Q&A with Carlos Rios

PinstripesPlus.com sat down with Yankees' Latin America Coordinator Carlos Rios for a Q&A session to find out more about the Yankees' 'July 2nd' signings. How does shortstop Giancarlo Arias compare to Jose Mojica? What does he think of Ramon Flores' game? How does this class compare to last year's? Find out all this and much more!

PinstripesPlus.com: Talk about Venezuelan catcher Jackson Valera and his game. What kind of player is he?

Carlos Rios: Jackson Valera is a 16-year old catcher-third baseman –first baseman that has a strong desire to catch. He wants to try that first. We signed him because of his bat potential and because of his power potential. Here's a guy who has a rare combination that shows hitting ability for high average and potential to hit lots of doubles and be a run producer. This guy has a first baseman's bat.

PinstripesPlus.com: What can you tell us about Venezuelan shortstop Anderson Felix?

Rios: Anderson Felix is a shortstop/second baseman who is a switch-hitter who can really hit from both sides of the plate. He has the potential to be an offensive type of middle infielder with some occasional power. Right now he's going to stay at short and we're going to work with him there, but if we have to move him to second I don't think we're going to lose anything with him. He may end up second.

PinstripesPlus: Giancarlo Arias is another shortstop you've signed. What is his game like?

Rios: He's probably the most advanced hitter we have out of the group. He has a great knowledge and understanding of the game. He plays the game like he's been in the big leagues for a long time. He makes the game look easy. We're extremely happy with him. He's a different type of shortstop. When you look at him he doesn't have the body type of a shortstop and you try to figure out if he can move – yeah, he can move. We're going to monitor his weight and his body but he's a switch-hitting shortstop who can hit and he will have occasional power at the middle position.

PinstripesPlus: How would you compare his game with that of Jose Mojica who you signed last year?

Rios: This guy has a stronger arm than Mojica and a better bat. The hands are both there. Mojica has great hands as does Arias, and Mojica's going to hit for some power too, but this guy's hitting ability is ahead of a lot of guys.

PinstripesPlus.com: Please give us a scouting report on outfielder Ramon Flores.

Rios: Flores is a centerfielder at 16-years old. This kid is Melky Cabrera with a little bit more looseness in his game. He can hit, just flat-out hit from the left side. He's very patient at the plate. He understands taking pitches. He's an advanced hitter and a guy a lot of people wanted but the kid had a strong desire to be a Yankee. We had a very good relationship with him. He and Arias are the two most advanced hitters we got, and that's even from last year's signings. These guys are ahead, they're quality, quality hitters.

PinstripesPlus.com: What's the book on outfielder Yicok Calderon?

Rios: He's a left-handed bat, a corner outfield guy, and a real strong guy. He can really hit too. We've got to work on his running and we've got to work on his defense, but the guy has loft and power. He shows potential to be a power hitter but we've got to work on some of the other areas of the game that needs help. He'll be a left fielder or a right fielder. He's really athletic and very strong. Cliff Floyd, he has a similar body to him. A lot of people think he'll be that strong when he develops.

PinstripesPlus.com: Just five guys in the signing class this year, that seems pretty small in comparison to years past.

Rios: Yes it's a small class but it's a lot of money invested in those five players. You also have to take into consideration that we signed Banuelos, Aceves, and Duran this year and those represent more prospects for the Yankees. We made those deals early and about a week ago we signed four pitchers that all range between 88-92 MPH, but they were guys eligible to play now. Overall we spent our money wisely. There's not a single player that's going to get over $1 million, as of today. It looks like we did the right thing with the money. I'm proud of the job our scouting department did and the office stepped up to the plate again and gave us more money, and gave us an opportunity to compete.

PinstripesPlus.com: You brought up Kelvin Duran. He has been a publicized name out there for a while now. What can you tell us about his situation?

Rios: He's very similar to [Eduardo] Sosa. He can run, field, throw, hit from the left side, and he's kind of a speedster type of guy. He'll have a chance to stay at centerfield for a long time, which is good. He was a pass-over player from the '07 class that we've been scouting for almost now two years, but [Scott] Boras' demands were too high and the kid came to us and asked for an opportunity to sign with the Yankees. He's always been on our list and we took advantage of signing a player we wanted at our price.

PinstripesPlus.com: Reymond Nunez was a guy signed last year who wasn't technically part of your July 2nd Signing Day group but was part of your class for the year. Are there any players on your radar this season that you might be adding to your class this year?

Rios: Yeah, there are some players whose birthdays are in August that we have interest in. We have interest in a premium centerfielder and on a right-handed power bat on a middle infielder. A lot has to do with our draft budget but we never stop scouting because sometimes players think they're going to get "x" amount of money in July and the market says different. It's been a big market, a big year. It will be a record breaking market this year so we'll see what happens. A lot of people will have high expectations because of the way the money is going right now, but we're always ready. The good thing about it is we don't stop scouting and the organization doesn't allow us to lose motivation. They're always ready: ownership, [Brian] Cashman, if you find somebody who can make a difference in this organization, they're always ready. That's exciting when you have that opportunity. It's not like the draft where you draft guys and then sign guys. Here you never stop. We'll sign players today, the next day, everyday we have an opportunity to sign players. We have some people, depending on the draft, who we might be able to sign.

PinstripesPlus: Michel Inoa and Yorman Rodriguez have received a ton of publicity as the top two guys in this year's signing period. There's going to be some upset Yankees fans now that you haven't gotten them. Why not those two guys?

Rios: We made a good run. We did the process right. The players were seen by the organization. Our understanding of the market is a little bit different than the other clubs. We figured it was better for the Yankees to spread that money out and have a better opportunity because the talent pool was so wide this year that we thought it was the best decision to go out and sign a lot of those high "B" players and "C" players that were available on the market. We would have loved to have each one of them but if by signing one I'm not going to be allowed to sign five [players], those are the decisions you've got to make. Sometimes in those cases you're going to find a player you're not going to let go by, but at times you have to. Inoa is a right-handed arm that we hold in high regard. We think he's going to be a tremendous pitcher and a tremendous package. In our understanding we had a good value on him but there's organizations this year that are trying to make a point this year, that have never really been involved in the market, and a lot of them are really making strong statements, and you can't go by that because the player still has the same value and worth that you placed on him. When you are starting in a new process like they are, they're going to make a point and that's what's happening. You're going to see over eight to ten guys getting over $1 million and that's a first. You're going to see organizations for the first time with over $5 million budgets that are not just us. There's going to be three to four organizations that are going to pass that, so it's a big year. I wish we could have had one of the two, but I'm very excited with what we did. We decided as an organization to spread it out and go get the best we can with that.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Talk about Venezuelan catcher Jackson Valera and his game. What kind of player is he?
\r\n
\r\nCarlos Rios: Jackson Valera is a 16-year old catcher-third baseman –first baseman that has a strong desire to catch. He wants to try that first. We signed him because of his bat potential and because of his power potential. Here's a guy who has a rare combination that shows hitting ability for high average and potential to hit lots of doubles and be a run producer. This guy has a first baseman's bat.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: What can you tell us about Venezuelan shortstop Anderson Felix?
\r\n
\r\nRios: Anderson Felix is a shortstop/second baseman who is a switch-hitter who can really hit from both sides of the plate. He has the potential to be an offensive type of middle infielder with some occasional power. Right now he's going to stay at short and we're going to work with him there, but if we have to move him to second I don't think we're going to lose anything with him. He may end up second.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Giancarlo Arias is another shortstop you've signed. What is his game like?
\r\n
\r\nRios: He's probably the most advanced hitter we have out of the group. He has a great knowledge and understanding of the game. He plays the game like he's been in the big leagues for a long time. He makes the game look easy. We're extremely happy with him. He's a different type of shortstop. When you look at him he doesn't have the body type of a shortstop and you try to figure out if he can move – yeah, he can move. We're going to monitor his weight and his body but he's a switch-hitting shortstop who can hit and he will have occasional power at the middle position.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: How would you compare his game with that of Jose Mojica who you signed last year?
\r\n
\r\nRios: This guy has a stronger arm than Mojica and a better bat. The hands are both there. Mojica has great hands as does Arias, and Mojica's going to hit for some power too, but this guy's hitting ability is ahead of a lot of guys.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Please give us a scouting report on outfielder Ramon Flores.
\r\n
\r\nRios: Flores is a centerfielder at 16-years old. This kid is Melky Cabrera with a little bit more looseness in his game. He can hit, just flat-out hit from the left side. He's very patient at the plate. He understands taking pitches. He's an advanced hitter and a guy a lot of people wanted but the kid had a strong desire to be a Yankee. We had a very good relationship with him. He and Arias are the two most advanced hitters we got, and that's even from last year's signings. These guys are ahead, they're quality, quality hitters.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: What's the book on outfielder Yicok Calderon?
\r\n
\r\nRios: He's a left-handed bat, a corner outfield guy, and a real strong guy. He can really hit too. We've got to work on his running and we've got to work on his defense, but the guy has loft and power. He shows potential to be a power hitter but we've got to work on some of the other areas of the game that needs help. He'll be a left fielder or a right fielder. He's really athletic and very strong. Cliff Floyd, he has a similar body to him. A lot of people think he'll be that strong when he develops.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Just five guys in the signing class this year, that seems pretty small in comparison to years past.
\r\n
\r\nRios: Yes it's a small class but it's a lot of money invested in those five players. You also have to take into consideration that we signed Banuelos, Aceves, and Duran this year and those represent more prospects for the Yankees. We made those deals early and about a week ago we signed four pitchers that all range between 88-92 MPH, but they were guys eligible to play now. Overall we spent our money wisely. There's not a single player that's going to get over $1 million, as of today. It looks like we did the right thing with the money. I'm proud of the job our scouting department did and the office stepped up to the plate again and gave us more money, and gave us an opportunity to compete.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: You brought up Kelvin Duran. He has been a publicized name out there for a while now. What can you tell us about his situation?
\r\n
\r\nRios: He's very similar to [Eduardo] Sosa. He can run, field, throw, hit from the left side, and he's kind of a speedster type of guy. He'll have a chance to stay at centerfield for a long time, which is good. He was a pass-over player from the '07 class that we've been scouting for almost now two years, but [Scott] Boras' demands were too high and the kid came to us and asked for an opportunity to sign with the Yankees. He's always been on our list and we took advantage of signing a player we wanted at our price.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Reymond Nunez was a guy signed last year who wasn't technically part of your July 2nd Signing Day group but was part of your class for the year. Are there any players on your radar this season that you might be adding to your class this year?
\r\n
\r\nRios: Yeah, there are some players whose birthdays are in August that we have interest in. We have interest in a premium centerfielder and on a right-handed power bat on a middle infielder. A lot has to do with our draft budget but we never stop scouting because sometimes players think they're going to get \"x\" amount of money in July and the market says different. It's been a big market, a big year. It will be a record breaking market this year so we'll see what happens. A lot of people will have high expectations because of the way the money is going right now, but we're always ready. The good thing about it is we don't stop scouting and the organization doesn't allow us to lose motivation. They're always ready: ownership, [Brian] Cashman, if you find somebody who can make a difference in this organization, they're always ready. That's exciting when you have that opportunity. It's not like the draft where you draft guys and then sign guys. Here you never stop. We'll sign players today, the next day, everyday we have an opportunity to sign players. We have some people, depending on the draft, who we might be able to sign.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Michel Inoa and Yorman Rodriguez have received a ton of publicity as the top two guys in this year's signing period. There's going to be some upset Yankees fans now that you haven't gotten them. Why not those two guys?
\r\n
\r\nRios: We made a good run. We did the process right. The players were seen by the organization. Our understanding of the market is a little bit different than the other clubs. We figured it was better for the Yankees to spread that money out and have a better opportunity because the talent pool was so wide this year that we thought it was the best decision to go out and sign a lot of those high \"B\" players and \"C\" players that were available on the market. We would have loved to have each one of them but if by signing one I'm not going to be allowed to sign five [players], those are the decisions you've got to make. Sometimes in those cases you're going to find a player you're not going to let go by, but at times you have to. Inoa is a right-handed arm that we hold in high regard. We think he's going to be a tremendous pitcher and a tremendous package. In our understanding we had a good value on him but there's organizations this year that are trying to make a point this year, that have never really been involved in the market, and a lot of them are really making strong statements, and you can't go by that because the player still has the same value and worth that you placed on him. When you are starting in a new process like they are, they're going to make a point and that's what's happening. You're going to see over eight to ten guys getting over $1 million and that's a first. You're going to see organizations for the first time with over $5 million budgets that are not just us. There's going to be three to four organizations that are going to pass that, so it's a big year. I wish we could have had one of the two, but I'm very excited with what we did. We decided as an organization to spread it out and go get the best we can with that.
\r\n
\r\n

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

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

\r\n

\r\n

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