Padres Prospect Interview: Yefri Carvajal

FORT WAYNE, IN: First it's pronounced "Jefri" not "Yefrey". Second, he's always been considered as having one of the highest upsides since he was signed out of the Dominican Republic at 16.

Carvajal, 19, is a thickly built corner outfield prospect that can play either corner and is expected to hit for more power than his current career. 390 slugging percentage attests. This season, he's been seen the majority of his time in left field and his performance has been up and down, the high being in May where he hit .317/.351/.313.

The Padres believe that the key to unlocking Carvajal's power will be developing better control of the strike zone and getting into more hitter's counts. Right now, there is one thing that Carvajal can do and that is crush a fastball, it's just some of the other pitches that give him some problems.

He's only 19, in a tough hitter's league, and since baseball has been played, most young hitters are going to struggle with something other than a fastball. As the famous Casey Stengel wrote to his mother after a week of his first big league spring training;

"I'll be home soon mother; they are starting to curve them now."

You have been playing much better over the last few months after a slow start in April why is that?

Yefri Carvajal: I've been working very hard every day and the hotter weather has also helped. We really don't see much of the cold weather like they have here in Fort Wayne in the Dominican Republic [laughs].

What type of hitter would you describe yourself as? Are you a home run hitter or someone that hits the ball into the gaps?

Yefri Carvajal: I want to become a home run hitter but right now I don't have my home run swing.

It was reported that you are a good fastball hitter but had some problems with breaking pitches and changeups. How have you been working to improve this part of your game?

Yefri Carvajal: I'm not swinging at as many breaking pitches or balls in the dirt this year.

How have you worked to improve that?

Yefri Carvajal: Every time I swing at one of those pitches, I can hear my hitting coach Tom Tornincasa yell at me from the dugout "you [bleeping] idiot". So now I try to be more controlled at the plate.

Side note: When Jackson Quezada was translating this, Carvajal spoke animatedly to Quezada then looked directly at me and said, "You [bleeping idiot]", he then pointed at his head and nodded, "Now I have the discipline" and everyone, the entire Dominican crew – Durango and Carrasco included, had a big laugh.

When Wizards manager Doug Dascenzo and Hitting Coach Tom Tornincasa heard this story, once they stopped laughing, both of their quotes were, "Hey, whatever works".

What is the biggest adjustment coming to the US and playing baseball besides the language?

Yefri Carvajal: In the Dominican Republic there are a lot of fastballs and the breaking pitches and changeups aren't nearly as good as they are here.

What about off the field?

Yefri Carvajal: Not that much of a difference. My English is getting better and hopefully next time I won't need a translator!

A special thank you to Fort Wayne closer Jackson Quezada for providing translating this interview.


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