Muser on Rookie League Padres prospects

Prior to Tony Muser's assignment as the roving hitting instructor, the veteran baseball man managed the Arizona Rookie League Padres, seeing players such as Drew Cumberland, Keoni Ruth, Robert Perry, Jeudy Valdez, Yefri Carvajal, Edinson Rincon, Edgar Garzon, Alexis Lara, Simon Castro and Euclides Viloria.

Drew Cumberland performed quite well after losing some time to his hand injury. What did you see out of the young shortstop?

Tony Muser: He has very good running speed. He is a very good athlete. Very intense personality – like his play. A very good, live body that should grow. He has a nice little frame. He can get stronger, as long as he maintains his running speed. Very quick, very fast type athlete. A middle infielder type athlete. He could eventually go to centerfield. Those guys are interchangeable with their athletic ability.

Keoni Ruth and Robert Perry weren't with you long but when they were in the lineup your team was very good. When they left the offense seemed to take a major hit.

Tony Muser: They were the tablesetters and Perry had surprising power. He had pop in his bat. He is a polished college kid who played with a lot of confidence. He was further ahead than the high school kids and just knew how to play.

Ruth has a laid-back approach to the game but never panics. He can stay inside a baseball for a right-handed hitter and hit the ball to right-center field. Very good mechanics as a hitter.

Perry was a good little leadoff hitter. Keoni was a good number two. When you lose those two guys it puts pressure on the offense to makeup.

I like both of them. They are good players. With all the injuries we had – we had to force feed a lot of players to higher levels and they held their own.

Jeudy Valdez had a great first year in the states. He seemed to open some eyes with his bat and offers up some excitement.

Tony Muser: He has power. He is very quick. The same range as Cumberland with his running speed – he gets down the line at 4.1 consistently.

He needs a lot of work defensively. He played every single day. He probably led the club in at bats and got tired. It is the first time in his life he experienced playing every day and playing with fatigue. I think that wore on his performance late in the season.

He has very good potential.

Yefri Carvajal tapped into the potential everyone has always talked about. He appeared to break out with you. What areas does he need to improve?

Tony Muser: First of all he got in great condition. The trainers and strength guys cleaned his diet up. He ate better. We played him every day in the heat and got in great condition.

His pitch selection and seeing the baseball improved enough to move him to Eugene. When he got to Eugene, he had problems with the pitch selection because every level you move up, the ability to throw the breaking ball gets a little bit better. That is why he is here in Instructs – pitch selection and knowing what he can hit.

Same mental process as Alexis Lara but Carvy does it with the bat in his hand. I am constantly telling him that 90 percent – you are strong enough to hit the ball hard at 80-90 percent. He wants to hit it far instead of hitting it hard. That process we are working on to get him to calm down – using more of the field to hit in. The power will come. Quality at bats and a good swing creates power and power consistency. Calm him down.

Edinson Rincon broke out of an 0-for-22 start to get a few hits under his belt. How impressive is that given his age?

Tony Muser: Sixteen years old, first time he saw this kind of pitching – overmatched. And you could tell that they are not overmatched by ability but by what they see and where they are at - night games. Very nervous, very tentative, but as the days went on and he got more at bats he got more comfortable. He has some things to work on but he improved slightly. Sometimes the improvement isn't what you want but when you see the improvement as slight as it may be means there can be great improvement over time. A 16-year-old kid can get overmatched mentally. When he comes back he will have a much better idea of what it is all about and we should see much more confidence in him.

Edgar Garzon did better than I honestly thought he would and was a consistent performer all year. What did you see from him?

Tony Muser: Edgar was the most improved of all the kids we had. He wasn't gifted with real good running speed but he has an above average arm. He did a good job at third and second.

Offensively, he made great improvements with the bat. We stood him up instead of him bending over. He worked real hard with the trainers on his physical condition and running speed. He hit .300 and we played him just about every day. He was on of our better hitters and most improved players.

Alexis Lara is someone who has excited me since I first saw him with his velocity and stuff. Did his year impress because so many Latin kids struggle finding the zone?

Tony Muser: Yes, he has a breaking ball that he can get over and he also has a quality changeup. In my opinion, his changeup is better than his breaking ball. If you can get a breaking ball over at the Arizona Rookie level, you can give the hitters a lot of problems. Lara has a slider he can get over. We are trying to get him away from the slider and not try and strike everyone out and use the changeup. And clean his mechanics. He is very violent in his delivery and has to calm that down.

Simon Castro is another talented young arm. It seems he fell into the control category and had periods where he could not throw a strike and things got out of hand.

Tony Muser: Control is a problem for him. Repeating mechanics is a problem for him. I think all of the young Latins we had have, in general, signed because of velocity. When you get them that is what they think they are here for – harder, harder, harder in their mind is better when we are trying to take them in the opposite direction of command.

Cleaner mechanics, better command, more efficiency, lower pitch counts for the numbers of innings they pitched. Our max was 75 and very seldom did they get through five innings with 75 pitches. Trying to get them to be efficient and strike throwers without damaging the arm or hurting the velocity. Patience is the key. It can get frustrating, but they are very young. To get that feel of throwing the ball at 90-95 percent effort, cleaning up the mechanics and not loosing much of the velocity. They have yet to understand that where you throw the ball is just as important as how hard you throw it.

Euclides Viloria looked great and then looked ordinary. I have to believe if he can cut down on the walks he could be special.

Tony Muser: For a young kid at 17 pitching- he has command problems with the fastball. He has trouble getting the ball down. He showed periods – one game he struck out six in a row – boom, boom, boom – boom, boom, boom. Then he went out in the third inning and had problems. He has shown glimpses of being an outstanding pitcher for his age. He has a real good feel for a changeup – and you don't see that from a 17-year-old kid, especially left-handed.

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