Doug Dascenzo: I didn't see a whole lot of difference. There was a period of time when he had to start for us, and he was a lot more comfortable coming out of the bullpen. Some guys are like that – some want to start and some want to be in the bullpen. He had one really good start for us, five or six innings and 55 or 60 pitches, but at the same time you go back to the bullpen and try to get it going again. I didn't see a whole lot of difference just like any other pitcher if you hit the ball down the middle of the plate they're going to hit it. If you're successful you keep the ball out of the plate and down. When he threw well that's what he did and when he threw bad he did the other one.
You have seen Simon Castro grow up. What is the biggest leap he has made through the years?
Doug Dascenzo: The biggest leap is a maturity factor for him. He's getting more and more comfortable every day and year he gets to the ballpark. Spring trainings are becoming more comfortable for him especially being in major league camp last year and playing AA level this year the maturity factor not only age-wise but baseball experience-wise has a lot do to with it too. Just the different plays pitchers have to make. I can remember him getting a cutback against Frisco this year and he turned a beautiful 1-6-3 double play and he came off the field saying that was the first time he'd ever had that play. If you think about who he is and where he's at in his development you have to be ecstatic for this kid. For him to say "hey, that's the first time I've ever done a 1-6-3 double play" and he did it so nicely you go "wow". This guys hasn't been doing this that long. Whereas you see some other guys from states who go to college and they've played more games and thrown more innings. The most impressive thing I've seen along with the big leagues of course…I don't need to talk about his pitching because everybody knows about that and it's coming right along.
Nathan Culp has always been someone that can be relied upon to get lots of ground ball outs and be a workhorse. At the same time, some have wondered if he would hit a wall in Double-A. Has he?
Doug Dascenzo: I think if you catch him at the wrong time he had some really bad starts but also some really good ones. If you caught him on the wrong day you'd say that, especially looking to see if he'd already been to AAA and back to AA. If you caught him on the right day you'd say "it's in there". We don't see stuff as scouts and developmental people if it's not in the kid. If we see it means they did it. Being able to do it on a consistent basis is another thing. I wouldn't say he's at the top of his level, but he needs to pitch a little bit more. That's just anybody. That goes for all the guys throwing in the playoff games right now. Because he doesn't possess the great velocity that more guys have, he has to pitch a little bit better in order to get people out.
Jeremy Hefner has been a winner everywhere he goes. Is that a result of confidence?
Doug Dascenzo: Confidence has a lot to do with it but the reason that someone like Jeremy Hefner has the confidence is he has the stuff to give him that confidence. He can throw his fastball anywhere he wants to. He has a great changeup that he can throw for strikes. His breakingball gives him a third pitch that can throw the hitter's timing off. He had a tremendous season and all star for us this year. He attacks the strike zone. He has a good solid delivery that will work for years to come, and he's a tremendous individual.
Colt Hynes was a go-to guy for you down the stretch. How has he matured as a pitcher since you had him in Eugene?
Doug Dascenzo: We had him in Eugene and in Ft. Wayne a couple years ago. Colt attacked the strike zone more often and better than last year in Ft. Wayne when we had him. He's a strike thrower. He can throw his fastball over the plate. He has a nice breakingball and he has some velocity. He throws it 92-93 and every now and then he might catch 94. He has a unique delivery – a slingshot with some angle to it. It's very difficult for hitters to take him out.
Craig Italiano was not the same pitcher when he returned from injury. What was the difference you saw?
Doug Dascenzo: His shoulder wasn't feeling right, that was all. It's unfortunate that that's what it ended up being, but he was night and day. Apparently when we look back on it, it looks like that's what happened. He was so good up until he wasn't throwing well and then something wasn't feeling right. It was an injury thing for him. He has a power sinker, 94, good slider, and he was off to a really nice year and unfortunately the injury gave him a few bad outings and he lost it at the end of the season. You talk about work habits and true professional, he ranks right up there at the top.
Alexis Lara had bouts of inconsistency through the year. What is the factor in keeping him focused like he was in Fort Wayne during the second half in 2009?
Doug Dascenzo: It comes with maturity for him. He falls in the same category as Simone does. Young age, young experience-wise. You can look at our kids in high school at 13-14 years of age and it's the same way – when everything's good they're happy and when it's not they're upset and frustrated. They tend to grow out of that, but at the same time when you see him do it, like we saw Alexis throw three innings against Midland this year, he could've thrown three innings that day against anybody in the big leagues that day in my opinion. When you see that you know it's in there. When you see the other side of the coin you know it's in there too. We're talking about maturity issues and all young players have that at some time in their careers. He's got a 94-96 mile fastball with a great changeup and a good slider. That day against Midland he could've thrown anywhere in my opinion.
Cory Luebke came to you and was pretty dominant. He ended up in San Diego. Why do you believe he can make a run at a rotation spot for the Padres next year?
Doug Dascenzo: He throws strikes, he has three good pitches. His slider is going to get tighter as it goes. He has the ability to get right-handers out on a consistent basis and that's something you don't see left-handers able to do. He has such a good live cutting fastball that gives him the ability to get good right-handers out. With that said, he's got half the battle won. Typically speaking, right-handed hitters particularly at the major league level, if they don't have something good they're going to get hit pretty hard. Cory's fastball plays higher than his velocity number shows on the gun. He competes very well, probably more so than anybody we've talked about today. He's going to be a great young pitcher for many, many years.
Aaron Poreda has been viewed as a player with immense talent but the walks have killed him. Does everything simply boil down to fastball command?
Doug Dascenzo: Yeah, I think it's fastball command for him. At the same time, it's also some kind of focus for him. There were more than a handful of times where once a couple guys got on he ended up throwing pretty good fastballs and breakingballs over the plate to get guys out. It's in there. It's just a matter of him doing it from pitch #1 instead of #13 or #10.
Evan Scribner stepped into the closer's role and performed extremely well. How good is that curveball, especially from a late inning guy – it sort of isn't expected?
Doug Dascenzo: It's almost as good as a fastball because his fastball has so much deception to it coupled with his delivery and how he brings it to the plate with above average command. At the same time, that's what makes his breaking ball so good with his delivery, deception, and arm speed which is exactly the same as a fastball but in a curveball it flops out and starts to look like a changeup. It has so much bite to it that it looks like it reaccelerates or something. For somebody to be a two pitch pitcher you'd think he'd run into troubles here and there more times than not and he doesn't seem to do that. There's something in his delivery or his command of his fastball or the bite of his breaking ball that gives hitters a nightmare as far as trying to get on. I like Evan a lot.
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