Q&A with Staten Island Manager Josh Paul

We sat down with Staten Island manager Josh Paul for a Q&A session to get his thoughts on what kind of progress he saw from Arodys Vizcaino's secondary pitches, if he thinks Kyle Higashioka is better than his numbers suggest, if Neil Medchill is more than a minor league slugger, what he likes most about Adam Warren, and much, much more.

PinstripesPlus.com: How Kyle Higashioka only hit .253 this year with just two home runs is one of the great mysteries for me. I love his approach at the plate and I think he's got more power than he's shown. Is he a guy in your opinion that's better than the numbers suggest?

Josh Paul: He's 19, he doesn't have his man strength yet. He's got a simple, direct, and compact swing. I think that will play out in the future, especially when he gets bigger and stronger. He's pretty disciplined at the plate and he's got a solid approach. To a point numbers at these levels don't mean anything, it's looking at how they handle situations and if they are improving too. Basically I was looking for him to have good at-bats and he did, and that's all we really care about at that level. You're missing one of Kyle's biggest tools - he's going to be a very good defensive catcher. He's way, way, way ahead of the curve mentally. And he's 19 and he's calling games way, way over his league that he's in. He handles the pitching staff flawlessly. He'll grow into his arm as he gets older and stronger, and he blocks balls well. Mentally though, I've never seen anyone this advanced. We're very pleased with that.

PinstripesPlus.com: Jimmy Paredes has a real good year statistically. I've always loved his arm at third base too but I know he was coming back from the labrum injury. What did you see from him both offensively and defensively?

Paul: Offensively he's a line-drive hitter from both sides of the plate. Again, another guy who translates into more power as he gets older and stronger. He runs like the wind. We gave him a green light this season and let him learn from trial and error how to steal some bases this year. I think that'll pay off in the long run. He had 25 [stolen bases] for a half-season, that's pretty good. Offensively he's a run scorer and that's a commodity right there. We bounced him around a lot [defensively] to give him a feel for the different spots. We really didn't want to get that arm irritated again. We'll take our time with him.

PinstripesPlus.com: Zoilo Almonte had always been a guy the Latin American scouts and coaches were really high on and he struggled for a bit, but he had a pretty big this year. What kind of progress did you see out of him this year?

Paul: He was basically our most consistent hitter all year. He was another guy who gave you a good at-bat, he was steady, and he came up clutch for us. Down the stretch he was probably our MVP for the playoffs. He hit a couple of big home runs for us and a big double in the championship game, and he played good defense in both right and centerfield. He's got an excellent arm. We're very pleased with him. He plays hard and stole a bunch of bases as well. He's just a good, solid all-around player.

PinstripesPlus.com: Deangelo Mack had a tremendous season. He's not a big guy but yet he hit seven home runs, which isn't paltry by any means. What did you see from him this year?

Paul: He's not big but he's strong, very, very strong and he's an athlete. He came in with a long, slow swing and he made a lot of adjustments. They paid off. He worked his butt off and made a lot of improvements in his approach and his swing. Putting that together with his strength, he's got a nice bat. He drives in a lot of runs. He hits the ball to the opposite field with power, which is a rare commodity, especially at that lower level. He turned into a nice stick for us.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about the big guy, Neil Medchill. Obviously he hit a ton of home runs but is he more than a slugger in your opinion? Can he do some other things besides hit the long ball?

Paul: Yeah there's another guy who made some adjustments and works very hard to get better. Overall he's a gamer. He plays hard and he plays to win. He's a very intense guy, which is another thing you can't teach. It's something whether a guy has it or not, and he's got it. He's always looking to get better. He's always asking questions on how to get better. He's a fun guy to coach. He's got a lot of power in his swing. He still has a lot of work to do though on his overall offensive approach, but I think because he's so tenacious about improving that I don't think there should be too much problem with that. He played a little bit of center for us. We had some injuries at one point in the year and we threw him out in center to see what he could do and he actually did pretty well out there. It's something he can do, I don't know though that is his future. It's nice to know he can handle it.

PinstripesPlus.com: Carmen Angelini had a rough year after hitting .190 and he'd be the first one to admit it. But did you see some encouraging signs beyond the numbers that there could be some progress going forward?

Paul: He's in the cage working, that's all you can ask guys to do, try to work it out. I'll be honest, I wasn't in the cage with him so I don't know about all of the things but I do know he was down there working. Defensively he improved over the last couple weeks of the season. He settled down. He had some rough errors in the beginning and the middle of the season but he seemed to settle down and that was encouraging.

PinstripesPlus.com: Luke Murton had a tremendous year. I realize he's late-round pick as a college senior so I don't know how great a prospect he will become, but what did you think of him this year?

Paul: He was big for us. He's another guy who got to work making some adjustments and he did that. He came through for us. Luke really beared down on the things he needed to adjust at the professional level and he did that. We're very pleased with his progress as well.

PinstripesPlus.com: Adam Warren didn't start the season off with you guys but he sure pitched well once he got there. What do you like most about him?

Paul: He's very mature. He's got a lot of poise on the mound. He knows how to pitch and he knows how to get out of tough situations. He commands his fastball very well. For me, he was just better than the guys in the league. I think he was [too much for that league]. I'm very interested in seeing him move up and get challenged against some better hitters because I think he can handle that challenge. The biggest thing for me is he commands both sides of the plate with his fastball and throws quality breaking balls for strikes and out of the zone when he needs to. If you can do that at any level, you're going to be successful. He's a very interesting prospect for us.

PinstripesPlus.com: When you say interesting prospect I immediately think of Arodys Vizcaino. Obviously he has the electric arm, but what did you think of the development of his secondary pitches?

Paul: Oh yeah he's got good stuff. You touched on it, he's got a good fastball and he's got a good curveball as well. He's working on his changeup but they are all working on their changes. They're all working on their changeups in the big leagues too though. But yeah, he's got great stuff and he's got great potential. He came up lame towards the end of the year but I think he was among the league leaders in many categories. He's got good stuff.

PinstripesPlus.com: Like Warren, Sean Black pitched really well this season and he obviously has the fastball working. What did you think of his secondary pitches?

Paul: He's got some good stuff too but he has some work to do on his delivery and things like that, just like everyone else in our league. Sean has some very nice tools to work with. As a coaching staff we say he's got this, this, and this, 'let's clean up his mechanics and see how this plays out'. But overall his tool package is nice.

PinstripesPlus.com: Gavin Brooks couldn't have pitched much better this year. What did you think of his game?

Paul: He's all heart. He got us out of countless jams this year, a couple of times with the bases loaded with no outs and he didn't give up a run, and in big spots too. He's all heart. Obviously he has a good fastball and a good breaking ball, and he throws strikes out of the bullpen. From a lefty standpoint that's huge. He's another guy that as he moves up, how he performs especially against left-handed hitters is going to be his litmus test. If we needed him in a tough jam, he got it done.

PinstripesPlus.com: You know a guy who gets lost in the discussion of pitching prospects is Francisco Rondon and he had a very, very good year this season. What do you think of him as a prospect?

Paul: He's a guy with great tools. He's got a plus, plus slider. That's going to be huge for him as he progresses through his career. He throws hard from the left side but I think his slider is really where he's going to make his money someday.

PinstripesPlus.com: Talk about Kelvin Perez. He's not a big guy, but he throws hard and he's got good stuff it seems. Are you worred about his size at all?

Paul: No, is anybody worried about Pedro's size? He can throw 95 MPH from the right side, he's got a good curveball, a good sharp curveball, and he's fearless out there. I like his intangibles a lot.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: How Kyle Higashioka only hit .253 this year with just two home runs is one of the great mysteries for me. I love his approach at the plate and I think he's got more power than he's shown. Is he a guy in your opinion that's better than the numbers suggest?
\r\n
\r\nJosh Paul: He's 19, he doesn't have his man strength yet. He's got a simple, direct, and compact swing. I think that will play out in the future, especially when he gets bigger and stronger. He's pretty disciplined at the plate and he's got a solid approach. To a point numbers at these levels don't mean anything, it's looking at how they handle situations and if they are improving too. Basically I was looking for him to have good at-bats and he did, and that's all we really care about at that level. You're missing one of Kyle's biggest tools - he's going to be a very good defensive catcher. He's way, way, way ahead of the curve mentally. And he's 19 and he's calling games way, way over his league that he's in. He handles the pitching staff flawlessly. He'll grow into his arm as he gets older and stronger, and he blocks balls well. Mentally though, I've never seen anyone this advanced. We're very pleased with that.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Jimmy Paredes has a real good year statistically. I've always loved his arm at third base too but I know he was coming back from the labrum injury. What did you see from him both offensively and defensively?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: Offensively he's a line-drive hitter from both sides of the plate. Again, another guy who translates into more power as he gets older and stronger. He runs like the wind. We gave him a green light this season and let him learn from trial and error how to steal some bases this year. I think that'll pay off in the long run. He had 25 [stolen bases] for a half-season, that's pretty good. Offensively he's a run scorer and that's a commodity right there. We bounced him around a lot [defensively] to give him a feel for the different spots. We really didn't want to get that arm irritated again. We'll take our time with him.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Zoilo Almonte had always been a guy the Latin American scouts and coaches were really high on and he struggled for a bit, but he had a pretty big this year. What kind of progress did you see out of him this year?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: He was basically our most consistent hitter all year. He was another guy who gave you a good at-bat, he was steady, and he came up clutch for us. Down the stretch he was probably our MVP for the playoffs. He hit a couple of big home runs for us and a big double in the championship game, and he played good defense in both right and centerfield. He's got an excellent arm. We're very pleased with him. He plays hard and stole a bunch of bases as well. He's just a good, solid all-around player.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Deangelo Mack had a tremendous season. He's not a big guy but yet he hit seven home runs, which isn't paltry by any means. What did you see from him this year?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: He's not big but he's strong, very, very strong and he's an athlete. He came in with a long, slow swing and he made a lot of adjustments. They paid off. He worked his butt off and made a lot of improvements in his approach and his swing. Putting that together with his strength, he's got a nice bat. He drives in a lot of runs. He hits the ball to the opposite field with power, which is a rare commodity, especially at that lower level. He turned into a nice stick for us.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about the big guy, Neil Medchill. Obviously he hit a ton of home runs but is he more than a slugger in your opinion? Can he do some other things besides hit the long ball?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: Yeah there's another guy who made some adjustments and works very hard to get better. Overall he's a gamer. He plays hard and he plays to win. He's a very intense guy, which is another thing you can't teach. It's something whether a guy has it or not, and he's got it. He's always looking to get better. He's always asking questions on how to get better. He's a fun guy to coach. He's got a lot of power in his swing. He still has a lot of work to do though on his overall offensive approach, but I think because he's so tenacious about improving that I don't think there should be too much problem with that. He played a little bit of center for us. We had some injuries at one point in the year and we threw him out in center to see what he could do and he actually did pretty well out there. It's something he can do, I don't know though that is his future. It's nice to know he can handle it.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Carmen Angelini had a rough year after hitting .190 and he'd be the first one to admit it. But did you see some encouraging signs beyond the numbers that there could be some progress going forward?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: He's in the cage working, that's all you can ask guys to do, try to work it out. I'll be honest, I wasn't in the cage with him so I don't know about all of the things but I do know he was down there working. Defensively he improved over the last couple weeks of the season. He settled down. He had some rough errors in the beginning and the middle of the season but he seemed to settle down and that was encouraging.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Luke Murton had a tremendous year. I realize he's late-round pick as a college senior so I don't know how great a prospect he will become, but what did you think of him this year?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: He was big for us. He's another guy who got to work making some adjustments and he did that. He came through for us. Luke really beared down on the things he needed to adjust at the professional level and he did that. We're very pleased with his progress as well.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Adam Warren didn't start the season off with you guys but he sure pitched well once he got there. What do you like most about him?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: He's very mature. He's got a lot of poise on the mound. He knows how to pitch and he knows how to get out of tough situations. He commands his fastball very well. For me, he was just better than the guys in the league. I think he was [too much for that league]. I'm very interested in seeing him move up and get challenged against some better hitters because I think he can handle that challenge. The biggest thing for me is he commands both sides of the plate with his fastball and throws quality breaking balls for strikes and out of the zone when he needs to. If you can do that at any level, you're going to be successful. He's a very interesting prospect for us.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: When you say interesting prospect I immediately think of Arodys Vizcaino. Obviously he has the electric arm, but what did you think of the development of his secondary pitches?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: Oh yeah he's got good stuff. You touched on it, he's got a good fastball and he's got a good curveball as well. He's working on his changeup but they are all working on their changes. They're all working on their changeups in the big leagues too though. But yeah, he's got great stuff and he's got great potential. He came up lame towards the end of the year but I think he was among the league leaders in many categories. He's got good stuff.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Like Warren, Sean Black pitched really well this season and he obviously has the fastball working. What did you think of his secondary pitches?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: He's got some good stuff too but he has some work to do on his delivery and things like that, just like everyone else in our league. Sean has some very nice tools to work with. As a coaching staff we say he's got this, this, and this, 'let's clean up his mechanics and see how this plays out'. But overall his tool package is nice.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Gavin Brooks couldn't have pitched much better this year. What did you think of his game?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: He's all heart. He got us out of countless jams this year, a couple of times with the bases loaded with no outs and he didn't give up a run, and in big spots too. He's all heart. Obviously he has a good fastball and a good breaking ball, and he throws strikes out of the bullpen. From a lefty standpoint that's huge. He's another guy that as he moves up, how he performs especially against left-handed hitters is going to be his litmus test. If we needed him in a tough jam, he got it done.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: You know a guy who gets lost in the discussion of pitching prospects is Francisco Rondon and he had a very, very good year this season. What do you think of him as a prospect?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: He's a guy with great tools. He's got a plus, plus slider. That's going to be huge for him as he progresses through his career. He throws hard from the left side but I think his slider is really where he's going to make his money someday.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Talk about Kelvin Perez. He's not a big guy, but he throws hard and he's got good stuff it seems. Are you worred about his size at all?
\r\n
\r\nPaul: No, is anybody worried about Pedro's size? He can throw 95 MPH from the right side, he's got a good curveball, a good sharp curveball, and he's fearless out there. I like his intangibles a lot.
\r\n
\r\n

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

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\r\n

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