Skube on AZL Padres hitting prospects

The San Diego Padres have placed a key stop in the hands of Bob Skube. As hitting coach of the Arizona Rookie League Padres, Skube tutored young men such as AZL MVP Jaff Decker, Aaron Murphree, Jason Codiroli, Logan Forsythe, Keisy Marte, and Wary Polanco.

The conversation has to begin with the exploits of Jaff Decker. This kid had a phenomenal season. What impressions did he leave on you?

Bob Skube: Really understands hitting, extremely advanced for being 18. He hits like somebody that's 22, 23 that's been in the system for a couple of years. His philosophy and what the Padres preach is pretty much right on, so it really made it easy for him. He's a very disciplined hitter, gets good pitches to hit, doesn't chase out of the zone, and has a lot of power. I think the difference with Deck, between him and your other average left-handed hitting outfielders in the minor leagues, is that he has so much power the other way. He can literally hit the ball out of left field in any park that I've ever played in. He's very talented in that way.

Did you have to work with him on making any adjustments?

Bob Skube: Not really. We clicked right away. I knew him prior to him being drafted by the Padres. He played high school baseball against my son, who's going to be a senior this year, and he's played on the same scout teams with him before, so I knew him prior to coming over to the Padres. But not really a whole bunch of adjustments, maybe just calming him down. He had a lot of movement coming into the organization. A lot of movement as in getting ready to hit, and we kind of eliminated some of that. And other than that, he's just done it all himself. Outstanding hitter.

Aaron Murphree has a lot of raw power – what will be the key to his success moving forward?

Bob Skube: His biggest thing is the mechanical issue, and he drops his hands early in his swing, so he's pretty much a fastball hitter and towards the end of the year we really worked diligently, he worked at keeping his hands up on his takes and just leaving those hands back in a strong hitting position so that when he did get off-speed – because he's so big he's going to see a lot of off-speed – that he was in a good strong position to take a good swing at the off-speed along with the fastballs. I think that was his biggest adjustment, and I think if he carries that out he's going to do fine.

Jason Codiroli was another player who kept with the Padres patient approach and was a catalyst for you guys at the top of the lineup.

Bob Skube: Yes. He came in with a very similar approach. He did a great job in a leadoff spot for us in seeing a lot of pitches. Didn't walk as much as we anticipated in the beginning, but then the middle of his season and towards the end was really starting to get a lot of walks and get on base and stole bases early in the count. He did a great job with left-handed pitching; he did an outstanding job with just staying in there with left-handed pitching.

You had Logan Forsythe after he recovered from his injury and it seemed he was just getting his legs back when the season ended. What did you see from him?

Bob Skube: Like what I saw in Logan. He's a talented young player that I'm really excited about being able to work with him. He's got a lot of talent. Understands hitting again, very diligent in his approach, really is a student of the pitcher that he's going to be facing that day, really wants to get as much information as he can about that pitcher and studies him before his at-bats, watches from the dugout really well; understands hitting very well. Came from a college where the hitting coach, I respect everything that I've heard about him. But he's going to be a – I would anticipate Logan being a high average 20 to 30 doubles a year, middle-of-the-order kind of guy that plays great defense. I think he'll carry that through every level he plays at.

Keisy Marte seemed to do all the little things well for you. How does he handle the bat?

Bob Skube: Marte had a great first half. He handled the bat well, played great defense, he struggled in the second half and it got to him, confidence-wise, and he really struggled in the second half, hitting and defensively. And it was just a matter of his confidence being down. He had a couple of bad games and it affected him on his defensive side of the game as well as hitting. I mean, he had flashes of the first half a couple of games in the second half, but we had guys come in after the first half, like (Kevin) Hansen and (Dean) Anna, (Joey) Railey, so it really kind of shortened up his playing time once he had a couple of bad games and then it was hard for him to get back in the lineup once Hansen showed up and had the season he did.

Wary Polanco didn't get a ton of at-bats during the season but is he someone who could surprise in the future?

Bob Skube: I was so excited about Wary's progress the last five to six weeks of the season. Yeah, he didn't get much playing time, but the things that went on off the field in his extra batting practice and his batting practice every day, he made huge strides, unbelievable difference in approach. I think he finally bought into the program, I think the language barrier slowed him down somewhat, but I could say right now that he's a much better hitter than he was six months ago and his approach is only going to get better from here on out.

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