While he admits nobody could have seen the Rookie of the Year’s mammoth 52-homer freshman campaign coming, he’s not surprised by the humility the slugger has shown throughout his success.
“The things that I believed would come to fruition were the leadership qualities, the humility, the competitiveness that everybody sees behind the homers, awards and accolades,” Pilittere told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. “The really cool part is he’s the same guy who was out in Scottsdale, [AZ], with us for the Fall League and in Trenton, [NJ], and the Eastern League. It’s not any different for him mentally.
“That’s something that we were always preparing for with him, like, ‘You’re playing in New York tonight.’ There’s a million people in the organization who had a hand in helping that guy speed the process up. He’s such a genuine guy. What he gives the world and the media is the truth. It is a really clear picture of who he is as a person, and that personality is infectious.”
Pilittere played eight season in the Yankees’ organization from 2004-2011 before making the transition to coaching. Now in his seventh year, the former catcher is “humbled and honored” to join the Big League club.
“It has been a long road, but it’s going to be really exciting to embrace this new challenge at a new level,” Pilittere said. “Obviously, the Major League level is different, but once you get past that part, it’s still baseball. The lights are a little bit brighter. It’s still the same game.”
“That’s when they can produce the big things that are happening in today’s ballgame of the Statcast era and all the buzzwords that you’re hearing, like optimal launch angle and maximum exit velocity,” Pilittere said.
“He was starting to really figure it out,” Pilittere said. “He had a little bit of a scuffle getting used to the new league when he first got to us, but he’s really smart, really advanced with the approach. He was able to make some adjustments that are really impressive for any player, and then you stop to think that he was 20 at the time and making those adjustments at the Triple-A level. That blows you away. He’s got a real bright future ahead.”