On The Beat: Felix Chavez

The El Paso Chihuahuas had a successful second season in the far west of Texas, as the Padres’ top farm squad made the playoffs and ultimately finished with a 78-66 record. The team had a few prospects like Rymer Liriano and Alex Dickerson, but was mostly comprised of minor league veterans.

Felix Chavez covered the Chihuahuas this season for the El Paso Times. Chavez graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in broadcast journalism. Chavez was nice enough to answer some questions about a successful 2015 in El Paso.

What were your impressions of Cody Decker? He was wildly popular in El Paso. Do you see him playing professionally beyond 2015?
Felix Chavez: Cody Decker is as professional as you get. He is a very hard worker. He just wants the best for the team. I see him playing for a long time. Whether or not he is an MLB player is up to the team he is with down the road. But he will always be a solid addition to a team on whichever team he is on.

Alex Dickerson had a tremendous season. What were your thoughts on his play and development?
Felix Chavez: Alex Dickerson really developed this year. He is a good hitter and plays hard. He is also a pretty good outfielder. Doesn’t have great power, but has enough to give him shot at next level.

We chose Dickerson as our El Paso Player of the Year. Who would be your choice?
Felix Chavez: Dickerson is a good choice for El Paso Player of the Year, although I may go with Rocky Gale. Gale was superb behind the plate and had a great year at the plate. He has really improved over the course of the past two years.

Were there any major differences when Jamie Quirk took over for Pat Murphy? How did the team respond?
Felix Chavez: I loved the job both Murphy and Quirk did. Both were effective in the way they managed the club, and were their own person. Both got the most out of this team when they were here.

Rymer Liriano had a nice season. What were your thoughts on his play and his future?
Felix Chavez: Rymer Liriano is a fun player to watch. He plays hard all the time, has a good bat, and got hot late in season. He needs to be more consistent at the plate. His future depends on how good of a hitter he becomes against better pitching.

What players in El Paso flew under the radar in 2015?
Felix Chavez: Chris Smith and Rocky Gale. Both are veteran guys who had tremendous seasons. They are good clubhouse guys, great life stories.

Who would be your choice for pitcher of the year for El Paso?
Felix Chavez: I’d say Chris Smith is my choice for Pitcher of Year. He didn’t have lots of wins due to some really bad luck. But he gave team chance to win every time out. He had a good year – he doesn’t throw hard, but he always keeps the opposition off-balance.

We often talked about the "old guys" on the pitching staff in Jason Lane, Daniel McCutchen and Chris Smith. What kind of presence did they have in the clubhouse?
Felix Chavez: All three pitchers were very good all year. Their demeanor had a great impact in the clubhouse. They didn’t get too up or too down all season. They all prepared well for every outing. All three guys exhibited a ton of confidence that rubbed off on the team.

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