Grady Fuson: Without a doubt. He's kind of been like Simon Castro this year in terms of his work ethic and intelligence, and when you put those things together, you can't help but see results. Offensively, he exceeded expectations of what he could do at this level. He was a leader on the club, and as we said, showed great plate discipline. We still have some cleanup to do with him defensively, but he never got down on himself and kept going back out there.
Do you think he will be able to stay at third base?
Grady Fuson: As I said, there is some work to do with him, but yes, we expect him to be able to stay there. Although when you start taking a look at our system up and down, third base is a pretty strong position for us with Kouz and Headley in the majors and Logan Forsythe and James Darnell.
Where did Vince Belnome come from? Did the organization think he would have the power that he has shown?
Grady Fuson: He was a third baseman in college and we moved him to second because of Rincon. He wasn't a guy that we really cross-checked and it was just a great scouting job by Adam Bourassa [Bourassa played in the minors for five years, two of them with San Diego at Lake Elsinore and Mobile]. He's a very intense player, strong and loves the game. He had a great summer and has given Fort Wayne a nice late season bump.
Grady Fuson: Hagerty is the guy out of the draft that we liked because of his catching ability and power potential. He didn't catch a lot at Miami this year, he played mainly first base, but we did get quite a few looks at him as a freshman and sophomore. At Eugene, we really wanted him to get comfortable behind the dish as opposed to at the plate, although we were a little disappointed in his overall average.
Quiles is kind of a dream skill guy, great hands, quick feet, plus arm and at the plate when he squares it up he has some force. He's been with us three years and is making progress but with him it's about controlling the zone.
Benedict we saw as more of a baseball player than solely a catcher. He has a good swing and approach. His arm is on the bubble, but he is athletic. We may have done his development a little bit of disservice in promoting him to Fort Wayne so quickly, but we think he'll be ok. We will find out more about him at Instructs.
Nate Freiman improved every month. What did you see as his biggest improvement this year and what do you expect out of him in the future?
Grady Fuson: Hopefully this is the kind of guy we will be seeing in the future. At Duke, we saw a big, lanky, physical guy that moved well, somewhat similar to Kyle Blanks. He has monster power and if you were around at BP you could see some balls really fly. He does have some holes in his swing that we are trying to address, but we are banking on his intelligence and how much he really wants to play the game.
Outfielder Jason Codiroli has always been a type of under the radar player. He had a good year last year and this year seemed to perform in the role that the team wanted him for. What do you think he needs to improve upon as he moves up?
Grady Fuson: I think he needs to keep on improving upon the things he did this year, getting on base more, adding strength and hitting the ball with more authority. When we first got him, he was a very non-physical player, didn't show much strength or hard contact. He's starting to put himself on the map and has been driving the ball a little more. We've always thought quite a bit of him and during extended at the beginning of the year we would have had no problem sending him to Fort Wayne if one of the outfielders went down with an injury.
Pitcher Jerry Sullivan struggled in his first month, then really put together a solid August. What was the big change in his performance and what do you see his strengths going forward?
Grady Fuson: The way he pitched the second half was the way we saw him pitch in college. The scout who signed him said that he was like Jeremy Hefner with a hair better stuff, although he doesn't have Jeremy's changeup right now, but neither did Jeremy when we first signed him. He's a good sized kid, throws about 90 to 94 and hopefully we will tighten up his breaking ball a little more this off-season.
Lefty Nick Greenwood was one of your better pitchers, but from everything we've seen and read he is the proverbial crafty lefty, that knows how to pitch - without much raw "stuff". What does he need to do to be successful as he goes forward?
Grady Fuson: Well when I turn on the television I see quite a few "crafty lefties" on the major league level. He has the instincts and knowledge of the game that we like, and he has performed well in Eugene. It's hard to describe the instinctive value that some pitchers are able to read on batters swings which enable them to be successful. He has a knack for how to disrupt timing and balance and changes speeds from an angle that hitters don't see all the time. There was very little to clean up, possibly a little more depth on his breaking ball.
What surprised you most about Chris Fetter's success this year?
Grady Fuson: He had some mixed reviews up until this year, his senior year, at Michigan. Until this year he topped out around 88, but this year he had some new found strength and velocity and was touching 94. He has an above-average fastball and really advance makeup, a very bright guy.
The team brought Keyvius Sampson up at the end of the year. I know the organization is very careful about the amount of innings that the team will have young pitchers pitch. Is there a chance that he could end up in the Fort Wayne rotation next year?
Grady Fuson: Without a doubt. We were quite pleased with the character, his intensity and it was very hard for him to wait to sign as long as he did. He really likes to play and compete. He's very athletic and has a very easy arm action. Like a lot of high school kids his breaking ball needs to improve some and get a little more consistency with his motion. The key is to get all the pieces to grow together.
Last, but not least, can you give us a brief scouting report on Jorge Reyes and the type of potential and future the team envisions for him?
Grady Fuson: Well there are really two different sides of him and we have seen both. A couple of years ago he was the College World Series Most Outstanding Player and then was so-so his sophomore and junior years. In the Cape Cod League he pitched very well and our national cross-checkers really liked what they saw. He's very electric and Greg Riddoch, our manager at Eugene, said he was the best looking of all of our pitchers. He has a lot of potential and we are putting him on the Lake Elsinore roster for the playoffs.
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