MadFriars' Interview: Rymer Liriano

FORT WAYNE: Rymer Liriano, 20, easily generates the most excitement of any Padres' prospect because he is the rare five-tool player; hit, hit with power, run, throw and get the ball in the outfield.

Since coming into the system at 17 Liriano has slowing began to show his immense potential after starting out slowing in the Dominican Summer League in 2008 when he hit .198.

In 2009 in the AZL he hit .350/.398/.523 and last year, after struggling initially in Fort Wayne, he ended up hitting .271/.335/.394.

However this season in Fort Wayne, where again he got off to a slow start in Lake Elsinore before being sent down after fifteen games, is where Padres' fans first got a glimpse of what he is capable off as he hit .319/.383/.499 with 12 home runs and 62 RBIs as he won the Midwest League MVP.

He also stole 62 bases in 82 attempts and showed tremendous improvement this year in his patience at the plate.

We caught up with Rymer in the last series of the regular season after he was named the league's most valuable player.

Congratulations on winning the league MVP. What does that mean to you?

Rymer Liriano: It was great and I was really happy. I was really surprised when they told me that I won it.

Its great but I also have to keep working.

I've been following your career since you were in the Dominican Summer League. Last year you came up here to begin the season, had some problems and then went on to have a good year at Eugene.

This year it was the same pattern. You started briefly in Lake Elsinore before coming back to Fort Wayne and having the best year of your career. Do you put too much pressure on yourself sometimes?

Rymer Liriano: A little bit. Last year was really bad because I wasn't used to being in front of so many people. This year I've been much better at just focusing on the pitcher.

A knock on your game in the past was that you swung at too many pitches. Your manager Shawn Wooten said that you have really improved at not swinging at sliders in the dirt. How did you improve that part of your game?

Rymer Liriano: I really worked on just trying to know what pitches I can hit. I don't want to strike out and really practiced on staying back.

It seems that you understand that pitchers will throw strikes but you pick what strikes you want to swing at.

Rymer Liriano: [laughs] Yes, that is true. I learned that everyone is trying to throw me breaking balls.

If someone throws me a breaking ball for a strike I will hit it but this year I've done better at not swinging at bad pitches.

You have always had a lot of talent. Everyone here talks about how much better you have gotten mentally.

Rymer Liriano: I've learned that you have to keep working and control what my mind does. I try to keep the emotions of the game under control so I can help my team.

My concentration has gotten much better this year.

You are about 6'1 and 220 lbs. For someone your size you are not supposed to steal that many bases.

Rymer Liriano: [laughs] Yes, I know many people think that.

Is that a big part of your game?

Rymer Liriano: Yes because I think I work hard anyway I can to help my team win. This year I've really worked hard in the gym and with my running; especially in the Dominican in the off-season.

I couldn't imagine signing at 16 and being sent to the Dominican Republic to play baseball. Could you talk a little bit about that experience?

Rymer Liriano: The first year I really didn't understand anything. I slowly started to speak English and talking with my American teammates helped a lot.

Also watching movies and music helped too.

What are you going to work on when you go back to the Dominican this winter?

Rymer Liriano: Just get bigger and stronger and hopefully more speed. I think if I keep working hard I can make the big leagues.

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