Kennedy on San Antonio hitting prospects

Terry Kennedy will bring many of the hitters he had in Double-A to his new post in Triple-A. We caught up with the Kennedy to discuss the San Diego Padres prospects he had in San Antonio.

Can you talk about the changes that you saw in Mike Baxter.

Terry Kennedy: Well, the change came in fall ball. He made a change in his swing and had a very successful Arizona Fall League there in Arizona. And he just carried that over and it was the kind of change he needed to make, which made him a more consistent hitter with more power and it just did well for him, and he deserved the call up to Portland.

What was the progress made by Mitch Canham as a catcher – a position you played? Were the signs evident this year and does it make you believe he can stick at that position?

Terry Kennedy: He really works at it. My concern was, what was his commitment, and his commitment is total. He worked at it, it was slow improvement, but he did improve. He threw well at the end of the year, especially in playoffs, and he has always been a pretty good blocker and that even improved. But it was his glove work that needed the most work, and he worked at it and it got better. He's still got a ways to go, but it got better.

Sawyer Carroll is a guy that went up three levels during the 2009 season. He was with you for about 30 games. Did you see a consistent approach even at the end of the year.

Terry Kennedy: Yeah, this guy's essentially fearless, I mean, he had the confidence that is not cocky. He hit at every level. He had .317 in the short time with us. And he was second in the organization with 96 RBI. So, he did it at every level, did it for us.

He played a good outfield, he's got a good arm and is an average runner for speed, but he's a pretty good base runner, pretty smart.

I think he'll have to go back there to start but he did a really good job. It was a nice pick for us, and he has the kind of attitude that will enable him to keep improving and get to where we want him to be.

Craig Cooper has been with you for two years. One of the things that has been important for him is turning on the inside fastball. Did he make strides in that area?

Terry Kennedy: Yeah, he did, but what he mastered was hitting the ball the other way. Being a lot of right on right situations with the breaking balls, he did a great job with that, but he also took his RBI with singles if he had too. He could drive the ball into gaps. He did a very good job he was over .400 with his on-base; and hitting .314, or whatever it was, .312. He improved, I don't know, 30 points and drove in a lot more runs. It was a great job for us. Without him we wouldn't have got where we were.

Luis Durango has phenomenal speed but what does he need to do to take his game to the next level?

Terry Kennedy: He has to get stronger again, even more strength. I think he finished around 165-pounds. He has to get stronger and continue to work on his left-handed stroke. He's gotta pretty firm right-handed stroke that can keep the defenses a little more honest, but left-handed he's got to, I wouldn't say drive the ball, but he has to be able to hit the ball with a little more authority so that the outfielders could be a little more honest. It's difficult to score a guy from second when he's hitting because they're so close. But, for me, that's one of the main things he has to do.

One of the things I noticed with Logan Forsythe is that he has a tendency to be too passive. Was that the case with you?

Terry Kennedy: Not for me. He is probably the most intelligent non-major leaguer I've ever seen. He knows how to play the game. He plays it right every day. He runs the bases. He plays each part of the game as a separate entity: the hitting part, the defense, and the base running. He doesn't let one affect he other, and he's just a very smart guy.

I see him being an everyday major leaguer on a contending club and this is a great pick for us, and he's going to be an outstanding player.

Cedric Hunter had a rough year from one standpoint but also turned it on down the end. What were the changes that allowed that to happen?

Terry Kennedy: Well, a lot of the changes were mental approach and there was some physical stuff that had to be addressed and that's continuing; but he finally realized that some of his mental approach – he's so good at putting the bat on the ball that he would get away with it in the lower leagues and get base hits on border line strikes or balls just out of the zone, but that wasn't happening. They were turning into outs in our league.

He got a little better strike zone and that's something that will continue to improve, but also it kept the ball out of the air. Our ballpark with the wind blowing in, it's Death Valley, and he made just so many easy outs to the outfield. Then the last three weeks he made some good adjustments and kept the ball out of the air and it showed. And he hit very well. He was our best hitter in the playoffs.

You mentioned smart players such as Forsythe. Eric Sogard has to fall into the same category. He is a guy that seems to always have a plan.

Terry Kennedy: Yes, certainly it's great that we have players like that because then you can work on the details instead of the monster picture.

You see an end to the work for the player, ‘This is all you have to do. You've gotta do this and this.' Where with some other guys, okay, you have to rebuild your swing, you have to do this, this, this and this and there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. But there certainly is with him.

He's has to refine his defense. The guy can hit and I think he'll hit at any level and he just did a great job.

Lance Zawadzki is a guy with tools but maybe needs a little more on the mental side than some other guys. Is that a fair assessment?

Terry Kennedy: Yes, but he's made great strides. I think he enjoyed the game more this summer than he had in the past. He hit, shoot, I think he hit close to .300 overall, and drove in a lot of runs, a lot of key runs for us, and played better short than he had in the past.

He cut his errors in half and some of these errors he made with me were just silly errors and would just be eliminated through a solid thought process.

I think that this is the first time he hasn't been hurt all year, or for a long time, a long stretch, and it was good for him.

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