Padres Instructional League Notebook IV

Peoria, AZ: Situational hitting has been something the San Diego Padres have struggled with at each level. Their prospects, therefore, are being asked to do more of it in practice – the hope is they will then bring it into the game.

  • A note we forget to mention from Tuesday:

    Jonathan Galvez put on a show during batting practice on Tuesday. Tasking with hitting the ‘L' screen, which protects the pitcher throwing batting practice, Galvez obliged. Hitting coordinator Tony Muser asked each player to hit it three times and the one who did would be rewarded with extra swings.

    Galvez hit it three times in four swings but wasn't given credit for the final one by Muser since it hit he screen on a hop. That was ok – he hit it on the final swing.

    "Now hit a home run," Muser said of the extra swing Galvez received.

    Head down, eyes on the pitcher, ball delivered. Galvez cranks one to the wall in right and over for a home run.

    "Now hit a home run to the opposite field," Muser yells.

    Focused intently on the coming pitch, Galvez pops it up to the right side.

    Regardless, the Dominican native showed his hitting prowess and bat control during the session – a session that saw no other hitter even bounce one off the ‘L' screen. Video to come of the session as well.

  • The team spent a large part of Wednesday's workout day placing an emphasis on situational hitting. All of the hitters were tasked with different opportunities – from putting a bunt down, executing a hit-and run, a fake bunt that became a slashing swing, executing a suicide squeeze, getting a run in with the infield in, getting a run in with the infield back and working on scoring a run with a man on second base.

    "There are so many benefits to it," minor league field coordinator Tom Gamboa said of the Padres Instructional League. "It is the one time during the year that we get Spring Training they are pressing to make a team and are overwhelmed with 150 bodies out here. During the season, they are concerned about their statistics, but during the Instructional League, the whole focus is on the process."

    The ultimate goal is to get the players thinking about the situation and being able to translate the execution, without pressure, seamlessly into games.

    Each player accumulated points for each successful attempt. A homer gave them four points. If they were able to execute each of their chances in a given round, a bonus opportunity was granted.

    The prospects that highlighted the session may not have been the ones that would immediately come to mind.

    Rymer Liriano was stellar in executing the hit-and-run. He converted all five of his chances, putting the ball on the ground or on a line in succession. He was given two bonus rounds and scored the maximum seven points for the round.

    Later in the session, Liriano hit two straight homers and hit the chain link fence on his bid for a third straight.

    "If Liriano can excel at drills like these, there is no reason he shouldn't be able to take this approach into games," minor league field coordinator Tom Gamboa said.

    Nate Freiman, however, was the star of the show. The big slugger showed he could drop down a bunt and then poured on the power, hitting eight balls out of the park.

    Freiman ended the day with 59 points – an entire five-man team put up 99 points combined. Gamboa said it was one of the highest point totals ever accumulated in the situational hitting drills – something he has done for many, many years. He notched 20 points in a single round, hitting four homers and two line drive hits. All of his homers were no doubters that were hit on a line.

    "An unbelievable display," hitting coach Tony Muser said. "We were running out of balls."

    On a separate field, Luis Martinez and Griffin Benedict "were putting on shows," according to Gamboa.

  • Kellen Kulbacki is just beginning to feel healthy from a torn hamstring he suffered in June. He did not have surgery to fix it, using rest and exercise to get it back to normal.

    "It has been a long process," Kulbacki said. "I rested for a while and then had a setback. An MRI confirmed it was torn and it has been nothing but rest and rehab since."

    Will Startup threw one of the fastest bullpens in the history of the sport. The right-hander's work in the bullpen uses as quick a tempo as he tries to establish when he is on the mound in live game action. His high leg kick remains a staple of his delivery.

  • Yefri Pena, signed by the Padres for $300K and subsequently suspended for a year for falsifying his age, is now known as Ramon Mercedes.

    The Padres officially signed Fabel Filpo after MLB concluded its investigation to verify his age. He was signed for $450K. The outfielder is a switch-hitter that has power from both sides.

    Yoan Alcantara, a center fielder, is receiving rave reviews from the Padres development staff in the Dominican Republic. Manager Evaristo Lantigua notes, "He has a lot of tools to work with. A great body and can hit."

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