DSL - Q&A with Julio Valdez

PinstripesPlus sits down with Julio Valdez, the manager of DSL Yankees1, for a Q&A session. Valdez sheds some insights into the development of Jose Pirela, Carlos Urena, Jimmy Paredes, which pitchers he has been most impressed with, what he likes most about Jahdiel Santamaria, and much more!

PinstripesPlus.com: What have you seen from Jose Pirela since he has come back from the United States and what kind of improvement have you seen from him since before going to Spring Training in Tampa?

Julio Valdez: Jose Pirela has shown a lot of improvement, especially right now because he has been playing short and second. He started playing much better, as soon as he got here [to the Dominican Republic], than he was in the States. I don't know how we do it in the United States, but since he's been here, he has shown a lot of improvement and shown up for the early work every morning. He has looked much better defensively. A couple of times a week he supposed to be hitting in the cages [for his early work], but in my opinion he needed it more defensively than hitting. We know he can hit. We have him working in the early morning on the double-play, taking plenty of ground balls side-to-side, and he has shown a lot of improvement.

PinstripesPlus: Him playing second base, is that just to get him some at-bats?

Valdez: We want him to play both because we also have Jimmy Paredes. He's another shortstop who also needs some time at shortstop. I put him at second [sometimes] so he can get his four turns at-bat, and with the way Jimmy has been swinging the bat, we had to play both.

PinstripesPlus: Since you brought him up, talk about Paredes. How has he looked offensively this year?

Valdez: Jimmy Paredes has also shown a lot of improvement. Right now, this is a young kid. He's been working hard to improve himself. A couple of times at the plate he's had some confusion because he likes to swing at the first pitch, but for a young player, he's hungry. When you're hungry, you like to eat, that's the situation with Jimmy Paredes right now. He is trying to do too much.

PinstripesPlus: Like Pirela, Carlos Urena is another player who came back from the United States. What have you seen from him this year in the Dominican Summer League?

Valdez: Carlos Urena has been swinging at a lot of bad pitches. He has been opening up his front shoulder a little bit, but he has been working daily in the cages with Freddy [hitting coach Freddy Tiburcio]. I can tell he's going to come around. You can tell he's just trying to do too much. Defensively, there's no question about him. He goes for the ball gap-to-gap. There's no problem with him with that. The only problem he has right now, we're going to get him around at the plate. But defensively, he has the arm, he has the range, it's not a problem.

PinstripesPlus: Arielkis Lapaix doesn't have a great batting average right now but he always seems to put together good plate appearances. What have you seen from him this season?

Valdez: Lapaix, at the beginning of the season, was lost at the plate. One time he came to me and said, 'Julio, I don't want to play today', maybe because he struck out three times the day before. I told him, 'no, you're going to play again today, if you strike out three more times today, I don't care. But you have to play everyday'. I gave him some comfort so he can improve himself. Now at the plate he has shown a lot of improvement. At the beginning, he was just swinging at a lot of bad pitches. As soon as he saw the breaking pitch, he would swing and miss. Right now though, he has more patience at the plate. To me, he appears to be seeing the ball much better at the plate.

PinstripesPlus: Of your pitchers this season, which one has impressed you the most?

Valdez: This year I've got this kid Richard Martinez. He has a good sinker-ball and a pretty good curveball. His changeup - actually all of his pitches move. A couple of times he's hit 94 MPH. The other pitcher is Francisco Rondon, a young left-handed kid. He has impressed a lot. He has a pretty good curveball, he has an average fastball [88-91 MPH], he throws 92 MPH sometimes, and he's comfortable on the mound. He pitched the other day and threw four innings real well, the same with Richard Martinez.

PinstripesPlus: Jahdiel Santamaria seems very tools, cut in the mold of Melky Mesa perhaps, but with more patience at the plate. Would you agree with that?

Valdez: Santamaria is a kid who works very hard. He doesn't like to lose. Every time he goes to the plate with runners on base, he tries so hard to get them in because he wants to get the RBI. He's a kid that deserves to play. He has some power and he has speed. When I have Santamaria at the plate, I wish I could have three or four more guys like that. He has shown that he wants to be there at the plate. He wants to beat that team because they are his enemy. This is the kind of guy Santamaria is.

PinstripesPlus: Julian Herrera has been hitting in the heart of your order this season. What can you tell us about his game?

Valdez: Julian Herrera is a kid who broke his ankle a couple of years ago and then at the beginning of this year, he twisted his wrist and he was out for three or four weeks. As soon as he got healthy, he started working hard and he too has shown some improvement. He's a right-handed hitter who looks like he's left-handed because he likes to hit the ball to right-center to the gap. He's a gap-to-gap guy.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: What have you seen from Jose Pirela since he has come back from the United States and what kind of improvement have you seen from him since before going to Spring Training in Tampa?
\r\n
\r\nJulio Valdez: Jose Pirela has shown a lot of improvement, especially right now because he has been playing short and second. He started playing much better, as soon as he got here [to the Dominican Republic], than he was in the States. I don't know how we do it in the United States, but since he's been here, he has shown a lot of improvement and shown up for the early work every morning. He has looked much better defensively. A couple of times a week he supposed to be hitting in the cages [for his early work], but in my opinion he needed it more defensively than hitting. We know he can hit. We have him working in the early morning on the double-play, taking plenty of ground balls side-to-side, and he has shown a lot of improvement.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Him playing second base, is that just to get him some at-bats?
\r\n
\r\nValdez: We want him to play both because we also have Jimmy Paredes. He's another shortstop who also needs some time at shortstop. I put him at second [sometimes] so he can get his four turns at-bat, and with the way Jimmy has been swinging the bat, we had to play both.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Since you brought him up, talk about Paredes. How has he looked offensively this year?
\r\n
\r\nValdez: Jimmy Paredes has also shown a lot of improvement. Right now, this is a young kid. He's been working hard to improve himself. A couple of times at the plate he's had some confusion because he likes to swing at the first pitch, but for a young player, he's hungry. When you're hungry, you like to eat, that's the situation with Jimmy Paredes right now. He is trying to do too much.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Like Pirela, Carlos Urena is another player who came back from the United States. What have you seen from him this year in the Dominican Summer League?
\r\n
\r\nValdez: Carlos Urena has been swinging at a lot of bad pitches. He has been opening up his front shoulder a little bit, but he has been working daily in the cages with Freddy [hitting coach Freddy Tiburcio]. I can tell he's going to come around. You can tell he's just trying to do too much. Defensively, there's no question about him. He goes for the ball gap-to-gap. There's no problem with him with that. The only problem he has right now, we're going to get him around at the plate. But defensively, he has the arm, he has the range, it's not a problem.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Arielkis Lapaix doesn't have a great batting average right now but he always seems to put together good plate appearances. What have you seen from him this season?
\r\n
\r\nValdez: Lapaix, at the beginning of the season, was lost at the plate. One time he came to me and said, 'Julio, I don't want to play today', maybe because he struck out three times the day before. I told him, 'no, you're going to play again today, if you strike out three more times today, I don't care. But you have to play everyday'. I gave him some comfort so he can improve himself. Now at the plate he has shown a lot of improvement. At the beginning, he was just swinging at a lot of bad pitches. As soon as he saw the breaking pitch, he would swing and miss. Right now though, he has more patience at the plate. To me, he appears to be seeing the ball much better at the plate.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Of your pitchers this season, which one has impressed you the most?
\r\n
\r\nValdez: This year I've got this kid Richard Martinez. He has a good sinker-ball and a pretty good curveball. His changeup - actually all of his pitches move. A couple of times he's hit 94 MPH. The other pitcher is Francisco Rondon, a young left-handed kid. He has impressed a lot. He has a pretty good curveball, he has an average fastball [88-91 MPH], he throws 92 MPH sometimes, and he's comfortable on the mound. He pitched the other day and threw four innings real well, the same with Richard Martinez.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Jahdiel Santamaria seems very tools, cut in the mold of Melky Mesa perhaps, but with more patience at the plate. Would you agree with that?
\r\n
\r\nValdez: Santamaria is a kid who works very hard. He doesn't like to lose. Every time he goes to the plate with runners on base, he tries so hard to get them in because he wants to get the RBI. He's a kid that deserves to play. He has some power and he has speed. When I have Santamaria at the plate, I wish I could have three or four more guys like that. He has shown that he wants to be there at the plate. He wants to beat that team because they are his enemy. This is the kind of guy Santamaria is.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Julian Herrera has been hitting in the heart of your order this season. What can you tell us about his game?
\r\n
\r\nValdez: Julian Herrera is a kid who broke his ankle a couple of years ago and then at the beginning of this year, he twisted his wrist and he was out for three or four weeks. As soon as he got healthy, he started working hard and he too has shown some improvement. He's a right-handed hitter who looks like he's left-handed because he likes to hit the ball to right-center to the gap. He's a gap-to-gap guy.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

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