Randy Ready on his Fort Wayne Wizards

Fort Wayne Wizards manager Randy Ready recently spoke to MadFriars.com about Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, David Freese, Brandon Higelin, Steve Delabar, John Madden, Matt Bush and more...

Randy Ready is in his third year as the manager of the Fort Wayne Wizards, the Padres' full-season affiliate in the Midwest League. The Wizards are the first real step, after a brief introduction in the short-season leagues, to the professional game of 140 game schedules, daily practices and the constant pressure to put up numbers. Ready is a 12-year veteran of the major leagues and is one of the more important people that the Padres entrust to develop this talent. He began his managerial career in the New York- Penn League [a short-season league] with the Tigers in Oneonta before joining the organization in 2005. During his tenure with Fort Wayne he has managed and developed top Padres' prospects as George Kottaras, Jared Wells and Sean Thompson.

This year may be his best team offensively, with players such as Kyle Blanks, Will Venable and David Freese.

What type of manager is Randy Ready?

The best quote may have come from Sean Kazmar, who played second base for the Wizards last year.

"He's both the most positive and critical manager that I've ever played for. He's always building you up, but at the same time challenging you to improve upon your weaknesses.

"The big difference with Randy, as compared to other guys, is his next sentence is always, ‘and this is how we are going to get better.'"

What has been the biggest improvement that you have seen this year with the Wizards?

Randy Ready: Just the overall progress of the kids day in and day out. Learning what it takes to play the game at a professional level, the demands on you mentally and physically and the effort that they have been putting out on the field.

How about the biggest disappointment?

Randy Ready: You know we don't have any disappointments [laughing]. Seriously there really aren't any disappointments because everyone on our team comes out and gives a great effort day in and day out. Its all you can really ask.

David Freese has come up from Eugene, a 9th round pick out of South Alabama has played pretty well. How is his defense at 3b and what type of power does he have?

Randy Ready: Everything that I have seen is pretty good right now. He moves well and has a good arm. Offensively he squares up to the ball, goes gap to gap into the alleys. He's driven in some runs and has a short quick stroke.

It would be really interesting to see what type of numbers he would be putting up if he had been here all year. Right now, we really like what we are seeing.

Matt Bush has performed a little better with the bat when he's been healthy, how has he looked?

Randy Ready: Until he hurt his hamstring he was on a mission. His focus was pretty good, but the injury just didn't let him finish. He hurt his left ankle in spring training and the injury is to his left hamstring, the whole leg is just really weak from the injury.

Kyle Blanks has hit well this month, .338 but only has three extra base hits - any reason for the power shortage?

Randy Ready: Its his first full season of pro ball at 19, so I think he's doing really well when you look at the overall numbers. He squares up to the ball well and uses the middle of the field.

As for his power, at this level guys really have to learn how to hit the ball. Once they get a little more knowledge and confidence you will see more power, especially with a guy like Blanks.

Will Venable has had a really good year. What does he really need to work on to improve at the next level? For example maybe get a little more experience playing center field which is what he did in college?

Randy Ready: I would like to plug a lot of people into different spots in the field, especially in the outfield where they can bounce around and get an opportunity at all three positions. This year with Mike Baxter and Josh Alley we just haven't been able to do that.

Will has been one of our leaders on and off the field and has just done a super job for us. This is really the longest period of time that he's had to just play baseball, and I think you'll see more sock along with an improvement in his arm. As with Blanks, you have to figure out first how to hit, then the power will come.

Josh Alley has one of the strangest stat lines that we have ever seen a .188 average, .374 OBP and 41 BB and 26 Ks, any idea why?

Randy Ready: Well, he's either walkin' or makin' an out [laughs]. He's had a heel injury and missed a lot of time. He played better last year and cam out of the gate running well. For a young player to play through an injury is tough and he just needs to get some at bats.

Pitcher Steve Delabar has had a good year for you guys, can you give us a scouting report?

Randy Ready: He has a good arm, decent slider, developing his change. He need to work on locating his fastball a little better, and avoiding the deep counts, which will improve his efficiency.

What is his velocity?

Randy Ready: He throws around 88-92 which is good enough, especially with his secondary stuff. The big thing is just locating the fastball. It goes location, movement then velocity. Its nice to blow guys away, but you have to be able to locate pitches.

Brandon Higelin and John Madden have pitched well for the Wizards this year.

Randy Ready: Higgy has pitched in a lot of games for us, while Madden hasn't pitched enough being the closer. Higgy can locate three pitches, all down in the zone and isn't afraid to initiate contact.

Madden hasn't pitched enough being our closer, but his numbers are good. So many of our games have been lopsided, both wins and losses.

You've had a couple guys come up straight from the Arizona League to Fort Wayne - is that necessarily a bigger jump and why?

Randy Ready: It is a tough task. Most of the guys at this level have already played two years of pro ball. The big decision for the brass to make is not only the skill level of the player, but his maturity level as well.

We just got AJ Davidiuk from the Arizona League, who really isn't the typical type player that we get from Peoria. He played four years at Furman and its just a question of getting AJ into a routine and his reps. With the injuries that we have had to Johnston and Bush, he's going to get a chance to play. Its up to him to understand that the game doesn't change, it just becomes a little faster.

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