Jason Cole: I've heard a lot about Extended Spring Training in Arizona and what it is like, but not much about the Dominican. Can you take me through a typical day at Dominican Extended?
Jayce Tingler: I think they're very similar, the days. This part of the year, we basically don't have any games until June 1. But starting this next week, we're going to start playing about every day. Our first non-official game is on Friday. So starting Friday we'll be playing other programs, we'll be playing other teams, and the goal is to play every day with both teams. One team will play and the other team will practice and then vice versa the next day.
As of right now, it's a lot of lifting, it's a lot of long toss, and it's a lot of fundamentals. Then in the afternoon we come back out for kind of a two-a-day. The morning is kind of focused in the gym and individual work where the cage is and individual defense and bullpens. Then in the afternoons it's more geared for teamwork, whether it's first-and-third defense, cutoffs and relays. Basically the kids are doing kind of a two-a-day deal, one before lunch and then a lighter team-oriented one after lunch.
Cole: How do you guys decide which players go with the DSL1 club and which ones play with DSL2?
Tingler: Last year we basically just kind of split the teams up. This year, we're trying to keep a lot of the young guys, our July 2nd signings together. They will be put on basically team two this year. We signed those guys together, they started working out last summer and played together through the instructional league and then through the January program.
The goal was to keep those guys together and then from there, we may have to put in an older guy here and there. But we try to keep that younger group together and see if they can play together and win together.
Cole: You guys sent one U.S.-born player in Ben Henry and two Australian pitchers in Aaron Thompson and Tim Stanford to the Dominican Republic. How are they adjusting to everyday life in an unfamiliar place?
Tingler: I'd say they're doing very well. I think the first night or two was kind of a culture shock for them. But after that, all those guys have just been outstanding. Obviously we put them in the same room together. They have adjusted very nicely and they are working extremely hard.
Cole: What was behind the decision to send those guys there instead of keeping them in Arizona?
Tingler: I really don't know. It was kind of Scott Servais' and A.J.'s [Preller] call. They were like, ‘Hey, we're thinking about doing this. What are your thoughts?' I told them that it was outstanding. It's outstanding for those kids to get to see where our Latin kids come from and to get a feel for the culture.
Plus, they can still get a lot of their work in and we can get them some innings down here, so that's what we'll do. Those guys need to pitch, and we're definitely going to run them out there when these games start and let them get the opportunity to get the game experience on the field.
Cole: Aaron Thompson is a guy that I obviously haven't seen since he wasn't in Surprise for Spring Training. How old is he?
Tingler: I believe he's 17 or 18, somewhere around there. But he came in -- good body and he's got a nice arm. He's basically learning to pitch. We put him on the long toss program, put him in the weight room, and we're going to run him out there and see what we've got.
Cole: I think one of the big surprises for me at Spring Training was Richard Alvarez, who looked outstanding in the outing I saw. He wasn't a July 2nd signing last year, was he?
Tingler: He was eligible for July 2nd, but he signed a little later. I want to say it was around November.
Cole: You've told me that he's 16 years old. One thing I noticed about him was that his curveball and changeup seemed very well-developed for a kid his age. Can you talk about those two pitches?
Tingler: I think Richard's case is a little bit different because a lot of the guys we sign are big-bodied, big-arm guys. With Richard, he had a feel for the curveball and changeup and controlling the running game -- a lot of the little details -- when he signed. Depending on how he does in Arizona and all that, he's got a good chance because he can command two or three pitches right now at a young age.
Cole: His fastball in that outing I saw was 84-86 mph or so. Is that what it normally is for him?
Tingler: I'd say it's pretty normal. You'll see him on a good day and he may be a little harder, more upper-80s. But on an average, I'd say that's where he is.
Cole: I assume you guys are expecting him to add a little bit of velocity once he gets used to throwing every day and gets on the training program?
Tingler: No doubt. I think naturally for a 16-year-old -- and that's one thing that the Texas Rangers and with Nolan coming in -- they'll get these guys in the weight room and get them into a routine. By the time they're 19, 20 or 21, they start to look like some of the big leaguers do. You know how Millwood and Padilla are big strong guys.
But I think it's a process and starting them off at a young age where they're learning the routine in the weight room, and hopefully they carry that same routine all the way up to Double- and Triple-A and into the bigs. Hopefully that routine turns into a part of who they are.
Cole: Richard Alvarez is one of the Latin youngsters in the U.S. for Extended Spring Training right now. Are you expecting those guys that are in the U.S. right now to eventually play with the AZL Rangers when the short season starts?
Tingler: Those guys need to pitch -- that's the deal. They're young. So I think they'll run them out there and hopefully those guys will tell us -- tell Scott Servais and those guys -- by their performance and what kind of challenge that they're up to. I think, as a group, we believe putting the players in a chance to have success and wherever that may be, I think Scott and Danny Clark do outstanding jobs of reading into what these guys are ready for and putting them into a chance to succeed.
Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Jayce Tingler (Part 1)
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