Lezcano on Padres High-A prospects

Carlos Lezcano skippered some of the best hitting talent in the San Diego Padres minors. We spoke with the Lake Elsinore Storm maanger about the prospects that earned a development year under his watch – many who prospered.

We know Mitch Canham can hit, but how has he come along for you defensively and how far does he have to go?

Carlos Lezcano: He's a good athlete behind the plate. He did a great job blocking balls. He needs some work on his throwing. He knows it; we all know it, on his mechanics and his throwing. A little bit on receiving and throwing. He went to instructional league and I know he worked a lot on that.

Sam Carter came through with some big hits this year for you. What did you see from him?

Carlos Lezcano: He's got some power. He's one of those guys that's going to have some RBIs. He has to prove himself at every level he goes to. He doesn't run too fast, but he's got some pop, a nice sized guy.

It was disappointing to see Rayner Contreras get suspended this season, as the kid has a lot of talent. Was this a lost year for him?

Carlos Lezcano: I guess you could say it was not a productive year, that's all I can say. He had his problems off the field, and that's all I can say.

Javis Diaz had some struggles and seemed to be trying too hard to hit for more power. Was that the case?

Carlos Lezcano: I just think he had a hard time making adjustments with his swing and he hit too many fly balls. He didn't get on base as much as he should have. The kid can really, really run, he just couldn't get it going with the bat.

Luis Durango came to you and was a sparkplug. What were your impressions of him?

Carlos Lezcano: He's got the touch; he can hit. He'll put the bat on the ball, he stays within himself, doesn't over swing. He's a good drag bunter; he's got speed. I had him in '06, and he was kind of a slow learner in other aspects of the game like defense and base running. But, he's a kid that has that magic bat and that's going to take him places.

Allan Dykstra arrived late but had an impact on a couple of games. What are your thoughts on Allan?

Carlos Lezcano: He's a big guy, a guy with big size. He kind of goes around the ball and dives a little bit on his swing. Played one game at first. He could have played more but we mainly DH'd him. He's got a good eye, he lets the ball travel. Once he learns to stay inside the ball a little bit more, get a little quickness on his bat instead of going around and diving on it a little bit, he should be alright, he should put up some numbers.

Cedric Hunter showed more power down the stretch. Was there something different he was doing?

Carlos Lezcano: He's just learning, learning how to turn on the inside pitch; that's what it is. He's got that natural swing to left field. He got a little stronger and they threw some pitches inside. Most of them he hit off to right field. He's learning how to turn on that inside pitch. It's just a matter of learning how to do it, maturing and getting stronger.

Brian Joynt was in extended when the season began and became an important part of your roster. What did he do so well?

Carlos Lezcano: He's a big strong guy. When he hits that ball, he's got outstanding power. We let him play relaxed, and he got a good start and he built up from that. He worked very hard with (hitting coach) Shane Spencer, and he did a good job for us. For him to have consistency, he needs to play every day. I like him. He's a kid that can run, he's got a good arm, he's got power. He's got three tools there; he needs to work on his defense. He went to play first base and outfield in instructional league. He needs to find a place to play defensively. He needs to stay inside the ball and try not to get long and pull the ball. He needs power also to right-center.

Kellen Kulbacki had an unbelievable run for you guys before the shoulder injury. It looked like he saw every ball well. What impressed you about him?

Carlos Lezcano: His power. When he squared the ball up, he hit some line drives that were maybe four feet off the ground all the way through the infield and the outfield. His power makes a different sound. He just knows how to hit; he's got outstanding power. He's got a good arm. He's going to put up some numbers offensively and improve some in the outfield. He needs to work on that, on going back on the ball on routes. He's got a ton of potential. He hit some balls that were unbelievable.

What strides did you see from Jesus Lopez offensively through the year?

Carlos Lezcano: He progressed good. He hit close to .250 with us. At the beginning of the year, he would wrap the bat behind his head, so he couldn't get the barrel through the zone. So, he made some adjustments and put the ball in play. He's one of those kids I think that his defense will carry him. He needs to get a little stronger, maybe a step quicker running. He's o.k. with the range and the footwork at shortstop. But, speed wise, it would be nice if he could improve – get a little quicker. Right now ,he could play in the big leagues defensively, that's my opinion.

Eric Sogard had a great year for you but was also streaky. What were the reasons for the moments when he slumped?

Carlos Lezcano: When he gets in trouble, he gets underneath the ball. When he gets underneath the ball, then he gets some fly balls to left field. He's a professional hitter; he hit .308 I think for the season. He led the league with 42 doubles. He played every day; him and Hunter played every day, so they're durable. He's got a good swing, a good eye, he won't swing at balls; he knows the strike zone well. He's going to do well hitting at whatever level he plays because he's a mature hitter, has knowledge of the strike zone and he stays within himself.

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