Here's the second and final installment of our recent conversation with Indians Assistant General Manager Carter Hawkins. Be sure to read part one here.
Q: You mentioned consistency earlier. How does the front office manage to maintain that consistent approach with top level guys like Derek Falvey leaving for other organizations?
CH: Great question. What we try to do similar to our player development system is we're trying to find great people and provide them opportunities to grow. We might draft a young 18-year-old, a Will Benson, and we're hoping that he grows into the next Michael Brantley. And if Michael Brantley is ever not wearing an Indians uniform, hopefully a guy like Will Benson, or somebody who we're not even sure of, will be able to step into that place. It's very similar in the front office. We're constantly trying to find new interns, new young people who are looking to grow within an organization and are looking to provide value within an organization. You know, Derek started as an intern, Ross [Atkins] started as an intern, Mark Shapiro basically started as an intern, Chris [Antonetti] did, [Mike Chernoff] did... All those guys. So we're looking just to continue to replenish our stock of young people and give them opportunities to grow, the exposure to let them really have some ability to impact in multiple different areas and empowerment so that they can create their leadership models for themselves. So when we do lose someone like Derek, which is a huge loss, we have someone to step right in. It's very similar from that standpoint.
Q: Along that same vein, talking about your promotion now. What are you looking to accomplish working alongside Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff to oversee, not just the minor leagues and player development, but the entire organizational operation?
CH: So we hired a new farm director, James Harris, who's an unbelievable individual, but he has more of a football background. So a lot of this year will be working hand in hand with James and getting him up to speed on the baseball side of things. That said, the role of farm director is really about culture, process and systems and that's something that James is very familiar with from his football days. In a lot of ways, he has more experience doing that than almost anyone within our front office. I'll be doing a lot of that, helping on-board James and hopefully having James help me as I on-board into my new position. But then helping Mike and Chris in a lot of different areas such as major league operations, assisting on the scouting side where I can, assisting on the international side where I can... Just trying to be in an advisory role for multiple different departments rather than being in the day-to-day for one individual one.
Q: It seems the Indians have what it takes to go all the way this year after, unfortunately, coming up just short last year. How much pressure is on you and the organization to see that through in 2017?
CH: No more so than any other year. As I talked about Tito and his ability to focus his goals on a day at a time, I think that permeates throughout the entire organization where we just need to wake up and do the very best we can today to help our team become better. And if focus on those small goals and try to achieve those, you don't feel the pressure of those big, larger goals. We know what our vision is, we know what we're trying to accomplish and we know that's where, ultimately, we want to get, but we focus it down to how we do well on an individual day. That takes some of that pressure off and certainly allows us to focus on what really can be controlled, which are the things that are going to get us to where we need to go.
Q: And lastly since we're here celebrating the RubberDucks at their Hot Stove Banquet, while the rosters haven't been made yet, there will likely be a lot of intriguing players within the system making their way through this level in 2017. What are your expectations for them?
CH: I mean, you look at that Lynchburg lineup from last year and there was absolutely some firepower. [Mark Budzinski] and Larry Day, who was the hitting coach there at the time, they certainly enjoyed penciling in all those different names into the lineup. You've got guys like Bobby Bradley with some extreme raw power continuing to refine his approach as he gets older and more mature as a hitter. Guys like Greg Allen who is a plus defender in center field, can steal bases, get on base, drive the ball a little bit and be an outstanding teammate. Guys like Francisco Mejia, who obviously had the 50-game hit streak last year between Lake County and Lynchburg. The consistency it takes offensively to pull off something like that is pretty remarkable. Add that into the ability to be a really strong defensive player who's got a cannon for an arm and is learning how to control pitching staffs. You've got some great position players you're going to be able to lean on over the course of the year. I think that's definitely what fans in Akron have to look forward to the most, whether those guys are contributing to that team early in the year or later in the year. We'll see. It's really difficult to predict minor league rosters, but as you think about some of those guys from that Lynchburg club that could potentially be coming up through Akron, there should be some balls flying.