Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Steve Buechele

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Tim Smith and Mitch Moreland have hit well for the Blaze all season, while Engel Beltre is having an excellent month. Chris Hadorn chatted with first-year manager Steve Buechele about the trio during his recent trip to Bakersfield.

Chris Hadorn: First question I wanted to ask you was about Engel Beltre. You've been around the game for a long time. Tools wise, is he up there with some of the players you've seen?

Steve Buechele: He's got some good tools. He runs real well. His arm is decent. They say he's still young and wild. And I think he's at the point now where he's not young anymore. He's still young baseball age wise, but he's been around for a little bit. Yeah, he's got some tools. He's got some work to do. He's a hard worker. I think if he develops those tools, yeah, he's definitely a talent.

Hadorn: In the month of May he's batting .375 and he has a 10-game hitting streak, he's starting to turn it around. What are some things are doing better in his hitting approach?

Buechele: I think he's trying to make a cautious approach of understanding the strike zone a little bit better. He's a free swinger and if he's going to be hitting at the top of the order, he needs find anyway to get on base and walks are a way that he can do that. I think if he becomes a little more patient, he's got some power, he's going to grow into his power as he gets older. He's got some good gap power and he can run. And he needs to use all those things to his advantage.

Hadorn: What are some things that a guy like him can work on to be more selective and understand that if he's more selective he's going to better his chances?

Buechele: I think for him seeing more pitches will help him more than anything else. Instead of going up there making an easy out for the pitcher, going up there and seeing more pitches that will help Engel too.

Hadorn: A few weeks ago, you benched him for swinging at the first pitch too many times?

Buechele: He was just sat down for not following a program that the Rangers had set up for him. That's all.

Hadorn: What does that program entail?

Buechele: It just entails what we're talking about. About having a plan and allowing him to be on-base more.

Hadorn: What are some things that stand out about Mitch Moreland?

Buechele: Mitch has been outstanding. He's definitely a professional hitter with good power. He has a great idea of what he is doing up at the plate. Very smart hitter. He'll hit the ball the other way. He'll hit it where it's pitched and he's got some power. So far he's been very impressive.

Hadorn: Even though he's a first baseman by trade, he has a strong arm, is he a guy that you like to put out in the outfield a little bit more to take advantage of it?

Buechele: He can play in the outfield, yeah. He has been out there a few times and allows me to give some of the guys a rest putting him out in right field. He's got the arm. He can play anywhere with that arm.

Hadorn: Do you think long-term as he goes up in the levels he'll be able to hold his own in the outfield?

Buechele: Yeah you never know. He's not getting a chance to play it. I don't know if he's really being looked at as an outfielder alone, he does a good job at first base. He's a left-handed power bat and a kid who can really hit. That's his ticket.

Hadorn: What are some things that Tim Smith brings to the table?

Buechele: He brings a certain toughness to the game. When he's swinging the bat good, he's very dangerous. He's got ridiculous power. He has super hand strength. When he's swinging the bat good, he puts the ball in play hard. For being a big guy, he runs a lot better than you think. He's good on the bases.

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