World exclusive: RC interview with Chris Lubanski!
On Sunday evening, RC #5 prospect Chris Lubanski was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. Lubanski had a breakout season last year for the High Desert Mavericks, hitting .301 with 28 home runs and 116 RBI. This season he seems destined for AA Wichita, where he will most likely patrol the outfield with Billy Butler and Mitch Maier. This promises to be a pivotal year for Lubanski, and we're ecstatic he agreed to chat with us.
Royals Corner: Thanks for talking to us, Chris. How's your off-season been, and what have you been doing to get ready for the season?
Chris Lubanski: My off-season has been great! I've been hitting a ton to get my swing ready for the season. I've been out in Phoenix, AZ for the past six weeks working out at Athletes Performance Institute, and up at the Surprise Complex. So, I’m feeling really good and prepared for this season.
RC: You started off last season slowly, but you mounted a fantastic turnaround in the second half. For what do you credit the big improvement?
CL: I just started relaxing. I put too much pressure on myself in the beginning, and tried to do too much. I just told myself to go out on the field and have fun, and play the best I can, game-by-game. When I started doing that, my season came together for me.
RC: Are you happy with your progression defensively, and what have you been working on in that area?
CL: I know I have the skills to play CF. I had the most assists last year in my career, and I didn't make too many errors. My problem is sometimes I get too timid and don’t take control. So mostly I just have to take more control out in CF like all the best center fielders do. I've also been working on my first step quickness a lot, so my jumps will be more efficient.
RC: When you were drafted, most baseball people saw you as a speed guy from the same mold as Johnny Damon. However, your power has come along better than anyone expected, and many people now believe power is your best asset. Which type of player do you envision yourself becoming?
CL: My power definitely came along this past year, and I feel after this off-season that I've made some more gains in that department. I also stole 14 bases last year and was only thrown out once. So, I still have the speed I had in high school. I really work hard during the off-seasons on my speed so I can keep it as I grow into my body. So, I’m hoping as I mature to keep hitting for power, but also to be a base-stealing threat.
RC: Chris, if all goes well in Spring Training, you'll likely move up to Wichita next season. What types of challenges do you anticipate at AA, and have you spoken at all with your former teammates, such as Billy Butler and Mitch Maier, about what to expect?
CL: I'm really excited for the opportunity to play in AA. I know that AA will offer many challenges, but I feel that I am really prepared to face all challenges this year. I can't really pinpoint the challenges I'll face because every player goes through different "growing pains". I have talked to a lot of players about AA, and they all have given me great advice – advice which I took into the off-season to focus on those areas.
RC: What are your chief goals for this season? Do you have any statistical accomplishments in mind?
CL: Every ballplayer has stat goals. I'd be lying if I said I don't have any stats I would like to reach. However, I'm going to try and stay away from thinking too much about stats. That's what got me into trouble in the beginning of last season. My main goal this year is to work hard everyday, and leave everything on the field. I know if I do those two things that I'll accomplish everything that I want to.
RC: Chris, do you have a personal timetable for reaching the Major Leagues? Is there anything the Royals have asked you to work on to expedite your arrival in KC?
CL: Getting called up to the Big Leagues is out of my control. That's all up to the Royals and when they think I'm ready. I know I made some really good adjustments to my swing in Instructional League to stay more fluid at the plate, and they want me to keep that type of relaxed swing. Also, they want me to take more control in the OF as a CF.
RC: Changing directions a bit, are there any players you've formed close friendships with in the organization, and can you tell us a bit about some of them?
CL: I've met a lot of great guys playing baseball. Over the past 2 seasons I've roomed with Brian McFall, Mitch Maier, Adam Keim, Mike Gaffney, Adam Donachie, and Angel Sanchez. They're all great guys who've helped me out either with the mental side of the game or the physical aspects of it.
RC: As you may or may not know, Mavs broadcaster Jon Rosen has signed on as a Royals Corner correspondent this season. We were wondering if you could tell us anything embarrassing about Jon?
CL: Hmmm…I honestly can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I know we liked getting on him because all the fans called him the "Voice of the Mavs", which I guess we all thought was funny. He's definitely a really good broadcaster, and he really does a good job for the Mavericks.
RC: Are you a Steelers fan?
CL: Nope, but I wanted them to win because I like their coach, Bill Cowher. Slow first half, but the second half was fun to watch.
RC: Chris, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Congratulations on your great 2005 season, and we wish you the best of luck this year.
CL: Thanks a lot, and thanks for the interview!