Randy Smith: Yeah, obviously, everybody is disappointed in the suspension, and hopefully we've put that all behind us and he's ready to go by June of next year. And go from there.
I think he has continued to improve at the plate, pitch recognition, which I thought he showed some prior to signing, but I think that improved during the year. And I think he's going to hit. I think I told you that from day one. Guys with that kind of hand eye coordination will figure out a way to hit. And I think he's showing us the knack for putting the barrel on the ball. And I think the biggest thing for him is maturity and playing time.
He needed to be a little bit more aggressive defensively and he was doing that at the end of... just before he took this break. I think it's... for a 17-year-old kid, nothing stood out negatively other than obviously the disappointment in the suspension. But from a former standpoint, I didn't see real negatives at all.
Did Luis Domoromo have the season you expected, especially considering he hit just one home run?
Randy Smith: I would have thought he might have hit for just a touch more average. The power numbers I don't really pay a whole lot of attention to yet. Great if you hit them out, but to me his bat speed improved, he's got some pitch recognition. He's got some plate discipline.
I just saw him here, first day of instructional league. It's always different when the DSL guys show up and blend in with the kids that have been in the States. Last year, you looked at him and go, ‘Ok, well that's a 16-year-old kid.' This year, the bat speed, the way the ball jumped off the bat, huge difference. Looks more like he belongs and that's kind of the progress you're looking for.
A perfect example of not making too big a deal out of DSL numbers is Liriano. Liriano barely hit .200 last year in the DSL, coming up here hitting .340. I think it's that these guys progress at their own rate. Sometimes it's not as fast as we'd like to see, but as long as they're making progress we're happy.
Luis, to me, showed maturity. He played through some back pain. He was kind of a leader in that club. Good work ethic. I thought all in all it was a positive year. Sure I'd love to see him hit .300, but the kid had no negatives and really some positives with bat speed and plate discipline were all good things. He hit seven triples. I don't think that's going to be a part of his game... as he matures, but it's nice to see.
Carlos Garcia has been in the DSL for three years. Has he turned the corner like you expected?
Randy Smith: This guy is loaded with tools. He can run, he's got power, he's got tremendous bat speed. I think he made significant progress. I don't know if he's turned the corner yet, but he's a fun guy. And hopefully we would continue to get him to improve.
Huge difference since we corrected his vision half-way through last year. But he's just pure tool wise he's a very interesting guy because of the power-speed combo, the bat speed. I think he's certainly someone to keep an eye on.
Yair Lopez – a very exciting year for a 17-year-old. He had one of the better years of anyone down there. Is he really 155 pounds?
Randy Smith: Yeah, he's gotten a little thicker than that. He might be the most improved player from November of last year to this point. Just power, plate discipline, very interesting guy. He's long, he's lean, I think he's going to fill out. But really every time I went down there he was better every single trip down there. A lot of times you see a guy take two steps forward and a step back, as the expression goes. But this guy, every time you go down there he was showing you more and more and more.
He ended the year with a bad ankle, hopefully with time off now he's back healthy in another week or so. Tremendous year for him.
Adan Velazquez had a very good year down in the DSL and might have been the MVP. I have also heard rumblings that he has some maturity issues to iron out.
Randy Smith: From a playing standpoint, he's advanced. He understands the baseball player. He understands how to play the game. Those game situations. All those things.
His tools and his physical size don't jump out at you but the more you watch him play the more you appreciate what he can do. And like all these guys, they run into some struggles, and they're just going to have to learn how to deal with that. Because most of them have never really struggled before.
The Mexican kids have played more organized baseball than the kids in the DR. This is a guy that has game awareness and understands games and will probably be very successful amateur player. He started off good and then ran into a little tough spell. And then came out and finished strong.
Jeury Castillo on the pitching side had a very good year and was one of the best at staying away from the big inning.
Randy Smith: Great body. Got some arm strength. He's an older kid, that we think has got some upside. Really pretty steady progress, breaking ball, needs to continue to improve, but the size and the arm strength were two things that got him to stand out. Like you say, he performed pretty well with it.
Marlon Claveria – you don't see many Guatemalan's who are playing baseball.
Randy Smith: He might be only the second Guatemalan that's ever been signed from what we researched at the time we signed him. So that's a rarity. and he's a big, physical kid with great work ethic. Tremendous – we need to tone him down a bit because he just works, works, works.
Pretty good feel for pitching, pretty good delivery. Got a decent breaking ball. All those good things. And now we'll just have to see how he progresses. He could pick up just a touch more velocity. But I think there's a possibility of that happening.
Did Juan Herrera make the progress you hoped in year two?
Randy Smith: A little bit of a disappointing year for him and I think part of that – he's very very young and he was eligible to play by about a week last year or else this would have been his first year. He has a late August birthday so he barely creeps underneath the wire. Another guy with a great arm.
I was pleased with what I saw in terms of his competitiveness and that type of stuff. Other times the velocity or the breaking ball, or the command wasn't there. I think he's just a young guy who's trying to figure things out and I think there's a little bit of disappointment. He came to Instructional League in the states here last year. He probably thought he was coming over here and that really wasn't even in the thought process. We liked his arm and we liked his upsides and we wanted to reward him by coming over, and I think he was probably a bit disappointed by spending another year in the DSL.
This guy, easy arm, touches 94 to 95. I think he's one of the guys with a higher ceiling down there. I just think it wasn't a great year for him. But it's a good learning process.
Same question on Pedro Martinez who you are also high on.
Randy Smith: Pedro converted to outfielder. I think the biggest thing for him was his taking care of his body. He has a tendency to... when he goes home he likes the rice and beans and has a tendency to put on some weight.
He has plus stuff. But the thing for him is to keep his body under control, and when he's in shape, it's easier for him to throw strikes -- less effort to pitch. And he just needs to take the ball and get on the mound and a left-hander with a plus arm.
I think he showed at the end of the year that he was in good shape and showed some progress. The key is going to be what happens when he shows up here in October after the month off. Did he maintain the weight loss or did he put some of it back on? When we get to the point where we can send him home for a month and he comes back the same or better, we've turned the corner.
Esteban Javier seemed a little bit advanced for the league.
Randy Smith: A little lefty. Different angles. A little bit of effort there but pretty good arm. Pretty good breaking ball. Really had a good year. August ran into a couple of rough outings but all in all a real positive year. The guy is making real good progress.
Any other pitchers in the DSL that maybe we didn't talk about?
Randy Smith: Another guy with a fantastic arm is Eugenio Reyes. He's actually over here for Instructional League right now. Great body, fastball mid-90s, really just needs to gain better command, repeat his delivery, come up with a consistent breaking ball. He has been trying to throw a curveball, not so sure it ends up as a slider. Great body, good arm, obviously that's a good place to start.
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