OaklandClubhouse: Where were you on this most recent trip?
Scott Emerson: I was in Stockton, Sacramento, Arizona and Beloit.
SE: Both of those guys are throwing so much smoother. Alcantara the other night was mixing in his slider and using his change-up when he was behind in the count. He pitched. His ball moved.
Ynoa is at a different point in his development. His slider wasn't quite there but his stuff was still really good. His fastball topped out at 98 and he had an excellent change-up. He came out of his curveball a little bit, but he threw some good ones for strikes and it can be an above-average pitch for him.
Both guys were looking great, especially for being so early in the season.
OC: Alcantara struck-out eight in that start and he hadn't really struck out that many hitters up to that point. Was there a difference in how he approached that start?
SE: I actually talked to him about that. I told him that he should be striking guys out, that these were Low-A ball hitters and his stuff was better than Low-A ball. I thought he needed to improve at striking guys out. I told him that he needed have confidence in changing speeds and throwing strikes. If you are throwing strikes with good stuff at the lower levels, you should be able to strike guys out rather than have them put the ball in play on you.
That's what he did. He attacked the ‘zone and pitched to contact, but his stuff was good enough that night that he was able to get a lot of strike-outs.
OC: Do you think his fastball is his best pitch still right now?
SE: I'd like to think everybody has that good fastball command. I try to preach and the Oakland A's are trying to preach that your fastball is your best pitch and everything works off of that. When you've got fastball command with a good slider and a good change-up, you are going to pitch well. He commanded both sides of the plate and his slider has gotten so much better over these last few months that he got a lot of swings-and-misses off of that.
OC: With Ynoa, is he getting to a point where you think he's ready to go past those three innings or is the organization going to stick with that innings-limit for now?
SE: Yeah, we are going to up his count. In his next outing, he will be up to four innings or 65 pitches. He'll do that twice. We are just kind of monitoring him. Right now, with this being pretty much the first time he's been out pitching this early in the season, we want to take it slow and monitor him. Each month we are going to make a decision on what to do with him.
Right now we are going to pump him up to 65 pitches and four innings, and we'll see how this goes for a few starts. After those couple of starts, we might bump him up to 70 pitches and five innings. We'll re-evaluate the situation again on June 1st.
OC: Ynoa obviously has that great fastball, but how are the other pitches looking right now?
SE: He showed an above-average major league change-up. He struck a right-handed hitter out with a 3-2 change-up where the bottom fell out of it. He is a little inconsistent with his curveball right now, but his good ones are solid major league curveballs. It's a good pitch. It's tight. It spins good. It's in the 80 mile-per-hour range. He's got all of the weapons. He just needs to go out there and pitch.
OC: Dakota Bacus had been tandem starting with Ynoa. Do you see him being stretched out as a starter, or will he be more of a reliever this year?
SE: We're trying to stretch out a lot of guys in Beloit to see where each guy ends up. What has happened now is that [Bacus] has developed a very good change-up. He's a guy who has the ability to spin a good breaking ball. He has a major league fastball and now he's got a developing change-up which I saw. It was a good-average major league change-up. When you add that third weapon, that puts you definitely in that starter category. We are going to keep extending his innings and see where we go with it.
OC: Ryan Dull has put up some big numbers as a pro. What kind of pitcher is he?
SE: Dully, he's got a good sinker. He pitches to both sides of the plate. A decent slider and a good change-up. When we first looked at him, we looked at him as a set-up type reliever. The kind of guy who pounds the strike-zone. He's not a very big guy. He throws in the low-90s. Right now, we are looking at him as a set-up or closer type in Beloit, trying to get him as many two-inning outings as possible to see what we can get out of him.
OC: Did anyone else catch your eye on that Beloit staff while you were there?
SE: I saw Austin House. He's got probably one of the best change-ups I've seen in baseball. An above-average change-up and he gets a lot of swings-and-misses with it. Now with him, we are just trying to work on some fastball command and he threw a couple of good curveballs. So he's starting to develop that third pitch.
He throws strikes with the fastball and it sinks, so for me, he's ultimately a starter. A guy who has a sinking fastball, an above-average change-up. If he can sprinkle in some breaking balls from time-to-time, he can really get some results. I was really impressed with him.
OC: Seth Streich had a nice outing [Wednesday] night. He's had sort of an up-and-down year in terms of his command. Did you work on anything with him while you were there?
SE: We just worked on his bullpens. He was the first game that I saw, so I didn't get to work with him in the ‘pen [before the outing]. But our pitching coach there, John Wasdin, raves about him and we all rave about him. He had a struggling outing when I was there. We were working a little bit on his delivery when I was there. He can over-load things a little bit in the lower half while the upper-half stays straight. When he would go to the plate, that lower-half would open early and the timing wasn't right.
We worked on that in the bullpen and [Wednesday] night he threw a heck of a game. He's got all of the weapons, too. He's got to develop a little bit better breaking ball, but he's got good feel for his pitches. His pitches have movement. He's got a good change-up that moves and he's an excellent competitor. He's going to be fine too.
Stay tuned for part two of this conversation, in which we discuss the Stockton and Sacramento staffs, as well as a standout arm in the A's extended spring training camp.