May 3, 2016
Making the jump from amateur baseball to the professional game presents a learning curve as certain areas of the sport are handled differently at the pro ranks. While this change might take some players a little time to master. It wasn’t a major concern for catcher Ryan Hissey.
Having a leg up on some of his competition when entering the 2015 draft, Hissey took advantage of every opportunity to learn more about his position while playing at the College of William & Mary.
“There’s always a learning curve when switching from college to pro ball,” stated Hissey. “But that’s one of the things I learned at William & Mary is how to cope with changes. Instead of it taking a few months, it only took a few weeks to adjust to the change.”
One of the major changes for a college catcher going pro is having to learn to call a game for yourself. With the majority of the game being called by coaches prior to making it to the next level, Hissey made sure to take notes on this skill before taking the next step in his career.
“In college you didn’t get to call games,” explained Hissey. “But even though I didn’t get to call games I made sure to listen and find out why things were being called in certain situations. Last summer I made some mistakes in Vancouver. When I did the coaches let me know about them. I’m sure I’ll make a couple mistakes this year as well. Those things happen sometimes, but as long as you learn from your mistakes everything will work out at the end.”
All of his determination behind the plate has paid off in the early stages of his professional experience. Committing just five errors, and maintaining a .988 fielding percentage in his 51 games behind the dish is a promising sign that the 22-year old catcher is developing in the right areas.
Thankful for all of the preparation that his coaches did for him during his three years at William & Mary, Hissey went through a coaching change, while in college as he began his collegiate time with coach Jamie Pinzino and finished with coach Brian Murphy.
“I loved playing at William & Mary,” said Hissey. “Coach Pinzino and Coach Murphy definitely got me ready in terms of development and getting better. I loved it there and I feel everything I learned there is translating into pro ball.”
Hissey’s success on the diamond doesn’t end on the defensive side of the game. With the ability to be a two-way player, Hissey displayed an above-average bat at the NCAA level. Carrying a .292/.378/.458 slash line in 537 collegiate at-bats showed promising talent that could transition well.
In his 249 professional at-bats, Hissey has recorded 71 hits including: 16 doubles, two triples, and two home runs across three levels of minor league baseball – good for a .285 average and .377 on base percentage.
Learning to make adjustments with his plate approach between his first professional campaign to this year with the Lansing Lugnuts. Hissey is hoping to stay more consistent this year as he feels more prepared for the challenges that arise in the batter’s box on a nightly basis.
“The hardest thing with my plate approach has been playing every day,” stated Hissey. “In Vancouver it really hit me. This year I’m hoping to be more consistent and avoid long slumps. Instead of having a 10-game slump I can hopefully lower it to just a 2-game slump.”
Taking on a full season can be a big transition for a young player, but Hissey feels totally prepared for the obstacle as he had an opportunity to fine-tune his skills during the Blue Jays Instructional League last fall.
“I was working on a lot of catching stuff in the instructional league,” explained Hissey. “I had a knee injury when I was first drafted so the organization wanted me to get back to the fundamentals. I feel I improved in instructs and I was able to build on it some more in spring training. It feels good to be going right now.”
While Hissey might not be a household name yet amongst Blue Jays fans, supporters of the club should keep an eye out for him as there’s limited depth at the catching position throughout the organization.
If the prospect can continue to hit well and man his position the way he has at the lower levels of the minor leagues, he could easily find himself competing at the major league level one day.
But until that day comes fans of the Toronto Blue Jays will be happy to see Ryan Hissey continue to develop in the right areas in their minor league system.