Tornicasa on TinCaps hitting prospects

FORT WAYNE: Tom Tornicasa is in his 10th year in the Padres' organization and his fifth year as the hitting coach in Fort Wayne. Players up and down the system praise "Torni" as the ultimate swing doctor that can get them back on track from the deepest slumps.

Since you have been doing this for a long time, what are your general impressions of Jaff Decker?

Tom Tornicasa: He's pretty good. He has a lot of potential and can hit, but there are still things he needs to figure out. Pitch selection, his approach, because he is inconsistent with it at times, but he still knows how to hit. He still needs to learn a little bit more about pitch selection. Don't get me wrong, for someone that is 19, he is very, very good, but he is not someone that you are going to send to the big leagues right now.

When watching how he hits, the open stance, the toe tap, initially it looks more complicated than it is. It's actually very smooth. Did the organization do anything to refine his stance?

Tom Tornicasa: At the beginning, we worked a lot on that. We had to make sure that he was in control of it. Earlier, he did it and just jumped right out there and tried to hit, and that is what I mean by learning how to hit. Now he has more of a rhythm to it. Earlier in the year, especially from the stretch, with the slide step, he was either a little too early or too late; now we have him working in concert with the pitcher. There is a lot of timing with it, he brings the foot forward and then kind of waits for it. He used to tap real quick regardless of what the pitcher does.

A different hitter Blake Tekotte started to come on after a rough couple of months early in the season. What did you work with him on?

Tom Tornicasa: A little bit on his swing path and how he was getting to the ball. He had his hands pretty far behind his head and we got that untucked. He was jumping out a little at the ball and his approach was not under control. You know this, and you see a lot of it at this level, some guys we get here at first aren't under control in the box and are jumping out at the ball with too much movement. They end up not getting a good look at the baseball.

How about Allan Dykstra? He put up some good numbers in limited time in Lake Elsinore and this year the organization tried to reconstruct his swing in order to give him more success at higher levels. What has worked and what hasn't?

Tom Tornicasa: I wasn't part of that in the Instructs or spring so I can't really comment on what they were doing. When I got him, he was a real long stride guy and quick at the plate. He was a little stiff because he wasn't using his hands, and we have been trying to work with him on that.

You had Drew Cumberland last year and this year and it seems like the ball is flying off his bat this year because he is a little bigger.

Tom Tornicasa: He understands his swing a little better and went through some of the same things last year that other guys here are going through now. He has been consistent the whole year and is swinging well, and I really like him.

Cole Figueroa generates quite a bit of power without much stride. Where does his power come from?

Tom Tornicasa: He stays on his backside real well and uses his lower half real well. His swing is very short and quick and uses the pitcher to create some power, which is what we try to teach and like to see.

Dan Robertson seems that he has a very quick stroke and moreover seems to understand situational hitting as well as anyone on your roster.

Tom Tornicasa: He understands hitting very well. He can get a little jumpy sometimes, but overall his mechanics and hitting ability are pretty good.

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