When I saw the TinCaps in late May I would have never guessed they would have turned into the pitching and defense team they evolved into. What happened?
Sam Geaney: It was kind of similar to what we talked about last week with the Tri-Cities’ staff; our coaches just did a tremendous job of setting objectives and sticking with a plan the whole season. The guys we had really learned what it meant to be pros and how to work to get better.
Our manager Francisco Morales was just a tremendous leader, Lance Burkhart [the hitting coach] also did a tremendous job with the hitters and Burt Hooten, our pitching coach, was great in shaping a very young staff. The progress we got out of Dinelson Lamet was really impressive and the bullpen was lights out.
As far as the turn-around a lot of it started to happen when Ruddy [Giron] arrived in May which really tightened up the infield defense and with Luis [Urias] coming it only added to it.
Thomas Dorminy really put it together in the second half with a 1.59 ERA compared to a 4.41 in the first half. What changed?
Sam Geaney: For me he was always a pretty refined product and the stuff was pretty similar. He may have gotten a little healthier in the second half and the improvement in the defense helped him too. Thomas has a nice mix of pitches and really has an idea of what he wants to do on the mound.
I also think the development of Jose Ruiz behind the plate also helped too.
Dinelson Lamet, a pitcher that you liked a lot in spring, also had a good year. What did you see in him?
Sam Geaney: In spring when we spoke everyone liked his stuff and was excited about him, but promoting him to a full-season league after only pitching in the Dominican Summer League was a very aggressive move.
For him to have the success he did was huge. He made great strides in terms of becoming a pitcher and in his preparation between starts.
Colby Blueberg led the organization in saves and only gave up seven earned runs all year in 58.2 innings. Why was he so effective?
Sam Geaney: A lot of it is just his mentality; he wants and likes to compete. Colby is not the biggest guy in the world, but he is very athletic; he’s a former middle infielder. His father pitched in the minor leagues, so he also knows what he is doing out there.
At this level you don’t want to designate a closer and both he and Jimmy Brasoban did a great job at the back end of the bullpen.
I was really impressed with Trae Santos. He got himself into much better shape and ended up having a very good year. What is the next step he has to take?
Sam Geaney: Just a tremendous kid. If he can make it to the major leagues he would be only the second player from Guam. He came into camp after dropping 50 pounds and it just really showed on both offense and defense side.
He earned his way into the Instructional League program and I think right now the most important thing for Trae is to just continue what he is doing; which is looking to improve in some way every single day. He was one of the most improved players in the organization this year and really developed into a leader as well.
Sam Geaney: Both of them had really strong years for being so young. Rudy and Luis were each the youngest players in the league at different times this season.
Luis is a very skilled ballplayer and is one of the best fastball hitters in the organization. Right now we are looking for him to be able to drive the ball a little more. Defensively, he can play all over the infield but second is probably his best position.
At 18 Ruddy is a man. Physically he is very strong and impressive and it was fun to watch him play this year. As with Luis, the season got a little long for both of them and the off-season will give them time to regroup and get stronger.
I liked what Michael Gettys did this year defensively and he did put up some numbers. However he also had 162 strikeouts in 522 plate appearances. We know he is only 19, but cutting down on strikeouts was a big focal point coming out of spring too.
How are you going to attempt to address this next year?
Sam Geaney: Michael is like a lot of young hitters. There are some mechanical things, some of it is pitch recognition and some of it is his approach. One thing we have been working on him everyday is just focusing on how he is seeing the ball and having a plan at the plate.
He has tremendous talent from a tools perspective but in order for them to play he is going to have to make more contact.
Josh Van Meter was a great story this year. At what position do you see his future?
Sam Geaney: It was a tough year for Josh missing so much time and that was a scary freak injury that he got in the first month. It’s a testament to our medical staff and to Josh on the speed and quality of his rehab.
During his rehab he was also really productive and got a lot stronger in his upper body. When he returned to the Fort Wayne club - which was a really different group from when he left in April - he did a nice job of fitting back into the club and keeping them going forward.
As for where he ends up, his skills are a lot like Urias; but he also needs to look to drive the ball more. We see him as having the ability to play all over the infield, but I think his best position is at second in the future.