SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Phillip Wellman is entering his second year as the manager for the San Antonio Missions, the Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.
He began coaching in 1988 and before joining the Padres Wellman had spent most his career in the Atlanta Braves’ organization.
This year the Padres have sent a better team to the Alamo City and we sat down with Phillip to get his opinions on what he has seen from a few of the players.
MadFriars: You have been doing this for a long time. First, do you think Luis Urias can play shortstop and how is his defense at second base?
Phillip Wellman: He’s an outstanding second baseman and I think that is where his future is defensively. He’s athletic enough, and has enough skills, to fill in at shortstop but down the road he is a second baseman.
Like everyone else you have been impressed with his hitting.
Phillip Wellman: His approach is very advanced for someone that is only 19. He is pretty amazing and it has been fun to watch.
As we said, you have been doing this for a while, how does he rank with the players you have coached and seen?
Phillip Wellman: I can’t remember having a whole bunch of 19-year olds in Double-A, so he is up there towards the top. I had [Jeff] Francoeur and [Brian] McCann and some others with the Braves, but they were older than Luis.
What has been the main reason that Nick Schulz has continued to impress here?
Phillip Wellman: I just think he’s on a mission. He goes about things the right way. He always shows up early, and it’s a blue-collar work day. He’s not here to jack-around or have a vacation, he’s looking for a way to get better every day. He wants to be in the big leagues, and he’s going to do everything that he can to make it happen.
There is no doubt by anyone that watches him regularly that is his intent.
Franmil Reyes has been starting to hit. With his size and tools what does he need to do to maximize his ability?
Phillip Wellman: He must become more consistent as a hitter and make better swing decisions. He can’t chase pitchers around and wait for a ball that he can drive. He also needs to remember that there are two parts to this game; lumber and leather. He needs to continually work on his defense.
Enyel Del Los Santos gets a lot of attention, what does he need to do to take the next step?
Phillip Wellman: He needs to improve upon his command. He has velocity, but velocity is not that big a deal if you throw it right over the middle of the plate. He got hurt a few times the other day and I think he will eventually come around.
When you have a great arm like that sometimes they try to turn the dial up, when they should be turning the dial down. Right now, he’s only 21 and when he gets in trouble is when he tries to up the velocity too much because it straightens out, and that is when he gets whacked.
He’ll learn in due time, he’s just young and inexperienced at this level. It’s a big part of being down here to learn and get better.
How about his secondary pitches?
Phillip Wellman: He needs to continue to work on his changeup, but it’s good along with his breaking ball.
We talked a little about Kyle Lloyd last year about his splitter. What do you think he needs to do to succeed as a starter or do you think his future is in the bullpen?
Phillip Wellman: Because he has the out pitch I’m not sure where his future will be. However, outing after outing this year – except for one bad inning – he’s been good. He has a special out pitch because as soon as he gets two strikes on someone, it’s coming.
He doesn’t have great velocity at around 88-91, but his splitter makes him very effective. The bottom drops out of it.
Michael Kelly has always had good stuff but needs to get more consistent. How does he do that?
Phillip Wellman: It’s like anything else, you keep going out there. For me if you got the stuff and the ability and it’s not consistent, then it’s something above your shoulders. Whether it’s learning how to focus or be more positive in your thoughts, I don’t know. None of us know what goes through anyone’s mind, but he has the stuff.