Padres Minor League Notebook

Dennis Tankersley, despite being sent down to the Minors is earning high praise from the coaching staff. He has set himself up to be in position for a major league callup this year if he continues to show his mental toughness. Gabe Ribas gives a scouting report on himself, JJ Furmaniak talks about his role should he reach the Majors and Jon Knott looks at how many times he was hit by a pitch last year. Just another edition of quotes from around the minors…

"He was among the top five prospects I saw in any organization," said Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley, who worked with Dennis Tankersley at two different minor league starts. But after two failed major league cameos -- capped by an outing last April in San Francisco when he gave up seven runs in the first without retiring a hitter -- Tankersley fell almost totally from the Padres' charts.

But he is pitching much better this spring. "His confidence is much better," said manager Bruce Bochy. "He looks like the Tankersley I knew," said Balsley. In addition to pitching well, Tankersley also hit a homer in his most recent outing. Joked Bochy: "I'm going to have him take balls at first tomorrow."

Gabe Ribas knows what everyone says about him and why he is not ranked as highly as other players in the organization. Still the reigning Padres Minor League Pitcher of the Year is out to prove he belongs.

"To be honest…I know the way scouts talk about me. I don't have great power stuff. I don't have a great out pitch. What I do is I keep the ball in the zone and mix it up. I like to hope that I am a little bit unpredictable; guys don't necessarily know what is coming on every pitch. I would be lying if I said I was going to go out there and blow the ball past people or I am going to devastate someone with a big breaking ball. That is just not me. It is kind of weird to me that I led the organization in strikeouts. I certainly don't consider myself a strikeout pitcher."

J.J. Furmaniak is in Double-A this year. He is working towards the dream and knows how tough it is to make it and play everyday. Just the chance to compete in the Majors is what he is looking for and his hustle will propel him from there.

"It is kind of tough to get into the Majors as a starting player. I think early in my career I could be a guy who could play a utility role, all three positions, and then work my way into a starting job. First, it would just be awesome to get to the big leagues. I think early, as I am still young, the ability to play all three positions is going to help me. Hopefully I can get in there and play some utility early and earn a starting spot after that. That is what the goal would be."

Jon Knott was hit by 17 pitches in 2003. So, we had to ask if pitchers just didn't like all the homer runs he was hitting off them.

"I think they were trying to pitch me inside and get me off the plate. I don't know if they thought that was a weakness that I couldn't turn on the ball or just trying to get me to chase balls off the plate but I don't stand very close to the plate so…"

Which leads into the next question, have you ever charged the mound after getting plunked?

"No, I haven't." Knott says laughing. "I asked Rob (Deer) about that. He said he had and most of the time your own team retaliates and takes care of it."

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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