Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Jayce Tingler (Part 1)

SURPRISE, Ariz. – At the conclusion of spring training, Lone Star Dugout sat down with Rangers minor league field coordinator Jayce Tingler for a two-part interview series. In part one, Tingler talks about the organization's middle infielders, including Jurickson Profar, Leury Garcia, and Luis Sardinas.

Jason Cole: To start it off, tell me about Jurickson Profar skipping High-A and going straight to Double-A Frisco this season. What was behind that decision? What made you guys feel that he was ready for the jump?

Jayce Tingler: Knowing Profar, I think he's advanced on the mental side of the game. He knows where he's supposed to be defensively––he's always in the right spot. He knows the coverages––the defenses that we're running. I think on the offensive side, we want to challenge him. We want him to continue to work on his strike-zone discipline, to put balls in play, to stay on top of the ball, and to use his hands. And I think he showed us in spring training that he is up for the challenge. So with those type of players, we are going to push and continue to challenge. We'll see how he answers.

Cole: Was that a decision that was still up in the air coming into camp?

Tingler: Absolutely. It's a group effort. It's a lot of discussions. It's a lot of eyes. The bottom line is that it's a group decision. That's something we wanted to see. We wanted to challenge him early and see how he handled it. He played up in some of the Triple-A games. He got a little time on the other side. He has met those challenges so far. Now he's got the biggest challenge coming ahead, which is the challenge of Double-A.

Cole: For the first time in his career, Profar is going to start seeing a lot of veteran pitchers who know how to locate multiple secondary pitches on a regular basis. What do you think are going to be some of his bigger challenges in the Texas League?

Tingler: For the last couple years, Profar has always played against older people in the league. And now, the challenge of Double-A. I think he's going to have to continue to work on using his hands in the swing. The way guys cut and sink it, he's going to have to take the upper body out of the swing a little bit and really stay locked in on controlling the zone, staying on top of the ball, and staying through the middle of the field. Those will be some of the things that we'll be watching.

Cole: What is it offensively that he does that makes him special for his age? What sets him apart?

Tingler: I think it's his mental edge. I think he has a plan––he has an idea of what he wants to do. Unlike some guys that have plans, he's able to slow it down in his mind and execute it.

Cole: He and Leury Garcia are both obviously shortstop prospects, and they're both going to Frisco. Do you have any idea how that is going to be handled in the middle infield? Will they be flipping between shortstop and second base?

Tingler: Certainly. They're both going to bounce up the middle. We view them both as prospects. Where we are as an organization right now, we've got two guys at that same level, so I think there's value in learning both positions. I think there's value in those two working together and building chemistry that you want to see up the middle. They'll be working back and forth.

Cole: Does the major league situation factor into where they play at all? By that, I mean the fact that when those guys are ready, you don't know what the roster will look like in the middle infield yet.

Tingler: No, the major league decision––that's their team. We think we've got some young up-and-coming players––especially in the middle infield. And we want to push those players. We want to push the ones that call for it, and the ones that are ready for that challenge. We certainly want to provide that challenge and let them have a go at it.

Cole: I know there has been some talk within the last year of Leury Garcia perhaps getting a look in center field and around the diamond in general. It seems like he could ultimately take on sort of a super-utility role. Has he done any of that in spring training or even in the Fall League last year?

Tingler: Right now, in the games, he has worked at first and second. He goes out and shags balls in center. He works in the outfield. All those things that you look for in an outfielder, he has. He does it naturally. I think, at some point, if that's a challenge that's presented to him, my guess is that it's going to be a pretty easy transition––if that time comes up––because he's so physically gifted. He does a lot of those things––they just come natural––that we work on with outfielders. It comes easy for him. So I think if that's ever presented to him down the road, my guess is that it's an easy transition.

Cole: Ryan Strausborger, another guy going to Frisco, has gotten some time at second base both at instructs and out here this spring. Do you envision him playing some more second during the regular season?

Tingler: I think the main thing with Ryan is that we want to get him off to a good start. He has taken a challenge from Myrtle to Double-A. He certainly earned it and certainly played his way out of the league the year before. When it goes to Ryan's development, we want to get him off to a good start.

That may be something, a couple months down the line or maybe sooner than that––I think there's value in him. He has got the skill-set to be able to play some infield. Maybe second base. I think anything you can do to add another piece that gives a player versatility to be able to get in the lineup as you go up is a valuable thing.

Cole: Miguel de los Santos threw five innings in a start the other day. I assume he will be in the Frisco starting rotation.

Tingler: Yeah, I believe so. With Miguel, it's time for him––hopefully he's ready to start making the jump and continue to harp on his fastball command. Because the other pitches, especially the changeup––it's a plus pitch. But in order for those plus secondary pitches to work, he has to command the fastball. And that's what he is working on. Hopefully he's ready to take that step.

Cole: Is there some thought within the organization that his ultimate role will be as a reliever or is it kind of up in the air at this point?

Tingler: We're definitely trying to develop starting pitching. How that plays out at the end––I know Danny Clark and on our pitching side––there's a lot of value in these guys logging innings and working their three or four pitches in their arsenal. And that's what the starting role provides. The second and third time through the order, you're forced to use the changeup. You're forced to use the secondary pitches to get through lineups. We'll see if Miguel can continue to make the steps forward to be a starting pitcher. That's how we're viewing it now.

Cole: We talked about the stacked middle infield situation in Double-A, but you've also got one in Low-A with Hanser Alberto, Rougned Odor, Luis Sardinas, and all those guys. Talk about the talent in the infield there and how the positions are likely to be handled this season.

Tingler: It's definitely a young group. We certainly like our young players in Hickory––and for a lot of them, it's going to be their first time out in a full season. That's going to be a challenge presented. When it comes to up the middle, we feel we've got Alberto, Odor, Sardinas––we think highly of them.

I think it's important that they do bounce around the field a little bit and that they do stay fresh in their first season. The luxury of having three of them is that you can afford to give one a day down here and there. And that's how we want to use it––do the best we can to keep them fresh and make sure they're getting their work in. With that rotation, especially before the games with their infield work, with their swings, and all that. And that's how we plan on using them.

Cole: Sardinas has had the shoulder problems the past couple years, but he's going to open in Hickory this season. How has he been health-wise this spring?

TIngler: Knock on wood, but he's had a very good and very healthy spring training. Our training group and our strength department have done just a great job on focusing on Luis and his cuff program––the shoulder program. They're strengthening it the best we can. Napoleon Pichardo, in the strength department, has him in doing extra weights and extra protein––doing everything we can to pack on weight with him.

We just view it as he's got to continue doing that program as we get through the season. You hope, at the end of the day, having those two other guys, he'll be able to take some days off to get some extra time in the weight room, to get some extra meals, and all the things that a young player needs to do to get through their first full season. We'll see how that goes.

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