Kennedy on San Antonio pitching prospects

Is Cesar Carrillo back? Can Nathan Culp succeed at the highest level? Are Mike DeMark's high walk totals a concern? What Will Inman did he see? We discussed all this and more with former San Antonio Missions and current Portland Beavers manager Terry Kennedy.

Cesar Carrillo comes back to Double-A and performed well. While the strikeouts were down, he didn't seem to have as many hard contacts this season.

Terry Kennedy: Well, his ground ball to fly ball ratio was really good. I mean he gets ground balls. He doesn't throw fly balls. He kept the ball down. His last 10, 12 starts were all very consistent.

He has the stuff. You don't have to strike out guys to win. He did a great job. He made the adjustment, never once said, you know, ‘Why do I am I back here.' He knew what he had to do and he did it and he kept his nose to the grindstone and got it done.

Nathan Culp is another groundball pitcher that competes at every level and is one of those bulldog guys on the mound that keeps winning. Can he be successful at the highest levels?

Terry Kennedy: Yea, Nathan, well you know what I think he is one of those guys we're going to have to find out. It's just like you said, every time you think, ‘Well, this level's going to stop him,' or ‘This level's going to stop him.' It doesn't. He's one of those guys.

I mean if a guy in Philadelphia can throw 83 mph and win when he's 97 years old, then I think Nate's got a chance.

Mike DeMark on the relief side did a good job. I was a little concerned with the high walk totals from Mike.

Terry Kennedy: Yeah, but that seemed to be in stretches, and that's definitely something he is going to have to improve. But it wasn't the kind of consistent like last year where there was a walk an inning or whatever it was. That came and went and he was always some trouble. It was a little bit more consistent than last year, but not as much as we'd like to see.

Ernesto Frieri pitches well all season and ended up in San Diego. What did you see from Ernie this year?

Terry Kennedy: He was our horse. I think he was in the top three in innings pitch. He got 19 decisions, which meant that he was always in the game for a long time. He got us into the sixth, seventh and eighth sometimes.

He needs to work on his secondary pitches though. Hiscurve ball was better this year. The changeup still needs work, but he did a great job for us.

No pitcher was better down the stretch than Brandon Gomes. Not that he was bad in the first half but he was great in the second half. What changed?

Terry Kennedy: I think that Brandon applied – he was just faster than the other guys at understanding the league and the kind of hitters that are in the league. In the end, he had three power pitches that were getting people out, and he was by far our best pitcher in the last six weeks.

He struck out 100 as a reliever. I think he's the only non-starter in the top ten guys. So, it was fantastic. He could have closed, but we have our system, and he just did a great job.

Will Inman – was he the same pitcher that you saw earlier in the year when you got him back from Portland?

Terry Kennedy: It was all right. It wasn't quite the same. His curveball was still good. He needs to work on his fastball command. His fastballs are around the zone or in the zone, but it's not placed in the zone as well as he'd like, as well as we'd like. He needs to work on that.

Corey Kluber seemed to hit a little bit of a wall with you guys. His walks were up and the stuff wasn't as crisp as it was during his time in Lake Elsinore.

Terry Kennedy: First outing was awesome - six innings. He gave up one hit and a run.

Then he ran into, like you said, ran into that walk thing where he walked four or five guys a game. And then he got better at the end, the last outing in the playoffs obviously wasn't that good.

I think he learned some things, and even though it didn't turn out like he wanted or like we wanted, I think that in the end I saw some confidence build in him that, ‘I can pitch at this level.'

How good was Mat Latos during his nine-start stint with you?

Terry Kennedy: He did good. I think only one time did he get banged around, but even that wasn't a blood-letting. So, he did well. First time around he faced a team, he would strike out a lot, and then they would shorten up and make the adjustments.

He also had his secondary pitches that are pretty good too. So he did a great job for us and you know, it's, when I had him and Carrillo both in a rotation, even if we weren't going good, when they came around there was a stopper in there that could do some things and that's what happened at the end, that's what we didn't have at the end.

You were with Cory Luebke before he went on to Team USA. What did you see out of Cory?

Terry Kennedy: I see a lot of potential in that guy. He's got the size, he's got the stuff. I think that he is very, naïve is not a good word, very inexperienced at this level. But he certainly has the stuff. I see him in the big leagues as a number two or three starter because he's got that kind of stuff.

Evan Scribner pitched well in the beginning of the year and had a little trouble after the half. He came back strong. Was that a mental thing he had to overcome?

Terry Kennedy: It could have been. Just like hitters, pitchers run into those streaks too. A couple clubs hit him pretty good, and he had to make some adjustments. What happened in the middle there is he lost a little bit of command of his secondary pitch, his curveball. He had that early, and then he had it late, and that's what got him into trouble. When he had to come with the fastball, they whacked him around.

Were you happy with how well your pitchers did at holding runners close? That is one of the things that you weren't as happy with last year.

Terry Kennedy: Well, we instituted some changes. At one point we had only thrown out 17 percent, some of that was the catchers.

When we instituted the changes, I think we ended up around 23 to 24 percent, which is still below league average, but it was an improvement and they did a much better job.

That's not emphasized too much at the lower level, so there's some discovery process for the young pitchers of how important it is. They work on their mechanics and everything, but that's sort of secondary until they get ironed out with their personal mechanics. When they can finally feel confident about, then they can work on their base running thing.

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