Mike Wickham: His at-bats looked pretty good. He has had some nicks and bruises. The shoulder – now the shoulder is good – then he got hit in the head and he got hit by a pitch again. He has had nagging stuff like that. I was there for four days and he was in the lineup and taking swings for all four. He got a couple of hits, played center, played right. He looked pretty good. We are trying to keep him healthy. We are happy to see him getting consistent at-bats and reps.
Is anyone else hitting out there?
Mike Wickham: Luis Domoromo – I am really encouraged by him. When I originally saw him a year ago, he did not light me up. Sometimes these Latin guys don't because they have so far to go projection wise. He really is one of the more polished swings and approaches in extended spring. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw from him.
I was a little concerned when I first saw him. He has gotten stronger, his swing has bat speed, he has a good approach. When you go out and see these hitters, they are out front all the time, but he has a balanced swing that works very well.
The meat of that order is Tate, Domoromo and Duanel Jones who is playing third base – those are some big bats.
Jones is a big body with smooth actions that we signed. He has good size and an aggressive swing. There are still, like with any young Latin player, a bunch of things to iron out with his swing. He has a beautiful body that is agile and athletic. He will grow into it. It is not as athletic as Tate, but it is not a slow, stiff body. He played decent third with a strong arm. He threw across the diamond very well. He is young, kind of gangly, but is just 17. He has a lot of physical development to go but is a strong frame.
I was excited about those three. This is one of the youngest and most inexperienced extended rosters that I have ever seen. It is not that it is the least talented – it is the least polished talent. We are short on experience. I saw two wins while I was there that were well pitched and well played. We hit the ball ok. We have a bunch of guys here for the first time from Latin America. Most of the experienced guys have gone out because of injuries.
They are getting their work in every day and gaining experience. A lot of the clubs we are playing, they have second-year or even third-year guys.
What was your feeling from the pitching front with some of the guys you mentioned and more?
Mike Wickham: Portillo was outstanding. The stuff was there. From where he was, as far as repeating his delivery, is really encouraging. The body and size is there. It is a number one type horse. The stuff is there. He has good spin on the curveball, a feel for the change, and, obviously has the fastball velocity already.
One of the things we have been working with him on over the last year is to gain some rhythm to his delivery. It was very mechanical last year in the Arizona League. He has that now. You can see that smoothness, see the athleticism, the looseness to his delivery.
Still like everyone of these guys, he is trying to repeat it from pitch-to-pitch. When you see that kind of progress in one year, it makes you believe he can go to Eugene and have a solid year and like Simon Castro it just clicks in Fort Wayne.
The stuff is there and the size and the aptitude.
James Needy has some knee soreness and hasn't thrown.
I saw Lollis in two outings. Obviously, a good arm there. He was sitting 92-93 with some good secondary stuff too. He has big size – big country.
Sampson – I was so impressed because I did not see him in instructional league. He was shut down. It is an easy delivery, an easy arm action and touched 95. He has a curveball that he didn't use too much when I saw him but has spin – it is a yakker. And he has a pretty good changeup. We might really have fallen into something there. It is an easy arm action for the type of velocity he has. And the ball gets on hitters and he misses bats. He has a lot of potential.
Kellen Kulbacki hasn't seemed the same since his shoulder injury. Is there something there that is impeding his progress?
Mike Wickham: He has been a slow starter historically. Everyone of his April's have been slow. I was talking with Randy Smith and told him, ‘Kulbacki is going to hit .150 in April and then will heat up and catch fire.' He hasn't caught fire yet. He feels ok. He is still trying to get the feel for the swing back. He is trying to get a better feel for his hands through the zone. That is where he was at when I left San Antonio (in early May).
Nothing is physically impeding him. Eight months out of it – he is trying to work back into it in a ballpark that does not suit any of these lefties. It is a tough place to do it. He smoked a couple of balls to the track that would have been out in pretty much any park. They were just knocked down by that gusting wind.
Guys have to adjust. It is a line drive ballpark. They understand their power is going to be down and we understand it. Sometimes they don't understand it. They have to learn to drive the ball. A line drive works in Petco and it works at Lancaster.
Cesar Carrillo is pitching well but is not striking out many people. Is that a concern?
Mike Wickham: In a perfect world, you have a pitcher that pitches well with some velocity and strikes guys out. For the type of pitcher that Cesar is – he keeps the ball down and gets ground balls. You can accept a lesser strikeout rate. We have a lot of pitchers like that.
Guys with big strikeouts, low walks – guys like Simon Castro – are no-brainers. I would expect Anthony Bass to have more strikeouts than he does. I think he is under a strikeout an inning. He has big stuff.
A fly ball pitcher that does not have a lot of strikeouts may be more concerning than someone like Carrillo. You know he will get ground balls with his sinker and two-seamer. In Petco, keeping that ball down, you will be ok. Even if you give up a lot of hits, that ground ball will turn into a double play.
It is not a concern. Do you wish he had higher strikeout numbers? Absolutely. As long as he can command that fastball down, he will be fine. He has enough life late in the zone that he gets the ground ball and will get the swing and miss.
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