Results tagged ‘ George Springer ’
By Jake Seiner
Interviewing for game stories can be a fun process. The thousands of players and coaches spread across the Minor Leagues supply a never-ending chain of unique perspectives on the national pastime. The game story isn’t always the best place for block quotes and expanded thoughts, so once a week, I’m hoping to come here with a look back at some of the more interesting conversations I stumble upon with Minor League players and coaches. Here’s a look back at some quotes from the past week that I hope you’ll find of interest.
Corpus Christi manager Keith Bodie on Astros prospect and MiLB home run leader George Springer (Springer, Santana slug off the Hook):
“He does a lot of good things. He came up here last year at the end of the season in August and he was not able to do those things. He’s made adjustments at this level to have success, and he needs to continue to make certain adjustments at the plate for the way people pitch him.
“There are certain locations where people will throw to him, and he has trouble getting to those points, but he’s made adjustments to hit some pitches he’s been getting after they got him out a certain way. He can come back and make those adjustments. You mature as you go through it, and it’s a slow process at times, but he’s doing a good job of doing it.
“All the good players that, you hope when they get to the big leagues, like with [Mike] Trout or other special players when they’re in Double-A at this point in their life, he’s a special player. When you’re watching somebody who possesses those attributes and skills, namely the speed and the power, the sky is the limit for players like that, plus he plays a premium position.
“He has the opportunity to show you those skills not only on base, but he covers so much ground in center field and he can throw. He’s an exciting player — he has a chance to be a perennial All-Star. The sky’s the limit.”
Bodie on the way 20-year-old Domingo Santana has handled Double-A:
“He’s 20 and in Double-A, but his talent is appropriate for this level right now. I don’t think that he’s too young for the level. His skills play at this level. He’s also learning to make adjustments, and with his age, it’s more about getting him his experience. Skill and talent will play no matter where you’re at. There are some young players in the Major Leagues right now that people think are young, but their skills and talent can play, and he’s typical of that type of player.
“He makes things look easy in the outfield. He has a great throwing arm. He has plus speed, and it doesn’t always look like he’s going anywhere, but he covers a lot of ground. He has tremendous bat potential. He has power, and he makes hard, solid contact. He needs to learn to command the strike zone, and he will eventually, but right now he’s just inexperienced.
“Those things come with playing and experience. He’s going to be another plus player. It’s an exciting thing to look in the crystal ball for the Houston Astros right now and see the guys on the horizon.”
Portland’s Nick Natoli after ending a hectic travel day with a five-hit game (Sea Dogs’ Natoli delivers in a pinch):
“Being a utility guy, I’m kind of used to it. I did a little of it last year. Today was a little different. I woke up at 4 a.m. for a flight from Virginia to Detroit, and I had a two-hour layover there. I’ve been up for quite a while today. Days like these, you just glide through them. I figured I’d be playing. That’s usually how it goes. You have to have fun with it. I got up and it was a long day, long process.
“Last night, I was in bed around 12:30. We were supposed to play in Frederick this weekend, so I was going to go home to see my family and my girlfriend. I was laying in bed at 12:30 last night, and I got a call saying I needed to be in the airport, or at the clubhouse at four, to the airport by five. We were at home in Virginia, and I was going to travel the next morning. I had to catch a 6 a.m. flight. At the time, it was kind of frustrating.
“It’s nice moving up and playing at Double-A and helping out, but at 12:30, when you’re sleeping or ready to go to bed and about to go see family…”
The Cubs’ Kyler Burke on transitioning from the outfield to starting pitching (Cubs’ Burke continues conversion):
“It was a big transition going from the outfield. It’s almost a completely different lifestyle, especially as a starting pitcher. I went from starting 130 games to starting 20 something. The biggest adjustment is just the mentality of being a pitcher. It’s a little bit of a different routine. I think I’m kind of starting to figure all that out. I’m trying to go out and work hard every day.
“It was definitely a tough decision. We kind of talked about it mutually. It wasn’t something where they said, ‘You need to be a pitcher now.’ It was a mutual thing, and it was definitely tough because I’d worked hard for 4 ½ years to try to be a hitter. I think it was a good move, and I think things are going in the right direction.
“I think it was a little bit of both. The upside, I think, just baseball in general, there are fewer left-handed pitchers. It’s a commodity in any organization. That was a big part of it right there. It was kind of a timing thing where we had a bunch of outfield guys in the system and everything that went into the decision of doing the conversion.”
Atlanta’s Alex Wood on pushing teammate J.R. Graham to adopt the spike curveball (Wood produces “best start I’ve had”):
“J.R. and I talk every day about different kinds of stuff. His fastball, he can run it up there a little higher than I will, but we’re kind of the same pitcher except that he’s right-handed and I’m left-handed. He kind of has the same deal as I have had up until this year where he’s trying to figure out that breaking pitch he can throw all the time for a strike, and not just as a put-away pitch. I was able to pick up my spike curve from Jonny [Venters] and Craig [Kimbrel], and I had kind of been hinting at him, ‘Try it out, see how you like it.’
“Really, when you throw it, the grip itself helps you get on top of the ball without really trying to. For hard throwers like him and me, it helps us both out. He kind of started messing with it, and then his last start, it was probably the best his curve or slider — I’m not sure what he calls it — but it was the best it’s been. It was a good step in the right direction for him, and I know he’s itching to get back out there and throw it some more.”
Wood on trying not to think about when/if he’s promoted:
They haven’t said anything to me. It’s my first full year, and probably the hardest thing is just telling myself to take it a day at a time and trust in the Braves. I try to tell myself — and I write it down after most of my starts — just take it a day at a time and keep throwing well. Whatever happens, happens. Whenever that day comes to go to Gwinnett or to Atlanta, that’ll be the right time for me. I’m trying to get better and learn every start out. That’s my goal right now for sure.
By Jake Seiner
Interviewing for game stories can be a fun process. The thousands of players and coaches spread across the Minor Leagues supply a never-ending chain of unique perspectives on the national pastime. The game story isn’t always the best place for block quotes and expanded thoughts, so once a week, I’m hoping to come here with a look back at some of the more interesting conversations I stumble upon with Minor League players and coaches.
Bits and pieces of these quotes may have appeared over at MiLB.com, but when you’re trying to dig into somebody’s back story, sometimes it’s most helpful to hear it all straight from the source. In that spirit, here’s a look back at some quotes from the past week that I hope you’ll find of interest.
Corpus Christi’s George Springer on jumping from Class A Advanced to Double-A last year:
“The game is a lot cleaner and smoother because the talent level is obviously better. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just one of those things where the experience of the players and their talent — the game speeds up and you have to learn how to slow it down.
“You slow it down and don’t try to do too much. You just have to get your pitch to hit. The [pitchers] in this league are good. If they make a mistake and I don’t hit it, the count swings in their favor. As a hitter, that’s not a spot where you want to be.
“I think it’s a thing that comes from experience. You have to understand who you are as a player. Understand how other teams will attack you and play you. You have to know the strike zone as a hitter and know what it is you’re trying to do. All that has to be made up before you step into the box.
“You focus in on getting a good pitch to hit, and that helps you slow the game down. It’s just one of those things where, with experience, things will slow down. You go out and attempt to slow it down by just slowing it down, strange as that sounds.”
Springer on learning to steal bases in pro ball:
“There’s stuff that happens out there you notice. Guys might do a certain thing if they’re going home or if they’re coming over, but a lot of times you just have to be smart about the count and the situation and how they’re going to attack the hitter. It’s one of those things where you have to pick and choose your time to run, and don’t hesitate if you do.”
Savannah manager Luis Rojas on Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki:
“I didn’t get to see him play last year. As time goes along, and he transitions into pro ball and everything, it’s all about how you take it mentally. Coming from college like he was, right now, he just needs to be more comfortable. He’s been with the organization for almost a year now. His abilities are coming out naturally because he’s more comfortable right now. He’s a good hitter, and his leadership is outstanding. He’s a natural leader, and you need that behind the plate as a catcher. He runs the pitchers really well. Everybody listens when he talks. He’s pretty mature for the level he’s playing right now. I think you’re looking at a future star. He’s showing that right now on a daily basis.”
Rojas on Plawecki dealing with Savannah’s Latin American pitchers:
“The Latin pitchers that are here, they were all with Kevin in Brooklyn last year. He knows their strengths and weaknesses and he knows the actions on their pitches. He can rank their pitches, and knows them well and knows how to communicate with them. It’s just easy for him. There haven’t been any issues with that. He handles it really well. It’s helped that he was with them last year, and in the future with new guys, he won’t have any issues. He finds a way to communicate. He’s even picking up some Spanish.
“It’s extremely important. He’s going to have to catch pitchers from Latin American countries, from Venezuela and Puerto Rico and so on. That skill is really a plus for him. It’s good that he has it in his repertoire.”
Plawecki on dealing with Latin American pitchers:
“Last year, the whole rotation in Brooklyn was Latin. I took some Spanish in high school, but I’m by no means fluent. I know a little here and there to get me by and communicate with those guys in certain situations. It’s important for me to build a relationship with them and it’s important for them to feel comfortable with me back there.
“I can bounce ideas off them and feel comfortable talking to them about what I see. There’s no reason to treat them differently than other guys just because I can have English conversations with some guys.”
Plawecki on the development of his swing:
“I’m just making sure my hands are on time and I’m in synch with my lower half. When I get in trouble is when I start lunging. I need to let the ball travel, let it come to me. I get too overanxious. I’m trying to limit that. It’ll happen. That’s baseball. It’s just important for me to let the ball travel and keep a consistent swing and consistent approach and get consistent results. That’s what I think is improving. I’m just trying to hit the ball hard and let the rest take care of itself.”
Corpus Christi’s Asher Wojciechowski on piggybacking into a no-hitter in progress:
“That’s never happened to me. I’ve never come into a perfect game. That was a new experience there. David [Martinez] did a great job and worked really fast, and before I knew it, I was in the game. I knew the situation and just wanted to continue what was going on but not think about it too much. It was definitely a new experience coming into a perfect game.”
Wojciechowski on what’s led to his 18 scoreless innings to begin the year:
“I think so far this year I’ve been able to throw quality strikes and attack the zone and work quickly and mostly just throw quality strikes and not make too many mistakes. That’s been the key so far to this early start. Things are working out.
Wojciechowski on what he considers “quality strikes”:
“That means just staying at the bottom of the zone, staying out of the middle part of the plate and mixing my pitches well. Staying out of the middle of the plate and up in the zone. I’m elevating when I need to, but I’m mostly just staying down and staying on the corners and also pitching to contact. Quality strikes are down in the zone, so I’m working fast and getting ahead of hitters.”
Salem pitching coach Kevin Walker on right-hander Heri Quevedo, who’s making his stateside debut at 22:
“This is his first year from what I know. I haven’t seen any stats on the guy, but seeing what he has, his stuff is very impressive. It’s his first year of pro ball, and for his first real taste of pro action, it’s a good sign.
“I saw him a few times in Spring Training. I actually don’t know how he got over here, but his stuff is good enough to play at this level. He’s been piggybacking for us, and this was his third piggyback. His stuff is good and his arm is really live. He has a smooth, easy arm action, and the fastball really jumps out of his hand and he has a really good slider that jumps out of his hand.
“He’s throwing 92-96, and can play at 94-95, with easy arm action. The ball just gets on hitters really quick. He’s real smooth, and the ball just takes off late in the zone.
“I am surprised by his polish. A couple of times in his last couple outings, he’s tried to nibble or do too much and walked batters. This outing, he got back to letting his stuff play in the strike zone. This outing, I think, opened his eyes that he’s good enough to pitch here, pitch up in the zone. His first couple outings, like anybody here, he didn’t know what to expect and he worked around the strike zone too much and put himself in bad situations. He trusted his stuff and was poised today.”
Tacoma catcher Mike Zunino on calling games in Triple-A:
“You have to know what they want to throw in certain counts. I have to stay one pitch ahead. I’m just talking with the pitchers, laying out what we want to do. You build a foundation in the gameplan so we know what we want to do and how we want to do it.
“You realize what guys do in certain counts. You have guys who do a lot of hitting in certain counts, because that’s what guys like to do. They have their tendencies and their go-tos. You learn with each pitcher, and that takes time. It’s a process. Once the season gets going, that’s when you get in a groove with the pitchers. You figure out what guys can throw what pitch in any count and you build from there. You go out and gameplan and use the scouting report on hitters.”
Fifteen MiLB Prospects Answer This Question: What Jersey Number Do You Hope to Wear When You Reach the Majors?
The Royals’ Yordano Ventura: ”Because Pedro [Martinez] was 45, and I want to be the first one after Pedro.”
The Tigers’ Bruce Rondon: “My dad’s favorite number — his dream was to watch me pitch with Detroit wearing number 44. Unfortunately I didn’t get that number, but I have the one right before, number 43. Honestly, he has never told me why [he liked that number]. I always ask him why and he never wants to tell me, but that’s his favorite number. I told him that one day he has to tell me what the number means to him.”
The Rays’ Jake Odorizzi: “My jersey here is that. If I don’t make it out of Spring [Training] or do, I’ll be wearing that. I’ve always had that number growing up. My friends and I just wanted to be in the 20s, and that was the one I settled on. This is the first time I’ve been able to wear it at the Major League level, which I’m excited about.
The Yankees’ Tyler Austin: “I would love to wear it. That is my favorite number. My brother wore 21. I wore 21 growing up, so it was like an always-21 deal. I wore it all throughout high school and travel ball, so I would love to wear 21 if the opportunity presented itself for me to wear that number. Guys usually pick it before I do [on Minor League clubs]. They usually get in there and pick their numbers before I have a chance to get in there.”
The Rockies’ David Dahl (to MiLB.com colleague Ashley Marshall): “I haven’t really thought about it. I’m just trying to get there. When I was a freshman in high school, I got the last pick out of all the numbers; 21 was available, so I used that all the way through high school and then I used it my first year in [Class A Short-Season] Grand Junction, so now I like it a lot.”
I am more than halfway through with our Defensive Gems series on MiLB.com. In case you are unfamiliar with it, here is the stock copy we print at the beginning of every edition:
As documentarian Ken Burns noted, baseball is the one game in which the defense — not the offense — possesses the ball. With this in mind, MiLB.com continues its “Defensive Gems” series. Over the next nine weeks, we will feature a top prospect at each position who also happens to be an elite defender. In deciding which players to focus on, six scouting directors were polled and extensive research was conducted…
Here are the five stories of the nine total that are completed: Click on the player’s name to be taken to the story:
|POS||Subjects with story links|
|C||Austin Hedges (SD: A pupil of Brad Ausmus)|
|2B||Carlos Sanchez (CWS: A good defender at three positions)|
|3B||Mike Olt (TEX: A slow-roller expert with soft hands)|
|SS||Francisco Lindor (CLE: A natural ballplayer that is “Cano-ish”)|
|CF||Mason Williams (NYY: A gifted athlete making acrobatic plays)|
Answering Three Reader Questions on Comps: Springer V. Marte, Archer V. Odorizzi, The Brewers’ Jungmann V. The Field
1) — Richie (asked via blog post comment): “Can you do a George Springer / Starling Marte comp? Both are players with very similar plate approaches that I feel will either hinder or advance their progress in the future. Love the blog, thanks.”
This is an interesting question. Let’s break it down. Both Springer and Marte are rangy outfielders with great baserunning ability. And both are right-handed batters with pop but questions remain about their ability to make contact. I think that’s what you’re getting at regarding plate approaches — both strike out too much right now. This much is obvious. What’s less clear is whether they can cut down on the Ks without losing their power. Springer isn’t as far along in his development — he finished 2012 at Double while Marte was in the bigs — and that helps his case. Despite that, I favor Marte. From what I have seen on video, his is smoother swing and isn’t as long. I also think he’s the more complete player. But the floor comp for Springer is D-backs-turned-A’s outfielder Chris Young, so he’s going to be a Major League regular before too long, too.
2) — Pierre (asked via email): “C.Archer or J.Odorizzi for the Rays in the near future???”
Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi are both right-handers with No. 2/3 potential and both are Major League-ready or close to it. In the near future, you ask? It’s got to be Archer, who has a little but more MLB experience and a lot more time in Tampa Bay’s system. (Both were traded there, but Odorizzi has been with the club less than a month.) He will probably get the first chance of the pair to join the Rays’ rotation, which is still packed despite losing veterans James Shields and Wade Davis in the Odorizzi deal. Long-term, the educated guess here is that both will be good MLB hurlers but that Odorizzi winds up more as a solid innings-eater type while Archer fulfills his greater potential. Having studied the pitches of each (details on Odorizzi’s repertoire here, and Archer’s here), I’m convinced Archer is better equipped to do just that. Odorrizi has the deeper repertoire, but Archer has two very, very good offerings in his fastball and breaking ball. (It should be said that mine is not the popular opinion, as Odorizzi is ranked 30th overall by MLB.com, and Archer is ranked 81st.)
3) — @Andy_Birling (asked via Twitter): “What are your thoughts of Taylor Jungmann? what potential does he have? thanks”
As I alluded to on Twitter, this is a comp query. Or, I am going to make it one. As deep as the Brewers are in pitching prospects –like Taylor Jungmann, Tyler Thornburg, Wily Peralta, Jed Bradley, Johnny Hellweg and Jimmy Nelson are all ranked among Milwaukee’s nine best farmhands — Jungmann is the one that looks most like a No. 2 starter in a MLB rotation. That’s not to demean the others, particularly Nelson (in whom I am a believer), but they more likely top out as No. 3s. Jungmann needs at least two more seasons of seasoning in the Minors, but he has the stuff to keep progressing at his current pace. Jed Bradley is also a challenger for this spot (this spot being Brewers pitching prospect with the highest ceiling), as he is also well-armed repertoire-wise and is left-handed, which is always a plus. He just needs to stay healthy to catch up with Jungmann.