We caught up with Randy at the end of the year to talk about Rizzo, Jesus Guzman and some of the others that were part of the Tucson team in 2011.
Anthony Rizzo just had a huge year but struggled in the big league levels and even a little after coming back to Tucson. From the naked eye it seems like he has a very big upper cut in his swing. Are you guys doing anything to correct this?
Randy Smith: So much of what we are talking about is age. Anthony just turned twenty-two and the numbers he put up in AAA are ridiculous. One hundred and one RBIs and sixty-one extra-base hits in under a hundred games is just amazing.
We are working on a few things with his swing but there is an adjustment period for young players going to the majors. I think he will be a very good major league player.
Jesus Guzman has played so well with the Padres and also did really well in Tucson. Did he make any big changes to his game this year with San Diego or could he always hit this well?
Randy Smith: I saw him years ago when he was with the Giants and he just stood out. Simply he could flat out hit. He has been on our radar for a long time. He's still a relatively young guy and finally got a chance and did it.
What position do you eventually see him ending up at?
Randy Smith: It's still kind of work in progress but with his bat he is going to play.
Andy Parrino played well at both San Antonio and Tucson. What was the big reason for his big leap forward this year?
Randy Smith: One of the hardest workers in the organization. He literally made himself into a player. He's versatile and can play anywhere in the infield or outfield. Andy is a true grinder and we really have got to give him the most credit for accomplishing what he has.
Cedric Hunter had a down year this season after big spring training. What did his struggle with the most?
Randy Smith: He got a shot in the big leagues early this year. Even though it seems that he has been around forever he's still a young guy. Cedric has great hand-eye coordination which is both a plus and hindrance. The walks have never been huge but neither have the strikeouts. If he swings at a pitch he is going to get his bat on it, it's just a question of hard contact. He needs to work on keeping the ball on a line and use his speed. More hits into the gap and increase his run production will help. He has a great first step in center field and we are trying to translate that to the base paths for him to steal more.
Brad Brach came up from San Antonio, where he had pitched well, and did the same in Tucson. Did you see an improvement this year in his split that he throws inside to right handed hitters?
Randy Smith: The biggest thing for him is use his secondary stuff. He made some tremendous strides with his slider and splitter to go along with his ability to command his four-seam fastball.
At the level where he is now I would like to see him throw the splitter/slider more. He's great to play behind because he works so fast with so much confidence. He just sets a really nice tempo.
Wade LeBlanc really pitched well in a difficult pitching environment. Did you see an improvement in his two-seamer and cutter?
Randy Smith: His numbers in Tucson were fantastic. He's realizing that he has to use his fastball to get outs instead of relying upon deception. Sinking it works in his favor and I think he had some big growth in his pitching this year.
Randy Smith: Hefner really pitched well in the second half and is more indicative of what we thought he would be. After he got over adjusting to the PCL, which is as you know a really tough place to pitch, the curve got better to go along with his fastball. He was trending up by the end of the year and had a winning record on a team that was under .500.
Inman is another young guy that seemingly has been around forever. He did well coming off of surgery and was in the top five in the organization in strikeouts. He had a two to one strikeout to base-on-balls ratio and more strikeouts than innings pitched so yeah I thought he had a good season.