Grady Fuson: That is certainly the goal. When you take a kid that high and have that much faith in him – I can't say I take a kid thinking he will repeat rookie league for two years. If they do they just do – sometimes it happens.
The good ones figure it out and get going. The goal is to have Cumberland play well enough where we think he can go to Fort Wayne and hold his own.
Cedric Hunter did not have a very good Instructional League and appeared to be going through the motions. What do you expect from him in 2008 – with more protection around him presumably in the California League?
Grady Fuson: He is in the hunt to take a big jump. He is in the hunt to go to Lake Elsinore and see a little bit of the Cal League.
Ced is one of those guys who has tremendous ability. He is still searching how to put everything together. That is typical for a kid that is 19, 20 years old. I think he is still searching for his own maturity level – all the things young kids go through when they enter this game and are dealt a hand of playing the pro game at the young age of 18 and going through the trials and tribulations and everything that goes into it.
I think everyone knows how we feel about him and how excited we are to be a part of him putting it altogether. We are just looking for continued improvement.
Pablo Menchaca appeared to be on target for a solid year last season before the injury. Does he have enough fire and motivation to be as good as his stuff says he can be?
Grady Fuson: He is still proving that. We are just hoping for 100 percent health and some emotion out of him. Once we get him healthy, I think you will see him start to grow a little bit. He is still young enough. There is no need to force feed him anywhere. At the same time, we hope for good health. He and his arm are in good shape, and we will see what it looks like.
Before the start of last year, John Madden appeared to be on a fast track. His stuff, however, was not the same all year long. How does he return to 2006 form?
Grady Fuson: He really didn't have a good year. It really was a rough year. I think he hid some stuff early. I think he tried to battle through it, pitch through it, and it didn't work. Finally, he accepted the mechanics were getting out of whack because he was trying to make some things fit. We have to look at '07 and put it behind us and see what John brings in '08.
With a few guys returning from injury at the upper levels, does it push some guys who may deserve a promotion back down to the club they were with in 2007 – and how do you break that news to them to keep them motivated?
Grady Fuson: There could be a few guys that are going back, but they are going back with some intent – if they go back.
We have plenty of guys that had dominating years and hopefully continue to move. I am a big fan of seeing some guys really dominate a certain level. I think everyone knows the guys that did dominate and those guys are being moved.
It is not going to hurt some of these guys to go back to a certain level – maybe those that spent a half year at one level to go back and finish up with another half at that same level and see if they can put it altogether before we move them at the midway point.
There are so many players that fit into those roles in the system, it is hard to sit here and talk about just one or two of them. There are a few good ones – good prospects – that need to go back and probably clean things up before they move on.
How do you motivate some of those guys who are heading back to the same level they ended 2007 in>?
Grady Fuson: Hopefully, we don't need to motivate them. Hopefully, through the course of communicating in spring and talking to them about the things they need to improve on they kind of get it.
Everyone takes it for granted that no matter what they do at a certain level that they are going to the next level. The reality is that is not the case. Our system has gotten better. The competition has gotten better. The depth has gotten better. That puts the onus on everybody to put their game together and get it going on.
Those are the good choices to make.
Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards