Sheffield, Kaprielian among young players who dined with Jeter at camp
By Corey Long
Special to MLB.com |
TAMPA, Fla. -- It wouldn't be a Captain's Camp without dinner with the Captain himself.
Several of the Yankees' top prospects enjoyed dinner with former shortstop Derek Jeter on Tuesday. Jeter took the group of about 20 players and front-office personnel to Oxford Exchange in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Tampa, where he answered questions and offered advice.
"It was very casual," pitcher James Kaprielian, ranked No. 58 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, said. "He said, 'Ask me anything. On and off the field, I'm going to tell you the best answer I can.' You looked around the room and all the guys in there [had their] eyes wide open and ears wide open. It was pretty special for all of us."
It was Kaprielian's second time having dinner with Jeter, but for first-time Captain's Camp participants like pitcher Justus Sheffield, it was a surreal experience.
"As soon as he came in, I know for a fact I was smiling and was like, 'Dang, that's Jeter,'" Sheffield said. "But it was relaxed. Nobody was really tense. We were just firing questions at him, and he was wanting to answer all of them."
The Captain's Camp is focused on teaching players about the on- and off-field responsibilities that go with being a professional athlete, including accountability, work ethic, learning how to be a positive role model and respect for the game.
During the camp, several current and former players will talk to the prospects about their own personal experiences in the game, and they will offer advice on how to maintain success.
For Sheffield, there was no bigger moment than meeting Jeter.
"I loved watching him play, and the way he went about his business," Sheffield said. "And he was great. I came into [dinner] thinking he was a great baseball player and great guy off the field, and left thinking the same thing.
"I was probably more of a Red Sox fan growing up, but I didn't tell him that," Sheffield joked.
Kaprielian said that events like Tuesday's, as well as other moments in Captain's Camp, showed the commitment the Yankees have to making sure their top prospects are being equipped with all the resources necessary to be successful.
"At the end of the day, it's a special organization to be a part of," Kaprielian said. "I try to take a second every day to kick back, look around and appreciate that I'm actually here. The fact that they are able to pull somebody like Derek, who's [still] got his busy lifestyle going on, to come back and help us, shows they really care about us succeeding, and they want us to be great."
Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.