Peyton on Padres Eugene hitting prospects

The San Diego Padres found another strong teacher in Eric Peyton. Working for the Eugene Emeralds, Peyton was on the front lines, helping Northwest League MVP Dan Robertson, Blake Tekotte, Sawyer Carroll, James Darnell, and Jeudy Valdez.

Dan Robertson did it all this season as the Northwest League MVP. Did you have to suggest any changes to his swing along the way?

Eric Peyton: Actually, we talked about his swing the first part of the season when I first saw him and he took it from there. He just took it from there, started understanding what we call staying inside the baseball more.' He really learned how to take advantage of that, and he started gaining his confidence from there and he just took off. So it was the first time I talked to a player and pretty much he just felt good with what he wanted to change and then it just kind of started working for him right from the start. He said he got more power out of it. It's just really learning how to use the legs more.

Blake Tekotte seemed to have a little bit of a rap in his swing but has exceptionally quick hands. Is that something that will have to be limited?

Eric Peyton: Yes, it does and what I like is the fact that he realized how much rap he had in his swing. The only thing was he didn't get in, he just needed more ABs and for him to have his mind understand it more so his body kind of does it more consistently. So, what happens is every time he started rapping, we talked about it, and he knows it's hard for him to break that habit. I thought instructional league would be really good for him to go there and work on that.

But as far as swinging a bat, like you said, very quick hands, a lot of pop for his size and going to be a number 1 crew hitter or even 9, my report said he pulls everything, they were really pitching him away because of the rap and a loop in his swing. He realized what he needed to work on in instructional league and worked on it more and all the other instructors got to see him, and then hopefully over the winter he'll work on that. But he'll be fine.

I look at him like a first-year player now that I've seen enough baseball and know what a first-year player has to go through. He'd gotten away with that swing for so long. I figure it will take about a year for him to try to get that changed.

Sawyer Carroll hit the ball with authority all year long. What was the key to his success?

Eric Peyton: Good balance, good free loads, good separation in his swing. Still a little loopy, just because the aluminum bat type swing, and he was still learning, making an adjustment.

I think one of the things I noticed in young people is that they really didn't have to make adjustments before. When you get in pro baseball, you have to make adjustments, a little bit, and it just takes time.

But great attitude, hustle, plays hard, loves to play, and kind of what I like is that even when he's struggling he still has the same kind of temperament, just played hard, knew he had a loop in his swing. He worked on his batting practice, but from batting practice to getting to the game takes a little time. I know he was glad that he got to go up to Fort Wayne where he could see a little bit more of what we were talking about and get another opinion on that.

James Darnell came to you late and seemed to show he can hit the ball with authority. What impressed you about him?

Eric Peyton: First of all, I just liked his attitude. I thought he was a great kid. He also asked a lot of questions. He asked a lot, so he was very inquisitive about the swing, the mechanics of the swing. And then he kind of realized where his swing was. He also made an adjustment when he got here. One of the scary things for me is for me to say, ‘Hey, I'm not here to change your swing.' I'm just here to say, ‘Hey, look what you can do better.' And he saw that, and he worked with it, and he drove in some big runs, he battled, and for him only having that many A-Bs, he did pretty good.

Yeah, and obviously they thought highly enough of him that he's been in Lake Elsinore for that play-off run here.

Eric Peyton: Yeah, I was there the last two nights. I was in Murrieta, and he came down and Carlos put him in last night, and he got to see these players that are more consistent staying down and through the ball more.

It is one of the things I saw, and I was telling Carlos and Shane Spencer and I go, ‘You can really see the difference when a player has a year or even two – not a year – two seasons under his belt how more consistent they are getting down and through the ball.'

James Darnell's getting to see these players in front of him and they're giving him a good chance for instructional league and for next season. He already got to see what he needs to do to make a little bit more of an adjustment. The rotational is the biggest thing for college players to make an adjustment to. And that rotational swing, even when I saw Allen Dykstra the last two nights, a good-looking kid, just too much rotational. And they're starting to figure him out a little bit. Once you've been through it – they need to go through this so they can say, ‘Hey, I need to make a little bit of an adjustment mentally,' and my work ethic is maybe going to improve my swing.

Jeudy Valdez also has a lot of athleticism but it seems the mental part of the game will, at times, get in the way of his success.

Eric Peyton: He has to take a little more pride in wanting to learn, or be studious. He does get lazy. He's young, though. He's 19, it's probably better to ask him questions about how much does he understand the game.

Talent-wise, yes, he has talent. Lot of players do, does he really have the instinct for the game a little bit more. Even talking about base running, I'll tell him, ‘Hey, let's get a good jump,' but I don't even know if he knew that or not. Does he really understand that? But good kid, I like him, good kid. For me, that's important. You can say, ‘Hey, Valdey, do that,' and he would say ‘yes,' but I don't know, saying ‘yes', does he really understand what's going on? He's going to need a translator to really help him pick up things more.

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