Most of the time you are looking for guys who have the flexibility and strength in their bodies to do things on a consistent basis. Usually when we sign these guys they are 16 or 17 and throwing the ball 90 miles per hour. It is all projection so you are looking for guys that show you that their mechanics work the right way and their body is going to be strong enough to get to the next level. I try and find out a little bit about their makeup and character when I have a chance to see them play. See their competitiveness in games – those kinds of things you are not going to see. It is not just one thing. You are looking for a lot of things. You are looking for a guy with tools but also a guy with the right makeup.
That is part of the business. When somebody gets a player from rookie ball for a major league player, no matter if that player is playing everyday or not, you do it – the projections for Ceda, we believe he is going to have a great future, if he stays healthy. It doesn't bother me. It is part of the business. The front office has to do what it considers to be the best interest of the team – Ceda is a guy that can get a player to help us than it is part of the process.
Felix Francisco: Yoeli Florentino: Yoeli has been with us for two years. He is a guy with a lot of raw tools. This year, he improved a lot. He was hitting the ball hard consistently. He is a guy who can run about 6.7, 6.6 in the 60-yard dash and can play any of the three outfield positions. He is a guy that needs to continue to be consistent, hitting the ball the other way. He is an interesting player. He has a chance to become a 15-20 home run type of guy able to do all those other things.
There has been a lot of talk about Simon Castro. What insight can you shed on him and how good can he be?
Felix Francisco: He is, no doubt, the player with the highest ceiling that we have right now in the Dominican Republic. He is 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6, 220-pounds with an excellent body. He was usually 92-96, hitting 93 consistently. He is working on his slider and staying on top of the ball more consistently. He has the rotation to have an average slider at least. His best pitch will always be his fastball. He is a power pitcher and I think he is going to be in the middle of the rotation some time in the future. This guy is the player with the highest ceiling we have in the Dominican right now.
Is the changeup a pitch he already has in his repertoire or something he will have to work hard on improving?
Felix Francisco: He is working on the changeup and has a pretty good one. But, the thing is when he is pitching in the Dominican he doesn't really need a changeup to get people out since most of them cannot catch up to his fastball. So he works mostly with his fastball and slider and when they go to the states they realize that they need to throw the changeup more.
We have also heard a lot of good things on Pascual Juan. Some say he has the fastest arm they have ever seen.
Felix Francisco: Pascual is a guy that comes from Haiti. And most of the time coming over to the Dominican it is a very poor family.
He is a guy that is going to go slowly. He didn't have the benefit of receiving the kind of education that other guys do. All of those things will make it a little more difficult for him going to the states and getting into a different environment. But he is a guy who has been able to make a lot of progress. When we signed him two years ago he was throwing 87-89. Now he is throwing 93-95 and 92-93 consistently. We know he will be able to do something with his arm later on – it is always better to have a guy with tools.
Alexis Lara was injured and only got in a handful of games. What can you tell us about him and was it mechanics that led to the injury?
Felix Francisco: Lara is an interesting guy. He is a max-effort pitcher. He has a very strong arm, usually 90-94. He got hurt probably because of a lot of strong movement to the plate. He is a real skinny guy at this point and needs to get stronger and that was probably one of the reasons he got hurt. He was throwing too hard for his body and the kind of arm action he has. At this point I would say the most important thing for him is to be healthy. He is going to go to the states for our doctors to check him. I think he is among the better three or four prospects we have in the Dominican.
Castro is number one without question but Lara, I would say, has a chance to be a good middle reliever.
One of the newest players to sign in July was Euclides Viloria. I saw him out in the Instructional Leagues but never got to see him pitch.
Felix Francisco: He is a left-hander that a lot of people were interested in. He is a guy that can get it up to 88-91. He has what I believe will be an above average slider and he has a pretty decent changeup. So, for his age he is pretty advanced. I have no doubt he can go to Arizona next year and put up pretty good numbers.