DSL Padres manager on Latin prospects

The San Diego Padres have made tremendous headway in Latin America and Evaristo Lantigua knows them best as the DSL Padres manager. MadFriars.com discussed Jose De Paula, Simon Berroa, Junior Veras, Pedro Martinez, Serverino Perez, Juan Herrera, Wary Polanco, and Carlos Montero with the skipper – names that few people know but could be contributors down the road.

Jose De Paula is seen as a polished left-hander with a good fastball and curveball. What does he need to do to improve?

Evaristo Lantigua: I think this guy just needs to improve his changeup and have better command of the changeup. He has great command of his fastball and good command of the breaking ball. He throws a slurve – it is between a curveball and slider. He has good command of both pitches and just needs a changeup.

Simon Berroa went 0-9 but is a pitcher with some upside. What can you tell me about him?

Evaristo Lantigua: The way he Berroa pitched, he should have been 4-4 or 6-4. We really struggled hitting-wise down here last year so he didn't have the support that he needed.

Most of the time he pitched four or five or six innings and the game was 1-0 or us down by one or two runs. We couldn't catch the ball and we didn't hit well.

Berroa is a guy with a great arm. He does have games where he pitches up in the zone. He is pretty good for me: he wants to play, loves being out there, and wants to get better, wants to learn.

Junior Veras had some impressive stats in limited innings. Is he someone to watch in the coming year is it his slider that has proven to be so good?

Evaristo Lantigua: His slider is very good. He pitches from 88 to 93 MPH (with his fastball).

He is a competitive guy. He loves to challenge the hitters. He is a guy that loves being on the mound. I see him as a closer or setup man. I think everybody in the states is going to love this guy.

What were the initial thoughts on Pedro Martinez, one of the newest signings?

Evaristo Lantigua: Let me tell you this, Pedro Martinez is a left-handed pitcher with great stuff, throws 89 to 92 MPH with good command. He also has a good curveball and is working on his changeup. He is going to be one our starters this year. He is guy that everyone is going to like.

My only concern about this guy is his attitude. He is kind of hyped up, otherwise he looks very good.

Severino Perez also came in at about the same time. What can you tell us about him?

Evaristo Lantigua: On Perez, we already have him as a closer. He throws 93 and is a consistent 91. He pitches down in the zone with a good breaking ball and working on the changeup.

Most of the pitchers down here are working on the changeup. When they are young, they are just using their arm and worry about the fastball and some sort of breaking ball. When they sign, we have to begin working on the changeup. You don't find many guys that can throw that pitch.

And one other guy on that list was Juan Herrera.

Evaristo Lantigua: He is a guy that will be a starter to. This is another kid that looks very good. I like Martinez and Perez better but it doesn't mean he doesn't look good. Herrera can pitch. I think he is going to be a gamer.

Is there anyone you expect to have a breakout season in 2008?

Evaristo Lantigua: There is a guy who is going to go to the states, a catcher by the name of Wary Polanco. This kid is not a good hitter like some but this guy got me excited about his defense. He has a great arm, accurate. He calls a good game and I loved that from him. I think this kid can impress everyone in the states.

Once he gets a little bit better with the bat, I think he can be someone special.

There was an outfielder out there who changed his name and is now Carlos Montero. What do you think about him because he has tools to work with?

Evaristo Lantigua: He has all the tools in the world. This kid has huge, huge power, he can run and has a good arm. The only thing – he is not smart. He is a slow learner. I think he didn't go to school because he doesn't understand some of what you are trying to explain. Tools-wise – there is no doubt he has big league tools. But, I don't know what will happen with him because you have to be smart to play this game.

Last year was his first year so let's see what is going to happen this year. We all hope he can get at least half of what we are trying to teach because if he gets half of what we are trying to teach, he is going to be somebody good.

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