Dascenzo on San Antonio hitting prospects

Doug Dascenzo guided a nice crop of prospects in San Antonio during the 2010 season. We discussed the hitting group with the manager.

Mitch Canham didn't have a great year statistically. What did you see from him that makes you believe he can bounce back next season?

Doug Dascenzo: What I saw is what everybody else saw – the competitiveness he has, the ability to run, good speed, he played multiple positions this year and has the versatility to do that. I think he would agree that his hitting isn't where he wanted or needed it to be. He needs to concentrate on that more and get that straightened out.

Was this a result of playing so many positions with so many responsibilities?

Doug Dascenzo: I don't think so. I would be to say that he wouldn't throw that excuse on himself. I think he just had an off year hitting-wise. I don't think it had anything to do with him playing all those different positions.

Sawyer Carroll has been someone you have coached for several years. What has been his progression through the years?

Doug Dascenzo: Sawyer is a great defender. Everyone knows he has a great throwing arm and solid defensive range in right field. He has the ability to hit the ball all over the field. Keep in mind, Denis, when we talk about the hitters in 2010 on the San Antonio Mission which is a predominantly left-handed hitting team, there's a lot of left-handed pitching against us this year. Forty percent, or a little more than 40%, of all the at bats came from left-handed pitches. We need to keep that in mind when we're looking at these guys' numbers and what we did this year whether it was average, below average, or above average. In Sawyer's case, he really struggled against left-handed pitching this year and since 40% of the at bats came against left-handed pitching I think it goes to show how well he did against right-handers. He ended up finishing at 240 and hit 7 or 8 home runs this year. His progression is going to be seen next year. The experience he got against the left-handed pitching this year will be good for him in years to come along with his defensive abilities. He should progress quite nicely.

Matt Clark led the team and minors in RBI and hit 12 homers at home park. What does that say about his future potential to hit them out of Petco Park and drive in runs?

Doug Dascenzo: I thought he had a tremendous year this year. Going back to the percentage facing left-handed pitching and how he fared with that after the first two months as well as all the other guys, in particular the left-handed hitters. The first couple of months for a lot of these guys, and the first year as AA players, battled their butts off against these left-handed pitchers. They all struggled the first couple of months but from the second half on into the third, fourth, or fifth month they did a lot better. That goes to show you they made adjustments to the league and to the pitching. In Matt Clark's case, with his 12 home runs along with his other 16 on the road, when you hit them good they go, and he did that. He did it well after the first couple of months. We were really happy to see how he handled the league this year.

You only had Drew Cumberland for a handful of games. What did you see from him before he got injured?

Doug Dascenzo: I had Drew two years prior to that, as well. We're all excited about Drew Cumberland and his ability as an offensive type player and a team up lifter. He's the kind of guy who carries that presence in the clubhouse and on the field, and brings everybody up as far as the team goes. He's a great competitor who was having a stellar season this year and unfortunately he got hurt with us after 10 or 12 games. Same thing we've always seen from Drew in years past -a very good offensive player, get on base, steal bases, score runs, and progressed very well as a short stop. Again, we only saw him for 10 days this year but last year on various types of plays he started to play the ball correctly. I was really excited to see him come to us this year and unfortunately he ended up having an injury.

James Darnell really turned it on in over the last month. What changed for him?

Doug Dascenzo: He started to get a little more aggressive with his hitting approach not so much his pitch selection but the approach to attacking the baseball. He missed 4.5 weeks due to an injury. Anytime anybody misses time during the middle of the season, it takes time to get back to where you need to be. He really turned it on the last 6 weeks of the season and started hitting the ball to left center field and left field with some authority. It was him being more aggressive to the fast ball and getting the bat head out a little bit more.

Logan Forsythe showed the patient approach we are used to but didn't drive the ball as much as was hoped. Does he need to be more aggressive to hit the gaps more often?

Doug Dascenzo: If you look at Logan's year from an offensive standpoint, he'll be the first one to tell you it was a disappointing year for him. He hit more balls in the air this year than he ever has. He's going to be a good gap to gap hitter with 50+ doubles type of guy who is a plus runner. He stole 17-18 bases in the second half of the season when we finally started to let him go and he came back from his injury. In my mind, he could be a high average, 50+ double guy, get a walk if the pitcher's not throwing the ball over the plate, and on occasion will hit a home run here and there. The most impressive part was on the defensive side he went to a new position this year, first time playing second base, and you could see from the beginning of the year to the end of the year how much better he got as far as trying double plays and range and different types of plays. It's a little bit different in the middle of the field than it is on the corner. As good as he is as a third baseman; he really did a nice job on second base.

Cedric Hunter had a great year under you and showed more patience than ever. Was it tough to get that mentality to stick, specifically tightening up swinging outside of the zone and hitting into easy outs?

Doug Dascenzo: For each individual, it's a little bit different for when it clicks and when they need to do what they're supposed to be doing. It's our job as coaches, managers, and instructors to teach these guys, show them the way, and continue to be positive on a daily basis. At the day's end, it's up to the individual when he wants to and starts to believe that and get into what he needs to do. From day 1 in spring training this year, and I had Cedric a couple years ago in Ft. Wayne, there was a different look in his eye. Without even seeing him play a game you could just tell that it was going to be a special year for him and it was. He hit over 300 for us against 40% left-handed pitching which is outstanding for a kid his age and being a repeat AA player. What he did this year as far as the first half of the AA season was tremendous. He played great center field. He covers a tremendous amount of ground out there and he just needed to learn a little bit more as far as throwing the ball to certain spots on the field when he gets it, but that will come in due time. We really liked the way he swung the bat this year.

Luis Martinez – we always knew he could catch and throw. This is the second year in a row that he has hit well. What did you see from him and how did he handle the staff?

Doug Dascenzo: I thought he did great. He's a very disciplined hitter – a line drive hitter. He doesn't have tremendous power or even try to hit for power. He only hit two home runs. I think one in the first half and one in the second half. He just sits back there, lets the pitcher throw the ball, and takes a step and he swings at it just like back in Little League when we were all knee-high to grasshoppers, but he does a great job with that. All the credit goes to him because even two years ago in Ft. Wayne when he hit not even 210 he still understood the progression and what play development was even from the first day. He never panicked or tried to change his whole stance or approach. He just continued to stay with a very simple approach and swing and it started to pay off last year and it payed off this year for him – he hit 282. He's in the fall league now, so I'm so proud of Luis Martinez and I think his best years are to come.

Many people called Andy Parrino the unsung hero of the club. Is that what he was to you as well?

Doug Dascenzo: Yeah, without a doubt. The kid could play anywhere on the field other than pitching and catching. Switchhitter; primarily your utility infielder but played left field 20 games and right a few games and hit 11 home runs. He did a tremendous job and again all the credit goes to him because of the work ethic he has. Every single day he was there working hard, and he'll continue to do that because that's the way he's always been. He's also in the fall league as well. I know he's excited to be there and we're excited for him.

Lance Zawadzki (who is now with the Royals) didn't put up the numbers we expected. He seems to undergo a lot of changes. Is that a fair assessment?

Doug Dascenzo: I don't know what's been happening with him over the last couple of years. All I know is what we saw this year and he couldn't quite get it going on especially when he'd come back as far as his hitting goes. He fielded the ball fine for us for the time he was there, but he never got it going offensively. When you move up levels, AA, AAA, and major league level, it's time to get it done so is it still in there? I believe so, but it's up to him to get something concrete, stay with it, and start producing again.

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