Skube on AZL Padres hitting prospects

Hitting coach Bob Skube saw the progression of Rymer Liriano up close. He coached his son Ryan. He had brief interludes with Everett Williams and Corey Adamson. And an even briefer player impressed him. We caught up with the San Diego Padres minor league hitting coach to discuss the AZL Padres hitters.

The thing that impressed me the most about Rymer Liriano was that he was able to cut down the strikeouts in the final month of the year.

Bob Skube: He definitely did the last third of the season. His strikeouts went way down. He probably did go down in HRs a little bit too. Just from the beginning of the year till the end. Cut back on the HRs and cut back on the K's. That's kind of the way it goes anyways.

But there's a guy that hit .189 last year, came in and really dominated this year. A lot of things that you know don't get noticed by the normal person watching the games. He really improved as far as a hitter goes... he's always going to hit the 5 hole, 3 hole, in that range. And learned how to take the breaking ball and stay off of it and get fastballs to hit. He did a very good adjustment at that.

How different was it to coach your son Ryan Skube in the professional ranks and how did you and the coaching staff handle that? Also, how did he progress through the year?

Bob Skube: It was different. I'll be honest with you. It was very different. You know having the coaching staff that we did. José Flores did a great job with him. And because he was my son everyone was watching, well is he going to play because he's daddy's boy? And José did a great job of doing it the way it should have been done no matter who he was. And as far as I was concerned, I probably treated him worse than I should have because I didn't want there to be that "well he's in the cage again, getting all this extra work cause he's daddy's boy." He probably got less work than anybody because of that. But the kid has an exorbitant amount of talent. It goes back to what we were just talking about with the ability to slow the game down. Is he as big and physical as these other guys? No. But he has this unbelievable ability to slow the game down. He came in and played at 18 yrs old and really wasn't phased by 94, 96 or breaking balls. He hit breaking balls as well as anyone in that lineup. So I mean that's his upside. I see him as... I got the privilege of coaching him and watching Ian Kinsler as a 19-20 year old and then I was in Texas when he came over there. And I see a lot of Ian Kinsler in Skube. Like I said, I'll take that guy that has that ability to slow the game down versus that guy that can just hit 15 bombs in BP everyday but when the bell rings, there's a big swing with 94 mph and it just doesn't compute. It just doesn't work.

Did Jorge Minyeti make the improvement you expected throughout the season and does he have a shot at making it at the higher levels?

Bob Skube: Oh yeah, he definitely got better in every aspect of the game. Defensively he got a lot better. He makes the dumb mistakes, which any young player is going to make. Made some great plays offensively. Made huge strides. Made a lot of adjustments in his swing. Did get better at plate discipline.

But again, I don't know how you're going to write this article up. Be careful not to bury me here. It goes back to that ability to be able to slow the game down. If you watch Minyeti every day during BP and ground balls and infield. He looks like an all star in the big leagues. But he still hasn't developed that ability... sometimes players aren't able to develop that ability. You either have that ability or you don't to slow this game down. When you have a ground ball hit at you, some guy squares up, and I've been there. I had that ability that you can see that ball off the bat and it looks like it's going 10 mph yet on TV it's coming at you 120 mph. The ability to see that ball and do what you want with it. And sometimes players do develop that through the course of a lot of reps... can develop those skills, and Minyeti gets that. He could be quite a player.

You only had Everett Williams for a handful of games. Was there anything that stuck out?

Bob Skube: Kind of the same thing again. Really good practice player. A lot of really good fast muscle reactions. And runs well. Got a lot of bat speed and all those things. If he can learn how to slow the game down, he's got a chance to learn to be a very good player again. And I just love the young players. I just love getting them young because they're so much more open ears and open eyes to learning and wanting to get better than getting a guy that's 22 or 23 that's already had 4 or 5 significant coaches in his life and maybe has learned some bad habit or learned how to hit with an aluminum bat, or learned how to play to win instead of how to develop as a player. These young kids, I just get really excited about.

Corey Adamson came stateside and got some at-bats for you. Obviously, he is a raw player with talent and coming from Australia where they don't play a whole lot of baseball. Was the talent evident?

Bob Skube: Oh absolutely. And you know Corey's come in and he's had a good attitude and he's not afraid to play. Yet when he does get in there, he is a little bit intimidated at times and him being so young, who knows how good this kid could be. And he could be a kid that in 2 years is out of the game too. To be able to judge at such a young age as far as scouts go, I tip my hat to them to get them out here on the field with some kind of ability. It's a god given talent to be able to see that far into the future with some of these kids talent-wise. Like you said, they don't play that much in Australia so it's really hard to gauge a player without seeing him play very much.

Was there anyone down there in Arizona that we did not mention who impressed you?

Bob Skube: Well I think Basham the catcher we got from Ole Miss who got hurt early on. I think he has a lot of talent. He's a 40 or 50th round pick. It's always hard to judge catching. But the few games that he did catch for us, he really showed a lot of leadership back there and a lot of ability to catch the ball and throw the ball. And swinging the bat he did all right with that. So I was pretty impressed with him.

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