Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Corey Ragsdale (Part 2)

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Through his first 16 professional games, Texas Rangers first-round pick Lewis Brinson has eight doubles, five triples, and two home runs. Lone Star Dugout sat down with Surprise Rangers manager Corey Ragsdale to discuss Brinson, Nick Williams, and Collin Wiles in part two of this two-part interview.

Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Corey Ragsdale (Part 1)

Jason Cole: There's clearly a lot of raw talent here, but obviously a number of these guys are going to need to make adjustments to their swings as they progress. When I've spoken to some of the roving coordinators like Luis Ortiz in the past, they've talked about how the Rangers don't like to make any major swing adjustments during a player's first summer in pro ball. Are you guys kind of letting them go for now and seeing what these guys have got before making any significant changes?

Corey Ragsdale: Big changes––yeah, I don't think we're making any wholesale changes. I think we'll––if they've got an issue with the timing or something––we'll try to help them get on time. But as far as wholesale changes or anything like that, no, nothing is going to be done down here as far as that goes. We'll try to help them out along the way. But yeah, we'll wait and let them play it out and see how that goes before we jump in too deep.

Cole: In talking with scouts after the draft, I heard a few mention that Lewis Brinson was raw, but that he also had arguably the highest ceiling of any position player in this year's class. What are your impressions of him through the first two weeks?

Ragsdale: I'm right there with them. It's a lot of talent. To be honest, he has surprised me with the things that he can do. You look at him in the outfield––he hasn't read every ball off the bat perfectly, but you just see him out there, and you see him go getting balls. Running through the outfield, you think, ‘Man, one day he's going to be able to really go get it once he sees those balls.' These guys are seeing some popups now that they've never seen before in their lives. Seeing him go and get those balls, you know those routes are going to get better. You look up one day, and he's going to be able to do it.

And at the plate, he has surprised me a lot. It's going to be better. The more pitches he sees, the better he's going to get. But he has surprised me with how well he's handled the bat thus far. He has got some good pop in his hands––in his swing. But he's learning how to hit right now. He has really surprised me with two strikes. He's battling and going the other way with balls. I think he has hit four or five triples already this year, so if it gets in the gap, he can obviously go.

Yeah, he has been very exciting and he's going to be a very exciting player to watch as he learns to play the game. You're right––you can just tell that his ceiling is very, very high, and he's going to be a very good player.

Cole: How do you feel his swing is mechanically? Does it look like something that will need a lot of work, or do you think it's going to be more about refining the approach and feel for the game?

Ragsdale: I think it's just seeing pitches. I mean, it's baseball and you're always working on your swing––refining it and all that. There are some little issues that are there and are always going to come up with guys.

But the major thing with him, I think, is that he just needs to see pitches. He needs to see those breaking balls. And it's so funny. In one game the other day, he saw a couple curveballs. He was sitting in a fastball count, and they threw a breaking ball. It kind of spooked him a little bit. I don't remember what he did, but in the next AB, he came up there in the same situation. He got a curveball, and he hit a triple off the center field wall.

That's exciting to see––in one at-bat, he kind of learned from it, he was ready for it, and he hammered it off the center field wall in the next AB. Those are the things that get you excited––when you see adjustments like that.

Cole: Since coming in, Nick Williams has collected at least one hit in all nine of his games. Can you talk about his start and his overall ability to hit?

Ragsdale: It's fun, watching him hit. I don't know if he's played as much baseball as maybe Lewis has or some of the other guys. But the one thing he was ready to do was come in and hit. We've got other stuff––obviously we have some hitting issues to work on as well. But he's going to get plenty of work in the outfield. He's going to get plenty of work on the bases. He's going to get plenty of work on his fly balls––all that stuff.

But he's ready to come in right now and compete at the plate. Without a doubt, he has shown that he can barrel some balls up. He's got some thunder in the bat––in the barrel, too––just watching him in BP. It has been fun to watch. Every time he walks up to the plate, something can happen.

Cole: Collin Wiles has scuffled a little bit in his first couple times out, giving up seven runs in 3.1 innings. But the stuff looked good the other day. What are your impressions on his first two games? What does he need to do to get the results to match the stuff that he's shown?

Ragsdale: He's been good for an 18-year-old kid coming into his first game in pro ball. Just like his last outing, he had a quick first inning––very good and locating. He showed a good breaking ball. He went out during his second inning and the stuff wasn't quite as sharp. Those are things he's going to have to learn to deal with. It's every inning now. In high school, if his stuff wasn't on, he could still get these guys out. Now he's going to have to realize that, ‘Hey, I've got to bring it every inning. I've got to focus up every inning.' And that's part of him maturing in the game and competing as he goes. That's going to be one of the things that he works on.

But the stuff has been very good. You watch him in the bullpen and think, ‘Man, he's going to be able to command that.' His breaking ball is very good. He's shown a very good breaking ball. The changeup, as well. He has got a very good start, for me.

I think, the last outing, when it didn't show up in the second inning, he wasn't real sure what to do. So the next outing, hopefully he grows from that and learns to go out there and focus up in that second inning, too. I think it was good for him. I think the main thing here is that every time these guys go out and struggle, they learn something from it. That's why we're here. That's why Collin's here. And he learned from it. There's going to be good days, there's going to be bad days. There's going to be good innings, and there's going to be bad innings. That's part of the process.

Cole: When young pitchers come into professional baseball with secondary stuff that's probably more advanced than the fastball velocity, they often have a tendency to shy away from the fastball and live off the offspeed stuff. With Wiles, are you guys putting an emphasis on him establishing and commanding the fastball before he gets to the curveball and changeup? Even though the curve and change were good in his second outing, he didn't use them often.

Ragsdale: I think we do put an emphasis on being able to throw your fastball when you want to and where you want to. Obviously, for us, that's our best pitch––a well-located fastball. So if he can pitch off that, obviously that's going to open everything up for him. We don't want him to fall in love with his other stuff so much right now. That's why a lot of times you see clubs take certain pitches away from guys––so that they learn to throw a pitch so their other pitches catch up. With young guys, I think you always want to establish the fastball. I think with all young guys, that's a priority.

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