Skube on AZL Padres hitting prospects

Bob Skube was instrumental in installing the San Diego Padres hitting program in rookie ball, tutoring names such as Robert Lara, Edinson Rincon, Chris Hardin, Kevin Hansen, Tim Atherton, Adam Zornes, while also adding his surprise of the year.

Robert Lara showed great patience and the ability to find some gaps. What kind of hitter can he be?

Bob Skube: Well, actually I'm doing my reports right now and I just finished up on Robert and I graded him out very high. I expect him to do very well at the higher levels. He's a gap-to-gap power guy. I think in the next couple years he'll actually be a 15 to 20 home run guy.

Really came in with great aptitude, just came in with an open mind and really took onto the hitting philosophy, and it really helped him out. He was kind of a opposite field, one-hand, big swing guy that kind of just wanted to guide everything to right field and now we've got him in a little bit more of a closed stance and he pulls the ball with power. He hits the ball to both gaps with power.

I was really pleased with his progress and the way he came around as far as a hitter. Really understood how to get into hitters' counts and took good swings once he did get in the hitter's counts.

Edinson Rincon proved to be clutch down the stretch, coming through with men on base. What impressed you about him?

Bob Skube: Well, he just turned 18 like a month ago. Wow. Extreme – he has a lot of power, obviously still really young. His weakness right now is that he just tends to over swing once in a while. But his discipline got a lot better as he got more playing time.

What was impressive about him was, again, like Decker being 18 and understanding the approach that the Padres want to teach our young hitters in that you see a lot of pitchers and get into hitters' counts and drive the ball once you get into those hitters' counts, and he did a really good job of that.

Chris Hardin isn't drafted but winds up putting together a quality year for you. What can you tell us about him?

Bob Skube: Chris Hardin. I think he's going to surprise a lot of people. He's a guy that if you're standing around the batting cage when everyone's taking batting practice, the sound coming off of his bat is a little bit different than everyone else. If you watch him with the naked eye and watch him hit, you can sit there and go, ‘You know what, he does this wrong, he does this wrong, he does this wrong.' You put him on tape and you look at him slowed down and he really has a good approach and he has extremely quick hands.

I've compared him to, and I mean this is a Hall of Famer that I played with, Paul Molitor. And Paul had some incredibly quick hands and Chris Hardin has displayed that in the couple months that he's been here, with power. He hits the ball hard in the gaps, hits the ball to all fields. His swing is not where he wants it to be, yet, which, as a coach you sit there and go, ‘Wow, here's a kid that really hit .300 all year, above .300, and then just kind of tailed off for a couple weeks.' And he's not happy with his swing and so that just tells me that he's just going to work hard to get even better.

Kevin Hansen also isn't drafted but also contributes regularly. And he ended up in Fort Wayne for the final game of the year. That has to mean you thought he could handle it as well.

Bob Skube: Oh, absolutely. I had no problem with him going up there. He's another guy who's a great student of the game, understands the game. Talent-wise you look at him, stature you look at him; he's not a big guy.

But, he's just that – I was talking to Jose Flores, the manager, about Hansen many a night after games, and he's the kind of guy that if you didn't keep reports, if you didn't keep numbers on the bench, you'd say, ‘Oh, yeah, Hansen played.' Then you look at the report, and he had three hits, he had twp hits, he had two great plays. He just was the guy that he really didn't – he didn't stand out but the guy was always in the middle of the win. He always had the great play in the seventh inning with the bases loaded to turn a double play or he got the second out, two-run double in the seventh inning to put you up by two. He's just one of those players who just always shows up, another great guy to work with.

Boy, the draft and who we brought into the organization, like a Hansen and a Hardin, who's just outstanding. The quality of the players with their attitude and their wanting to get better, it was a very, very impressive year as far as that goes.

Australian Tim Atherton seemed a bit raw but can you see the underlying talent he possesses?

Bob Skube: Timmy is very young. You know we have to understand that they don't play baseball down there like we do over here. They're definitely behind when it comes to playing as a 10-year-old or a 12-year-old or whatever. So he's behind that way as far as playing games, but he has a lot of raw talent.

He's got an extremely good arm, how it shows power. Just really down on himself because he wants to compete at this level and it was a push for him to be at this level right now. He's young; he's like a high school senior right now. But you know what, he has some promise. He has a great arm and he's another kid that worked very hard.

What did you see out of Adam Zornes during his brief time with you?

Bob Skube: Very similar to Logan Forsythe. Mature player, understands hitting, a student of the game, understands the game well, pays attention to the pitchers that he's going to face, wants as much information as he can get before he faces these guys. Really pays attention, very aggressive, I liked him a lot. He wasn't here very long, but everything that I saw I really liked a lot. I enjoyed working with him, also.

Is there anyone else who impressed you, despite what the numbers might say?

Bob Skube: Kevin Acosta came a long way as far as being a young Dominican that came in and really was going to be a utility guy, never really thought that he was going to play much, got to play probably more than anybody thought in the organization, and did well, hit over .300. He had some errors, but you know what, he made some great plays, too. He's a promising young player.

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