Evaristo Lantigua on Padres Latin prospects

Entering his second season as the coordinator of Latin American instruction/field manager of the rookie-level Dominican Summer League Padres, Evaristo Lantigua talked to MadFriars.com about the Padres new facility set to open in April, what advice he gives kids headed for the U.S. while also filling us in on Ryner Liriano, Edinson Rincon, Jhonaton Spraud, Stiven Osuna and Daniel Garce.

Talk to me about the new facility down there and how it is coming along.

Evaristo Lantigua: The complex – it is the best complex in the country right now. It is amazing the way they have built it. I have not seen a complex like this in Latin America.

How difficult is it to prepare these young kids for baseball in the United States when they leave all of their comfortable surroundings behind?

Evaristo Lantigua: It is like working with little kids that are five or six. Even though they are 16 or 17 years old, they haven't played much. It is hard to get them ready to go to the states. It is not only about learning how to play baseball, it is learning everything – how to behave in the states when they see a new coach, how to speak the language, everything. At the same time, it is a lot of fun.

Is there one piece of advice you give them before they head to Arizona?

Evaristo Lantigua: I don't know how to explain that clearly to get the message I want to say but I do tell them things to help them.

How tough was it as the manager to play games with such a young team that didn't understand how to win?

Evaristo Lantigua: That is part of the process. We have to teach them how to win. It is the whole package – we are teaching everything. Like I said, we are teaching little kids. Thy have no idea about baseball; they just know how to throw it. They know how to swing the bat and catch it but don't know anything about hitting situations, fundamentals – any of those things they have no idea.

Besides that, we try and put them into a situation like they are living in the states. They have to act at the complex like they are living in the states. They have to wash their clothes, have to know how to cook, so when they go to the states they know how when they live in an apartment. They learn all that out here.

I have not had a chance to see Ryner Liriano and only know what Randy Smith and Felix Francisco have told me – what can you tell me about him?

Evaristo Lantigua: I almost got in trouble – he is a guy that I love. He is a five-tool player. I told Felix Francisco that, for me, he is the best sign we made. I love this guy. He has everything. He has a good arm, can run, is a hard worker and huge power. He is still a baby and is still learning at the plate, but the tools in his game – I see him being a superstar in the big leagues.

Edinson Rincon impressed as a 16-year-old this past year with you. How good can he be?

Evaristo Lantigua: Rincon is a guy that can hit and hit with power. He uses the whole field. He has a great attitude.

The only concern with this kid for me is his defense. He was a catcher and we converted him to a third baseman so he hasn't been at third for a long time. That is my only concern. I think he will be all right.

There is no doubt about his hitting.

Jhonaton Spraud was here for Instructs and impressed with his ability to make contact. Is it just him getting stronger to reach his potential?

Evaristo Lantigua: He can play. This kid can play. I don't think he will be a shortstop. I think maybe for two or three years and then he moves to the outfield – maybe centerfield.

He can hit. He is not strong enough yet but he has some power. He is very smart and he has a decent idea about baseball.

Stiven Osuna has a good feel for pitching – what does he do so well?

Evaristo Lantigua: He has a great changeup. He knows how to pitch. I think he needs to improve his breaking balls – either the slider or the curve – but he has a great changeup and a very good idea about running the game.

Daniel Garce had a good year at the plate and is seen as a player with a live bat. What were your impressions of him?

Evaristo Lantigua: A young kid, I like him. He has no power but is a good hitter that touches the ball. We are trying to get him stronger to see what we can get out of him.

I don't think he will be a shortstop either. He is a guy I see moving over to second base or in the outfield. He is going to play down here one more year.

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