Razor Sharp: Rajsich Tunes Latin Newcomers

Peoria, AZ – AZL Padres' pitching coach Dave Rajsich held an intrasquad hitting practice on Saturday that featured several of the Padres' new Latin acquisitions.

A handful of Padres' pitchers dealt to the lineup in the form of a simulated game. The Padres didn't play in the field; instead, Rajsich estimated whether or not a given ball would have secured the batter a base hit. Not all players were in agreement; Rajsich robbed Edgar Garzon of an extra-base hit on a line-drive to right field that Rajsich purported would have been a routine out. Garzon and teammate Luis Durango disagreed, claiming that no outfielder would have reached the ball. Rajsich won the argument, of course.

Garzon hammered a second opposite-way line drive to right-center with extra-base potential – and Rajsich let this one go. Though he seemed a little "trigger happy" and overanxious, Garzon was fortunate enough to be dealt hittable pitches. I expect his strikeout totals to be higher than the Padres would like.

Yefri Carvajal stood out among the group for being the most aggressive, swinging at the first pitch in each of his three plate appearances. Carvajal popped out, flied out, and grounded out weakly – and saw only three total pitches. His lack of any discipline at all is surprising given the focus of most Padres drills – patient hitting.

Garzon and Carvajal aside, the Padres appeared restrained at the plate. Keisy Marte drew a full count in both of his at-bats and demonstrated a quick "emergency swing" indicative of a contact hitter. He possesses a useful and uncanny ability to commit to a pitch later than most hitters, affording him the ability to foul off tough pitches. He seems to be the best natural hitter of the Latin group.

Jeudy Valdez reached base in three of his four at bats, twice on walks and once by virtue of an inside pitch that nipped his shoulder. Unfortunately, Valdez hardly had an opportunity to put wood on the ball, and the offense-only session prevented him from practicing his fielding, which appeared questionable last week.

Matt Handley threw almost exclusively off-speed pitches and retired three of the four batters he faced, including two on swinging strikeouts. Handley fanned a Chinese National team player, in camp as per MLB, on a fastball after three straight changeups. The batter, with "Jia" sewn into his jersey, threw his bat in disgust, but Handley deserves credit for a great fastball-changeup combination.

Alexis Lara struggled with his location. He attempted several curveballs, none in the proximity of the strike zone. Lara's changeup came in consistently low and inside, though he did catch Jeudy Valdez well out in front for his lone strikeout.

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