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Lance Lynn, Ryan Jackson ready to put on a show at Spring Training

Posted Monday, January 16, 2012, at 10:59 PM

By COREY NOLES

While I didn't make it to St. Louis for the Winter Warm-up this past weekend, I do still have some good Cardinal updates. Last night myself, along with my wife and four children, attended the Cardinals Caravan in Cape Girardeau.

During the media access prior to the event I had the opportunity to do short sit-down interviews with Lance Lynn, Tyler Greene, prospect Ryan Jackson (who you will read about in my final prospect installment) and John Mabry.

In trying to decide how best to handle this, I decided that in today's column I would share my interview with Lance Lynn and Ryan Jackson. Later in the week I will write a column about my talks with Greene and Mabry.

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Lance Lynn, a starter prospect who saw success as a late-inning RH reliever from the Cardinals bullpen, said while he certainly reveled in the moment of the championship, once the parade was over it was time to "come back to reality." Soon to be a father, Lynn said the time at home with his family was a nice change. Don't mistake being at home for being off work though.

"After those three days and then after that it was back to work," he said. "You always want to challenge yourself."

When asked about the moved from being a starter to working from the bullpen, Lynn made it clear that he will throw wherever the team wants him. Despite his success, he's prepared to have to battle for his spot on the roster.

"Right now my goal is to come into spring training and just make the team," Lynn said. "There are so many good pitchers with good arms coming in to camp that it's going to be a battle for who's going to win spots. That's all you can do is just try to pitch your best and wherever they want to pitch you just go pitch and try to get outs."

Lynn, who handled the pressure of the biggest stage in baseball like a 15-year veteran, explained that there is a lot of importance around how you carry yourself.

"As a baseball player, you have to try and not let situations catch you off guard," he said. "Even if they do catch you off guard you've gotta act like you're supposed to be there and you know what you're doing."

I told him how laid back not just he, but the team as well, seemed during the World Series at batting practice and in the interview room. The afternoon before Game 6, that bunch did not look like a group of guys facing elimination in a World Series.

As far as the success of the 2011 squad, he gave credit to the personalities that kept things light in 2011.

"I think it's guys like [Lance] Berkman, who actually enjoy the game, that keep it like that," he said. "Guys who don't make it a do or die situation, but make it a fun situation then go out there and play to win. That's what we did all through the second half of the year and we didn't change anything when we made it into the playoffs."

He also added that he hopes to see that same dynamic return to the clubhouse in 2012. I asked him what he thought it was going to be like coming back to the game with a rookie manager instead of a hall of famer and with so many new pieces to the team and he said he was very excited.

"Every season is a new team and you take on a new personality," he said. "This year we're going to take on the personality of our new manager just like last year we took on the personality of Tony [LaRussa]. As you go on it's the same boat.

"We're going to get into Spring Training, get to work and find out how we're going to approach the game day to day and it's going to be fun to learn," Lynn said.

Lynn, when asked by a fan later in the evening why he was sporting a new haircut and a thinner beard, responded that he is going to be a father in February and doesn't want to scare the baby too bad.

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While the name Ryan Jackson may not mean much to some of you just yet, the Cardinals front office and many scouts believe he will be a major force as the Cardinals organization moves to the future.

Jackson, a south Florida native, was a 5th round draft pick for the Cardinals in 2009. Since then, he's made his way through the team's farm system in an interesting way: somewhat backwards. The higher in the system he goes, the more his numbers seem to improve.

Some of that is expected as players develop, but typically a move to a stronger league means at least a temporary struggle. That's not always the case as we can see with Jackson who doubled his RBI total, posted 11 homers (not bad for a shortstop) and 34 doubles in 599 plate appearances. While he's still a step or two from the big show, he did receive a non-roster invite to major league spring training this year.

"I just finished up in the Arizona Fall League and had a good showing there," Jackson said. "Now I'm just getting ready for big league camp. It's gonna be cool -- a good experience."

When asked what seemed to click for him last year playing for the Class AA Springfield Cardinals, he said everything just started coming together.

"I have a little bit more experience and I've started putting together all of the coaching and material that gets thrown at you until then," he said. "After that it's all about finding the approach that's good for you."

That approach is something this shortstop prospect has really been working on above all else. With a tight glove and a good arm, honing his skills at the plate has been Jackson's biggest need.

"When you're a young player you don't know what approach is going to work for you right off the bat," he said noting that he finished 2010 in High-A Palm Beach where he learned a lot more and was able to carry it through to 2011. "I really grew as a player both mentally and physically.

Learning that approach at the plate is not something a player comes by easy as Jackson has learned in his two and a half years of professional baseball.

"Basically, my biggest goal is developing an approach that works for me at the plate and not just going up there trying to freelance it," he said. "From at bat to at bat it changes and I was able to start getting into that more. That mental part of the game just comes with experience."

Experience is something the Cardinals front office is working hard to get him. His non-roster invite is a testament to their interest in him and his ability. While there is no date for his estimated arrival in St. Louis, I would fully expect him to see time in St. Louis by 2013 and possibly as a mid-season or September call-up in 2012.

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It was a real pleasure to get to spend some time visiting with these guys Monday evening and to be able to learn a little more firsthand about the future of the club.

Wednesday's column will polish off my prospects list and on Thursday I will share the interviews with Greene and Mabry. They had some interesting items to share regarding Mabry's new job and Greene's new position move to second base where it was noted by GM John Mozeliak this weekend that he could be spending a large part of the 2011 season.


Comments
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Thanks again Corey for another insightful article and I'm a little jealous you got to go there and here I am stuck in Indiana finishing my school.

I have heard of Jackson and I also kept an eye on him during Arizona Fall League play. That is always an interesting part of the MLB season and unfortunatley it is still not that well known even in this media age. Hopefully ESPN or FOX Sports will put these guys on TV. Jackson has me pretty excited about his ceiling because he never seems to slack off or struggle and for you to have him only in the Top 15 is even exciting because of all the talent that is ahead of him.

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Mon, Jan 16, 2012, at 11:14 PM


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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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