Tornicasa on Padres Low-A hitting prospects

Tom Tornicasa taught some exciting names at Low-A in the San Diego Padres system, including prospect such as Drew Cumberland, Luis Durango, Luis Martinez, Andrew Parrino, Lance Zawadzki and Adam Zornes.

Drew Cumberland was really turning it on when he got injured. What did you see from Drew that allows him to be successful?

Tom Tornicasa: That kid he works his butt off and he's a gamer. He goes after it. I think just the way he plays the game that it's like he won't – he wouldn't let himself fail. It's always like, ‘What do I have to do? Let's do this. This is what I'm doing, how can I?' I mean he was always looking for an answer to improve his game. I tell you what, that kid's going to be a heck of a player.

We've just got to get him healthy for the whole year.

Tom Tornicasa: Did you hear what happened to him? How he was supposed to come back to us? And then he dove over in that game over there in Peoria and messed his finger up.

What kind of luck is that? That's the second year in a row. He's trying to catch a ball and he fractures the thumb.

Tom Tornicasa: I'll tell you what, that hurt us when he – the time he missed with us. That was a big difference for us. Because he was a sparkplug and, like you said, I think when he got hurt, he was hitting .285 or something in that area.

He was hitting .400 in the last 15 games before the injury.

Tom Tornicasa: Yeah, because I was going to say he was tearing it up at the end. He came a long way, too, because he was hitting barely .200.

He can fly. So he's going to get those infield hits as well as driving the ball. And that was the thing that actually impressed me more so with him before he got hurt was everything he was hitting was, I mean it came off the bat well, was hit hard. As he gets older and matures, he's someone I would definitely keep an eye on.

Luis Durango had a slow start but seemed to turn it on down the stretch before his promotion.

Tom Tornicasa: Yeah, yeah. He was the same way. He had a few batting titles under his belt, and I don't think he was really prepared for that type of pitching that he saw. For me, there's a big difference from Eugene to Fort Wayne. I think that's actually a bigger jump than say Fort Wayne to Elsinore. And I think he was a little bit surprised by it that a lot of these guys are getting to some of those balls that he was chopping and he was beating out maybe in Eugene and now he's getting thrown out at first.

But he learned to drive the ball a little more instead of just being more of a slap guy like he was at the beginning of the year, especially right-handed he started showing a little more drive on the ball and was able to drive some gaps and do some things right-handed.

Left-handed he got a little better, but I still think he needs to get a little bit stronger with the bat left-handed so he can actually drive the ball. He did it, I think the game before, a couple of games before he went up to Elsinore. They were kind of cheating him in center, and left-handed he hit one dead center right on the warning track short hopped the wall. So, I don't know. Maybe there's something a little more in there than everyone thinks.

Luis Martinez had a tough season hitting but came on towards the end. What adjustments did you make with him?

Tom Tornicasa: Yeah, we did a few little things. His approach needed to be straightened out, basically. He was real quick and everything was whole body out front to swing, and we got him to stay back a little more and keep everything a little more quiet, and he started coming around.

Actually, he was probably one of our better hitters at the end, especially against left-handers. No question about left-handers. He was hitting them real well. And that's all we seemed to see that last month of August.

Andrew Parrino came into the year lacking any patience. This year, he made a lot of strides in that area. What did you see from him?

Tom Tornicasa: He was another guy, real fast, real eager, always in high gear at the plate where it's really the opposite, where you just got to relax and settle in. After you make your approach, that's when really the effort to swing the bat happens. He was making his effort move on his approach, which was getting him way out front and swinging and everything. That's why he actually ended up having a bunch of strikeouts because of that fact. But I thought he did much better towards the end. Wasn't striking out quite as much. But he still had too many strikeouts for the type of player that he's going to be.

Lance Zawadzki had a quality season. How can he continue to improve?

Tom Tornicasa: He had that slow start, too. I know he was hitting somewhere like around .201 or somewhere just above that, .205. I'll tell you what, all those guys, they really do work at their game and that's, that's very important for them, especially at this level. And Zawadzki is in the same category.

He was always working on things and trying to straighten a few things out. Especially at this level, this low A level, a lot of it is, the first thing you have to straighten out and it's true of all these guys that were in Fort Wayne, is their approach. Because, if their approach is bad, then their swing is going to be bad. You're not going to see the ball the way you should see it to determine if it's a strike or a ball. So, he worked on that quite a bit and straightened out a few things. And, actually, the second half did really well, I thought.

Adam Zornes wasn't with you long but what did you see from him during his short time with you?

Tom Tornicasa: I liked the way he catches. He was a good defensive catcher, blocked the ball real well, has a strong arm.

On the offensive side he's got a couple little things that he needs to straighten out, which he probably will. He has some potential with the bat. Has a little bit of pop, and the swing itself is actually pretty good. So I think, defensively, I know he will do a real nice job and I think he will end up hitting well.

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