Stu Paul has been one of the premier voices in the south for the last 15 years. He was the Missions broadcaster from 2001-2009 before leaving to work for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. After being in Nashville as well as broadcasting other college sports, Stu found himself back in San Antonio dusting off his chair again in 2015. We are glad to have Stu back, and he was nice enough to sit down and talk to us about the Mission’s season.
What was the biggest surprise with the Missions this year?
Stu Paul: I think the biggest surprise is the way the team responded from a terrible first half. The Missions had better clutch inning in the second half as shown by the 11 walk-off wins they had in the summer.
The team seemed to take off in the second half once CF Franchy Cordero joined the team. What was it about him that made the team look completely different, and what do you see for his future?
Stu Paul: I thought that Franchy was the most disciplined hitter on the entire team and hardly ever wasted an at-bat nor did he beat himself. He would go where the pitch is and made solid contact. He hit so well to all fields and did not try to pull every pitch! Hope that he was able to set a great example for the rest of the guys and they were able to learn something by watching Cordero hit.
Gabriel Quintana was a bit of a mystery the entire year. He didn’t look like he was living up to his hype, than had an amazing six weeks in June/July then cooled back down the rest of the year. Did you notice a difference at the plate during his hot streak, and how do you think he will play at higher levels?
Stu Paul: Not really. His problem is he still fishes for sliders and breaking stuff down and away, even when he was hot. He was fortunate that the pitchers made a number of mistakes on him and he showed he is a very good mistake hitter and as a result, was able to crush the balls. If he plays at a higher level, he will have to cut down on his strikeouts and chasing those pitches.
The MadFriars’ staff tends to give SS Jose Rondon a hard time for never living up to the hype and top prospect status that many scouts give him. Since he has been in San Antonio each of the past two seasons, have you noticed any differences in his approach and do you see him being an every day major league player?
Stu Paul: Yes! Jose was going the opposite way more and fortunately, he did a nice job in the field as well. However, he has that terrible habit of sliding head first into a base when he tries to steal. Keep in mind that he is only 22 years old and still learning. He came off a serious injury from last year and really showed strides at shortstop and worked so well on the double play. As long as he keeps going with the pitches, you will see a .290-.300 hitter in the majors down the road.
Diego Goris has been with the Missions for the past few years, only this year he got to play a few games at catcher. How did he look behind the plate, and how has he adjusted to going back and forth between Double-A and Triple-A?
Stu Paul: I thought Diego showed great athleticism from behind the plate. He already possessed a strong arm as an infielder and I thought he displayed the same kind of arm behind the plate. I thought he picked up well on being a catcher and in my opinion, that is the toughest position in baseball, especially when it is a reactionary position where you have to be alert at all times. As far as going back and forth, I thought he adjusted okay. He has never hit all that great average wise and I think he will be a respectable hitter, but honestly, I do not see him as a batting champion.
Moving to pitchers, Kyle Lloyd led the team in most offensive categories despite being relegated to the bullpen at the beginning of the year. What made him so effective?
Stu Paul: His control and keeping the ball down. Plus, he had the confidence of being a winner on the mound. He constantly kept his team in the ballgame and I thought he did a good job as both a starter and a reliever. His size also helped as well as an assortment of pitches.
Dinelson Lamet was probably the top prospect on the Missions this year. While he didn’t quite have the same success as he did in Lake Elsinore, what about him makes prospect so excited about his future?
Stu Paul: Lamet’s problem was control inconsistency. He has a live arm and probably the strongest among all the Missions starters this season. His one big dilemma was having that one bad inning which hurt him. Once he settled down, he was fine, but he needs to show constant command in order to be an effective major league starter. His stuff certainly makes him a prospect, but I think he will need more experience in Double A next year when the season starts!
The best performances on the team all came from the bullpen. Lead by Rafael De Paula, Adam Cimber, Kyle McGrath, Jason Jester, Jose Torres and Yimmi Brasoban they truly shortened every game. Can you speak a bit about just how effective they were, and is there one or two of them that might have stood out?
Stu Paul: All were sensational last year and all the pitchers came right at the hitters. McGrath picked it up quite a bit in Double-A ball this past season and showed a masterful curveball. Yimmi and Rafael had live arms and moved the ball around the plate. Adam, with his sidearm motion, kept the ball on the ground when the hitters made contact. Torres is a great situational pitcher against lefties and I thought Jester showed promise, too!
Last question, in your opinion who were the top hitter and pitcher on 2016 Missions?
Stu Paul: For the top hitter there is no question that it would be Franchy Cordero. For top pitcher, it's a tough one, but if I had to single out someone, it would be Kyle Lloyd.null