Jose Lobaton and I played in the Padres organization together.  We were teammates in parts of 4 seasons.  I have had the opportunity to see Loby grow as a catcher and hitter over the years and develop into the MLB talent that he is today.

This off season Loby asked if I could help him get ready for Spring Training.  Honored, I said yes, and we began training the next day.  I introduced him to my Trainer, Andre Williams of Core Speed and Agility in Orlando FL and together we came up with a regiment for Jose.

I learned a lot from this experience and I wanted to share it here because I think this information may be valuable to some coaches, players, and trainers out there.  Here’s what Jose Lobaton taught me this off season….

No es la cantidad es la calidad

Lobaton, one of very few Venezuelan Big Leaguers, and myself, a C average spanish student in college, we found ourselves speaking both English and Spanish throughout the days.  Although my Spanish vocabulary is very rich in curse words and rap lyrics, I can understand some of the regular words too.  One phrase that Lobaton taught me, however, was “no es la cantidad, es la calidad”.

It means, “It’s not Quantity, It’s the Quality”.  Not only did Loby preach this, but he practiced it as well.  He wasn’t in the cage to hit 500 balls as hard as he could.  He wanted to just get a good feel from both sides of the plate, get some great swings in, and then call it a day.

Now, don’t confuse this with not working hard.  Lobaton, worked his ass off all day.  He would come in around 10:30 am and wouldn’t finish until 1:30 pm.  But everything he did was for a reason and he was focused on doing it to be a better player.  That’s the difference between just working out to work out and training smarter.  Quality over Quantity!

Check out the hitting drill that Loby taught me.  I call it The Jose Lobaton Hitting Drill.

Hard Work Pays Off

Sometimes baseball players are known for being a Prima Donna.  They use the excuse that the season is 160+ games and they don’t want to burn out.  While I can definitely sympathize about the game schedule and the grueling season, I believe that the work you put in is directly related to the success you will achieve.

Lobaton should be the poster boy for hard work.  When I first met Lobaton in 2005, he was a young catcher, who had a lot work ahead of him.  Since then he has gotten better every year because of his hard work and desire to improve.  By 2009 he had made it to the Big Leagues.  It was his hard work, however, that made him the best catcher that the Rays had last season.  Batting .249 with 7 Home Runs and a hell of a season behind the plate!

Here’s Jose putting in some work getting ready for the 2014 season.

Jose Lobaton Hard Work – video

Work on your Weaknesses

Jose is a great hitter from both sides, a great receiver, a great blocker, but one area that he wanted to improve was his percentage of runners thrown out.  Everyday Lobaton would do some throw downs to 2nd base, focusing on his footwork, transfer, and throws.  It seemed like everyday he got better at it.  I filmed one of the throw downs and he was a 1.7 pop time.  That day, I would guess that he threw a handful of 1.6’s as well.  I am going to make a prediction that this season, Loby’s percentage of runners thrown out gets significantly better because of his focus and practice in this area of his game.  See what a 1.7 looks like below.

Jose Lobaton Throw Down (1.7) – video

It’s all Business

This morning Jose texted me that he was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Washington Nationals.  He knew this might be a possibility the whole time, but he kept a positive attitude the entire time and was only focused on the things that he can control.  He could not control whether or not he would be traded, so instead he focused on his hitting, his catching, and his training.  Now, Lobaton is ready for Spring Training with the Washington Nationals and is going to go in with the mind set of being the number 1 catcher.

Jose Lobaton Trade

Anyone have a red Sharpee? I’ve got some coloring to do.

Line Drive up the Middle

Probably the most important thing that Jose taught me was that he can hit the baseball VERY HARD!  With a mind set to stay inside the ball and hit a line drive up the middle or slightly opposite field, one of his ball hit me straight in the butt!  I went from a feeling of shock, to a feeling of wanting to throw up.  The only thing I could do to fix the pain was run.  I did a few circles in the cage and eventually made it back behind (more behind) the screen.  I will forever remember how hard Loby can hit a baseball.

Jose Lobaton trade

Later that day.

Overall it was a great experience and it was fun to hang out with Loby again.  I learned a lot from him and I think he learned a lot from us.  I hope that you, the reader, have learned something from this post.  Mainly, that no matter how well you are doing in something, there is ALWAYS room to learn and to grow.  Especially in a skill sport like baseball.

Please follow Jose on Twitter @JLobaton21 and wish him luck as a Washington National.