Matt was kind enough to take some time out of his day to talk about this summer's team in Eugene.
Cory Spangenburg had a huge year with Eugene as the numbers clearly show. What stood out for you the most with him?
Matt Dompe: It was his patience at the plate, he was consistently getting deep into counts and drawing walks. He was a machine at getting on base, whether it was by hit with his high batting average, by walk with his good eye or taking one for the team he was never afraid to stick an elbow out there any way he could just to get on base.
How did Jace Peterson look? Coming into the season he was regarded as a better athlete than a baseball player. Did you see an improvement in his baseball skills as the season went on?
Matt Dompe: You could see the work he put in early pay off towards the latter part of the season. Especially with his glove at SS, each day he was out during BP working on different nuances of playing middle infield. His raw athleticism was obvious just by watching him beat out infield hits and by the fact he finished second in the league in stolen bases. His hitting also really came around late, throughout the second half his batting average consistently climbed and over the last 3-4 weeks of the season it seemed everything he hit was loud.
Second baseman Casey McElroy out of Auburn was someone that got kind of the opposite reaction of Peterson, a very good baseball player but questions about his athletic ability. How did he look in the field and at the plate?
Matt Dompe: McElroy isn't very intimidating looking in the left handed batters box, but he could flat out rake from the day he arrived in Eugene. It seemed he was right between .300 and .320 the entire time he was here and he was huge for this team in the second half after losing Spangenburg, Casey stepped right in and filled his shoes as a hot hitting, left handed swinging second baseman in the middle of the order.
Infielder Travis Whitmore made the all-star team this year. What type of future do you see for him?
Matt Dompe: He's another guy that made great strides over the course of the season. At third base he was a little shaky to start the season, but heading into the playoffs he got the nod over Duanel Jones and picked it very well at third. He was a consistent hitter throughout the year, not tremendous power for a corner position player but a gap to gap guy that might be able to utilize the expansive alleys at PETCO Park.
Center fielder Donavan Tate had some off the field problems and some injuries this year in Eugene. But when he was on the field did you see the talent that everyone has raved about since he was drafted?
Matt Dompe: At the plate he was a huge presence, he has a good command of the strike zone and makes loud contact. However, he never really hit much for average or power by the numbers, but being sidelined for much of the year made it hard for him to string a lot of at bats together. Defensively, he never seemed to get a great jump on fly balls, but his speed was good enough to get to most balls anyway.
RHP John Barbato went into the year as the most highly regarded pitcher on the staff. His season was up and down. What did you see that was good and what does he need to improve upon going forward?
Matt Dompe: Like most guys at this level, Barbato had good stuff, was able to mix speeds and keep hitters off balance but at times control was an issue. If he could get through the first couple of innings he was rolling but there were games where a walk and a couple of hits would sort of let the air out of the tires early.
Matt Andriese really pitched well this year for the Emeralds. How do you think he will perform as he moves up?
Matt Dompe: He's a young kid with a big frame who can only benefit by bulking up a little more. The Padres were pretty careful with him this year but with the way that he could spot his multiple pitches he kept A-ball hitters guessing.
Matt Dompe: They are polar opposites in stature, Quackenbush commanded respect on the mound and as he pumped in mid-90's fastball after mid-90's fastball there was an extra life on to his pitches that NWL hitters never figured out. He was a consummate relief pitcher who came in and pounded the strike zone, here it is – hit it. I would not be surprised to see him in late inning relief for the Pads in the not too distant future.
Stites was another arm out of the Ems bullpen that grasped the concept of throwing strikes. He couldn't just rely on the heater as much as Quackenbush can but he pounded the strike zone and usually concluded at bats within 3 or 4 pitches. He was a quick worker who's WHIP proves how stingy he was with allowing base runners.