Peyton on Eugene hitting prospects

Former Eugene Emeralds hitting coach Eric Peyton had an impact on many of the new San Diego Padres prospects. We caught up with Peyton to discuss many of the hitters he tutored.

Dean Anna struggled a little bit in the beginning of the year but turned it around. What changed for Dean?

Eric Peyton: Just before he came to Eugene he'd been working hard with Torni (Tom Tornicasa), our coach there, and they really worked hard on getting him to just stay back more.

The best thing I've seen with Dean Anna with me being the second coach is I've seen him change and how much he's changed in his approach to hitting and the way he thinks. He talked to me about hitting differently. He really knew what he needed to work on to get himself ready for that night. So, what I've learned is ‘what can I do to get you ready for tonight's game?' He knew what he needed, working with Torni, and he really worked on those things every single day, and really learning to just stay back more and stay inside the ball a lot more. Two things you always hear about hitting.

The last month or so with me I just made sure that he understood that every single pitch that you see, you stay inside. He was actually rolling over on inside pitches, and I told him once you learn to stay inside that pitch also, then you will be more consistent when you're hitting more. He worked on it and he was getting better every day. So Riddoch was playing him everyday and he just really started swinging the bat real well.

Vince Belnome was a consistent performer for you all year long. He had good plate discipline and some pop.

Eric Peyton: One of the easier guys to teach; there was nothing to teach. He was already inside the baseball, pretty much his stance was clean. I didn't even really talk to him in detail, but he seemed to know what he wanted to do.

He started recognizing a couple pitches they were getting him out on and he was able to lay off them. He goes to Fort Wayne and he's still hitting! So, some good hits; really swung the bat well.

Jason Codiroli had a really slow start but performed well down the stretch. What changed?

Eric Peyton: He just changed the way he looked at himself as far as hitting. More of a pull hitter, he started stanying in the middle of the field, learning how to be a lead-off hitter. There are certain things you have to approach the baseball about.

Once again to his testimony, compliments to him, he worked on little things; staying in the middle of the field more, starting to take the outside hittable pitch the other way more and was more patient. Once again, it's more of a lot of talk about approach, and he actually tried and started to use them in the game more. He started to take advantage of that. I was happy for him on and off the field and in his defense. He started to actually kick it up a notch.

It was a big blow to the offense losing Bo Davis because he was a sparkplug for you. Is this a kid that will have to change his approach because of his wide stance?

Eric Peyton: Yeah, he will have to and I know he will. He just just used it because he was hitting the ball consistently. What I liked about Bo is he's just the old school player. He loves the game.

Too bad he got hurt because he was really trying to get a little bit more rhythm through his stance and starting to stay inside the ball more often like most of the college kids coming out. I was surprised at how much they didn't know. So once he started talking more about it, he started using it a little bit. He always reverts back to his old stance that worked for him. I figured as long as he was using his hands pretty good we can get the foundation down a little quicker. That's what happened, he started using his hands to stay inside the baseball more with a little pop and going the other way. Just when we were really getting somewhere he got hurt. I look for good things from Bo.

What are the similarities and differences that you have seen between a guy like Nate Freiman and Matt Clark – a guy you had last year?

Eric Peyton: I think difference is I thought Matt had better mechanics, but I think Nate picked up on it faster – the mechanics of hitting. Once again, if those kids that tried it on their own, tried to change their approach.

Just really got into a comfortable stance and he was really starting to hit the ball well. He drove in runs. He got more aggressive. He got tougher and started to actually recognize pitches, and he was driving them. I was impressed with him. I thought he did well for his size.

I've never been around a hitter that tall, so to see what he had to work on as far as strike zone, how he was pretty disciplined and he likes to play. He just likes to play, and he was ready for instructional league yesterday. He's going to be fine.

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