Lezcano on Lake Elsinore Storm hitters

LAKE ELSINORE, CA: Carlos Lezcano has managed in the Padres organization since 2003, when he started with the old Idaho Falls Padres in the Pioneer League (short-season). He is now entering his third year with the Storm, having made the playoffs each season.

The Puerto Rican native is the cousin of Sixto Lezcano and played two years with the Chicago Cubs before starting his managerial career with the AZL Mariners in 1992.

He is a fun, intelligent person who has a good rapport with his players. His teams play hard and he puts a particular emphasis on "playing the game the right way", which, for him, begins with playing solid defense and smart baseball.

Get to the park early and you will see a lot more than players taking batting practice or pitchers throwing bullpens. His teams stress the importance of taking infield, taking fly balls, working on different base-running situations, and, most importantly, developing the confidence to know what to do in any type of game situation.

In essence, Lezcano likes to have fun, but you better work and come prepared every day if you want to play.

Editor's Note: We interviewed Lezcano prior to the promotions of Lance Zawadzki and Logan Forsythe to DoubleA San Antonio.

This level is about the midpoint of the minor league system. What is the biggest adjustment that players have to make coming here from the short-season leagues and Fort Wayne?

Carlos Lezcano: This is High-A ball, which is pretty close to Double-A, and this is where you find the guys that may be able to play in the big leagues. We have a 10-team league, but the south and north divisions see each other much more. We know all the players because everyone sees each other so much, its like getting the scouting reports in the big leagues.

So its about making constant adjustments, especially coming from the Midwest League where you have so many teams that might only play each other once or twice a year. Here its about making adjustments, which is what you have to do to succeed in the big leagues.

All the players here can swing the bat and pitch and have some experience in doing it on the pro level. Really its the stepping stone to Double-A, and if you can play in Double-A, there is a pretty good chance you can play in the majors.

Logan Forsythe has been getting quite a bit of attention. Can you give us a general scouting report on him?

Carlos Lezcano: He does well at third base defensively. We've tried to get him to go to his left a little better so he can be off the line a little more and get more range. Also working on him coming in a little better on the slow rollers. He has good hands, good arm and moves well, a good prospect.

Offensively he walks, hits and sees the balls real well. He could be a little more aggressive in RBI situations, but he is doing what we want him to do, see a lot of balls and getting a good pitch to hit. He's been very consistent and plays everyday. To me, he is a big league prospect.

Shortstop Lance Zawadzki has improved last year both at the plate and what he is doing with the glove. What has been your impression of him?

Carlos Lezcano: We have all stressed with him the importance of being able to separate offense from defense and play every pitch. If he moves his feet and plays the ball, he will be fine. But shortstop is not a position to relax mentally, even if you are not hitting. He has to be ready every pitch, and for him the key is with his feet. So many of his errors last year were about not having good footwork.

Where does his power come from?

Carlos Lezcano: Sometimes it gets him in a little bit of trouble because he tries to do too much, but he has a real nice swing from both sides of the plate. If he keeps his line drive stroke and hits the ball out in front, he is going to hit home runs without even trying.

Brad Chalk seems to be hitting the ball with more authority, which is what they were working on last year with him in Fort Wayne, is that what you are trying to do here without taking away what he does well; get on base and run?

Carlos Lezcano: Once in awhile he needs to be able to pull the inside fastball to right field, which he has been doing this year. If you can prove you can do that, they won't pound you inside as much. It forces them to pitch him more honest.

You don't want to take him out of his game, putting the bat on the ball. He has a nice plane to his swing. He can bunt for a base hit, can run some and he has a good idea of when to run on the basepaths. I think as he gets a little older and a little stronger, he's going to hit the gaps more.

Felix Carrasco this year appears to have a much better idea of what he is trying to do at the plate. What did he do to improve at the plate and how can he improve his defense?

Carlos Lezcano: It's hard for me to compare him from last year because I really didn't see him that much, but he has good balance at the plate and his pitch selection has improved. He stays within the zone and doesn't drift, he has some power. For him, its about knowing the strike zone and knowing your balance.

He needs to practice the proper way on his defense and expect the ball to be hit hard to him everytime. He is going to get better and needs time to mature.

I can see your eyes light up some when we talk about defense. After observing your team for the past few days, you spend quite a bit of time everyday on it.

Carlos Lezcano: I'm glad that you noticed that. We are a National League team and when you go to Double-A and play another National League club, the pitcher has to hit. You have to know how to play defense and how to play it right, you can't give away runs. So I look at my job as a manager at this level as not only getting the player ready for the big leagues, but how to win and stay in the big leagues.

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