Crespo acknowledges talent

The San Diego Padres' system isn't necessarily top heavy but the players coming up from the lower levels have a tangible excitement to them and offer tremendous hope for the future on the farm with names like Yefri Carvajal, Felix Carrasco and Rayner Contreras heading the list.

Arizona Rookie League hitting coach Manny Crespo had his share of talented players and got the most out of each.

Rayner Contreras, when he was dropped into the number two hole he came alive. I am not sure there was a spot when he didn't deliver with runners in scoring position.

Manny Crespo: That is ‘Wow' – that is his nickname. Everybody calls him ‘Wow'. At the beginning of spring training, everyone wasn't sure about him. When he came over this year with me you could see small things, spurts that he would have, and all of a sudden he got his confidence and that was all he needed. When you hit deeper in the lineup, he knew he didn't belong there. When we got him hitting second that is when he came alive. That is the kind of player I think he is going to be. He could hit the ball in situations, move runners over but if there is runners on base, he wants them all. He had a couple of games this year with five RBI's. Definitely one of our clutch players.

Felix Carrasco is a guy that hadn't played a whole lot before coming over here and he had a great first half but tailed off towards the end.

Manny Crespo: That is exactly what happened. Everyone asked me the same thing, ‘what was it with Felix?' I said, ‘Come on guys, this guy has never played in Arizona first of all and second has never played this many games.' He is 19 years old and yes he is very strong but the factors are not in his favor right now. I think we should expect some big things from Felix, especially when he comes back bigger, faster and stronger next year. He is going to put up some pretty impressive numbers, I believe.

Kyler Burke struggled in his first year out of high school – it is a learning year for him.

Manny Crespo: I have no doubt about Kyler Burke. He has a great attitude. He came out every day and worked hard, worked to get better and he did improve. The numbers might not have showed it but the fact is he came from high school and it is totally different. The bats are different, the speed is different, everything is. That kid has great talent, great work ethic, and I don't have a doubt in my mind that he is going to be right back in it.

We only got to see brief spurts and moments in Arizona because of the injury, but let's talk about Yefri Carvajal.

Manny Crespo: Yefri is definitely a talented kid. All he needs is to play. Once he starts playing he will be fine. He didn't get to play that much this year with his broken hand. When he comes back and comes back in shape and starts playing everyday he is going to be something.

That kid can hit anything. He is just a hitter. Sometimes he looks a little awkard, a little funny, but it is only because he knows he can hit anything.

Senior Linea. Mr. Line Drive. That is him. He has to learn to be a little more patient and hit his pitches but that is the thing, he pretty much hits any pitch so he wants to hit any pitch.

We will work on him. He is only 17. He has a long future.

Go from a guy who swings the bat to a guy who doesn't swing the bat at all – Clint Naylor – he walked a lot this season.

Manny Crespo: This is the thing – Naylor, not only has the best eye on the team and the idea of the strike zone but Nails is just too young right now and not strong enough. He knows it. We all know that once he gets stronger he is going to be a really good hitter. Not only because of his idea for the strike zone but because he will make more contact. He won't walk as much because he will hit the balls that he fouls off right now. He knows it. We talk about it all the time. He had a great last day of the season, 2-for-3 with two walks. Great way to end the season and he is going to be just fine. Next year when he comes back a little stronger – he is going to get his walks, I will guarantee that, but he will also swing the bat a little more.

A guy who has lost two years of development, Murray Hopley, from what I understand he is one of the hardest workers but will that translate?

Manny Crespo: Honestly, right now for me Murray is a great kid and has a great attitude about baseball – he really does love to play this game – the only thing is time. Time in this game you only have a certain amount of and with him he wants to play so bad but at the same time we need to see him play at his 100 percent. If that means it is another year out, we are going to give it to him. We need to see him play. He got signed for a reason and we want to see him play. We just haven't been able to assess anything about Murray Hopley. We have no idea what he can do. Even the Murray Hopley we saw this year isn't the real Murray Hopley.

In this particular Championship season, everyone had to be smiling.

Manny Crespo: It was fun but not without work. They worked their butts off. They were in early every day putting the work in.

Was it what you expected?

Honestly, yes. That is my attitude. I have won at different levels and always expect to win. That is what I love the most about the game, the competitiveness of being better than everyone else. Once I saw this team put together, combined with our pitching staff and what Razor was doing with them, I knew we had a shot. It was just a matter of convincing these kids that they did. I am glad they bought into it. They did a hell of a job this year.


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