Flores on AZL Padres hitting prospects

Jose Flores was in the driver's seat for the Arizona Rookie League Padres, leading an offense that featured some intriguing hitters. Jaff Decker led the assault, but everyone contributed, including Jason Codiroli, Edinson Rincon, Aaron Murphree, and Robert Lara while also seeing Adam Zornes and Logan Forsythe.

Jaff Decker had a special season. What was it that impressed you about him?

Jose Flores: Well, being so young, being 18 years old, he was a mature 18-year-old. What impressed me about him was the way he carried himself, and the passion that he had for the game. His work ethic was outstanding; he pretty much came to play every day. And for an 18-year-old to come out and want to do that on a daily basis, knowing that it wasn't just anymore weekend games, it was pretty much every day, that really impressed most of us, that, whether he was having a bad day or maybe a bad week, that he came with the intention that every day he was out there in that lineup, that something can happen, something can click right away. And it happened just like that.

He started out real strong and there were days you could tell he was getting tired, and those are the days you kind of just look back, maybe if I give him a day here or a day there or a couple of days to where he can kind of recharge and before you know it, about the last two weeks of the season he pretty much just dominated where he eventually won the MVP. From seeing him every day I thought there might be doubts, but he took the last two weeks by storm and was the player that everybody thought he could be, and sure enough he won the MVP.

Did everyone just assume he would be on some base at the end of his at-bat?

Jose Flores: Yeah, I mean it was just - you know what I liked about his approach was that it just looked like he could set pitchers up. He would take two pitches where you would think well, why haven't you swung the bat? And then when he does, it's like a set-up thing, it's like you know there were a couple at-bats where he just set the pitcher up where he just either takes a cock shot or takes a curveball that he normally hammers and before you know it he's 0-2 and then they throw a waste pitch and the pitch after that it's like he was locked in the whole time, the whole at-bat and he drives the ball. It's like he doesn't get cheated when he's at-bat.

It was just something special to watch from him.

Jason Codiroli was a great guy for the top of your lineup. What does he do so well?

Jose Flores: What I like about Jason is that he's a gamer he comes out to play, he comes out to play banged up, whatever the situation is, he comes to play.

He was a good player at the top of the line–up because he gives you multiple things that he can do: he can get on base, he can steal a base, he can go from first to third, he can score on a base hit, or a double from first – there are a lot of things that he can do that really helped the ball club out.

There were times he initiated that type of play where people fed off of that and once he started something going obviously the people that back him up come through. So, it was fun. It was fun to watch.

Edinson Rincon didn't hit for a lot of power but produced after coming back from the knee injury. What does he need to do to improve?

Jose Flores: Well, one of the biggest things that I think he needs to do is obviously work a lot on his defense. He's going to hit. He's got the natural ability to hit the baseball. To me, being the biggest thing will be his defense because I just found out maybe two weeks before the season ended that he was a catcher before they made him a third baseman. And you can kind of tell that, but before that I really didn't know that about him so I would see him do this thing at practice and at work, and he just didn't seem comfortable doing it. I found out he was a catcher, and I can see why he looks so rough around the edges playing third base. But that's one of the biggest things if they decide to keep him at the hot corner; he's going to need to make some huge leaps because he just looks rough. So that's one of the things.

On the offensive side, the more games and at-bats that he gets under his belt, he's going to mature into the type of hitter that people expect him to be. Right now, he has some pop in his bat; he has some life in his bat. He tends to be a little too big in his swing where he just wants to juice balls.

At this point in time, I think with his immaturity, only just turning 18 last month, is something that I can see this kid being a legitimate hitter with some power that can drive balls to all parts of the field, and recognizing pitch selection and pitch recognition. So that's one of the things that he's going to have to as he keep coming along, if he can mature and be able to lay off certain types of pitches that he knows he can't hit, he's going to be a dominating type of player, offensively.

Aaron Murphree has tremendous power but has some holes in his swing. How can he become successful?

Jose Flores: Well, you know what? To compare both, I look at size and I know Murphree's about 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5. And I look at Rincon, and from what I've seen from Rincon, to me, he looks like he has more juice than Murphree did.

Murphree is longer, and he is lengthy. I really didn't see much that stood out from Murphree that compare him to a Rincon right now.

I know Rincon's a lot younger, but to me he had a lot of hype coming out during the first few weeks after the college season and after that he kind of just tapered off. From what I saw here, I might have seen why he was tapering off. He had some juice in his bat, but his swing is not as consistent as it should be to kind of produce that on a consistent basis.

I think that he would just need a lot of work on. I don't know, maybe I think he needs to get stronger. I think he needs to have a better approach at the plate and to recognize which pitch he handles the best. He has a tendency to want to pull pitches, but he's at his best when he goes the other way.

The two weeks that he was out really hurt him because at that point in time it looked like he was starting to turn the corner, and then he takes that step where he got hurt for two and a half weeks or so, so again, it's something where he just needs to continue to work on it.

Robert Lara really showed great plate discipline and could put his bat on the ball. What impressions did he leave?

Jose Flores: I like Lara because he comes out to play, and even though he started out kind of slow as far as the defensive part of the game, at the end he came out really strong where he improved, where he was calling better games, where he was blocking more balls, where he was sure more of a leadership role which is what were the comments from the scouts that might have seen him play.

At the beginning I was questioning that, because he wouldn't say much. He played, but he wouldn't lead on the field. And towards the end, that started to come out.

He hit throughout the whole season. One thing that concerned me with him at times was that if he wasn't hitting, he would take that stuff on to behind the plate. And he needed to kind of just say, ‘When I'm on offense, I'm on offense. And when I'm on defense, I need to make sure that I'm calling the right game, that I'm blocking balls, that I know who's hitting and how to pitch this person.'

And those were things at the beginning would really frustrate us, the staff. You start pitching a person or players a certain way and all of a sudden just because you had a terrible at-bat you come out and you just pipe a fastball down the plate to this third-hole hitter where you know you've gotten him out before on changeups or curveballs or way or in, but because you're not focused, you're thinking about your at-bat you come out and make a mistake and leave a cookie down the middle.

Those are things to me he had improved on towards the end of the season. I look at him as a player who's going to get better and is going to get stronger mentally as the season ends; as he progresses in his career.

Adam Zornes wasn't with you for long but what did you see out of him?

Jose Flores: I had him for three games, and I liked him. He looks more of a leadership type guy where he's going to take charge of the field. He looks like he takes a lot more pride in his defense than anything else.

I saw some life to his bat; he drove a couple of balls in the gap. He has a good eye at the plate, he has a great setup behind the dish.

I only saw him for three games and what impressed me was the way he presents himself behind the dish. He has pride back there. He's not at all just an offense type of person. He looked like he had some pride back there in blocking balls and making close pitches go our way and stuff like that. That, to me, impressed me from the little time that I did see him.

Logan Forsythe came to you after injuring his thumb and got some at-bats down the stretch. What does he need to do to take his game to the next level?

Jose Flores: He was kind of tough because I only saw him for a few games. As much as they want to say they were 100%, you could still see that there was still some soreness in his thumb.

What I like about Logan is that he knows the game, and he's a competitor, and he's going to come out to play and do the best that he possibly can that night, whether it's offensively or defensively.

I like his footwork around third base, he's got a nice arm, he moves well, he reacts to balls well at third.

On the offensive side, obviously he was coming off a thumb injury. He looked a little long on the swing, but then again that's only maybe 12 games, if that. I know that he's probably going to get a little bigger and a little stronger as he gets going down in his career, again, for a guy to move the way he does at third is what impresses me the most.

How is his stick going to come? Again, it's going to take some time because he didn't get enough at-bats for him to see what he can do. But I know he can drop the ball to the other part of the field, which is what everybody always looks for. If you can drop the ball 380 feet to the opposite field, you can definitely pull the ball down the line or to the left side of the field, so he has a pop there.

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