Q&A with Binghamton Manager Tim Teufel

For next month's edition of Inside Pitch Magazine, we caught up with new Binghamton manager Tim Teufel for a Q&A session. Most of the discussion focused on his new job as the head man of the B-Mets. However, the opportunity was not passed up to ask him about the number of highly rated prospects he managed last year in St. Lucie and will likely have again with the B-Mets in 2010.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: Reese Havens battled injuries last year but showed flashes of his talent when on the field. What do you think are the strengths of his game? What is your opinion of his game?

Tim Teufel: Reese Havens is a serious talent. He has that real bat potential, that's his asset right now. He's an offensive minded player who's got serious pop to the gaps and pop to center and left center. He can hit the big gaps in a hurry. Right now, the only thing that is a concern to the organization is the injuries. If he can get through the injuries and stay healthy, that'll be huge because he hasn't had a fully healthy year yet. He's had some freak injuries, but longevity is still something we want to see.

He's a shortstop that might be converted over to second base, and that might happen this year. He's one of those interesting guys that, if he gets comfortable at second base with his bat potential he can make a difference in this organization.

Inside Pitch: You had Ike Davis for the first half of last year, a part of the year when he came off a disappointing first season. He started a bit slow, but started to take off in the last few weeks when you had him. What did you see from Ike Davis that you liked?

Teufel: First off, his defense is as good as I've seen in a young player at first base. For me, he's off the chart defensively. He's got soft hands, good feet and he reacts very well to the ball off the bat. I think just think he's a real solid as a first baseman has the qualities to take it to the big leagues.

Offensively, he had a slow start at the beginning, but our hitting coach George Greer spent time with him and really had Ike on the right path when he left to go to Binghamton. He ended up with a solid year in St. Lucie when he left and continued the stroke he developed in St. Lucie up there with Binghamton and out there in the Arizona Fall League. I think the potential has always been there, but it's just been a matter of over a period of time developing his swing, shortening it, and getting to the ball quicker. That was accomplished and there's no question he has the bat potential to be in the big leagues with plus power as well.

Inside Pitch: Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a monster year for you, especially in the second. What did you see from his development over the course of a full season? Does he have a significant amount of room to keep growing?

Teufel: It goes back to maturity and putting the time and effort in, and when you talk about guys like Havens, Davis, and Nieuwenhuis those are the guys that didn't come out of the gate firing. They didn't just come out and take over their league. Nieuwenhuis, like Davis and Havens, really worked at his trade, spending time in the cage and really pushing self.

This is a guy that couldn't pull the ball at the beginning of the season. He couldn't pull a fastball. By the end of the year he was hitting pitches off the right centerfield fence. He was just driving the ball. It took a little time for him to develop, but here's a guy you just got excited about by the end of the year. Defensively, his jumps in the outfield were real good and he's got an accurate arm. It's not all plus-plus with Nieuwenhuis, but it's all very good. All of the tools coming together make him an exciting player.

Inside Pitch: Zach Lutz is a guy who lost pretty much of all his first two seasons to injury, but came on strong this season. He's a real heady ballplayer, a grinder type with a strong bat. What do you think about the type of hitter Lutz is?

Teufel: He's got one of those swings that, when he hits it, he can hit a ball like a 2-iron. It has that sound off his bat and that's what gets people excited. He'll lay the wood on one and that ball will take off to right centerfield off a right-hander like you see in the big leagues. He's had some injuries that set him back, but I like his bat potential, his right centerfield power, and he's learning to pull the ball which is coming on. He was getting pitched in and pounded in with the fastball last year, but he's making adjustments.

He's a real good low-ball hitter. I think what has happened with him over the last year is that he battled the nagging ankle injuries which are going to pop up on you when you need first step quickness in the infield. He battled through it and I'm looking forward to seeing a healthy Lutz this year and seeing what he can do with a healthy ankle, the ability to turn and putting it all together.

Inside Pitch: Carlos Guzman was another big bat for you last year, but here's a guy that doesn't have the name pedigree as some of the other guys you had last year. He didn't come in with the high draft status, but he continues to put up numbers and is taking some by surprise. What do you think about his game and where can he go from here?

Teufel: There's a kid that kind of opened a lot of people's eyes last year. He started off in the Gulf Coast League and here he was in the Florida State League hitting 20 home runs and doing a very nice job. You look at him and you go, "okay, he's a switch-hitter with a right side that isn't as strong as his left", but his left-handed swing has some serious bat potential. He can do some serious damage from the left side.

In the outfield, his defense has improved. That was the part of his game that I felt needed a lot of work, along with his base running. His defense improved in the second half. He worked on his game, he worked on his release point and getting rid of the ball quicker. Even though he's got a plus arm, he took a long time to get rid of the ball and he worked on cutting that down. He worked on that, understanding that it was an important part of his game. He needs to continue to work on his route running.

As far as having one of those years where he put himself on the map, he definitely had one of those years. You have to look at him, and think that he had a pretty impressive year he had in the Florida State League especially offensively.

Inside Pitch: Your catcher last year was Francisco Pena. Here's a young guy who is slowly developing, but is working hard. Where do you think about his game at this time?

Teufel: I've had him a couple times in the last three years. I had him in Savannah, and I can say that his swing his improving. I think his understanding of the strike zone at the plate has improved. I think he's going to get better, it just didn't get better quick. He didn't catch onto the Florida State League right away. I think he's got room to develop. I think he's one of those guys like Mejia in that he's only 20 years old. I think he will catch on to that league, but right now he's just too anxious at the plate. He's a first ball, fastball hitter and sometimes he wouldn't swing at the pitch he wanted to it. I think he understands that. I'm looking for bigger things out of him in the future.

Defensively, his improvement has come in throwing the ball and releasing the ball out of the set improved. I know he's working hard on his blocking so that he executes that better. I think he had one of those development years which is something I think every young kid needs. The year wasn't a wash for him at all. It was a year of improvement.

Inside Pitch: Matt Bouchard is a guy who has played all over the farm system. He played 43 games for you last year. He's battled injuries, but he's got a plus glove and other coaches I've spoke to about him have been generally positive. What is your opinion about him?

Teufel: He got sent down to Brooklyn to help out the Brooklyn team, but that's something that he had to go through. He was having a good year with us, but he got sent down to help out the situation down there.

I liked his bat. I think he can develop into one of those utility guys that can help at the big league level. I don't look at him as a future starter, but I think he's a talented enough player to bring a bat to a team and play some good defense for you. He's a little gamer who hasn't hit a wall. He started in Binghamton, then was in the Florida State League and then has to move down a level. So he's got to get out of the position of moving around the organization. He's still a little bit out there because of how much he moves, but if he gets some vertical movement he can get it going.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: Reese Havens battled injuries last year but showed flashes of his talent when on the field. What do you think are the strengths of his game? What is your opinion of his game?
\r\n
\r\nTim Teufel: Reese Havens is a serious talent. He has that real bat potential, that's his asset right now. He's an offensive minded player who's got serious pop to the gaps and pop to center and left center. He can hit the big gaps in a hurry. Right now, the only thing that is a concern to the organization is the injuries. If he can get through the injuries and stay healthy, that'll be huge because he hasn't had a fully healthy year yet. He's had some freak injuries, but longevity is still something we want to see.
\r\n
\r\nHe's a shortstop that might be converted over to second base, and that might happen this year. He's one of those interesting guys that, if he gets comfortable at second base with his bat potential he can make a difference in this organization.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You had Ike Davis for the first half of last year, a part of the year when he came off a disappointing first season. He started a bit slow, but started to take off in the last few weeks when you had him. What did you see from Ike Davis that you liked?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: First off, his defense is as good as I've seen in a young player at first base. For me, he's off the chart defensively. He's got soft hands, good feet and he reacts very well to the ball off the bat. I think just think he's a real solid as a first baseman has the qualities to take it to the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\nOffensively, he had a slow start at the beginning, but our hitting coach George Greer spent time with him and really had Ike on the right path when he left to go to Binghamton. He ended up with a solid year in St. Lucie when he left and continued the stroke he developed in St. Lucie up there with Binghamton and out there in the Arizona Fall League. I think the potential has always been there, but it's just been a matter of over a period of time developing his swing, shortening it, and getting to the ball quicker. That was accomplished and there's no question he has the bat potential to be in the big leagues with plus power as well.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a monster year for you, especially in the second. What did you see from his development over the course of a full season? Does he have a significant amount of room to keep growing?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: It goes back to maturity and putting the time and effort in, and when you talk about guys like Havens, Davis, and Nieuwenhuis those are the guys that didn't come out of the gate firing. They didn't just come out and take over their league. Nieuwenhuis, like Davis and Havens, really worked at his trade, spending time in the cage and really pushing self.
\r\n
\r\nThis is a guy that couldn't pull the ball at the beginning of the season. He couldn't pull a fastball. By the end of the year he was hitting pitches off the right centerfield fence. He was just driving the ball. It took a little time for him to develop, but here's a guy you just got excited about by the end of the year. Defensively, his jumps in the outfield were real good and he's got an accurate arm. It's not all plus-plus with Nieuwenhuis, but it's all very good. All of the tools coming together make him an exciting player.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Zach Lutz is a guy who lost pretty much of all his first two seasons to injury, but came on strong this season. He's a real heady ballplayer, a grinder type with a strong bat. What do you think about the type of hitter Lutz is?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: He's got one of those swings that, when he hits it, he can hit a ball like a 2-iron. It has that sound off his bat and that's what gets people excited. He'll lay the wood on one and that ball will take off to right centerfield off a right-hander like you see in the big leagues. He's had some injuries that set him back, but I like his bat potential, his right centerfield power, and he's learning to pull the ball which is coming on. He was getting pitched in and pounded in with the fastball last year, but he's making adjustments.
\r\n
\r\nHe's a real good low-ball hitter. I think what has happened with him over the last year is that he battled the nagging ankle injuries which are going to pop up on you when you need first step quickness in the infield. He battled through it and I'm looking forward to seeing a healthy Lutz this year and seeing what he can do with a healthy ankle, the ability to turn and putting it all together.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Carlos Guzman was another big bat for you last year, but here's a guy that doesn't have the name pedigree as some of the other guys you had last year. He didn't come in with the high draft status, but he continues to put up numbers and is taking some by surprise. What do you think about his game and where can he go from here?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: There's a kid that kind of opened a lot of people's eyes last year. He started off in the Gulf Coast League and here he was in the Florida State League hitting 20 home runs and doing a very nice job. You look at him and you go, \"okay, he's a switch-hitter with a right side that isn't as strong as his left\", but his left-handed swing has some serious bat potential. He can do some serious damage from the left side.
\r\n
\r\nIn the outfield, his defense has improved. That was the part of his game that I felt needed a lot of work, along with his base running. His defense improved in the second half. He worked on his game, he worked on his release point and getting rid of the ball quicker. Even though he's got a plus arm, he took a long time to get rid of the ball and he worked on cutting that down. He worked on that, understanding that it was an important part of his game. He needs to continue to work on his route running.
\r\n
\r\nAs far as having one of those years where he put himself on the map, he definitely had one of those years. You have to look at him, and think that he had a pretty impressive year he had in the Florida State League especially offensively.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Your catcher last year was Francisco Pena. Here's a young guy who is slowly developing, but is working hard. Where do you think about his game at this time?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: I've had him a couple times in the last three years. I had him in Savannah, and I can say that his swing his improving. I think his understanding of the strike zone at the plate has improved. I think he's going to get better, it just didn't get better quick. He didn't catch onto the Florida State League right away. I think he's got room to develop. I think he's one of those guys like Mejia in that he's only 20 years old. I think he will catch on to that league, but right now he's just too anxious at the plate. He's a first ball, fastball hitter and sometimes he wouldn't swing at the pitch he wanted to it. I think he understands that. I'm looking for bigger things out of him in the future.
\r\n
\r\nDefensively, his improvement has come in throwing the ball and releasing the ball out of the set improved. I know he's working hard on his blocking so that he executes that better. I think he had one of those development years which is something I think every young kid needs. The year wasn't a wash for him at all. It was a year of improvement.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Matt Bouchard is a guy who has played all over the farm system. He played 43 games for you last year. He's battled injuries, but he's got a plus glove and other coaches I've spoke to about him have been generally positive. What is your opinion about him?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: He got sent down to Brooklyn to help out the Brooklyn team, but that's something that he had to go through. He was having a good year with us, but he got sent down to help out the situation down there.
\r\n
\r\nI liked his bat. I think he can develop into one of those utility guys that can help at the big league level. I don't look at him as a future starter, but I think he's a talented enough player to bring a bat to a team and play some good defense for you. He's a little gamer who hasn't hit a wall. He started in Binghamton, then was in the Florida State League and then has to move down a level. So he's got to get out of the position of moving around the organization. He's still a little bit out there because of how much he moves, but if he gets some vertical movement he can get it going.
\r\n
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