Q&A with Charleston Manager Torre Tyson

We sat down with Charleston Riverdogs Manager Torre Tyson for a Q&A session to get his thoughts on how different Abraham Almonte was in his second year in Charleston, how good he thinks Manny Banuelos could be, what he likes most about Jose Pirela, what he saw from Andrew Brackman once he was moved to the bullpen, and much, much more.

PinstripesPlus.com: Abraham Almonte is a player you've gotten to know pretty well over the last two years. How is he a different player this year from last year?

Torre Tyson: I think when you look at him as the total player - I think we get wrapped up in batting averages and just the offensive numbers - but when you look at him as a baseball player, he has come leaps and bounds from the start two years ago with me to now. You look at him and he's eventually going to be a five-tool guy if he hits. This was a big year for him because he was kind of going through offensively the same year he had the year before and looking like he was only going to hit .230. And then he started figuring some things out, which I think is really tough to do for a switch-hitter. He looked really good from both sides of the plate at the end of the year and it was a good seven or eight week stretch, so it wasn't one of his normal streaky stretches. It wasn't like the year before where he busted out some huge numbers in the beginning and then guys started flicking some stuff up there and then he struggled. I think he really learned how to have a better approach and use the whole field. He just became a smarter ball player.

That's just the offensive side. When you look at his stolen bases, this guy in the Gulf Coast League a few years ago, I don't know the exact numbers, but his steal rate was terrible. And then he had a pretty good year last year and then this year was phenomenal. This is a guy who has really impressed me. He's learned a lot on the base paths. He was scaring guys out there this year. He started running in some situations where I hadn't seen him run and I said to him 'what were you thinking out there'? He would tell me 'I'm stealing signs out there from the pitcher, I picked up a grip, I picked up the catcher moving in or out'. I was like 'finally'. He was doing some things that big leaguers don't do.

Defensively he went from costing us ball games two years ago to winning us ball games this year. Obviously he's only played outfield for two years and there were some growing pains, but now he takes charge. He moves the outfielders and I don't even have to look out there when he's playing centerfield. I just let him go. He reads the swings, he moves the players, and it's a joy to watch. I think the offensive tool was the last thing to come, but everything else really took off over the last two years. I'm really anxious to see what kind of year he's going to have coming up.

PinstripesPlus.com: Obviously you don't have defensive concerns with him anymore. I know he finished real strong, but do you have any offensive concerns with him?

Tyson: I think it's real tough to take a 20-year old kid, or whatever he is, and project what he'd do in the major leagues. But just the growth he's made over the last two season I think he's right on target now to where if he keeps maturing at this rate he'll hit in the big leagues. A year and half ago we had some concerns. There are some concerns [now] but he really opened some eyes. With me, seeing him for two years, he opened my eyes. At first I thought maybe he was just on a hot streak and then it lasted two months. I have to buy into it after those two months. It's kind of long time to not go in the tank at all.

PinstripesPlus.com: I like Dan Brewer as a player but, while he has solid skills in almost every aspect of the game, he doesn't seem to do any one thing extremely well. Is there a tool you can hang your hat on that makes you believe he's a future big leaguer?

Tyson: For me, when you grade things out, I don't know that he grades out very well with all of those tools. He has that 'x factor' though. He plays very hard, he gives you everything, he's smart. He can run a little, he can hit, and he can hit for a little power. He's an interesting little guy for me. He's just got that 'x factor' that's going to be tough for the Yankees to keep him out of the lineup.

PinstripesPlus.com: We talked about Almonte as a repeat guy. You had Carmen Angelini as another repeat guy earlier this year and he didn't do well statistically this year. Did you find him pressing this year?

Tyson: I think when he broke [Spring Training] camp that was his intention, to prove to everyone that he was a better player than the one who played the year before. He was very confident coming out of Spring Training. He got a little bit bigger and little big stronger, and the ball was coming off of his bat a little bit better. We were hoping he'd have a much better year and it just didn't happen. I think with Carmen it's one of those growing pains that he's going to have to learn that guys are making adjustments all of the time. We've had guys like a David Adams who was doing well but was eager to make adjustments because he realized 'hey, I'm struggling with this. Even though I'm hitting .300 I'm struggling in this area. I want to get better at this so what can I do.' David was always looking to make these adjustments to get better and I think Carmen was stuck trying to prove people that what he did in high school would work. I think it's just going to be a growing pain for him. He just didn't make adjustments. He's got some ability. It's just a matter of when he decides to make these adjustments we'll see how successful he can be.

PinstripesPlus.com: The numbers weren't tremendous, but what are your overall impressions of Taylor Grote?

Tyson: I think he's a very interesting player. I keep saying that about some of these guys because some of them are just teetering on being an average Major League baseball player or there's still that low floor that you worry about because they're so young. With Taylor, he was my Austin Romine of this season. What I mean by that is he came in and there were a lot of question marks about his maturity level, around his baseball instinct level, just his all encompassing game. He grew up. He took bigger strides than anyone on the team this year.

The offensive numbers don't show it but he put together a lot more quality of a second-half. He hit the ball much harder on a much more consistent basis in the second-half. He just had some bad luck. All-around this kid just grew up a lot. He improved in all of those little parts of the game and he's going to surprise some people and steal some bases as well. He was very eager how to learn to do some things that maybe you didn't think he was possible of. I ended up green-lighting him on the base paths because I had felt so comfortable with what he had learned and what he had proven to me he could read. Personally I'm very high on him because of the maturity and the growth he went through this year. I think he's going to keep doing that and become a big league player.

PinstripesPlus.com: Like Grote, Garrison Lassiter had okay numbers this year. I realize it was his first full year and he was learning a new position though. What kind of growth did you see out of him this year?

Tyson: I think he came in very young and he was not slated to make that team. It was a huge jump for him. He had all of the confidence in the world. He just wasn't ready at that time to play third base for the first time ever and to try and hit against some of these pitchers. Anyone who watches him agrees that he has very good hands at the plate. I think he found out that everything he does he needs his legs. We started to get his legs under him defensively and some of it carried into his offense as well. I think he found that athletic base and he started to make more explosive movements, defensively and offensively. I think that was the biggest difference in how much better he got towards the end of the year.

We were really holding our breath at times when he fielded a ground ball the first four months and the last month he really figured some things out. He started throwing the baseball with some authority. I think once his offense comes around to that same theory of using his legs, he's going to start driving the baseball more. Quite frankly, he's a big kid and he's going to be very big. He's going to hit for some power and he didn't do that at all this year. He just kind of used his hands and got away with a lot of stuff because he's got great hands. You're not going to drive the baseball with a wood bat just using your hands and if you don't use your legs. I think he's going to figure it out at some point. It's just a slower process because it's a huge jump.

PinstripesPlus.com: Lots of home runs, lots of strikeouts, and a low batting average. Of course I'm talking about Melky Mesa. His biggest bugaboo has been hitting, or even laying off of, breaking pitches. Did you see him make progress in this regard this past season?

Tyson: We did. We went through a six-week period there in the middle of the season where we were convinced that he had figured it out. Everything started to happen. He started cutting down the strikeouts, he was laying off of some stuff, and we were really convinced that we finally had something. Then it was like a light switch went off and he struggled again, and he expanded the zone again. I think Melky is an extremely impressive tools type guy and he just tries to do things he's not capable of sometimes.

I think it was important to him to hit 30 home runs and I think after he got to 20, he tried to hit home runs again whereas they were just coming in the six weeks when he was hot. It's just another young, immature philosophy. He just never made that adjustment and bought into the idea of pitch selection. He needs to do that if he wants to be successful. That's all there is to it. He's going to have to be a guy who takes pitches. If you look at ARod and Pujols and those guys in the playoffs, they're not seeing many good pitches and when they do expand the zone they do horribly, and they're the best hitters in the world. Melky hasn't come to the point where he understands that fact, that he needs to be selective and get his pitch. He needs to do that or else he won't play in the big leagues.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about one of my personal favorites from your team this year, Jose Pirela. I know he didn't have any home runs this year and maybe his tools aren't up to par with some of the other guys. What are your concerns about him and what do you like most about him?

Tyson: I don't have any concerns per say, he's pretty good at everything he does. You just don't know yet where he fits in defensively. He got a lot better at shortstop. I'm not sure that he can't play shortstop and I'm not sure that he can't play second. I think he could probably play the outfield, but it's tough to lock these kids into a position and give them a prototype [position], like 'you're going to be left fielder' because you don't know how many home runs he's going to hit, or if he's going to hit any.

At shortstop you don't know if you're going to get that plus, plus shortstop defensively. I think he's a hitter. He puts the bat on the ball, he hustles his tail off, and he does everything a manager could want. On the tool scale he's good at everything, but there's nothing that stands out, which is fine. There's a lot of big league players like that. For me he's just another interesting guy.

PinstripesPlus.com: Mitch Abeita and Ray Kruml get a little lost in the shuffle among position prospects from your team, but each has some redeeming qualities to them. What are your impressions of them?

Tyson: I'll start by saying I expected a big year out of Mitch and he was yet another guy who didn't make the adjustments that I thought he would and I thought he could do. He's a really good defensive catcher. If he just lets his abilities take over and doesn't overthink things, I think he's going to be a very good catcher and be a major league backup at some point.

And then Kruml might be one of the most frustrating players I've ever dealt with because I think he's got big league ability - I think he's got major big league ability - it's just a matter of not being able to make adjustments. It's slowing down how good these guys could be. I thought he was going to be like Austin Krum from the year before. I thought he was going to be the same kind of guy by the end of the year and make those adjustments, and put himself on the map prospect-wise, but he just didn't do it. You keep seeing these guys make the same mistakes over, over, and over, and the guys who can make the adjustments are the guys who can fly up the ladder. And the guys who don't make the adjustments quickly, it takes them a while to figure out if they can play or not. So it's frustrating for me with him because I think this kid could be special. He's just got to make some of these adjustments.

PinstripesPlus.com: Manny Banuelos sure didn't have a hard time making adjustments this year. Everyone knows he's talented, but in your opinion just how good is this kid and how good could he be?

Tyson: I think he can be very, very good. He's a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher at worst for me. I think he's got the ability to be a #2 guy on a championship caliber team. I'm watching these guys like [Cole] Hamels and Cliff Lee and those are two of the best lefties in the game right now, and I wouldn't be surprised if by their age he's better than they are. Manny's going to have an explosive fastball, so he's going to have a plus fastball. He already has a plus changeup, which is probably going to be a plus-plus Cole Hamels type changeup. Then he's got very good spin to his breaking ball, which he couldn't get down in the zone and command it, but who can do that at 18. That spin is going to stay there and that command and control is going to get better with it. I'm very high on him. I don't see why he couldn't be at worst a middle-of-the-rotation guy.

PinstripesPlus.com: Manny had the great numbers, but Andrew Brackman did not. I know he pitched a lot better once he was moved to the bullpen. What did you see from him once he was moved to the bullpen? How good was he?

Tyson: The thing with Brackman, just his body type and the way he throws the ball, the way it comes out of his hand, the swings I see guys take, he doesn't have to be very good in order to pitch in the big leagues. That's what is so intriguing about him. I guess you could say as poor as the numbers were because of all the hype, all I'm looking at is did he get better from the beginning of the year. And in my mind it was unquestionably yes. He couldn't repeat his delivery at the beginning of the year.

At the end of the year, especially out of the bullpen when we eliminated a pitch, he was more focused on strikes than pitching to a certain spot. He was just using his ability and letting that take over - he was lights out some nights. He was 95-97 MPH some nights with a plus, plus curveball. Guys didn't have a chance against him when he was on. But we never saw him on-on to where if he was at his best - because he could get out big league hitters right now if he was on - I guess my answer is his ceiling is so high but I don't think he even has to reach his ceiling in order to be an effective big league pitcher. I think that's why he's so intriguing. All he has to do is throw strikes, that's it.

PinstripesPlus.com: The numbers were obviously not good for Brett Marshall in his first season. I realize the curveball was an issue, but what did you see from him before the injury? What do you like best about him?

Tyson: I think as a manager you'd always like to have the guys where you have to pull back the reigns instead of kicking the rear. And with Brett we had a couple of discussions you might say in the tunnel, just talking about not trying to throw 98 MPH every pitch and starting to pitch [more], like I said, pull back the reigns a little bit and learn that location is better than power for him sometimes. You'd rather have a guy who has those kinds of tools and tell him to cool down here, and let's start pitching and let's start thinking a little bit. I think that's what I like most about him and it's what I also didn't like most about him too. It's kind of a double-edged sword - it's frustrating to deal with but it's a good problem to have. I like his arm. He's got a power arm and that's going to get him there.

PinstripesPlus.com: A guy you probably weren't banking on back when the season began was Hector Noesi. How good was he and did he sneak up on you a little bit?

Tyson: He's a pitcher. He pitches. He went through a couple-of-month stretch there where he didn't throw a strike above the knees. People who came in and watched him saw big league command. I was really impressed because I think I had him three years ago or two years earlier and he was just a whole different person as far as confidence goes. He's a good kid and he's got good tools, just above average with everything, and then he pitches really well. It's very impressive.

PinstripesPlus.com: I've always made the argument that, while Pat Venditte's numbers are good, I need to see more swing-and-miss, inside-the-zone stuff from him before I could consider him one of the top pitching prospects. Did you see that from him this year?

Tyson: No. Pat did a nice job changing speeds and pitching down in the zone. He's a bulldog. His attitude will definitely take him farther than his ability will.

PinstripesPlus.com: A guy who has always intrigued me is Brandon Braboy because I love the arm. We're talking a lot about adjustments. Did you see him make the necessary adjustments this year?

Tyson: He made a lot of adjustments this year. He went through a lot of mechanical changes in order to get his ball on a downhill plane. I'm really proud of what he did this year. He came a long way. As soon as he develops a little bit more confidence in himself, I think he's got a chance to pitch in the big leagues. He's got a power arm, he's got a plus changeup already, and he kept developing that slider. It was real nice some nights. He's just got to make some more all-encompassing adjustments - holding the running game, pitches in certain situations, and whatnot. If he had a really good catcher babysitting him all year he would put up some huge numbers. Maybe we'll get a chance to have Austin Romine catch him all year and you'd might see some better numbers.

PinstripesPlus.com: I know he didn't pitch for you for too long, but it seems D.J. Mitchell makes quick, quick adjustments. What did you see from him this year and do you agree?

Tyson: I was kind of surprised from him in the beginning that there wasn't much hype around him. I understand the power arm isn't there as much as some of the other guys we talked about, but he's a guy where we're standing on the side and Jeff Ware and I going back and forth asking if it was a slider or a sinker. When somebody's sinker has as much depth as their slider or curveball, you've got something there. He commands it and he keeps it down. I didn't know how good it was until I caught a bullpen session on a Sunday - sometimes I give catcher's a day off from catching sides [bullpens] - and I caught D.J.'s side and my thumb was swollen at the end of the day from that sinker burying down and in. I didn't know how much it broke. It's basically a left-hander's slider. He's a guy I don't think has been pitching very long either, so it's even more impressive that he has that kind of presence on the mound and pitch-ability already. He's also one of the best athletes I've seen off the mound as well to field his position. So he's got all of those little things that you don't have to teach him. Hopefully he can keep getting balance and be a help in the big leagues.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Abraham Almonte is a player you've gotten to know pretty well over the last two years. How is he a different player this year from last year?
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\r\nTorre Tyson: I think when you look at him as the total player - I think we get wrapped up in batting averages and just the offensive numbers - but when you look at him as a baseball player, he has come leaps and bounds from the start two years ago with me to now. You look at him and he's eventually going to be a five-tool guy if he hits. This was a big year for him because he was kind of going through offensively the same year he had the year before and looking like he was only going to hit .230. And then he started figuring some things out, which I think is really tough to do for a switch-hitter. He looked really good from both sides of the plate at the end of the year and it was a good seven or eight week stretch, so it wasn't one of his normal streaky stretches. It wasn't like the year before where he busted out some huge numbers in the beginning and then guys started flicking some stuff up there and then he struggled. I think he really learned how to have a better approach and use the whole field. He just became a smarter ball player.
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\r\nThat's just the offensive side. When you look at his stolen bases, this guy in the Gulf Coast League a few years ago, I don't know the exact numbers, but his steal rate was terrible. And then he had a pretty good year last year and then this year was phenomenal. This is a guy who has really impressed me. He's learned a lot on the base paths. He was scaring guys out there this year. He started running in some situations where I hadn't seen him run and I said to him 'what were you thinking out there'? He would tell me 'I'm stealing signs out there from the pitcher, I picked up a grip, I picked up the catcher moving in or out'. I was like 'finally'. He was doing some things that big leaguers don't do.
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\r\nDefensively he went from costing us ball games two years ago to winning us ball games this year. Obviously he's only played outfield for two years and there were some growing pains, but now he takes charge. He moves the outfielders and I don't even have to look out there when he's playing centerfield. I just let him go. He reads the swings, he moves the players, and it's a joy to watch. I think the offensive tool was the last thing to come, but everything else really took off over the last two years. I'm really anxious to see what kind of year he's going to have coming up.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Obviously you don't have defensive concerns with him anymore. I know he finished real strong, but do you have any offensive concerns with him?
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\r\nTyson: I think it's real tough to take a 20-year old kid, or whatever he is, and project what he'd do in the major leagues. But just the growth he's made over the last two season I think he's right on target now to where if he keeps maturing at this rate he'll hit in the big leagues. A year and half ago we had some concerns. There are some concerns [now] but he really opened some eyes. With me, seeing him for two years, he opened my eyes. At first I thought maybe he was just on a hot streak and then it lasted two months. I have to buy into it after those two months. It's kind of long time to not go in the tank at all.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: I like Dan Brewer as a player but, while he has solid skills in almost every aspect of the game, he doesn't seem to do any one thing extremely well. Is there a tool you can hang your hat on that makes you believe he's a future big leaguer?
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\r\nTyson: For me, when you grade things out, I don't know that he grades out very well with all of those tools. He has that 'x factor' though. He plays very hard, he gives you everything, he's smart. He can run a little, he can hit, and he can hit for a little power. He's an interesting little guy for me. He's just got that 'x factor' that's going to be tough for the Yankees to keep him out of the lineup.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: We talked about Almonte as a repeat guy. You had Carmen Angelini as another repeat guy earlier this year and he didn't do well statistically this year. Did you find him pressing this year?
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\r\nTyson: I think when he broke [Spring Training] camp that was his intention, to prove to everyone that he was a better player than the one who played the year before. He was very confident coming out of Spring Training. He got a little bit bigger and little big stronger, and the ball was coming off of his bat a little bit better. We were hoping he'd have a much better year and it just didn't happen. I think with Carmen it's one of those growing pains that he's going to have to learn that guys are making adjustments all of the time. We've had guys like a David Adams who was doing well but was eager to make adjustments because he realized 'hey, I'm struggling with this. Even though I'm hitting .300 I'm struggling in this area. I want to get better at this so what can I do.' David was always looking to make these adjustments to get better and I think Carmen was stuck trying to prove people that what he did in high school would work. I think it's just going to be a growing pain for him. He just didn't make adjustments. He's got some ability. It's just a matter of when he decides to make these adjustments we'll see how successful he can be.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: The numbers weren't tremendous, but what are your overall impressions of Taylor Grote?
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\r\nTyson: I think he's a very interesting player. I keep saying that about some of these guys because some of them are just teetering on being an average Major League baseball player or there's still that low floor that you worry about because they're so young. With Taylor, he was my Austin Romine of this season. What I mean by that is he came in and there were a lot of question marks about his maturity level, around his baseball instinct level, just his all encompassing game. He grew up. He took bigger strides than anyone on the team this year.
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\r\nThe offensive numbers don't show it but he put together a lot more quality of a second-half. He hit the ball much harder on a much more consistent basis in the second-half. He just had some bad luck. All-around this kid just grew up a lot. He improved in all of those little parts of the game and he's going to surprise some people and steal some bases as well. He was very eager how to learn to do some things that maybe you didn't think he was possible of. I ended up green-lighting him on the base paths because I had felt so comfortable with what he had learned and what he had proven to me he could read. Personally I'm very high on him because of the maturity and the growth he went through this year. I think he's going to keep doing that and become a big league player.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Like Grote, Garrison Lassiter had okay numbers this year. I realize it was his first full year and he was learning a new position though. What kind of growth did you see out of him this year?
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\r\nTyson: I think he came in very young and he was not slated to make that team. It was a huge jump for him. He had all of the confidence in the world. He just wasn't ready at that time to play third base for the first time ever and to try and hit against some of these pitchers. Anyone who watches him agrees that he has very good hands at the plate. I think he found out that everything he does he needs his legs. We started to get his legs under him defensively and some of it carried into his offense as well. I think he found that athletic base and he started to make more explosive movements, defensively and offensively. I think that was the biggest difference in how much better he got towards the end of the year.
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\r\nWe were really holding our breath at times when he fielded a ground ball the first four months and the last month he really figured some things out. He started throwing the baseball with some authority. I think once his offense comes around to that same theory of using his legs, he's going to start driving the baseball more. Quite frankly, he's a big kid and he's going to be very big. He's going to hit for some power and he didn't do that at all this year. He just kind of used his hands and got away with a lot of stuff because he's got great hands. You're not going to drive the baseball with a wood bat just using your hands and if you don't use your legs. I think he's going to figure it out at some point. It's just a slower process because it's a huge jump.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Lots of home runs, lots of strikeouts, and a low batting average. Of course I'm talking about Melky Mesa. His biggest bugaboo has been hitting, or even laying off of, breaking pitches. Did you see him make progress in this regard this past season?
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\r\nTyson: We did. We went through a six-week period there in the middle of the season where we were convinced that he had figured it out. Everything started to happen. He started cutting down the strikeouts, he was laying off of some stuff, and we were really convinced that we finally had something. Then it was like a light switch went off and he struggled again, and he expanded the zone again. I think Melky is an extremely impressive tools type guy and he just tries to do things he's not capable of sometimes.
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\r\nI think it was important to him to hit 30 home runs and I think after he got to 20, he tried to hit home runs again whereas they were just coming in the six weeks when he was hot. It's just another young, immature philosophy. He just never made that adjustment and bought into the idea of pitch selection. He needs to do that if he wants to be successful. That's all there is to it. He's going to have to be a guy who takes pitches. If you look at ARod and Pujols and those guys in the playoffs, they're not seeing many good pitches and when they do expand the zone they do horribly, and they're the best hitters in the world. Melky hasn't come to the point where he understands that fact, that he needs to be selective and get his pitch. He needs to do that or else he won't play in the big leagues.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about one of my personal favorites from your team this year, Jose Pirela. I know he didn't have any home runs this year and maybe his tools aren't up to par with some of the other guys. What are your concerns about him and what do you like most about him?
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\r\nTyson: I don't have any concerns per say, he's pretty good at everything he does. You just don't know yet where he fits in defensively. He got a lot better at shortstop. I'm not sure that he can't play shortstop and I'm not sure that he can't play second. I think he could probably play the outfield, but it's tough to lock these kids into a position and give them a prototype [position], like 'you're going to be left fielder' because you don't know how many home runs he's going to hit, or if he's going to hit any.
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\r\nAt shortstop you don't know if you're going to get that plus, plus shortstop defensively. I think he's a hitter. He puts the bat on the ball, he hustles his tail off, and he does everything a manager could want. On the tool scale he's good at everything, but there's nothing that stands out, which is fine. There's a lot of big league players like that. For me he's just another interesting guy.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Mitch Abeita and Ray Kruml get a little lost in the shuffle among position prospects from your team, but each has some redeeming qualities to them. What are your impressions of them?
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\r\nTyson: I'll start by saying I expected a big year out of Mitch and he was yet another guy who didn't make the adjustments that I thought he would and I thought he could do. He's a really good defensive catcher. If he just lets his abilities take over and doesn't overthink things, I think he's going to be a very good catcher and be a major league backup at some point.
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\r\nAnd then Kruml might be one of the most frustrating players I've ever dealt with because I think he's got big league ability - I think he's got major big league ability - it's just a matter of not being able to make adjustments. It's slowing down how good these guys could be. I thought he was going to be like Austin Krum from the year before. I thought he was going to be the same kind of guy by the end of the year and make those adjustments, and put himself on the map prospect-wise, but he just didn't do it. You keep seeing these guys make the same mistakes over, over, and over, and the guys who can make the adjustments are the guys who can fly up the ladder. And the guys who don't make the adjustments quickly, it takes them a while to figure out if they can play or not. So it's frustrating for me with him because I think this kid could be special. He's just got to make some of these adjustments.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Manny Banuelos sure didn't have a hard time making adjustments this year. Everyone knows he's talented, but in your opinion just how good is this kid and how good could he be?
\r\n
\r\nTyson: I think he can be very, very good. He's a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher at worst for me. I think he's got the ability to be a #2 guy on a championship caliber team. I'm watching these guys like [Cole] Hamels and Cliff Lee and those are two of the best lefties in the game right now, and I wouldn't be surprised if by their age he's better than they are. Manny's going to have an explosive fastball, so he's going to have a plus fastball. He already has a plus changeup, which is probably going to be a plus-plus Cole Hamels type changeup. Then he's got very good spin to his breaking ball, which he couldn't get down in the zone and command it, but who can do that at 18. That spin is going to stay there and that command and control is going to get better with it. I'm very high on him. I don't see why he couldn't be at worst a middle-of-the-rotation guy.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Manny had the great numbers, but Andrew Brackman did not. I know he pitched a lot better once he was moved to the bullpen. What did you see from him once he was moved to the bullpen? How good was he?
\r\n
\r\nTyson: The thing with Brackman, just his body type and the way he throws the ball, the way it comes out of his hand, the swings I see guys take, he doesn't have to be very good in order to pitch in the big leagues. That's what is so intriguing about him. I guess you could say as poor as the numbers were because of all the hype, all I'm looking at is did he get better from the beginning of the year. And in my mind it was unquestionably yes. He couldn't repeat his delivery at the beginning of the year.
\r\n
\r\nAt the end of the year, especially out of the bullpen when we eliminated a pitch, he was more focused on strikes than pitching to a certain spot. He was just using his ability and letting that take over - he was lights out some nights. He was 95-97 MPH some nights with a plus, plus curveball. Guys didn't have a chance against him when he was on. But we never saw him on-on to where if he was at his best - because he could get out big league hitters right now if he was on - I guess my answer is his ceiling is so high but I don't think he even has to reach his ceiling in order to be an effective big league pitcher. I think that's why he's so intriguing. All he has to do is throw strikes, that's it.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: The numbers were obviously not good for Brett Marshall in his first season. I realize the curveball was an issue, but what did you see from him before the injury? What do you like best about him?
\r\n
\r\nTyson: I think as a manager you'd always like to have the guys where you have to pull back the reigns instead of kicking the rear. And with Brett we had a couple of discussions you might say in the tunnel, just talking about not trying to throw 98 MPH every pitch and starting to pitch [more], like I said, pull back the reigns a little bit and learn that location is better than power for him sometimes. You'd rather have a guy who has those kinds of tools and tell him to cool down here, and let's start pitching and let's start thinking a little bit. I think that's what I like most about him and it's what I also didn't like most about him too. It's kind of a double-edged sword - it's frustrating to deal with but it's a good problem to have. I like his arm. He's got a power arm and that's going to get him there.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: A guy you probably weren't banking on back when the season began was Hector Noesi. How good was he and did he sneak up on you a little bit?
\r\n
\r\nTyson: He's a pitcher. He pitches. He went through a couple-of-month stretch there where he didn't throw a strike above the knees. People who came in and watched him saw big league command. I was really impressed because I think I had him three years ago or two years earlier and he was just a whole different person as far as confidence goes. He's a good kid and he's got good tools, just above average with everything, and then he pitches really well. It's very impressive.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: I've always made the argument that, while Pat Venditte's numbers are good, I need to see more swing-and-miss, inside-the-zone stuff from him before I could consider him one of the top pitching prospects. Did you see that from him this year?
\r\n
\r\nTyson: No. Pat did a nice job changing speeds and pitching down in the zone. He's a bulldog. His attitude will definitely take him farther than his ability will.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: A guy who has always intrigued me is Brandon Braboy because I love the arm. We're talking a lot about adjustments. Did you see him make the necessary adjustments this year?
\r\n
\r\nTyson: He made a lot of adjustments this year. He went through a lot of mechanical changes in order to get his ball on a downhill plane. I'm really proud of what he did this year. He came a long way. As soon as he develops a little bit more confidence in himself, I think he's got a chance to pitch in the big leagues. He's got a power arm, he's got a plus changeup already, and he kept developing that slider. It was real nice some nights. He's just got to make some more all-encompassing adjustments - holding the running game, pitches in certain situations, and whatnot. If he had a really good catcher babysitting him all year he would put up some huge numbers. Maybe we'll get a chance to have Austin Romine catch him all year and you'd might see some better numbers.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: I know he didn't pitch for you for too long, but it seems D.J. Mitchell makes quick, quick adjustments. What did you see from him this year and do you agree?
\r\n
\r\nTyson: I was kind of surprised from him in the beginning that there wasn't much hype around him. I understand the power arm isn't there as much as some of the other guys we talked about, but he's a guy where we're standing on the side and Jeff Ware and I going back and forth asking if it was a slider or a sinker. When somebody's sinker has as much depth as their slider or curveball, you've got something there. He commands it and he keeps it down. I didn't know how good it was until I caught a bullpen session on a Sunday - sometimes I give catcher's a day off from catching sides [bullpens] - and I caught D.J.'s side and my thumb was swollen at the end of the day from that sinker burying down and in. I didn't know how much it broke. It's basically a left-hander's slider. He's a guy I don't think has been pitching very long either, so it's even more impressive that he has that kind of presence on the mound and pitch-ability already. He's also one of the best athletes I've seen off the mound as well to field his position. So he's got all of those little things that you don't have to teach him. Hopefully he can keep getting balance and be a help in the big leagues.
\r\n
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