Smith on San Antonio Missions prospects

We went over some of the top hitting and pitching prospects from this years' San Antonio Missions with Randy Smith to get his impressions on their seasons and how they did in the Instructional Leagues.

What happened with Logan Forsythe this year, particularly at home where he hit .189 but .316 on the road?

Randy Smith: Logan is such a competitor I think his frustrations just boiled over, which resulted in the hand injury that he had early in the season, which affected his performance somewhat. Also it's important to remember that it is only his second full year of pro ball and there are going to be some growing pains.

He is a gritty player and a gamer. Despite it not being a great year for him, Logan has a good line drive stroke and found a way to get on base. He has a little more speed than many people believe, and we are going to try to get him to take more advantage of it next year.

What did you think of him defensively?

Randy Smith: We all know he is a pretty good third baseman, and I think by the end of the year he was pretty solid at second too.

James Darnell really struggled until the last month of the season. What finally turned it around for him?

Randy Smith: James just got more aggressive. I think he was a little too passive earlier in the year, and he also had some minor injuries, such as a cyst on his wrist, which also affected his performance. Max [Venable the former San Antonio hitting coach] really worked on getting him to turn it lose in the last month and we saw some of his power. Defensively, he is still a work in progress but we still see him as a third baseman.

Matt Clark had to be one of the bigger surprises this year and hit more home runs (28) than Kyle Blanks did in San Antonio in 2008. What were the reasons behind his success?

Randy Smith: He is an aggressive player and to put up some of the numbers that he did in that ballpark is impressive.. Two years in a row, he has put up good power numbers so he is progressing nicely. We would like to see the strikeouts come down a little more, and the defense could improve but he had a nice year.

Blake Tekotte was called up and did pretty well. There is a lot to like with his defensive ability, gap power and speed – what is the biggest thing he needs to work on going into this year?

Randy Smith: He has some power, but the trick for him is to not get to caught up in it. His game is about hitting line drives into the gap, using his legs, stealing bases and bunting to get on. Defensively, he has a lot of range in center and did a nice job for us out there.

Cedric Hunter had a major bounce back year, especially in his OBP that went from .294 to .375. What caused this big jump?

Randy Smith: Ced's problem has always been his hand-eye coordination is so good it will affect his walk totals. This spring he really became more focused on getting the pitch he needed to drive the ball and it carried over into the year. We saw an uptick in his walk and power totals, but we still haven't seen an increase in his stolen base numbers. He's never going to be a big power guy so part of his challenge is to figure out a way to become more productive offensively, and I think walks and stolen bases are part of it.

Simon Castro had a big year with the Missions, how close is he to the majors?

Randy Smith: He is getting close. The biggest thing for Simon is consistency on his slider and change. Really he is not to far away, his work ethic is tremendous - in fact we kind of have to wind him down sometimes, but his work ethic is really off the charts. We see him as a front line pitcher.

An under the radar pitcher this year was Jeremy Hefner. There have been some reports that his velocity picked up to what it was before the draft is that true and what else caused him to pitch so well?

Randy Smith: He got real aggressive with his breaking ball and has fastball velocity picked up. He was very solid for us this year and durable; pitched a lot of innings.

What happened with Craig Italiano who pitched so well in the first half?

Randy Smith: With Craig, it was mainly just injuries. When he is healthy and the shoulder is good, he pitched very well as we saw in the first half of the year. When his shoulder is hurting, it can mess up his arm slot and lead to other problems.

Two relief pitchers who came up big for you guys were Evan Scribner and Brandon Gomes. What can you tell us about them?

Randy Smith: They both pound the zone. Gomes at 5-foot-11 is not the most physical guy, but he has again put up good numbers with his fastball and split and is certainly ready for the next level.

Scribner has good velocity; he is around 92 to 93 with his curveball being a big weapon for him. As with quite a few of our relief pitchers, they both could have been promoted during the year if we had room.

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