Venable on Padres Portland hitting prospects

Max Venable has coached many of the San Diego hitters that filtered their way up from the minor leagues. As the hitting coach in Portland this past season, it was his influence that served these Padres prospects well.

What's the difference in Triple-A and trying to get some of the hitters back on track? Is there a difference between the lower levels and there?

Max Venable: I think with the younger guys, I think it's more, you do a lot of one-on-one stuff – hands on with them on the field, off the field, how do you handle yourself and just try to keep them on track on a good routine. I guess it's more to keep them on the right track more with the younger kids. Make sure they get the routine down.

With the older guys, it's more of just maintenance really. The guys know, they have their routines, they know what to expect. Some guys have already been in the big leagues. They're kind of hungry to get back to the major leagues. I think it's more to kind of keep guys positive, pat them on the back, and make sure they feel pretty good about themselves.

Chip Ambres, a minor league free agent, hit well for you all season and led the team in extra base hits. Is this a guy who can produce given playing time in the majors?

Max Venable: I like Chip a lot. Chip is a great kid. Talking about the routine, this guy stuck with his routine the whole year. It was like every day, 2:15, 2:30 he was there ready to go to the cage and do his little thing in the cage.

He's a very good clubhouse guy with the younger kids with information, setting the example, leadership. He does all of those things well. I think as far as where the position that he's in now, he just needs to play every day to perform to his capabilities. What I saw was that William's (Venable) playing against righties, Chip was playing against lefties. For both of those guys, it's not like their in Triple-A where they're playing every day to get timing down and stuff. Sometimes, guys put a little bit more pressure on themselves thinking that they're on the stage spotlight to perform for upcoming next year. I think Chip is a quality player he just needs to have an opportunity to go somewhere and get every day ABs.

Luke Carlin, another free agent, didn't get regular at-bats but still hit well. What did you see from him?

Max Venable: There's some ability. I think with Luke, he's a guy that knows the strike zone. I think there's some adjustments to just not standing inside the ball a little bit. He definitely has the bat speed.

I always said to Luke, being a switch hitter too, I don't know how switch hitters do it, go bat right-handed and then switch over to left-handed. His rap has been he hasn't really produced as far as hitting, but his stuff's there. It's just like anybody else who has a little work to do and hopefully one of these years he can put it all together and just be consistent. I think that's where it comes with Luke is trying to keep a consistent approach.

He's a little streaky at times; makes some good hacks at the ball, good contact, and then get out in front, coming around the ball a little bit. It's just basically trying to stay consistent with his approach, left-handed and right-handed. That's a tough task.

Peter Ciofrone, also a free agent, had his best season to date and really showed more power this year. What was the reason for the power increase?

Max Venable: I think just his bat speed has created a little bit more power. The kid can hit, he's always been able to hit. When I had him in Fort Wayne, he hit .300 there. Of course, last year, I'm not sure exactly what he did there. I think he spent more time in San Antonio and then spent a little time in Portland. But, after coming up, I believe in May, or something, he played third base and played outfield.

I think his rap has been is that he likes to chase the high pitch a lot. I think when we talk about his power surge this year has been better pitch selection, better bat speed and just maturing in the game, getting better. They say he always could hit and he put it all together this year. He's a hitting machine.

Paul McAnulty had a strong August after coming down from San Diego and signed on with Boston this off-season. Is this a kid who deserves a chance to show what he can do with regular playing time?

Max Venable: By all means. You're talking about a hitter. Mac is definitely what we call a true hitter. The guy strides in there, going up there hitting, runners in scoring position, he's the kind of the guy you'd like to have at the plate to drive in some runs.

I hope he does get the opportunity (in Boston). He can hit. Coming out of spring training, we thought he had that chance that he would get an opportunity to play in left field, but it just didn't work out. The way he performed when he came down, it was just unbelievable. Everything he hit was hard, homeruns, doubles, he was driving in runs. He had more RBI's than guys that had been there all year hitting home runs. He really produced very, very well in a short period of time, whatever it was, a month and a half, it was unbelievable.

Does Brian Myrow swing at balls? It seems like he has a great approach at the dish.

Max Venable: This guy has been around a little bit. Has played winter ball, was special there. He's just another guy that's very disciplined and doesn't try to do too much; he just kind of goes with what the pitchers are giving him. He's an older guy; I think Myrow's 31 or so, a guy that's been around for a while.

He makes all of the adjustments that you need to make. That guy, at his age, he needs to be able to do that to be successful; make those adjustments as he goes along with certain pitchers. He's got to be able to hit the fastball; be able to hit the ball the opposite way; use the whole field; stay out of the air; got a little power, a little gap to gap power. He can drive the ball out of the ball park. He's got a good approach; he knows what he's doing at the plate.

Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards

MadFriars Top Stories