Franchuk on Double-A hitting prospects

San Antonio Missions hitting coach Orv Franchuk knew the San Diego Padres prospects he tutored needed more help on the mental side than the physical. Getting to Double-A, prospects better have the physical tools down pat or they won't last long.

Mike Baxter had a breakout year for you in San Antonio before moving up where he also saw success. What was the reason for his success?

Orv Franchuk: The biggest thing with Mike was he was always so prepared on a daily basis. He was at the ballpark early. He had a daily hitting routine that we did together. We tweaked it a little bit and I threw out a few ideas that I felt like I contributed, and he was very open to accepting the criticism. It was a good relationship.

He's an intelligent young man. He makes adjustments well. The mental part of the hitting process is always something that I get guys to understand because, younger kids, it's just so much mechanics all the times, especially at the lower levels; which that needs to happen, but for me, once you get to Double-A and above, if you don't have your swing down by the time you get to Double-A, there may be a tweak here or there, then to me you're in trouble. So I try to spend more time on preparation and watching pitchers and see how they work certain guys and certain situations and runners in scoring positions as opposed to nobody on; those kinds of things. We spent more time on that and he picked up on it real quick. He's an intelligent guy and I think that part of it, not wanting to take credit, but that part of it helped him. I think even at the next level where he is now in Triple-A. Between Double-A and Triple-A, I think you're right, he put together a pretty good year.

With so much to handle on the catching front, how did Mitch Canham handle the offensive part of the game?

Orv Franchuk: That was tough, coming out of college. You know how college is, the head coaches call every single pitch. That was a big adjustment for Mitch. It was hard, I think it affected the offensive part of his game. He had to spend a lot of time with that part of it and adjusting to every single pitcher in the bullpen and the starters.

It just seemed like at least the first couple of months, probably the first three months of the season it took up a lot of his effort and I think it wore on him a little bit. The Texas League is not the easiest league in the world as far as playing conditions. It's hot, the travel is really tough, it's humid, so I was a catcher, I know what that's all about.

But on the other hand, he understood his number one priority was to catch and throw and handle the staff, and I don't think that was a priority in college, obviously, because coaches handle all of that stuff. He could concentrate a lot more on his offense.

Having said that, I don't know if it answers your question, but it was a big adjustment for him having to call the game and know the pitchers, and get along with everybody and try to get the best out of each guy every single day no matter what. That was his job. Terry Kennedy and I were both catching guys so I felt like that was a good situation for him to be in, for Mitch to be in to get better with that part of his game. He did improve, he got a lot better.

Sawyer Carroll came to you as he carved his way through three levels. What did you see out of Sawyer during his time with you?

Orv Franchuk: Another guy kind of like Baxter. Very well prepared, mature, understands the hitting process; took his walks when he didn't get anything good to hit, just a little inconsistent.

Sometimes his effort level got real big, and as a result, he wouldn't put a good swing on the ball but stayed within himself. The other thing mechanically we worked on making sure he has some rhythm and movement and stuff with his load and so every once in a while it would be a little bit tardy or a little bit late getting all that done, and as a result, he wouldn't put a good swing on the ball.

As little time as he's had in professional baseball, I was very impressed with how he handled, how he played the game. He made adjustments, Double-A pitching – for me the biggest jump is from A-Ball to Double-A. To me that Double-A is the biggest adjustment, because Double-A to Triple-A and Triple-A to the Big Leagues are just not that big a deal.

Craig Cooper had the best year of his career. He kind of played to the park almost, shooting for doubles rather than going for home runs.

Orv Franchuk: You know that Texas League there's some big yards. Corpus Christi, the ball didn't go anywhere there; our place, the yards there are big and he played most of his games at home.

The first month, he realized, ‘Hey, I'd better learn how to hit here, because if I don't, I'm not going to have a very good year. Like you said, he could always hit the ball the other way.

One of the things we spent a lot of time on was the ball on the inner half. Being able to turn on that ball and possibly hitting it out of the ballpark or drive it to left field and he got a lot better with that part of his game.

Another guy very, very prepared on a daily basis. Comes to the ballpark early and does his hitting routine. He's probably the first guy there every day and we had a good relationship. He liked to compete, he's a competitor, like most of the guys are. He really grinds it out. Every once in a while, I have to remind him about taking his walks and swinging at pitches that he can handle because hitting in that four-hole, they're not going to just lay it in there for you. He figured that out and had a good year.

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