Q&A with Battle Creek Manager, Bill Mosiello

You can't get a better overall look at the lower levels of the Yankee Farm System than what Bill Mosiello can tell you. He got a chance to manage the Battle Creek Yankees this season but is also a highly thought of hitting instructor in the organization. Mosiello was able to bring the youngest team in the Midwest League, Battle Creek, along with a winning record in 2004 and also coached in the Instructional League. He sat down with us for a chat session about the Yankee prospects. (Free Preview)

PinstripesPlus: What did you think of Tyler Clippard?

Bill Mosiello: For a young kid, one of the younger pitchers in the league, he was just outstanding. What he is, is a strike thrower and there is nothing better than that. And, he still needs to fill out and he will only get better and better. He has a chance to be a real good pitcher and will probably be near the top of the Tampa Yankees rotation next season.

PP: Abel Gomez was another very fine pitcher for your club this year. Tell us what your impression is of him.

Mosiello: There is another guy, he is just so young and already so good. The only reason Clippard is ahead of him in progress right now is his control still needs work. But, he is not a real big guy and he throws very hard. But, as far as ceiling, he could be the real deal. Maybe, he could be a left handed Pedro Martinez type. His arm motion is so smooth and fluent. He utilizes his strong arm even though he doesn't have a big body. Also, he probably weighs no more than 145 pounds and doesn't look like he used to eat too good. Once we get him filled out he could be a real special kid. Not to mention, he is left handed.

PP: Tell us about what you saw from Eric Duncan this year.

Mosiello: Eric Duncan is a really special kid and that is the only way to say it. The way he hits the ball the opposite field with so much thump is incredible. He still looks like the best impact position player in the system and he could move very quickly from here on out.

PP: Which one of your players were you most impressed with this year?

Mosiello: As oppose to years past, I am more impressed with these kids I had this year than any other years I can remember. Mark Newman made a point saying that we would turn this thing around and I think he has. But, I think Eric Duncan, again is the one I was most impressed with. Also, Melky Cabrera. I can't forget him. All of his tools are just so solid and knows how to play the game. He is so young and already is such a good player.

PP: Erold Andrus really had a breakout year. What does he have in store in his future?

Mosiello: Actually, more than anything else, Erold looks like a big power hitting prospect. He hit 12 home runs for us this year but he showed in stretches that the potential is there for some big power production in the future. He is not the five tool player some thought he might turn out to be. The big news on him right now is that we are slowly making him into a first baseman. You figure that he is filling out already and getting bigger and stronger. Right now, his speed and arm are his worst tools. He used to be faster but as he is adding some pounds, he is getting stronger but sacrificing some speed. We worked with him in the instructional league on playing first base and he is looking pretty good. Don't expect him to start as a full time as a first baseman next year for the Tampa Yankees but he will be playing there a lot in the near future. We don't have a lot of depth at the position and this move will help him in the future.

PP: So, does that mean Eric Duncan won't be moved across the diamond to first base?

Mosiello: We thought that would be the case last year but how can we possibly move this guy now? You can't move such a hard worker like him. He has worked so hard day in and out and he won't be at first base in the foreseeable future. Of course, you got A-rod up there at third base but we all understand that Eric could be a big chip for a premium Major League player. For now, he is third baseman and that isn't changing anytime soon.

PP: How big of a boost was getting a guy like Steven White in your rotation this year?

Mosiello: White was fantastic this year. I think he will definitely be a guy who goes to AA Trenton next year. Having a guy like him who has a great reputation on the staff really helped us out. But, we all knew he wasn't long for low A ball. He looks like a real good prospect.

PP: How much did having a veteran catcher like Omir Santos help your pitching staff that was fairly inexperienced?

Mosiello: Omir was outstanding. He was really a great help considering we had a couple 19 year olds on our staff. He was like having another coach and we really missed him when he was promoted in the last month of the season.

PP: Josh Smith had an amazing turnaround this year. Was there ever any faith lost in him?

Mosiello: Well, I obviously got the impression that the organization had a tremendous amount of faith and patience in him and for good reason. I found out why when I saw how hard he worked and how persistent he was. He never quit and never lost confidence. You know, a lot of guys would start wondering when they were going to get the call telling them they have been demoted. Josh never gave in and eventually gave us a big boost the last stretch of the season.

PP: Who was the guy on your team that you think deserves much more credit than he has gotten?

Mosiello: No doubt, it is Hector Made. Guys from Baseball America and other places call me up and ask me about all these other guys they think are sleepers but they never ask about Made. I mean, he is a 19 year old talented shortstop with some pop in his bat. I know he made a lot of errors this year but look at Jeter in his first full season where he made over 40 errors. Made really blew me away. I can't believe he doesn't more attention. He will be the shortstop in Tampa next year. No doubt in my mind.

PP: What about Rafael Rodriguez?

Mosiello: There is another guy who doesn't get nearly as much attention as he deserves. We, in the organization, see him as a really big time power prospect. He showed a lot of potential with the power stroke but, again, here is another guy who just needs to fill out. So much of our team, that was the case with and we were still pretty successful. I played Rodriguez a lot at third base and that looks like the spot for him now. I think he'll play there in Tampa next year depending on what they do with Duncan.

PP: You were in the Instructional League this year. What guys look like they could make a big impact next season from what you saw?

Mosiello: One guy I really liked was Mario Holmann. This organization is suddenly stacked at the middle infield positions and I don't know what they are going to do with all of them. It is a nice problem to have though. But, Holmann is a very fine player. He is quick and has a real nice stroke. He actually got some time in Tampa this year but hurt his thumb and wasn't really right until almost the end of the season. He looked very good in the instructional league. Also, Jon Poterson looked really good. I know he struggled early on in the Gulf Coast League, but he really came on late and got red hot. But, even throughout the season he showed awesome power and really good patience for a guy out of high school. I really liked him a lot but I am not sure if they will like to keep him out of full season for some more seasoning or not next year.

PP: Out of the Gulf Coast League, which pitcher(s) do you think can jump to full season next year and make a big impact like Tyler Clippard did this year?

Mosiello: I know it sounds crazy but I think it will be Phil Hughes. I know he only threw something like five innings this year in the Gulf Coast League but I really think the organization doesn't want to leave him in short season next season. The reason being is this guy already knows how to pitch. That is why he was such a great draft pick by the organization. We aren't teaching him anything big that he doesn't already know. His mechanics are great, he is a big, strong kid and he already throws strike after strike. There is no real reason to keep him out of the full season leagues. Watch out for him because he has it all going right now.

PP: Who else impressed you out of that great Gulf Coast pitching staff?

Mosiello: No question, it is Christian Garcia. He may actually have the best raw stuff of anyone in the organization right now. The organization is in the love with him right now. He is still so young and he is successful basically with very little pitching experience. He has the best arm out of any of these guys and he throws a really heavy ball. But, they might keep him in extended spring training next year. That is what makes him different from Hughes. Hughes is polished like a college guy. Garcia may have the same talent but is still a raw talent. He just needs to refine his mechanics and work on his control.

PP: Do you think you will be managing the Charleston team next year?

Mosiello: Right now, it looks like it will be that way but it depends. I might even be in Tampa next season. But, I am expecting to be in Charleston. Both teams look like they will be very talented so it doesn't bother me either way.

PP: What kind of pitching staff do you expect to have in Charleston next season?

Mosiello: Well, every night, I pray I will have Jesse Hoover on my staff. Although, we seem to think he'll be heading to Tampa but there is an outside shot he won't skip low A ball. I didn't have the pleasure of seeing him pitch live but from what I have heard and read, he is the real deal. But, the Tampa rotation will be overflowing with candidates. You know Clippard, Gomez and Eric Abreu will be there. For Charleston, I expect to see Jeff Marquez because he is a much younger college guy. Also, I am very excited to see Brett Smith. I am pretty certain he will be a big part of our staff at least early on next season. He was a high profile draftee and he has a lot of talent. I think a guy like Jason Jones will go straight to Tampa because he is a strike thrower. I mean, he is one of the best strike throwers I have seen. The guy virtually doesn't walk anyone and has real good stuff. I am pretty sure we won't have him and he'll be in Tampa next year. Of course, maybe I could be in Tampa also. But, yea, Marquez should be in Charleston. Probably Phil Hughes. Again, he didn't have much time in the Gulf Coast League but the organization knows what he can do already. Besides that, anything can happen. We may have Hoover but he should be out of there quickly if he is there to start.

PP: Do you expect to have Tim Battle roaming center field for you next year in Charleston?

Mosiello: Yes, I really expect it to shake out that way. I know he has struggled a little bit this year but you have to remember what he is coming back from. Remember, he really just had one bad streak that killed his stats. But, we really like his play in center field. He has an amazing arm and his range is excellent also. He is a five tool player and has plenty of time to develop. Once, he just learns to make a little more contact, he is going to be special. I know making contact is the most important thing but I think he can really make some progress. It is the same thing with Estee Harris. Both of those guys are in the same boat, really.

PP: Do you have an idea of what your middle infield situation could look like in Charleston next year?

Mosiello: I can say that it looks like Marcos Vechionacci will be our starting shortstop. He impresses me and everyone else as much as anybody. "Nacci" will play there until he outgrows the position. He is too good to be playing second base and his range is good enough to play shortstop. If I'm in Charleston I'm really excited to see him play every day. I've seen him play but watching him play on an every day basis will be fun. Another guys I expect to see is Mario Holmann. I think he'll be in Charleston and possibly in Tampa. He is a couple years older than Vechionacci but I think he could be the second baseman in Charleston next year. 

PP: What about Reggie Corona? Is he a possibility?

Mosiello: I don't know really. I really like him. He is a little guy with some pretty big skills. His defense is very good but I am curious to see if we keep him down in the Gulf Coast or not. He is definitely intriguing though. He is only 17 so there is no rush. But, he is a good little second baseman.

PP: What do you think will be Mike Martinez' role next season?

Mosiello: Mike is great. he is really a great kid. He went to Tampa at the end of this season but didn't see any time because of the hurricane. But, it almost seems certain that he will be the closer in Tampa next year and he should do an excellent job of it. Again, he is another strike thrower which is probably the best thing to be. He has the perfect mentality for that role. He is a smart kid and nothing can get to him. I think he'll be very successful. I know he can also be a starter. He started as the closer for Cal State Fullerton but started later in the season. But, we really like him in the stopper's role so he will stay there for a while and we'll see how that works out.

PP: Will Hector Gonzalez be in the mix in any of the full season leagues next year?

Mosiello: He is a really tough call. He is still very crude talent but we really like his potential. Depending on the need for a third baseman at low A in 2005, we will just have to wait and see. He is still very young but we'd like to get him going in full season next year somehow. It will be pretty exciting if we can have Gonzalez, Vechionacci and Holmann in the same infield. Yet again, it looks like out low A team is going to be very young. But, we turned out pretty good this year so it could be a lot of fun.

PP: Is there any chance of seeing Jon Poterson in full season ball next year?

Mosiello: Because of his patience and power, yes, I think there is a chance. He is a tough call right now but even considering his low batting average this year, he has a good shot at showing up in Charleston next year.

PP: What did you think of Eric Abreu?

Mosiello: Boy, talk about coming out of nowhere. Last year, he was in in the Dominican and this year, by the end of the season he is dominating the Florida State League. That is really something. I haven't seen much of him but he seems like a special guy. The organization is aware of that too. He is one of those guys that they groomed in the Summer League and even Baseball America has talked about him for a while. 21 years old and he could be in AA by the end of 2005. That is amazing.

PinstripesPlus.com would like to give out a special thanks to Bill Mosiello for his time and efforts in answering these questions.

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