Dominican talent emerging

Yefri Carvajal. Felix Carrasco. Javis Diaz. Yordany Ramirez. Luis Durango. Rayner Contreras. Jackson Quezada. It would be wise to remember these names. They each possess talent and represent a few of the growing Latin American population in the San Diego Padres' farm system.

Yefri Carvajal is obviously a name that draws favorable responses. What are your hopes for him?

Felix Francisco: We signed him last year for $350K. He went to the Instructional League and did a good job. He went to spring training and was hitting the ball pretty well but then hurt his hand, which didn't allow him to be ready at the beginning of the Arizona League. He needed a lot of rest because his hand was not 100 percent yet.

He is a guy we have a lot of high hopes for. He can do everything except running – I think that is the only tool that is not average. He is a good hitter, can hit the ball out of any park, can play the corner outfield spots.

He has a wide base and there has been talk of him having to watch his weight. Is there any credence to that thinking?

Felix Francisco: That is not because of weight. That is because he is a strong kid. I know people have told him to keep his weight low but it is not anything to worry about. He is a strong kid with a wide base.

What did you see in Felix Carrasco and how did his signing come about?

Felix Francisco: He was a guy who was out for a while because his coaching was asking for more than $600K. The first time I saw him was three years ago when I saw him with Randy Smith. We didn't make him an offer because at that time he was asking for $700K to $1 million.

Two years later, after going through some back injury, he showed up in good shape. He has always been a guy who can hit the ball. He had a lot of organizations after him but the two things that didn't allow an organization to sign him was number one money and number two, before we signed him, he had six months without working out for anybody else because he was hurt. We were lucky to be around when he came back and his coach and agent finally decided to ask for money we were able to afford.

He is a guy that plays hard and surprises with his size because he can run. He is a 6.8 runner in 60-yards. The thing with him will be consistency. Hit the ball the other way; not try and pull the ball too much. He has a chance to be a special player.

Javis Diaz has surprised with his consistently solid all-around play. What was he like in the Dominican?

Felix Francisco: Javis has all the tools and has put up good numbers wherever he has been assigned. In the Dominican Republic for two years he was our number one outfielder and then in the states this year he went to Lake Elsinore and hit well when someone got hurt, he hit .260, which is pretty good coming out of extended spring. He had the problem with his finger or wrist and he couldn't finish the season and what he started, playing one game in the Arizona League. Hopefully he will be healthy next year and be able to play in Lake Elsinore and have a good season.

You may have seen the progress of Yordany Ramirez this season. What is your take on his talent?

Felix Francisco: What I read on the reports say he has been able to make hard, consistent contact and we all know before this year his problem has been making consistent contact – having a long swing and trying to hit the ball out of the park. We hope he keeps doing what he has been doing. He probably has the best tools of anyone in our system. When you can run and field and throw – if he is able to keep doing what he is doing, you are going to have a guy that can play ten years in the major leagues.

Yordany is the only guy who I know that can run and throw and field – and he can steal bases because most of the time they don't get him.

This is the second year in a row that Luis Durango has led his league in hitting and on base percentage.

Felix Francisco: Luis has been very interesting. He has come a long way. He used to be a second baseman with not very good hands. We moved him to the outfield. He needs to continue working on his ability to hit line drives more than chopping the ball but that is working out for him right now because he is an excellent runner. He is among the top two or three runners in our system. So he is doing what he is supposed to do, hitting the ball on the ground, getting on base and hopefully he will continue to do what he has been doing.

Is his defense in the outfield a concern?

Felix Francisco: He is pretty good. He still has work to do but will get more playing time in centerfield where he should play. This year, he had more time in the corners because of the players we had.

With the kind of work ethic he has I am sure he is going to be a decent centerfielder. I don't think he is going to be a superstar but he is going to be ok.

Rayner Contreras had a great season – was this expected from him in his first taste of the United States?

Felix Francisco: Contreras played two years in the Dominican and always hit well. This year he had a slow start and some people were questioning whether he could play or not but it was only a matter of time and he put up pretty good numbers. In Arizona he showed what he had shown to us before. He can hit. He can play second base. He can steal a couple of bases – not many at 6.9 in the sixty. I would say he plays pretty good second base. He can play the occasional shortstop but he does not have the quickness to play shortstop.

Jackson Quezada has a somewhat deceptive delivery. Was this always the case with him because it also seems kind of violent?

Felix Francisco: Jackson has what some people call "funny" arm action. He has always been a little bit long. The thing he has always been able to do is be a competitor. He doesn't have the best arm action but is competitive and has always been able to throw strikes and something that was important to him – he improved his velocity this year because he used to work 87-89 and now he is throwing 89-92.


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