The days of amazing people with his strong outfield arm weren't all that long ago for Wilkins De La…
Q&A with Charleston Manager Torre Tyson
PinstripesPlus.com: Talk about Jesus Montero. Obviously the numbers are indicative of a strong season, but he seems to be getting stronger as the season goes on. What have you seen from him over the last month or so?
Torre Tyson: Last night [Friday] was probably the most impressive night as far as I'm concerned because he was up there and it seemed he knew where every pitch was, he got ready to hit, and he just took, took, took, until he got the right pitch to hit and he let it go. He got a little greedy there with the bases loaded when he tried to hit the ball 800 feet instead of just hitting 500 feet again. He's going to mature as a hitter. We've seen it progress over the season and great hitters like he has been, they get a lot of cheap hits too because he's got real good hands and he's strong too. He's done a real good job.
PinstripesPlus: Specifically in regards to his plate discipline, have you seen that aspect of his game improve this season?
Tyson: I think he's always had it. From the beginning he had it. I think it's had to improve just to maintain his average and even rise it 30 points here in the last month because now people know who he is, they know how to pitch him, they know where his weaknesses are, so he's had to improve to just maintain where he has been all year.
PinstripesPlus: Brandon Laird has been hitting home runs in bunches in recent weeks. What has been the biggest difference in him in the second half?
Tyson: I don't really see a difference. I haven't seen many adjustments from the beginning of the year but we play in some parks where he just thrives in. When we get home where the winds blow in - he's a strong kid and his bat just plays a bit different in other parks than our park. He could easily have 25-30 home runs by now if we happened to play in a Greenville instead of in Charleston. He's a guy next year I'd like to see maybe a drop in home run numbers and add another 20-30 points on his average because he's got that type of ability. First year, first full season, he's a young guy and that's something he'll have to improve on.
PinstripesPlus: You mentioned a first full season young guy...Abraham Almonte had that one catastrophic month average-wise. Are you concerned with him at all or was that more of an aberration?
Tyson: I think we were asking a little bit too much of him at his age to come here and be the leadoff hitter for a full-season club. While he was fresh and feeling good the first month, I think it was easy to see his ability. In this league you play teams 25-30 times and they're going to know what to throw you the next time around. Just being his age he's had to make some adjustments and it's just a slower process with guys that young. So we dropped him down in the lineup just to take some of the pressure off and he's been holding steady since we dropped him down there. Hopefully he'll just come into next year and have a nice second season, and hopefully put together some better numbers. No I'm not concerned at all. The ability is there. He just presses too much. You'll see some frustration at the plate. I think it's great because kids like him, they never have failure. They've never dealt with failure. For me, from my end seeing it at this level for six years now, it's almost better to have somebody like that fail at this level for a year than it is for somebody like Tabata to fail for the first time at Double-A. You'd rather have a guy fail here, face some adversity, and then move on.
PinstripesPlus: It seems, at least numbers-wise, Carmen Angelini has been facing some adversity. It seems like he's had some inconsistencies. What have you seen?
Tyson: Playing shortstop we're going to ask a lot and that's been the biggest thing for him. He's letting the errors weigh on him a little bit and he's never had to deal with that. In high school the game is a whole lot slower. He's done a real nice job improving on a lot of little things that are going to make him a much better ball player in the end. It's just one of those things where he hasn't had to deal with what he's had to deal with this season. He's never had to deal with hitting .240, he hasn't had to deal with having 40 errors, and again, it's a maturing process. He's going to have to learn how to take charge more often and be more of our leader at shortstop and that's tough for a 19-year old, you're asking him to come in here and lead, talk to pitchers who are 26 [years old] - that's a tough job. Next year, though, there's going to be a lot more we expect from him and I think he's up for the task. I think you're going to see a slow year-to-year progression from him and hopefully he'll be a quality big league shortstop.
PinstripesPlus: Austin Romine seemed to smoking the ball for an extended period. He had the injury in the first half, but what have you seen from him in the second half?
Tyson: He still is [smoking the ball]. I'm very impressed with him. For me he's probably come the furthest of all of these players as far as off the field and on the field. He has matured a whole lot. He made some mistakes early off of the field as far as being late, little things. He set his priorities straight and he's been outstanding. His work ethic is out of this world and all of that kind of poured out on to the field throughout the season. In the beginning of the season he was hitting something like .360 before he got hurt, but you can ask him, it was a lot of cheap hits, a lot of flares, and just athletic Austin Jackson-like hits where he would flick hits out there and it wasn't real pretty. Over the season he's really come a long way at the plate just stabilizing his mechanics and being more balanced. Heck he was in the seven hole for me in the beginning of the year and now I've got him three-hole, four-hole. At his age, again like Montero, for him to hit .280 is a huge stepping stone for his development. And then behind the plate we're talking - we've still got some inconsistencies, but some days I've got scouts telling me he's going to be in the big leagues next year. While it's going to take longer than that because I've seen him 120 games, I'm convinced that he's got a chance to take over.
PinstripesPlus: Like Romine, Bradley Suttle has missed some significant time this year but the numbers have been pretty good. What are your thoughts on him?
Tyson: No they've been very good. This is a guy who, again, was hitting pretty well before he got hurt at the beginning of the year but it was a lot dinkers and flares. Now he's just absolutely murdering the ball. He's lining out deep or flying out to the [warning] track at least once a game so he could easily be hitting well over .300 as well. If you look at his power numbers compared to at-bats, he'd be leading our team in extra-base hits if he was consistently here the whole season. The ceiling for him - he's the type of guy that makes Greg Colbrunn, Henry Mercedes and I - he'll hit a ball and we'll all look at each other and be like, 'oh my gosh'. There's just something extra special about him. He makes it look so easy and the impact is just so incredible when he does [impact the ball]. Defensively he's a stud as well. We're all pretty high on him. We're hoping by the end of next season he'll be in Double-A and excelling in Double-A.
PinstripesPlus: Justin Snyder obviously has the fantastic plate discipline. What do you think is the next step in his development?
Tyson: As far as Justin goes, I think he is what he is. What I mean by that is, if you threw him up in Double-A right now he'd be doing the exact same thing up there that he's doing down here. I don't see him as the type of guy that if you threw him Triple-A for three weeks that he would be completely overmatched. I think he's just a consistent .280 hitter, that's what he is. He's got some occasional power and what he's done this year is to establish himself at second base whereas last year we weren't sure if he was a utility type of player or if he could be a second baseman. His bat plays pretty well at second base so we're hoping that will work out.
PinstripesPlus: I realize Jairo Heredia has been in and out dealing with some minor injuries this season, but the numbers have been very solid. What have you seen from him presence-wise and pitch-ability?
Tyson: Despite two [bad] starts, he's been our most consistent pitcher all season. His curveball has always been there but the development of his changeup has been pretty special. In the beginning of the year we couldn't pay him to throw a changeup and now he's throwing a changeup in 1-0 or 2-0 counts. You know he's got three plus pitches that should develop into major league plus pitches. I'm pretty impressed. For his age there's no reason he's not going to the next level in my eyes.
PinstripesPlus: We all know Dellin Betances has some nasty stuff but he has nights where the walks are very high. Is he still doing the herky-jerky head motion in his delivery? Have you seen that become a little more consistent?
Tyson: He's got mechanical issues he's working on with Jeff [Ware], but he'll go three-inning stretches where he's just unbeatable when he's on-line and pitching downhill. Betances is actually a guy who can get away with pitching up in the zone with his velocity. Guys on the other teams tell me they just can't pick the ball up because he's letting it go halfway to home plate because of his build. It's just a matter of consistency for him, to be a little bit quicker to the plate to eliminate some of the running [on him], but I'm really impressed. He's developed a bit more of a demeanor on the mound over the season and we'll see how he does tonight with all of the adrenaline. Tonight [Saturday] is the closest he's going to get to a New York type of adrenaline with, I think he's got 70 friends and family members here. It'll be interesting to see if he can control his emotions.
PinstripesPlus: I realize Wilkins De La Rosa got promoted, but were you surprised with the way he pitched here this season?
Tyson: Not at all. I could see it in Spring Training. When he was on and staying within himself by not trying to throw 96 MPH - when he just sits 92-93 MPH and is concerned with his mechanics and pitching down in the zone, he's absolutely lights out. We finally got him in the starting rotation after half of the season and he just took off from there. I don't know where he'll end up in the couple of years [role-wise], but I think it's great for him to move into a starting spot in Tampa and we'll see where he goes by the end of next season.
PinstripesPlus: The season is wrapping up in a couple of weeks, but who has been the most surprising player for you this season as far as the progress they've made?
Tyson: I don't know that it's surprising but I have to go with Suttle and Romine. Suttle, after seeing him in Hawaii last year, just seeing where he was at mechanically offensively, I'm a little shocked. I thought he would go through a huge adjustment period and he never really did. I think the special things I see from him on both sides of the ball are pretty impressive and he just eats up information. He just soaks it up. And it's sort of the same thing with Romine where he never really had a catching coach. You can ask him what's the biggest difference and he'll say it's Henry [Mercedes] with him every day just feeding him more information. He's got a great setup here where Henry is one of the best catching coaches I've seen around and then he's got a little secondary information coming from Greg Colbrunn who had to do that to get to the big leagues as well. So he's got a really good situation here as far as information gathering. If we can get Austin to split up the offense and the defense, he's going to be something special as well. I think those two far and away, I wouldn't say surprising but I didn't think they'd be where they are right now.
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