Q: Let me ask you about Betemit. He seems to have done numbers-wise what you needed him to do?
A: Yea. I think Wilson has shown so much improvement. You can see it daily at the plate. Defensively, it's like night and day. He's played tremendous for us at third base this year. He's got about 19, 20 games in for us at shortstop. We've been able to keep him over there and keep him sharp at that position. The thing for me is that he's making some strides offensively and his numbers are good. We've just got to remind ourselves that he's 22 years old. I don't care if he's been in this league for three years. My son is 22 and he's in rookie ball. I just think that he's gotten better. To me, this has been a breakout year for him. He's thrown up some numbers and he's had much better at bats. I think he's on his way.
Q: Not many people know much about Pete Orr. I've told people, "If you like Charles Thomas, you'll love Pete Orr."
A: That's exactly right. If you like the way Charles Thomas plays the game, you're going to love Pete Orr. To me those two guys play the game the way it's supposed to be played. They play hard every night. They run every ball out. Those guys are the ones you root for. We get all of our "so-called" prospects and we cater to them a little bit. Here are two guys that have earned their way. Basically pushed the door open by their play. The thing that is special about those two guys is that they always seem to make something happen whether it's through their speed or their defense or their at bats. Good things seem to happen when they're out there.
Q: They really show what can happen when people hustle.
A: There's a lot to be said for that. I think we're seeing it in Ryan Langerhans right now. Ryan's having a great year and he's running the bases more aggressively than I've ever seen him do. I attribute that to watching Orr and Thomas play the game. I think some of our other guys that don't run quite as well see the idea that you still go first to third or you can still take advantage of the defense if you hustle. It's infectious. I'm really proud of Charlie because it's easy to go to the big leagues and try to fit in with everybody else and be cool. But Charlie's just played his game the way he played it in Myrtle Beach and Greenville and here. Nothing different. It's energized that club up there. There's no doubt that part of their turnaround is the fact that ever since he's been with the club, they've played exceptionally well.
Q: Do you think that because of Charles's success, that people like Pete Orr, that may not be like Jeff Francoeur, may get more noticed now?
A: I think what it does for player development…we've always felt those guys could play. But sometimes when scouts come in they get a five-day look. They're looking for that five-tool guy that can do everything. That's understandable. I've done pro scouting and I know what it's like. But it just goes to show how much this organization has gone position player-wise. It's always been known for pitching. But I think position player-wise now we've got some good players. We've got some players that maybe we overlook because maybe they don't have five tools, but they do the little things right. Look at the success of Nick Green this year. Obviously, Charlie and we're probably going to see Pete Orr go up at the end of the year. Those are the kinds of guys that have been over-looked but have talent. They can run and they can throw. Then again it goes back to scouting and player development. We're not talking about guys who are 4.5 runners to first base. We're talking about guys who are that are above average runners, that have average to above-average major league arms and are good players. We're talking about guys who are good players. We're talking about guys with talent. But because we put labels on people in this game and if a guy is a hustler, we don't think as him as being very talented. It's like he just muddles his way through or whatever. But these guys have talent.
Q: Can you talk about Langerhans?
A: The biggest thing for Ryan is that he's had that breakout year that everybody has been waiting for. He's been very steady. I just think offensively he's gotten some confidence. He's learned that by hitting the ball the other way he ends up getting some pitches later on that he can hit out of the ballpark. His power numbers are up and his RBI numbers are good. He's got a chance to score close to 100 runs this year. I just think his overall game has improved and a lot of it is confidence.
Q: What about Billy McCarthy?
A: He just goes out and hits everyday. There's another guy that kind of gets overlooked. He doesn't run that great and he's just kind of ok in the outfield. But boy I tell you when he goes up to the plate he finds a way. He's never 0-4. He can be 0-3 going into that last at bat and he's going to find a way to get a hit. To me, those are good hitters. He'll square a ball up and hit it out of the ballpark and take the next ball to right field. He can hit.
Q: How about James Jurries? It's a big jump from being in college two years ago.
A: That's the biggest thing. It's been a rapid rise thought the organization. This year has been a learning experience for him. When he first got here, he was overmatched. Then he kind of figured some things out and made an adjustment. Then in a 2-3 month period, he was lights out. The month of August has been a little tough on him. I think his playing time has been a little limited because we've had all the corner guys back now with Hessman and Betemit back from the big leagues. Not knowing that you're in the lineup everyday has been a little bit tough for him. But the thing about James is he has something that special that other guys don't have and that's power. When he hits it, it goes a long way. Those kinds of guys are special. Those are the kinds of guys you're looking for.
Bill Shanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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