Felix Feliz: The Dominican Republic is a poor country where a lot of the kids don't have an education. There is an education problem over here. It is really hard for these kids when they are going to the states. They don't have the academic preparation.
They do have ability; they have tools; they have passion to play baseball.
It is hard because they don't speak English well, they don't have the academic preparation.
Do you give them any advice?
Felix Feliz: Right now, every baseball team has an academy in the Dominican Republic to prepare them for what they will see before going to the states. This is very important because they learn English, they learn how to act, and they learn a lot of baseball.
What is the new facility the Padres are building like?
Felix Feliz: The Grand Opening is in April. This facility is outstanding – the best facility in the Dominican. We have homes for 90 players and we have the means to prepare these players for the future.
What do you look for when you sign a player and how will the new complex help you sign a player?
Felix Feliz: When I sign a player I am looking for the tools and how they will project. Everybody wants to go to our academy because it is new and we have all the facilities to prepare the players.
This Academy will help our organization get the best players in the country, especially in the Dominican Republic.
I have not had a chance to see Rymer Liriano, but I hear he has a chance to be a special kid.
Felix Feliz: Rymer is a five-tool player. He can run. He can hit. He can hit with power. He can throw. He is a very good player.
Edinson Rincon is a kid that surprised me with his maturity at such a young age.
Felix Feliz: He can hit. Rincon is very raw right now. He needs to improve in all areas. He has the tools, especially his bat and he can hit with power too.
Jhonaton Spraud impressed in the Instructional League for such a young kid. He hit a lot of balls hard and appears just to need to get stronger and more experience.
Felix Feliz: Spraud is coming along. He is young too. He has very good tools. He needs to play everyday to improve.
These Dominican players don't have the instruction like others do. The first year is hard for every Dominican players, especially for kids like Spraud. We gave him $800K. It is a lot of pressure.
The more important thing to note is he has the tools to play in the major leagues. I don't know when but he has the tools.
What can you tell us about Jose De Paula?
Felix Feliz: De Paula – I love this kid. He has all the tools to pitch in Major League Baseball. When I signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Juan Morillo (Colorado Rockies 40-man players) – this kid is better than both of them.
He has good pitches. His out-pitch is his fastball. He needs to improve his breaking pitch a little bit but he is only 18 years old. There is a lot of room to grow.
Simon Berroa went 0-9 but pitched better than his record.
Felix Feliz: Sometimes young pitchers don't have a good record but they improve through the year. He improved with his fastball, curveball and changeup. That is more important. The record is not important to development right now. The record is for Major League Baseball.
When you look at a pitcher – what are you really focusing on?
Felix Feliz: You are looking at the body, if he has a loose arm, doe he throw hard but the best indication is whether they have the pitchability to pitch in the major leagues. Do you have the heart? Do you have that pitchability?
Have you seen some of the newer guys like Pedro Martinez?
Felix Feliz: Pedro Martinez is outstanding. Today, I saw him throw 93 MPH. He is a lefty that is 6-foot-3, 200-pounds. He has a quick, loose arm and has the feel for a changeup and curveball.
He is an outfielder who has been converted to pitcher. He is five months into the conversion, but he is incredible. He will pitch…he will pitch in the big leagues.
What are your thoughts on Severino Perez?
Felix Feliz: Perez is a reliever and we see him as the closer for our team here in the Dominican Summer League. He has a great, quick arm and throws 92-93 MPH. At 18, he has very good body projection. He has to get rid of his curveball because his arm angle is low three-quarters. The best thing for him is to throw a slider because the arm angle is better for a slider than a curveball. But he has a very good changeup and explosive fastball.
The last guy on the list is Juan Herrera.
Felix Feliz: He is the total package. All three of his pitches are close to average. He was only 16 years old pitching out here. He turned 17 in August. His fastball was 86 to 91 MPH, 88, 89 average. He has a very good curveball with impressive spin and command and has a feel for a changeup.
There are some exciting kids coming out of Latin America and you guys have done a great job over the last few years. Welcome to the family and continue the great work.
Felix Feliz: Remember, we are working hard everyday for San Diego. We want the San Diego Padres to be number one in Latin America and international players. We need to get better and are working hard to improve over time. I love being here with Randy Smith and the San Diego Padres.
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