Kennedy on Padres Double-A hitters

Terry Kennedy has moved into a managing role but was instrumental as the Double-A hitting coach. He tutored hitters such as Josh Alley, Mike Baxter, Kyle Blanks, Craig Cooper and Chad Huffman.

Josh Alley filled a variety of roles for you, hitting everywhere except third in the lineup. How nice was it to have a plug-and-play performer like Josh?

Terry Kennedy: Josh is probably the best in the organization at what we're trying to get hitters to do. His walk/strikeout ratio is impressive, it's 2-to-1 walks. He's got it down. I think he had it before he got here – that's just the way he is.

You're right. He is in the game every day. That's really nice. He's reliable and he can play left or right. Left is probably better; and center in a pinch, but the corners are better. You're right, he can lead off or hit second and do the job.

Mike Baxter patience at the plate increased this year – was he being too selective at times?

Terry Kennedy: I don't know. The only thing that I see Mike do is he'll swing high out of the zone. But, he had a pretty good year. His RBIs per at-bat was a pretty good ratio, averaged almost 20 per 100 at-bats – that's what you want.

He can hit the fastball. He's one of the few guys we had that can adjust to excellent velocity. I think he's still growing, still learning. They didn't tell me about how it was before, but they're very pleased with him.

I had an idea that he had embraced; we're going to try and turn him in to a catcher. He's got the intelligence. He's got the good arm stroke. And the size, he's not too big, but strong enough to take the beating. All he's been doing is catching pen. We will see how he does when he starts to take a beating.

Kyle Blanks had a great season and hit for some power at home – which is no small feat. He mentioned you would always tell him to keep his hands up and stay slow. Is it that simple?

Terry Kennedy: Well, he has given me a lot of credit. Kyle has great talent and has awesome strength. I know for a fact, I don't believe, I know for a fact that he doesn't even know how strong he is and how good he could be. I think he's on this road to discovery still. He's only 21 and he just has so much strength that it's incredible. Plus, he puts the bat on the ball.

He'll get into streaks where he'll strike out, but generally he puts the bat on the ball. He does a great job. I did notice that he was getting, I don't know if it was from fatigue, or perhaps because he was getting a lot of breaking balls down in the zone, his hands had dropped down and then he was missing the fastball right down the middle. That's all the adjustment I made – it wasn't some great inspiration. I watch these guys pretty close and he just really finished strong. That's a good sign in that league where it's so hot that he finished as good as he did.

Craig Cooper has been trying to pull more balls to hit for more power through the years but has not been as successful. Has that hurt his average and the strength of his game, which seems to be hitting more line drives?

Terry Kennedy: He still needs to work on pulling the ball. I think you have to be able to prove that you can do that, any hitter, even the littlest guy. He was better. They tell me he was better. Still, he's got that strength that we see, more power numbers from him.

I think next year is going to be a watershed year for him. He's going to have to make one small change in the swing, well it's not a small change to be able to do that. We talked about it a little bit, and he would get into streaks where he could do it, but then he would slip back. When they're trying to survive, I don't want to beat them up too much about that. They're trying to get their hits and get their average up. I just do general reminders. He can put the bat on the ball. He just has to work on that a little bit more.

Chad Huffman hit really well versus left-handed pitching but struggled against righties. What did you see that had him scuffling versus right-handers?

Terry Kennedy: He has to adjust back. I just think he needs to use the whole field a little more. I think he got into a little pull mode there which hurt him against the right-handed slider. I think he can hit anybody, he's just got to make a little adjustment.

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