Tyler Stotsky continues his Q&A discussion with Class-A Lake County hitting coach Justin Toole. In case you missed the first part of this interview, it focused on the performances of several other hitters such as Logan Ice, Jorma Rodriguez, Luke Wakamatsu, Alexis Pantoja, Emmanuel Tapia, Miguel Eladio, and Erlin Cerda.
TS (Tyler Stotsky): Now in the Captains outfield, Todd Isaacs is someone that can be a sparkplug in the lineup. What does he bring to the lineup?
JT (Justin Toole): Isaacs is another kid that is an amazing athlete. It’s a matter of getting him to being in the best position to hit the ball. He is a rare kid that can run well and also has some juice. He’s got some homeruns this year. Anytime that a guy like him hits the ball as hard as he does, you try and do more sometimes. We just want him to repeat his mechanics and be ready to hit the ball.
TS: Mitch Longo just returned from a broken hamate bone in spring training. What does he bring to the Captains as he gets more at-bats?
JT: He had a good year last year in Mahoning Valley. He is a strong kid. He is a mixture of being strong, able to drive the ball and he has some speed as well. Unfortunately with his injury, he has only had a couple of at-bats this season. They have been good at-bats. We are excited to have him back healthy and here with us now.
TS: Gabriel Mejia, another player that is injured currently, has been working to improve through the system. What did you see before the injury?
JT: He was starting to trend in the right direction before he got hurt. He has been a guy that has had a lot of success at the previous level. Sometimes guys hit bumps in the road moving from one level to the next. He didn’t start as good as he wanted to last year. This year was the same for him but he was starting to pick it up. Like Cerda, it’s unfortunate for a guy to get hurt. He should be able to bounce back cleanly. He is a guy that can run really well, hit the ball and performed at every level. We are excited to see what he can do at this level.
TS: Li-Jen Chu has been leading the Captains on offense so far this year. What have you seen from him seeing him for the first time?
JT: Chu has been great. He is a strong guy. He has had a great approach at the plate this year, probably been our most consistent hitter so far in the season. Just being able to drive the ball to all fields, get good pitches to hit. He has done a phenomenal job late in the count, fouling off pitches, especially trying to get a mistake and a drivable pitch. He is a clubhouse favorite in terms of personality and makeup. He’s had a good job for us in the middle of the lineup.
TS: A newer guy to the team, Jose Vicente. Out of the few glimpses, what does he bring to the plate?
JT: He is a kid that has some barrel. He can find the barrel, drive the ball and have some power. Haven’t seen a ton of him last year and just the little bits of him playing at this level. He hit a homerun the other day. He is an aggressive kid who’s not afraid to swing hard and drive the ball. With him, we want him to swing at good pitches and be aggressive.
TS: Trenton Brooks joined the team last month as a 2016 draft pick. What ability does he have to be a part of the team?
JT: Trenton has been good at the top of the lineup for us this year. He is able to put line drives into the gap. He has been a spark plug that can get on base, square up some balls and have some big hits. We want him to bring his A-game and A-swing to the plate every time.
TS: Conner Capel has been up and down throughout the year. Has he made any adjustments this year?
JT: He has been good so far this season. We are working on some small mechanical adjustments with him. He’s really taken to those adjustments and he’s been willing to take those adjustments into the game and use them quickly. He’s trusting the process and not necessarily worrying about the results right now. He trusts that what we are working on is going to work down the road and maybe not in the immediate future. He has done a great job with keeping a level head about it and battling through everything. He has been taking some good swings the last week or so.
TS: Jose Medina is currently on the disabled list, what did you see from him prior to the injury?
JT: He’s a little bit of an older guy that’s been around this league, that’s helped him in my opinion. Definitely was swinging the bat well in the early going. He’s got some thump and he can drive the ball really well. His biggest case is repeating the mechanics over and over.
TS: For guys at this level, do you and the rest of the coaches in the system look to help guys with minor adjustments or more total changes or adjustments?
JT: I would say more small adjustments. These guys are here for a reason. They are all great players and they have performed somewhere, obviously that’s why they are here. I think it is easy for a coach to over-coach rather than let guys do their thing. There is nothing that any of those guys are doing that needs a huge overhaul. It’s just small little adjustments here and there. Our goal as a coaching staff for our players is to put our players in the best position to succeed. If it means a tweak of this or that, that’s what we communicate to them. At the end of the day, it’s up to them to go out and perform and work. We are here to help them as a resource. It’s the first full season for a lot of these players. Usually, that takes an adjustment period. We try to get them to understand how long the season is and having the mentality to be ready to hit six times a night for 130, 140 games a year. It’s an adjustment period and we are embracing the challenge. It’s not how you start, its how you finish.