Evaristo Lantigua: He's got a great changeup. For me, he's maybe the best changeup out of all of the Latin guys. He has a great changeup and he's got terrific command on the changeup. He can pitch around the plate. He's got the command on the fastball and on the change, no doubt about it. He just pitches with the fastball and change. His breaking ball, he still needs a lot of work on that. He went to the instructional league just to work on the curveball. I see this guy, if he gets the curveball working, I see this guy pitching in the big leagues very soon. For me, he is the best pitcher out of the Latin groups. His fastball is 86 to 90.
Juan Oramas allowed 23 hits all year – what made him so successful?
Evaristo Lantigua: He came up this year with a good fastball, up to 91 sometimes 92; most of the time he pitches 88 to 91. He sometimes overthrows, that's why you see all of those walks, trying to throw hard. When he goes and tries to go after the hitter, throw strikes, he's amazing. He has a great, great curveball, plus that fastball with movement. That's another thing; his fastball moves a lot and that curveball. He's still working on that changeup. Those Mexican guys, because they play in Mexico their whole life, they have a decent plan of what they're trying to do.
Erick Ojeda is someone that Randy Smith mentioned as coming a long way. What is he throwing?
Evaristo Lantigua: He's one of the biggest. This guy is like 6-foot-6. A young guy, I think he never played baseball before the signing. He was throwing 82, 84 maybe. So, from last year to this year, he went up to 92. Last year, he threw a lot of balls. He couldn't pitch two innings in a row last year. This year, he started for us and I think he did a great job. His changeup improved a lot. He still needs to be aggressive on his curveball, still slow down his arm on the curveball. But, I think next year he is going to be fun to watch if he continues growing up the way he did from last year to this year.
Pedro Martinez had a rough debut with high walk totals. Are you still excited about him?
Evaristo Lantigua: Pedro Martinez is an outfielder converted into a pitcher, so he never pitched before. Great arm, great arm. Outstanding curveball, still up in the zone most of the time over throwing because he knows he throws hard.
In my country, hitters, they are just concerned about hitting the ball as far as they can, and pitchers throwing as hard as they can. I see in Pedro still a baby. He is a huge guy, but his mind is like a baby. But, I see this guy pitching in the big leagues also once he gets matured a little bit more mentally. He's got the stuff, no doubt.
Juan Herrera also walked a lot of people. How can he be successful?
Evaristo Lantigua: I think he's the best. He's the best, although maybe the second best prospect because for me Severino Perez is the best prospect. In Herrera, I see somebody throwing 100 miles per hour. He already threw 94 consistently, every outing he threw 94.
A young guy with a great curveball. You see the curveball in the bullpen. In the game, he doesn't show the same kind of curveball. A decent changeup; when he started the season, that's when he walked a lot of guys because at the end he got better. More confidence; I talked to him a little bit about it and he said to me that he didn't want to get hit, so he was trying to pitch around the corners, that's why he got all of those walks. Yeah, he was afraid to pitch to contact. Those are a couple of things that happened to a Latin guy without a lot of experience. I think everybody is going to love him.
You mentioned Severino Perez as being the best pitcher to come out of there. What makes you say that and how is his health?
Evaristo Lantigua: Severino Perez is another outfielder converted into a pitcher. This guy, he has been hurt the whole year, or almost the whole year. He was caught by Major League Baseball with a steroid thing, so he got suspended for 50 games by the time he was getting ready to pitch. Severino Perez is another guy; he is right-handed and can pitch from 88 to 93. He has great, great stuff, curveball and changeup; throws more strikes than Herrera. He knows how to pitch better than Herrera. He reminds me of Soriano, this guy from Seattle and now with the Braves.
Evaristo Lantigua: Yeah, Rafael Soriano. Physically, he looks like Soriano. I think he's the best prospect and the number two is Herrera.
Have you had a chance to see Adys Portillo pitch and what were your thoughts on him?
Evaristo Lantigua: Portillo, I just saw him face two hitters because at the same time they working with the tryouts I was working out with the team, so I couldn't see him. What I saw, I really loved it. Command, he has three pitches; he showed command, great body. I cannot tell you much about this guy because I didn't see him good enough to go over a lot of things about him.
Luis Domoromo is seen as a player with upside after signing on July 2 – what did you see from him?
Evaristo Lantigua: Domoromo and Aristy, I worked with them a lot. Domoromo has great stuff, a good swing, sweet swing. He's a gap-to-gap hitter. I think he's going to have some power we're working on. Good body, physically, he looks like Kulbacki, Kellen Kulbacki. He can play some defense I think; he can play center field. I don't know if he's going to stay over there. It looks to me that he's going to get so strong, maybe corner in the future. In the next few years, he can play in center field. Decent arm, average arm, but hitting wise, he looks very good; I like him, he uses the whole field. Like I said, a gap-to-gap hitter.
Alvaro Aristy is considered a great fielding shortstop but can he hit as well?
Evaristo Lantigua: Yeah, he catches everything. Not any doubt about defense and throwing. He can do all things defensively; he catches everything, everything; great hands, great arm.
The only concern I have with Aristy is his body. He's a skinny guy, he reminds me of Ciriaco. Remember Juan Ciriaco, he used to be with us, now with the Giants. Thin bones. I don't think he's going to gain a lot of pounds. That's one concern that I have. On his swing, he has the front side always open, bailing out. He's got a sweep swing. He's got that type of swing. We worked a lot trying to get him better; he's gotten a little better, pulls everything. Defensively, I have no doubt about Aristy, just his batting and his swings. He can hit the fastball. With the breaking ball, he's afraid of it.
I think we had higher expectations for Juan Chavez this year, and he gave up eight or nine homers?
Evaristo Lantigua: His changeup this year was up in the zone. All of those homers came with his changeup up in the zone. He's got a great changeup, but it was up in the zone. Chavez, I think he can pitch, but he's a guy with, I don't want to say a bad attitude, but he's a guy that you see on the mound who doesn't show poise; he's not competitive; he looks like a lazy guy on the mound, like no patience. He's like somebody that is not alive. He's just there working like a lazy man. He's a guy who, I think, was one of my pitchers that anytime he goes out, he's going to give you five innings.
The last guy I wanted to talk about is Luis De La Cruz and how he has done.
Evaristo Lantigua: De La Cruz has a great body, a good arm, but I think he still doesn't – the adjustment he has made for me is not enough. I think he was lucky this year. He had decent numbers, but I don't know what's going to happen with this guy. He is an inconsistent guy; sometimes he shows you a great slider all over the zone; a good fastball, most of the time up in the zone. He is a slow learner.
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