Derrik Gibson was the Red Sox fourth pick (2nd round, 77th overall) in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. Gibson started last season with the GCL Red Sox before making a cameo in Lowell. He was twice named the Delaware High School Player of the Year and three times the All-State performer at Seaford Senior High School. Gibson was also named a 2008 Baseball America First-Team High School All-American after hitting .636 with five homers and 29 RBIs.
In addition to being a star at the plate, Gibson also won fifteen games as a pitcher over his last two high school seasons. Gibson is known for his speed, being deemed the fastest base runner in the Red Sox organization by Baseball America. In Lowell this season, Gibson got off to a hot start, hitting .471 in June; he slumped in July, but has hit .381 so far in August and leads the Spinners with 20 stolen bases. Derrik took some time to talk with the Spinners Blog.
You got off to a great start, hitting .471 in June, what would you attribute your early success to?
I would have to say my success came from just working with some coaches to refine my swing and just my approach. I told myself to stay middle of the field, go gap to gap. If you stay in the middle of the field it’s the biggest part of the field, you’ll have success with balls over the plate, you won’t pull off of the ball. That’s what I try to tell my self, stay middle of the field, go gap to gap, and I’ll be alright.
After your hot start, you’ve had some struggles, is there anything you can attribute this to?
Going off of what I said before, I got away from my approach that I used in the beginning of the season. I was trying to pull balls over the plate, its one of those things being younger you get away from things that have made you successful and you feel invincible. You start thinking to yourself, I’ve been doing great, and I’ll be able to do this. That’s how it happened with me, I thought I could just rip the ball and I found out real quick I couldn’t do that. Once I figured it out, I’ve gotten back to the approach that made me successful and I can see a difference. The results may not be there all the time, but I can be happy with my at bats and the counts that I am able to work. I think I am getting back to where I was in June with my at bats recently.
This is your second go around here in Lowell, what are your goals for this season? What part of your game are you working on the most?
Compared to last year, things have slowed down for me. Last year everything seemed like it was a thousand miles an hour, I didn’t focus and slow it down. Now I feel comfortable with the setting and playing in front of people. The thing that Coach Disarcina preaches the most is slowing things down and I think I’ve done a good job of that so far. In terms of goals we all just want to win this division and play consistent baseball and success will take care of itself.
Which teammate has impressed you the most this season?
Ryan Westmoreland has definitely impressed me a ton. He’s just been unbelievable; he’s super consistent I haven’t seen him throw too many at bats away. He drives the ball gap to gap with as much power as I’ve seen or played with. You name it he’s doing it right now. The best part is he’s a good clubhouse guy too he keeps it loose and fun and everybody loves him.
You currently are leading the team in steals, is speed a big part of your game? Do you see yourself as a top of the order table setter?
Getting on base is always my goal, just being able to disrupt what the pitcher is doing and set the tone of the game. Speed is definitely a big part of my game; if I don’t take bases then I’m just limiting myself. The one or two spot in the order is where I am comfortable. I think leading off the game you set the tone. In that first inning if you get on and score it takes a lot of pressure off your pitcher and your defense. I like being that guy that just tries to disrupt things for the opposing pitcher. I take it as a challenge.
You were a pitcher in High School and put up some impressive numbers, did you ever see yourself playing professionally as a pitcher?
I don’t know if I would call myself a pitcher or a thrower, I didn’t really see myself continuing with pitching in the pros. I wanted to play everyday and teams saw that as well. There were pros and cons to pitching. You set the tone for the game; you have the ball in your hand every pitch. You basically are the director of the game out on the mound. It’s great if you have a good game, not so great if you have a bad game. I really just had that itch to play everyday. I liked it, I enjoyed it, but I enjoy playing short or second more, even though I think there are more pros than cons to pitching.
You were drafted by the Red Sox in the second round in 2008, were you expecting to go to the Red Sox? What are your impressions of the organization so far?
It was honestly one of those things where you go into it just hoping for the best. I had no idea what team was going to take me. I just woke up draft day with an open mind and watched the draft with my family. When I did get that call it was an unbelievable experience it took me awhile to get off of cloud nine. I think one of the biggest things for me on draft day was seeing some of the guys that I played with get taken like Casey Kelly, who got taken before me in the first round.
Playing with Casey was special, we actually played together at USA baseball tryouts, he played short and I played second. It’s ironic that we ended up in the same organization and played together down here in Lowell.
Do the Red Sox have any specific goals for you this season and this offseason?
They didn’t give me anything specific, but their big thing was having a full season under my belt. Fielding wise my goals are to learn both second and short to the point where I am comfortable. Hitting wise I would have to say just staying with my approach and not getting away from what I do best. Overall, I think the Red Sox just want me to be athletic and do what I’ve been doing so far this year. I try to go at the game 110 percent and give it my all.
You’ve mainly played short during your time here in Lowell, do you see yourself as a shortstop or can you see yourself moving to a different position?
Right now I would say short is where I am most comfortable. Everything feels natural to me there. You throw to first base and you’re moving that way, on double plays you’re throwing that way, it’s just all natural movement. Second base feels a little awkward to me right now because it’s not like short, you don’t have that natural movement toward first. Short is not the easiest position to play, but its where I see myself eventually settling down.
Growing up who were your favorite team and player?
Being from Delaware, it would have to be the Orioles. I was probably the biggest Cal Ripken fan. Ever since I was little my parents would tell me Cal Ripken does this, Cal does that, and if he did it I did it. I loved watching him on a daily basis, the consecutive game streak was awesome, but just the way he played the game, he gave it his all. I definitely have a new found appreciation for Cal now that I play every day. When we’re about 40 games in, during a long road stretch, and your body aches or you are just fatigued, it takes a lot to give it your all. Cal went out there and did that for his entire career. It’s amazing how he played that many games in a row and played as hard as he did.
You had a commitment to UNC before signing with the Red Sox, was it a hard decision to make to pass up UNC?
Coach Fox and the whole program were very good to me. It’s hard when you build that relationship for about six months and then you have to tell them your going to sign and that you have to walk away from everything that you’ve built up over time. It’s such a great program and with them making the college world series, having a great staff, a new stadium, all that tradition, it was really hard. I really am happy with the decision I made though, I couldn’t envision a better organization to play for than Boston.
What is your most memorable moment in baseball and why?
Playing in front of these fans here is the best thing I can think of. The appreciation they have for us, it’s amazing that the Spinners have such a long sell out streak. They don’t call this Red Sox Nation for nothing; these fans love baseball and root for you no matter what. The players really appreciate it when you can play in front of fans that are so passionate and really pull hard for you.
Check back Thursday for our next installment with rookie sensation Alex Hassan