problem man.

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