Growing up around Jaylen, I saw firsthand how hard he worked. Having a parent being a former professional athlete is not easy. His dad (Trenidad Hubbard) knows what it takes to be a pro and has prepared him every day to be just that. As a friend and fan of his, I knew this moment would come, when all his hard work would lead him to become a professional baseball player. I spoke with GCL Nationals third-baseman Jaylen Hubbard about what his father has taught him over the years, how COVID-19 has affected his preparation for the upcoming season, adjusting from college to the pros and much more.
What was your first reaction when you found out the MLB season would be delayed due to COVID-19?
“I was confused. Sort of in the same boat as everyone else in the world, especially the sports world. We all had just gotten to spring training, been there three days, and already getting sent back. It was an odd feeling.”
How is the outbreak affecting your workouts and training schedule?
“It’s pretty constricting. There aren’t many ways for a young professional player to train like one from inside his home. It’s making me get creative, though, which is fun in a way. Not being able to have a complete lifting session is probably the hardest part right now. But these at-home workouts will have to do until further notice.”
What are your coaches and league officials telling you guys about the season continuing?
“They honestly don’t seem to know more than us at the moment, which is understandable. They just told us to go home and stay safe. We don’t really know when the end of this will be so we all have to stay in shape and ready at a moment’s notice.”
What are your thoughts on the Astros cheating scandal?
“I think it’s sad and just overall bad for the game of baseball. Everyone is always trying to get an edge on their opponent. Everyone knows that, but the way the Astros did it is just unacceptable. There’s just no defense against real-time relaying of a pitcher’s signs.”
What’s the biggest adjustment from college to pros?
“I’d say the biggest adjustment is, expectedly, the talent level evens out a great deal more. Almost everyone, up until a certain point, is around the same skill level as you and you’re trying to find ways to separate yourself from them every day.”
You struggled last year hitting the ball, what have you done to improve going forward, or what have you worked on this summer to improve your game?
“The biggest thing I’ve worked on is refining my swing and, most importantly, my approach at the plate with my hitting coaches and my father, of course. I know I’m a great hitter naturally, but I also know when I get away from my approach at the plate, that’s when things start to collapse. My biggest two training points right now are just sticking to the approach and being on time to execute that approach.”
Your dad played in the Majors for over a decade, what advice has he given you?
“Well for about as long as I’ve been alive he’s been training me and passing down knowledge from his experiences in the big leagues. It’s not really as explanatory as when I was younger, now it’s usually just a little mental or physical tweak here and there. I know pretty much everything he’s going to say before he says it now, so I feel pretty prepared. Just have to trust it and execute.”
What can we expect from you this season?
“Like I said, more refinement in all aspects of my game. I learned a lot in that short (Gulf Coast League) season last year and was able to apply it to my off-season training this year. I think I’m in a better place both physically and mentally compared to last year so I’m itching to get back out there compete with myself every day. It should be a fun, eye-opening season this year, God-willing.”
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