Tom Gamboa: I have only gotten to see a few games but saw a lot of good things in minicamp as well.
We are thrilled with the progress we have seen of Eddie (Edinson) Rincon. In fact, in Spring Training, projection wise, we figured Eddie would be playing everyday in Arizona. Of all of our Latin kids, Eddie has shown the best aptitude in learning what we preach, being patiently aggressive.
Latin players, especially having managed 10 years down there, are notoriously aggressive and will tend to expand the zone and chase. If you ask any coach or instructor, we would rather have someone be overly aggressive and work on backing them off than someone who is innately passive and try to make them more aggressive.
In Eddie's case, the progress we saw in extended was so terrific that he warranted an opportunity to play here and of course he is hitting third in the lineup, hitting over .350 and has done damage with extra base hits and homers.
When we look at projecting our guys because it is all about playing in the big leagues, he is one guy that if you envision this 19-year-old kid three or four years down the road, you could see him doing what Aramis Ramirez does for the Chicago Cubs. When I was coaching for the Cubs, Ramirez made his big league debut at 19 from Pittsburgh. It was much too soon for him but getting acclimated to the level. Seeing him when he first came up and seeing him today, I can easily see Eddie falling into that same vain. That was personally the most exciting thing for me to see.
You mentioned something that struck a cord. You had Logan Forsythe who perhaps was too passive at times last season. How do you break that kind of mold and get him to be a little more aggressive?
Tom Gamboa: I have not seen Logan being too passive. He has the thumb injury and missed virtually the whole season. The first time I got to see him play was literally in Instructs. Now he was kind of like an outsider fitting in. He was with a cast of all of our players who knew each other and got to play together.
Now, he is getting a chance to partake and coming off the injury was behind the eight-ball, so to speak. Being an older guy, unfortauntely, with some college experience, I totally agree with you. In the first couple of weeks, he was totally passive but once his eye got back in tune with the rhythm of the pitching – once he got it going, he put on a show the last three weeks of Instructional League. On our chart, we thought, ‘Geez, we got two really good third basemen out of this draft.' We all, to a man, had Forsythe one notch above Darnell, which is where they broke this year. And at the halfway point, fortunately, they were both able to advance. We are thrilled.
We know we have struggled at the big league level, which is where it counts, but people who have studied this Padres system through the first half and through July and August – there are a lot of things to be excited about in the future.
Talk about this year's draft and what you have seen from them so far.
Tom Gamboa: Some of the guys that come to mind – we were all impressed with Matt Vern, a big, strong, right-handed hitting outfielder with a Mickey Mantle type body. Just big and strong, build like a rock, with a lot of athletic skills. We just need to polish him up. We are hoping to improve his load so we can more utilize his strength to get the bat head out in the zone. He was exciting.
Jason Codiroli had a real good extended session and has a chance to be a fine all-around player that I think will be with us for a long time. We will see how far it takes him.
Bo Davis has a wide base – I am not sure how he generates any power?
Bo Davis I was seeing for the first time before he got injured but was getting praise from the staff. Seeing a few games, I got him running 4.1 to first base so we know he has some speed. We know he has hand-eye coordination to put the bat to ball.
As you said – we have a philosophy that when we first sign guys who have had success in college, we feel the worst thing we can do is change them right out of the gate. If a guy struggles in pro ball, he has a built in alibi for failure in ‘they changed me.' Wherever I have been, we have always preached to let them play and get acclimated to living away from home, to the wood bat, to the pro ball environment of bus rides and playing seven days a week. Let us let them get acclimated and relaxed while we keep our eyes and ears open and let them show us the signs.
Any coaches dream is to see a player fail. You get to see emotionally how they handle it since pro ball is a marathon instead of a spint and you have to be able to handle the peaks and valleys. Second, if he is struggling after 100 at-bats and you have had ample time to see what he can do and use your experience as a coach to see why he is struggling, the player is going to be much more apt to take your suggestion in terms of mechanical changes if and when he is floundering when you can get him on the right path. Now, you have him feeding out of your hand when he sees you are able to help him.
In Bo's case, I agree with you 100 percent. That wide base – when you see a guy like that it is generally because he has had trouble lunging at off-speed and breaking pitches. To us, they substitute one bad habit for another. In time, we will try and correct that and get him in a more athletic position where he can get a better load. He may have power we are not seeing because he certainly has size and strength. His stroke is more of one for contact right now.