"I think I have improved my defense immensely."
Josh Whitesell, a former 6th round selection in the 2003 draft out of Loyola Marymount, had a breakout season offensively in 2005. And, with his big season, the lefty swinging first baseman established himself on the prospect landscape. We recently sat down with Josh for a Q&A session.
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CapitolDugout.com: Josh, your 2005 was obviously your best as a professional. Would it be safe to say that you are satisfied with how you performed with Potomac?
Josh Whitesell: Oh, I’d definitely say I’m pretty happy with how I played. It was definitely sort of a breakout season offensively and I really showed what I could do I think. So, I was pleased. It is also nice to know that all the hard work has paid off. I spent so many hours in the off season last year, trying to get ready for the season. The work really seemed to pay off and I can’t ask for much more than that.
CapitolDugout.com: Every player is always trying to build on their previous season no matter how well they may have played. What are some improvements you are looking to make headed into 2006?
Josh Whitesell: Right, I’m always looking to make improvements. When you are playing at such a high level, you need to be constantly getting better or you’re not going to be able to cut it. One thing I’d like to do is cut back on my strikeouts and put the ball in play a little more often. Basically, I just want to keep fine tuning my game. There’s nothing that stands out, just to keep getting better every day.
CapitolDugout.com: Josh, you were part of an absolutely stacked Potomac Nationals’ lineup this year. Do you think it was a benefit to you to have such outstanding hitters all around you in the lineup?
Josh Whitesell: Oh, I think it absolutely helped. We just had an outstanding lineup, 1-9. I mean, if you’re a pitcher, who are you going to pitch around? There were no holes in our lineup. I was right in there with hitters like Frank Diaz, Soloman Manriquez, and Kory Casto and they could all really hit. So, yeah, I think it definitely helped to have a bunch of tremendous hitters in the same lineup.
CapitolDugout.com: As far as your defense is concerned, how far do you think you have come and how would you rate yourself as a defender overall at this point?
Josh Whitesell: Honestly, I think I have improved my defense immensely in the past year. I have come along way, without a doubt. I feel like I’m improving the more I play and I’m going to try to continue that next year also. I feel like defense has actually become one of my biggest strengths rather than a weakness.
CapitolDugout.com: Does it ever cross your mind that the Nationals have historically given their young players opportunities to make their big league squad?
Josh Whitesell: Well, yeah, but it is something that I usually try not to think much about. I just try to stay focused on what I have to do. If I do what I need to do, then it shouldn’t matter what organization I’m with. But, as a player, I can see that there are more opportunities because they aren’t the type of team to go out and sign a bunch of guys to big contracts.
CapitolDugout.com: Do you have any specific goals headed into the 2006 season that are especially important to you?
Josh Whitesell: I usually try to stay away from statistical goals because if you’re pressing and trying to meet those goals, then you tend to stress yourself out over it. And, as for what level I want to play at, I just figure that if I’m playing the way I can play, I don’t really have to worry about it. But, obviously, I’d just like to build on my 2005 performance and put up better numbers if I can and play solid defense. That’s all I can hope for.
CapitolDugout.com: Josh, you mentioned earlier what an outstanding lineup you had in Potomac. Which players from that team impressed you the most?
Josh Whitesell: Oh, there were a lot of guys. The guy that stands out is Frank Diaz. He is just a tremendous all around player. He has a big future I think. Kory Casto and Soloman Manriquez were also outstanding. But, the guy that really impressed me was Ian Desmond. He really looks like a special player. He is still really young and I think he’s just going to be an unbelievable player.
CapitolDugout.com: If you were a scout watching yourself hit, what type of hitter would you describe yourself as?
Josh Whitesell: That’s a tough one. I’d say that I’m patient but aggressive at the same time. I can hit the ball in the gaps and I have power also. Like I said, I’m a patient hitter, but I’m always looking to be aggressive in the box and attack my pitch.