Ricardo Ferreira is completing his third year in the New York Yankees minor system with the Charleston RiverDogs. If you have any questions about what type of player he is, you just have to look to the player and fellow countryman he modeled his game after growing up in the Dominican Republic: Jose Reyes.
To say Ferreira is fast would be an understatement. That speed is the cornerstone of his game both offensively and defensively, and he knows it. “I understand my speed, and I know that’s a big reason why I’m able to play at this level. I want to go to right field or left field depending on which side of the plate I’m hitting from. I want to put it on the ground and put pressure on the defense at all times because I know how fast I am, and that puts a lot of pressure on defenses to be quick and make a play,” Ferreira explained.
Ferreira’s road to the Yankees started when his father used to take him out to play baseball. “I was 13 years old, and my dad was the first person to take me to go play. He took me to the park,” Ferreira said.
The Yankees took notice of Ferreira in 2014 and worked him out. Ferreira described the process, “I went to seven Yankee tryouts and they saw me throw, run, hit and defend. After the seventh one, they finally signed me, and they wanted me.”
Ferreira was very thankful to get the opportunity and called his mother. “I was very thankful. I thanked God a lot because I’ve never been happier. I called my mother; she was very, very excited for me.”
Ferreira started off playing for the Yankees in the Dominican Summer League for his first two professional seasons. Ferreira put up numbers hard to ignore in his second season. He batted .382 with a .513 on-base percentage. He also stole 35 bases in 40 attempts. Those type of numbers earned him a promotion to Staten Island to start his 2016 season and landed up with Charleston after playing just 23 games with the Baby Bombers.
Ferreira grew up playing middle infield and during his time in the Dominican Summer League found himself playing mainly second base. The Yankees transitioned Ferreira to the outfield this season which is something Ferriera is still adjusting to. “I started out as an infielder, so I’m still getting used to the outfield. I’m still learning my dropbacks and my routes. It’s been a transition going from the infield to the outfield.” At times this year, Ferreira has struggled with the routes he takes to the ball, but his pure speed makes up for this part of his game.
The biggest adjustment he’s made coming to play minor league baseball in the United States is facing players that have more experience than he has. “The first thing is pitching. In the Dominican, pitchers are still young, still learning, so 3-2 they’re going to throw a fastball. I came here to Staten Island and Charleston, and the pitchers are a little more veteran, a little more seasoned, so 3-2, now I’m seeing curveballs and changeups where I used to see fastballs. I’m still adjusting to that,” Ferreira said.
Off the field, Ferreira sometimes struggles as he doesn’t speak a lot of English. “Over there (in the Dominican Republic) I spoke the native tongue, but here it’s a little bit different here in that not many speak the language, so that’s a barrier outside of the field for me communicating with people,” he explained.
Despite the barriers, Ferriera has fared well with the RiverDogs. He’s batting .262 and has 14 stolen bases in 16 attempts with 43 games played with Charleston. Those numbers are improved from his stint earlier in the year with Staten Island where he only hit .221. He did swipe 12 bases in 16 attempts with Staten Island. In total this year, he’s swiped 26 bases in 32 attempts.
Another adjustment in playing in the United States compared to back home is the amount of time he spends at the ballpark. “It’s a lot more time consuming here. They work hard in the Dominican, but here seems like you’re here six, eight hours, maybe nine, ten hours a day, so it’s a little more time consuming here,” he explained.
Ricardo Ferreira may be raw, but he certainly has shown a lot of potential in 2016 with the Charleston RiverDogs.