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

In part one of this two-part feature, Lone Star Dugout chats with Rangers' Dominican Summer League manager Jayce Tingler about himself, managing in the Dominican Republic, and some of the system's most intriguing prospects.

Jason Cole: I want to start off by talking about you personally. You seemed to get the job pretty quickly after your playing career was over. How were you able to land this position?

Jayce Tingler: Basically I had talked to Scott Servais. We had talked about the opportunity to coach in '06 – basically after I was done playing. He said that there was maybe a job opening up, but it was going to be a little different. It was going to be in the Dominican Republic. We would sit down and we talked for awhile about it. It basically came down to I wanted to get into coaching. That's what both my parents did, but at the high school level.

We talked about the benefits of it and one of the things I wanted to learn was Spanish. I figured if you're going to be around the game of professional baseball, you talk about finding ways to separate yourself from other coaches. The opportunity came up down here and I said, ‘Yeah, I'd love to.' I want to learn Spanish anyway. So it came up, I worked down here last year as an assistant and enjoyed it. Then I got the opportunity to manage this year. That's kind of how it came up – just right after I was done playing.

Cole: How much Spanish do you speak right now and when you were learning, how difficult was it to communicate with the playoffs?

Tingler, 27, played in the Blue Jays system for three years before joing the Rangers organization in 2006.
Tingler: It was unbelievable difficult. I was lucky though. The coaching down here has a lot of guys that have played over in the states before. They really helped me in the beginning.

Going into it, I knew nothing. I don't want to say I'm fluent by any means now, but I feel like my Spanish is very good at this point. I hope with maybe another four months that I will be fluent. I'm taking college Spanish three online. I've done one and two. I'm continuing to work on it and it is something that I have to continue to work on. It's something I hope I never lose because I think it is very valuable and I love being able to communicate with the players, find out where they come from, and stuff like that. It has been fun to learn. I've enjoyed it. Just like I work on my Spanish, they take English class every day. It's kind of a two-way street there.

Cole: Having played both your college and pro careers in the U.S., can you talk about the differences of coaching young Latin players versus coaching young players from the U.S.?

Tingler: I think the difference between the Latin kids, where you grow up in the states – I'm from Kansas City – the number one sport was football and basketball. That was our opportunity and I was a big Chiefs fan and stuff. Down here, the number one sport is baseball and it's by far. It's not even close. Instead of guys like LeBron James or Michael Vick or whoever in the states, those guys aren't football players – they're shortstops or they're left-handed pitchers.

I think that's the beautiful thing about it. You don't have an AAU basketball coach all over a 6-foot-4 13-year-old getting him to play AAU ball. That 6-foot-4 kid may be a left-handed pitcher and that's what they want to be. That is kind of the difference.

Cole: I want to talk about your team for a little bit. I know there are two teams this year. Do you just coach the DSL Rangers1 club or do you manage both of them?

Tingler: I have a manager for team two, but I take most of the responsibility with team one. But with all the practices and everything, we organize that and then I give it out to the coaches – the plans and stuff like that. For this year, I've probably spent 90 to 95 percent of my time with team one as of now.

Cole: I'd like to talk about Tomas Telis for a second. Obviously he is having a great season. Can you talk about what went into the decision to move him from shortstop to behind the plate as a catcher?

Tingler: That was A.J. Preller and Manny Batista. They saw this kid as a shortstop over in Venezuela. In their opinion, he could really swing the bat, which he has done this summer. They didn't know if he was going to be able to run enough to really make an impact playing in the states. He has tremendous hands and they said they were going to try this kid out at catcher. In their credit, they got him into instructs last year, where he got to learn from the best coaches over there. He got introduced to catching and we got him down here in January – January 20th and that was his new deal. He was going to be a catcher.

He has taken it very well. His hands are tremendous. We have a great catching instructor down here – Oscar Bernard – who works with our catchers. It has just really come along great, his defense. He has always been a guy that has hit. I don't think we expected him to hit this good. I've never seen a 17-year-old be able to put the bat on the ball as much as this kid. The bat is there and the defense has just come along great. He has just really been good for us.

Telis attended instructs in the U.S. shortly after signing last summer.
Cole: He's a switch-hitter, is that correct?

Tingler: Yeah, he is.

Cole: Which side is his natural side, if he really has one?

Tingler: His natural side is right-handed, but most of his at-bats are from the left side facing right-handed pitching. Talking to him, I'd say he's probably more comfortable now from the left side of the plate.

Cole: From looking at his numbers, he hits .196 from the right side and .343 from the left. Is there a reason that he has gotten so good from the left side?

Tingler: I think just probably the fact that we're facing a lot of right-handed pitching. I think that's where most of his at-bats are coming from. I think he's just getting into a groove. He's not a bad right-handed hitter. Those stats – it's .196 – but I don't know how many at-bats he's had over there. It is certainly not a disadvantage for us to have him at the right side of the plate when the game is on the line late in the game.

Cole: He is a fairly small guy, at least according to what is listed. Do you expect him to develop some more home run power as he gets a little older and fills out physically?

Tingler: Yeah, I do. He has got tremendous gap-to-gap power right now. He did pop one home run a couple of weeks ago, but I think that's going to develop. I don't know what your stat thing has on his weight. I believe when we got him, we had him at 5-foot-8, 174.

We put our kids on a strict lifting program somewhat like a 16- or 17-year-old would be doing in the states. You know how a lot of the football coaches have them in the weight room. Well, we put him on the same thing. He's up to 205 now. He's a strong kid.

Cole: It seems that, from looking at his numbers and from what you have said, he is a pretty advanced guy for his age. Is he a guy that would be at least in consideration to move to Spokane next season and skip the AZL, kind of like what Martin Perez has done this year?

Tingler: That will be a decision with Scott Servais and those guys, but I would think Telis – what he's shown us down here this year – I certainly wouldn't think that would not be an option. But that's going to depend on a lot of guys in front of him and what happens up there. I feel very comfortable with him handling any situation that the Rangers put ahead of him.

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