Carlos Lezcano: You are asking the wrong guy. If it is legal, than they did it. Let it be.
We won two rounds in the playoffs and took it to the last day of the season with a true A-ball team. Let's put it that way.
Baseball is a game of momentum at times. How tough was it to lose that last one when the Championship seemed in sight?
Carlos Lezcano: It was tougher for the players. I have been around for a long time, and I have seen comebacks before. Their pitching got the job done. It was not like we blew it or made some mistakes.
Matt Antonelli tore up the California League. What impressed you the most about the young man?
Carlos Lezcano: Durability and his approach day in and day out. He was very professional. His toughness and the adjustments he made coming from second to third.
What impressed me the most was the way he turned a double play. It is not easy coming from third to turn a double play with a runner bearing down on you. He stayed in their very well. Once you get used to that it is about getting used to the range and the movement and getting used to the position. You look at him and he looks like a second baseman.
He will be in the big leagues soon.
Wade LeBlanc was as good as it got on the mound. What enabled him to be so successful?
Carlos Lezcano: His changeup. He has an outstanding changeup. When he gets his fastball down and with that changeup – it was tough to hit him. That changeup is a big league changeup. That is the difference for him. It is going to carry a long way.
If he gets a little more movement on his fastball then it will be outstanding. Right now he has the changeup, a good curveball and if he keeps the fastball down he is tough.
Josh Alley seemed to come to life down the stretch and in the playoffs. What does he need to do to succeed at the next level?
Carlos Lezcano: Keep doing what he is doing. He did a good job getting on base for us. He came to us as an extra outfielder and earned the job to be an everyday player. He got the job done and was a great leadoff hitter for us. He needs to keep seeing pitches and doing what he is doing. He is a tough little guy. As a leadoff guy he got on base and that was more than enough for me.
Kyle Blanks had a great season. How has he developed over the last year?
Carlos Lezcano: He hit .310 last year and struggled the second half in Fort Wayne. He put up good numbers all year long. He drove in 100 and hit over .300 and is improving at first base.
He can hit for a pretty good average for his size and that is an advantage. He just turned 21. He played 20 all year. That is very encouraging. He has outstanding power and is becoming better everyday. He is staying off the breaking balls away. How pitchers worked him was fastball in and then breaking stuff away. When he lays away from the no-strike breaking balls or fastballs away they have to come in and he is very dangerous. He was good at staying away from the breaking balls out of the zone on the outside part of the plate.
Craig Cooper led the team in hitting but didn't hit as many homers as is necessary as a first baseman or corner outfielder. Will that be a concern for him?
Carlos Lezcano: He will go to the Instructional League to work on pulling the ball a little more. He showed it the last month of the season – he hit three homeruns to left field. He has a little bit of an inside-out swing, which is good for the average and hitting the ball to right-center. In batting practice he does that very well and carries it into the game.
He needs to work on the middle-in, getting that ball to left field and turning the ball around. He is working on that. This kid has good hands at first and can play a good outfield. He can play good defense, which you need to do to play in the National League. He is going to learn to hit some homeruns once he learns how to deal with that fastball middle-in of the plate.
I know John Madden lost a little velocity and I expected some big things from him. Did that velocity ever come back?
Carlos Lezcano: It never got really strong. I don't know what happened. We kept waiting and waiting for the John Madden of the year before with a 90-plus fastball and they told me when he came in the game it was pretty much over. That would have been nice to have. But those things happen. Hopefully, he just had an off year and he comes to Spring Training strong with that velocity back and gets back on track.