Q&A with Binghamton Manager Tim Teufel

BINGHAMTON, NY - The second half of the Eastern League season is underway and there is still much work to be done. That is why Inside Pitch caught up with B-Mets manager Tim Teufel to talk about Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Sean Ratliff, how Reese Havens is coming along, and much, much more.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: You have watched Kirk Nieuwenhuis blossom into a legitimate prospect first hand since the start of last season. What has been the key to his progression? What does he need to work on to get even better?

Tim Teufel: I think Kirk is a talent to begin with. He's a strong kid, big body type, can do a lot of physical labor, and he's been doing that since he's signed with us. He's been taking the extra reps, whether it be hitting or fly balls, his body is able to handle it and withstand the rigors of the game; so first and foremost he's strong enough to take the workload he needs in order to get better. He puts the time and effort into it. He's getting the results because of his effort, and his ability to be out there and practice.

He's come a long way offensively. He's been able to hit the inside fastball, over the last year and a half, better than he's ever hit it before. That takes away an avenue for a pitcher to get him out. He's working hard on his defense – getting jumps, routes, reading balls off the bat – all of those things take time and repetition is a key to that. Great outlook, great body type and a lot of dedication towards the game is what sets him apart and that's why he gets the results he gets.

Inside Pitch: Nick Evans was recently rewarded for his performance this season with a call up to the big league club. He's had stints with them before; what does he need to do to keep himself in the majors full time?

Teufel: Nick Evans goes on how his bat goes. When he's swinging good, he can hit the ball as hard as anybody. He's a line drive, gap hitter with pop. His game is hitting the ball through the middle and the other way real hard and he's been learning and trying to get to that inside fastball better than he has before, and that's been part of his development down here. He was really working hard with (hitting coach) Luis Natera on trying to handle the 90 plus fastball that comes in on righties sometimes.

He's an interesting kid because he's young in pro ball really, but he's already had big league time, has already had Triple-A time and he's been in Double-A before, and now he's back up to the big leagues. So we think of Nick Evans as an older guy, but really he's not; he's not that old. His maturation process has been different than other guys because he got to the big leagues so quickly. His whole game has been on a fast track.

Defensively he's better at first base than he is at third, but he's serviceable at third, and that brings a little flexibility to who Nick Evans is and makes him more appealing to managers who want some flexibility sometimes in a role player. Right now, he's that type of player in the big leagues.

Inside Pitch: Josh Satin has done a nice job at the plate and has provided the team with some versatility since his promotion from St. Lucie. What are your impressions of him thus far?

Teufel: Satin has brought a bat to this league. He came out of St. Lucie, he was swinging the bat well there, and he had a good year in Savannah the year before. He's the type of guy who can swing the bat and get the barrel to the ball. He's a doubles hitter, occasional home run guy, and he brings plate discipline. He doesn't chase a whole lot; sometimes he will but most of the time he has good discipline at the plate and gives you good at-bats. At second base, he gives you everything he has out there. He doesn't have the quickest foot speed, but positioning and being in the right place is going to be key for him.

Inside Pitch: Sean Ratliff is another guy who has come up from St. Lucie and adjusted well to the Double-A level. How important has he been for this team over the last month or so?

Teufel: He's been a big plus. Nieuwenhuis went down and we had a void in center field. He came in and did a great job filling in, but also he provided a necessary bat. When you lose a guy like Nieuwenhuis out of the lineup who was hitting .300, 13 home runs and 50 RBI, sometimes those numbers don't get replaced. Ratliff came up here from High-A and hasn't missed a beat. His offensive numbers have been tremendous and he filled in nicely in center field. I think in the future he's going to be a corner guy. He's certainly put his name out there, and he's somebody to watch in the future.

Inside Pitch: Eric Campbell's another versatile player who had been swinging a hot bat all season until he went down with a fractured finger. What are his strengths at the plate, and is there a timetable for his return?

Teufel: His timetable is whenever that hand heals; you're probably looking at another three weeks or so, but then he's got to get back into playing shape and all that. But he's a strong kid. He hits the ball extremely hard and has good plate discipline as well. He filled in nicely when Lutz went down with a stress fracture in his foot.

All of the guys that have come up from St. Lucie have all done a nice job, and certainly "Soup" played a decent third base as well. He can play various positions, third base, first base and outfield. So he brings you that flexibility that's appealing and could push him along. His bat's going to take him where he goes because that's hits strong suit.

Inside Pitch: Speaking of Zach Lutz, when he's been on the field, he has been a big run producer with very good plate discipline, which you witnessed in St. Lucie last year and early this year. What has made him such a mature hitter at a young age?

Teufel: He has to just do it. Some hitters make adjustments and some hitters do not. He's one that has made adjustments to the leagues that he's played in. He was kind of a tipper, a free swinger, had kind of upper body tip over home plate that threw himself off balance. He's gotten himself in a better-balanced position.

He was seeing the ball better and laid off of the slider down and away this year better than he had last year. It's just seeing pitches, it's learning your swing, what you can and can't do, and learning the pitches you want to hit and don't want to hit. That's a process that takes time.

Inside Pitch: Raul Reyes has provided a big spark at the plate over the last few weeks. After a poor start down in St. Lucie, how has he been able to come up here and have immediate success?

Teufel: In his last few games in St. Lucie I guess he was feeling a little bit better, but then he came up here and just had a good swing right from the beginning and really took to the league. It's been an eye-opener for me; you hear things about the past and what type of swing he has. He's shown some plate discipline, he hits some balls to left field, and I think in this league he knew he had to do some things differently and he's adjusted to it.

Inside Pitch: Marshall Hubbard is in his first season with the organization after spending his first six professional seasons with the Seattle Mariners organization. What kind of impact has his veteran presence had on the clubhouse?

Teufel: Any time you can get a veteran guy in here to speak up or to tell the younger guys how it really is, it's helpful for the manager. I had Nick Evans, Nickeas, and a few other guys that really set the tone for the clubhouse. It makes things a lot easier for the manager when that happens. You don't have to correct and teach; they do it amongst themselves, and (Hubbard) is certainly one of those guys.

Inside Pitch: Mike Nickeas is having the finest offensive season of his career this year. What has he done to improve his hitting? How critical has his handling of the pitching staff been, especially given all of the injuries at the position this season?

Teufel: The handling of pitching is vital to any baseball team. You have to have a catcher that knows how to call a game, receive, present strikes as strikes and lead a pitching staff. He's one of those guys that understands what he's trying to do back there. He talks about it, he's willing to learn, he's not a know-it-all, and so he's easy to work with. He provides a level of experience but also still wants to grow and get better at what he does, and there's still room for that.

So that's exciting to have that combination because that really helps your pitching staff out, that helps us in the dugout, controlling the running game, controlling the pitching staff, knowing what hitters are trying to do…those are all intangibles that mean a lot to a team. He's having one of his finest years offensively, but he's having a good year defensively too.

Offensively, he's shortened his swing, he dropped his hands down, getting his hands in a more neutral position where he doesn't have to do a whole lot with it other than a small take back, keeping his swing nice and short. He's seeing the fruits of that labor come into play. He's a backup catcher type possibly that can move up and be that guy in the big leagues. Those catchers have to barrel balls, and he certainly has barreled balls and put himself in a position in the organization's eyes of being a guy who can help out down the road. Catching is first and foremost, and being able to hit a little bit is a necessity as well, and I think he's accomplished both of those this year.

Inside Pitch: Finally, Reese Havens was tearing the cover off the ball before going on the disabled list. How was he able to adapt to the Double-A level so quickly? How close is he to returning to action?

Teufel: Reese is interesting. He really came up here to Double-A and swung the bat well. He had a couple of game where he had two home runs in each game. His bat speed is tremendous. It's just unfortunate; he just can't stay healthy. His return, I just don't know. I think it's a progressive thing; he'll let us know when his body feels great, but he's down in St. Lucie right now at the rehab center trying to get everything in order so he can come back here full strength.

He's certainly a talent offensively. He has work to do defensively, but his body has not let him work defensively to gain some ground on what he needs to learn in order to be that guy in the big leagues some day. His body's got to let us know when he can hang in there and get the work in, because there's a workload that he needs to take on, and he's not going to get better unless he gets out on the field and practices and learns some new things.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: You have watched Kirk Nieuwenhuis blossom into a legitimate prospect first hand since the start of last season. What has been the key to his progression? What does he need to work on to get even better?
\r\n
\r\nTim Teufel: I think Kirk is a talent to begin with. He's a strong kid, big body type, can do a lot of physical labor, and he's been doing that since he's signed with us. He's been taking the extra reps, whether it be hitting or fly balls, his body is able to handle it and withstand the rigors of the game; so first and foremost he's strong enough to take the workload he needs in order to get better. He puts the time and effort into it. He's getting the results because of his effort, and his ability to be out there and practice.
\r\n
\r\nHe's come a long way offensively. He's been able to hit the inside fastball, over the last year and a half, better than he's ever hit it before. That takes away an avenue for a pitcher to get him out. He's working hard on his defense – getting jumps, routes, reading balls off the bat – all of those things take time and repetition is a key to that. Great outlook, great body type and a lot of dedication towards the game is what sets him apart and that's why he gets the results he gets.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Nick Evans was recently rewarded for his performance this season with a call up to the big league club. He's had stints with them before; what does he need to do to keep himself in the majors full time?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: Nick Evans goes on how his bat goes. When he's swinging good, he can hit the ball as hard as anybody. He's a line drive, gap hitter with pop. His game is hitting the ball through the middle and the other way real hard and he's been learning and trying to get to that inside fastball better than he has before, and that's been part of his development down here. He was really working hard with (hitting coach) Luis Natera on trying to handle the 90 plus fastball that comes in on righties sometimes.
\r\n
\r\nHe's an interesting kid because he's young in pro ball really, but he's already had big league time, has already had Triple-A time and he's been in Double-A before, and now he's back up to the big leagues. So we think of Nick Evans as an older guy, but really he's not; he's not that old. His maturation process has been different than other guys because he got to the big leagues so quickly. His whole game has been on a fast track.
\r\n
\r\nDefensively he's better at first base than he is at third, but he's serviceable at third, and that brings a little flexibility to who Nick Evans is and makes him more appealing to managers who want some flexibility sometimes in a role player. Right now, he's that type of player in the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Josh Satin has done a nice job at the plate and has provided the team with some versatility since his promotion from St. Lucie. What are your impressions of him thus far?
\r\n
\r\n\r\nTeufel: Satin has brought a bat to this league. He came out of St. Lucie, he was swinging the bat well there, and he had a good year in Savannah the year before. He's the type of guy who can swing the bat and get the barrel to the ball. He's a doubles hitter, occasional home run guy, and he brings plate discipline. He doesn't chase a whole lot; sometimes he will but most of the time he has good discipline at the plate and gives you good at-bats. At second base, he gives you everything he has out there. He doesn't have the quickest foot speed, but positioning and being in the right place is going to be key for him.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Sean Ratliff is another guy who has come up from St. Lucie and adjusted well to the Double-A level. How important has he been for this team over the last month or so?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: He's been a big plus. Nieuwenhuis went down and we had a void in center field. He came in and did a great job filling in, but also he provided a necessary bat. When you lose a guy like Nieuwenhuis out of the lineup who was hitting .300, 13 home runs and 50 RBI, sometimes those numbers don't get replaced. Ratliff came up here from High-A and hasn't missed a beat. His offensive numbers have been tremendous and he filled in nicely in center field. I think in the future he's going to be a corner guy. He's certainly put his name out there, and he's somebody to watch in the future.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Eric Campbell's another versatile player who had been swinging a hot bat all season until he went down with a fractured finger. What are his strengths at the plate, and is there a timetable for his return?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: His timetable is whenever that hand heals; you're probably looking at another three weeks or so, but then he's got to get back into playing shape and all that. But he's a strong kid. He hits the ball extremely hard and has good plate discipline as well. He filled in nicely when Lutz went down with a stress fracture in his foot.
\r\n
\r\nAll of the guys that have come up from St. Lucie have all done a nice job, and certainly \"Soup\" played a decent third base as well. He can play various positions, third base, first base and outfield. So he brings you that flexibility that's appealing and could push him along. His bat's going to take him where he goes because that's hits strong suit.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Speaking of Zach Lutz, when he's been on the field, he has been a big run producer with very good plate discipline, which you witnessed in St. Lucie last year and early this year. What has made him such a mature hitter at a young age?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: He has to just do it. Some hitters make adjustments and some hitters do not. He's one that has made adjustments to the leagues that he's played in. He was kind of a tipper, a free swinger, had kind of upper body tip over home plate that threw himself off balance. He's gotten himself in a better-balanced position.
\r\n
\r\nHe was seeing the ball better and laid off of the slider down and away this year better than he had last year. It's just seeing pitches, it's learning your swing, what you can and can't do, and learning the pitches you want to hit and don't want to hit. That's a process that takes time.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Raul Reyes has provided a big spark at the plate over the last few weeks. After a poor start down in St. Lucie, how has he been able to come up here and have immediate success?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: In his last few games in St. Lucie I guess he was feeling a little bit better, but then he came up here and just had a good swing right from the beginning and really took to the league. It's been an eye-opener for me; you hear things about the past and what type of swing he has. He's shown some plate discipline, he hits some balls to left field, and I think in this league he knew he had to do some things differently and he's adjusted to it.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Marshall Hubbard is in his first season with the organization after spending his first six professional seasons with the Seattle Mariners organization. What kind of impact has his veteran presence had on the clubhouse?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: Any time you can get a veteran guy in here to speak up or to tell the younger guys how it really is, it's helpful for the manager. I had Nick Evans, Nickeas, and a few other guys that really set the tone for the clubhouse. It makes things a lot easier for the manager when that happens. You don't have to correct and teach; they do it amongst themselves, and (Hubbard) is certainly one of those guys.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Mike Nickeas is having the finest offensive season of his career this year. What has he done to improve his hitting? How critical has his handling of the pitching staff been, especially given all of the injuries at the position this season?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: The handling of pitching is vital to any baseball team. You have to have a catcher that knows how to call a game, receive, present strikes as strikes and lead a pitching staff. He's one of those guys that understands what he's trying to do back there. He talks about it, he's willing to learn, he's not a know-it-all, and so he's easy to work with. He provides a level of experience but also still wants to grow and get better at what he does, and there's still room for that.
\r\n
\r\nSo that's exciting to have that combination because that really helps your pitching staff out, that helps us in the dugout, controlling the running game, controlling the pitching staff, knowing what hitters are trying to do…those are all intangibles that mean a lot to a team. He's having one of his finest years offensively, but he's having a good year defensively too.
\r\n
\r\nOffensively, he's shortened his swing, he dropped his hands down, getting his hands in a more neutral position where he doesn't have to do a whole lot with it other than a small take back, keeping his swing nice and short. He's seeing the fruits of that labor come into play. He's a backup catcher type possibly that can move up and be that guy in the big leagues. Those catchers have to barrel balls, and he certainly has barreled balls and put himself in a position in the organization's eyes of being a guy who can help out down the road. Catching is first and foremost, and being able to hit a little bit is a necessity as well, and I think he's accomplished both of those this year.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Finally, Reese Havens was tearing the cover off the ball before going on the disabled list. How was he able to adapt to the Double-A level so quickly? How close is he to returning to action?
\r\n
\r\nTeufel: Reese is interesting. He really came up here to Double-A and swung the bat well. He had a couple of game where he had two home runs in each game. His bat speed is tremendous. It's just unfortunate; he just can't stay healthy. His return, I just don't know. I think it's a progressive thing; he'll let us know when his body feels great, but he's down in St. Lucie right now at the rehab center trying to get everything in order so he can come back here full strength.
\r\n
\r\nHe's certainly a talent offensively. He has work to do defensively, but his body has not let him work defensively to gain some ground on what he needs to learn in order to be that guy in the big leagues some day. His body's got to let us know when he can hang in there and get the work in, because there's a workload that he needs to take on, and he's not going to get better unless he gets out on the field and practices and learns some new things.
\r\n
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