PinstripesPlus.com: Talk about the Dominican Summer League season last year; how excited were you with the seasons the two teams had?
Pat McMahon: The DSL 1 team was just a half game out of first place and had just a tremendous won-loss record overall from a team perspective and played themselves into the championship series. That was a wonderful team achievement. And DSL 2 was a 40-game winner. 94 games in Latin America is a pretty successful season and we played an additional 69 [pre-season] games. Those Latin American players almost played a full season but because sometimes it's not a regular season game it goes unnoticed by many. That to me is significant, that's a lot of games for these young men. Most clubs in Latin America are not doing that and I think player development is proud of that component that they play, play, play to help the players learn game skills that can improve their individual talent.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about Estevan Florial first because he wasn't the biggest free agent signing last year dollar-wise but yet had the best season of anyone down there. What did you see from Florial in his debut season?
McMahon: He's an interesting young player, one who hasn't played the game a whole lot, but we think has an outstanding skill set. He's a bright young man. He's taught himself English in six months so he's a really neat player. He's a left-handed hitter and a right-handed thrower. He's a really interesting talent.
PinstripesPlus.com: That's the thing that I hear about him. We can all look at the numbers and see he hits, has power, and can run, but word is he speaks three languages already. Is that his thing, his high level of intelligence and aptitude that ties his tools all together?
McMahon: One of the things we put a lot of credence in is aptitude, to remember and follow what they're doing to improve themselves and continue that growth. That's significant because with some players it's like re-writing the book everyday and that aptitude gets real difficult when you're trying to move forward from a coaching perspective. With the aptitude that Estevan has shown and continuing to improve is very exciting.
PinstripesPlus.com: What's the tool of his that stands out the most?
McMahon: I think he profiles a couple of different tools. He runs well, he throws extremely well, he hits and hits for power. There's a skill set there when you talk about all of the tools. He has the chance to be a significant player.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about Diego Castillo [in the photo above]. There were pretty high expectations for him entering his debut season last year I'd imagine and he responded real well obviously with a great season numbers-wise. What did you see from Castillo?
McMahon: I think when we're talking about the number of shortstop prospects in the organization -- it is a huge strength for us organizationally speaking, organizational depth at the shortstop position -- I don't think you hear too many clubs worrying about having too many shortstops. That's how you get better, players competing to play shortstop in the big leagues. Specifically we think Diego Castillo is a young man with a bright future ahead of him as he grows and matures. He put together a wonderful year, hit .331 and OPS'd at .817 and that's good stuff. He uses the field; an advanced offensive player.
PinstripesPlus.com: I know he didn't hit any home runs but the extra-base power seems to be there with 19 extra-base hits in 56 games for a young kid is pretty impressive, no?
McMahon: Yes it is, it really is. And he played shortstop everyday, that's a good sign.
PinstripesPlus.com: The biggest thing he needs to work on is?
McMahon: Strength, just maturing. He just needs to get stronger and hopefully that will happen. He could work on his speed too, he's not a burner. The ball really sticks in his glove. He made some errors but that's not a-typical for the position. The ball sticks in his glove though and he throws accurately. He's that good.
PinstripesPlus.com: On the subject of strength let's move to Nelson Gomez. Obviously he hit for a ton of power in his debut season. What did you see from him?
McMahon: Nelson Gomez has improved significantly in all phases of the game. Obviously the power is the exciting thing with the eleven home runs. That to me is important. He's got to continue to work on his defensive play. He has a good arm but his range and movements is important. He's working hard on his conditioning plan. He made significant improvements on and off the field as the season unfolded and I'm proud of his progress.
PinstripesPlus.com: We know he can mash, it's obvious. Is the big thing for him just getting in better shape? He appears to me to have the kind of body that could relatively easily get out of hand the older he gets.
McMahon: Defensively and range are factors he's working diligently on. He really is. He lost weight during the course of the season and really worked hard to get his body in good shape. It is a big body but he has worked on his body.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move to Miguel Flames because he has that -- I don't want to call it the same profile -- but like Gomez he doesn't have the quickest feet and isn't considered a great defender but offensively he seems to have the chance to be a standout. Talk about him overall; what did you see from him in his debut season?
McMahon: He's an advanced young hitter. He uses the whole field and he has some power. He was signed as a catcher and a guy really needs to want to catch to get back there, and he's learning. But as a guy who uses the whole field that's exciting to all of us because that can play [and] move. He's got to continue to work defensively. He's got really good hands at first base -- it showed up really well -- so he's playing between first and catcher, and the bat is very interesting for us. Not a-typical of a lot of young receivers he's got work to do behind the plate. That's what we do [with all of them] for a 17-year old catcher who hasn't caught a whole lot. That takes a lot of time.
PinstripesPlus.com: Juan De Leon had a disappointing season numbers-wise last year. What did you see from him?
McMahon: Juan's working hard to understand the process and not just the outcome. For many young players that's a very difficult process to handle; how to handle it when expectations are so high they've got to trust the process, trust the plan, and trust their ability to continue to work hard.
PinstripesPlus.com: What's the biggest thing that he needs to work on?
McMahon: To stay consistent with his offensive plan so that contact lets his power play. He changed his stance and things like that looking for immediate results and not sticking with the plan, and it would carry on to his defense too. Juan's also got to continue to use the [whole] field so his power can play to all fields. Be patient, keep teaching him, and things will turn around.
PinstripesPlus.com: Did something similar happen to Brayan Emery where he changed things up a bit too much? he got off to a great start and then really tailed off there towards the end?
McMahon: I think it was different for Emery. He was a shortstop growing up and then moved to the outfield. His first-half numbers were very good and they were legit. Not a-typical of most young Latin players, he needs to get bigger and stronger. I think the length of the season hurt Brayan to a degree and that's going to have to be in his offseason conditioning and strength plan, and that could be a big help to him. Again the outcome, when a guy starts to struggle a little bit, instead of trusting the process they look for the results, the hits, all of the time. That can be a problem that can impact the mental part of it and some guys can't get out of that part. He put together a wonderful first half and he's just to learn to continue that process for the whole year.
PinstripesPlus.com: Jonathan Amundaray didn't get a whole lot of playing time last year. What was the injury?
McMahon: Yeah it was unfortunate because he's another player our scouting department has very strong opinions on and high hopes for, and he needs to play and play. When an injury takes that time away from you though he's got ground to make up. He had a wrist/hand injury that obviously limited his playing time. It was unfortunate.