The prospect tree was plump in Arizona

The goal of every manager in professional sports is to win the Championship. The Holy Grail of athletics may be named different but the euphoria is the same. Carlos Lezcano led the San Diego Padres Arizona Rookie League team to the title and talked about the many young prospects he coached along the way.

Lezcano has since been promoted to manager of the Lake Elsinore Storm but it was his work in the desert with the Padres youth that got him the just reward.

We recently caught up with Lezcano to discuss the players on his AZL Padres roster in 2006. It is a team that boasts some of the brightest stars in the Padres' system.

Congratulations is definitely in order for the work you and your guys accomplished in Arizona. Let's talk about the Championship season.

Carlos Lezcano: That was very fun to watch. Those kids worked real hard and it paid off for us. They played very well as a team and the results were outstanding.

You had the top hitting team in the league and I believe the pitching ranked third overall. It seemed that each of the parts clicked well.

Carlos Lezcano: It all came together. Grady and his staff did a good job of scouting baseball players. We had a good combination of younger guys and guys out of college that blended very well.

Cedric Hunter obviously had a fantastic season, getting on base in 48 straight and winning the MVP award. That had to come as somewhat of a surprise.

Carlos Lezcano: If you would have told me someone was going to do that I would have said you were crazy. That is unheard of. He was clutch. He is a very, very good hitter, a smart kid and will be a good player someday.

The whole system, your team included, really took to Grady Fuson's approach of being aggressively patient and patiently aggressive. You led the league in walks.

Carlos Lezcano: That is not by accident. We have our drills and our hitting philosophy and the kids, especially first year guys, they had like virgin ears and will try anything you ask them to do and it worked for us. It gives them a plan and seeing pitches and it worked for us, epecially at that level where pitchers don't have as much control.

More than anything it was being key in the clutch. It is great to get the guys on base but someone has to drive them in. Rayner Contreras was excellent at that and it almost seemed like an automatic run scored when someone reached scoring position.

Carlos Lezcano: They were outstanding. They did a very good job. That is all I can say. They played well together. I let everyone play so they could all be part of the team and it was fun. When they won that last game it was like they won the World Series. They were so happy and we were happy too. It was very nice to see.

Was that your first Championship as well?

Carlos Lezcano: Yes. I had been in four or five of them but it is the first one I won.

Pablo Menchaca went in that final game and earned the win. What can you tell us about him?

Carlos Lezcano: Well, Pablo is a tall, Mexican kid with a nice loose arm. He throws in the low nineties right now and is learning how to become consistent in his delivery right now. He is a young kid and I like his size and looseness in his arm. I think he is not going to get hurt and will be fine when he moves up and matures and learns to repeat his delivery better, consistently. He is going to be a good one.

The day before John Hussey threw shutout ball over six innings and a win there would have clinched the Championship without a "playoff". It was a nail-biter.

Carlos Lezcano: Their pitcher did a good job also. The Angels have some good pitching too. I was only expecting four (innings) from Hussey. He was kind of sore two or three weeks before that and it was a pleasant surprise he could go six innings like that. He has a big league curveball that was working that night.

Were you surprised that maybe one or two of your guys weren't picked earlier to go up to Eugene – and I realize you were battling for the Championship at the end.

Carlos Lezcano: Not really. When you have a chance to win you don't want to disrupt too much. We did send some guys up during the year. The last two or three weeks they kept the team intact so we would have a chance to win. It was very nice to see.

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