Razor on Padres pitching prospects in Eugene

Handling the youngsters has been the charge of pitching coach Dave Rajsich. He has been a mainstay in Arizona and moved to Eugene in 2008, seeing the old – Mat Latos, Simon Castro, and Pablo Menchaca – and the new – Eric Davis, Tyson Bagley and Gary Poynter.

Is the Mat Latos you saw this year better than the one from last year?

Dave Rajsich: Yes, he is. He's more mature on the mound than he was last year, has a better idea of what's going on around him on the field and is taking more of a leadership role and taking charge a little bit more. I think he was overmatched for this league. I think he needed to be challenged a little bit more.

Pablo Menchaca played Jekyll and Hyde on the mound this year. What is going to be the difference for him?

Dave Rajsich: He's got to be able to get his off-speed pitches over more consistently than he did this last year. I don't think he was really fully recovered from the slight injury that he had the year before. It just doesn't look like he's the same confident pitcher that he was a year ago, but as he gets farther away from the shoulder strain or whatever it was, the elbow, I think he's going to start using it more and more and get right back to where he was in the past.

What strides has Simon Castro made over the last two years with you?

Dave Rajsich: He is much more relaxed. He understands that his mechanics are still a little suspect, but they're so much cleaner and the arm comes through much better, gives him a chance to throw more strikes and he really, really picked up the changeup so well in the second half.

Erik Davis got better as the season went on. What happened that he saw such improvement?

Dave Rajsich: Davis is the guy from Stanford, and he had a tired arm coming out of college, I mean they just really abused him. He was one of their studs at Stanford, and he had a bunch of complete games and it just took its toll on his arm. You could see him going through a dead arm period after 45, 50 pitches or so. The pitches that he has, the fastball, the changeup and the curveball, they're going to be really exceptional to see as he comes back fresh next year. Because I think everything's going to be crisper, and what I saw is very impressive.

Tyson Bagley was really good against left-handed hitters. Why did he have so much success against them?

Dave Rajsich: I just think because he's allowed to be free and he's had because when he misses, he misses arm side and I think he's a little bit leery of the right-handed hitter. Against the lefties, he doesn't have to worry about that, and he just lets it go.

I think he has a lot of work that needs to be done with his delivery. He's very much of a maximum effort type of pitcher and needs to calm that down and then just learn to let that ball come out in a downhill plane because he's got the size. My God, he's 6-foot-8 and he just pitches down in the zone where he's throwing that fastball a little bit more with control instead of being at maximum effort – there's no telling what he can do.

He picked up the changeup very quickly. He hadn't thrown it as a closer down there in Texas at Dallas Baptist, and I think that by him adding that pitch into his repertoire is going to make his fastball better.

Gary Poynter seemed to have a lot of downward movement on his pitches. Is he someone to watch?

Dave Rajsich: He is a converted position player, and when you see him throw, he was like Bagley: he was a max effort kind of guy in a low arm slot and he drops his elbow when he throws certain pitches, and he just never understood his mechanics.

He's kind of stiff on the front side, but you watch where the ball comes out of his hand 94 mph, you're going, ‘Holy cow! This guy's got an idea what he's doing here as far as velocity.' And it moves unbelievably. He has, he's just scratched the surface of what he can do. He's interesting.

The first day he came out he threw probably 25 curveballs. And they were good curveballs. I go, ‘What am I going to call you, Captain Hook? I mean, what's with all these curveballs?' He stopped throwing it. He stopped throwing it! He'started throwing a fastball, slider and changep. And I'm like, ‘Wait a minute. Where's that curveball I saw?'

I mean, he's just a very raw, strong, powerful kid that, you know, once he starts to figure things out, he looks like he's going to be fearless out there. But he does have tremendous movement. Very, very raw.

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