Smith on Portland Beavers prospects

We went over some of the top hitting and pitching prospects from this years' Pacific League Portland Beavers with Randy Smith to get his impressions on their seasons and what they have been doing in the Instructional Leagues.

Mike Baxter had a big year in Portland, especially in the second half. What role do you see him having next year either in San Diego or Triple-A?

Randy Smith: You have to give him credit he put up some numbers this year. Mike had extra-base power, stole 20 plus bases and showed he play more than a few positions on the field. It's up to the big league side to determine who is and is not on the team, but if he is back in Triple-A again, I can even see him improving upon what he did last year.

Luis Durango had another good year with batting average and getting on base but only had seven extra-base hits in 408 plate appearances. Are you guys trying anything to get him stronger and hit more balls into the gaps?

Randy Smith: It was his first year in Triple-A and he did put up some good numbers. He has to find a way to keep the outfielders honest and hopefully improve upon his stolen base percentage. We think its there, in batting practice we can see some power.

Shortstop Lance Zawadzki had a tough year this season. What went wrong this year as compared to last year?

Randy Smith: Z got off to a slow start and then went to the big leagues as a utility player, so he never really got on track. He's a good athlete and can play three positions with some pop. Next year, we plan on keeping him moving around the infield again.

Wily Mo Pena was a nice pick-up by you guys late in the year. Is he good enough in the field to play outfield in PETCO and do you think he can hit this time in the majors?

Randy Smith: He's a veteran guy and still is relatively young. The Portland club was much better with him on it, and he showed that he could hit the ball a long way. He can play both left and first and was a big time RBI guy for us this year. I think he had 34 in 40 games; so yeah he could have a chance.

Cory Luebke had a great year this year for the organization. We know he made some mechanical adjustments last year but what made him so effective this year?

Randy Smith: Everything just fell into place for him this year. He really knows how to pitch, has three solid pitches and really only had one rough outing all year.

Ernesto Frieri was pretty good for you last year in San Antonio, what made the organization decide to make him into a reliever?

Randy Smith: He did have a good year for us last year in San Antonio, but the big problem we saw was that his breaking ball was inconsistent and that he would lose some velocity as the game went on. Out of the pen, he had a little more velocity and command. He really has a deceptive fastball and we just thought the bullpen was his best long-term role.

Scott Munter is another one of your relievers who was very good but is just behind a lot of talent. What can you tell us about him and his chances to be in San Diego next year?

Randy Smith: He was a really good pick-up for us this season. He has a good sinking fastball that is in the low 90's and basically his approach is "here it is, try to hit it."

Most years he would have been in the big leagues, but we just had so many guys on the big club. We'll have to see what happens in the spring. Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards

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