Q&A with Victor Mata - Part II

Mata wants to see more desire from Kelvin De Leon

Yankees Latin American Field Coordinator Victor Mata sat down with PinstripesPlus.com in a two-part Q&A series. In Part Two he gives us his thoughts on Kelvin De Leon, if Francisco Santana is a legit prospect, what he has seen from Carlos Urena since his return, if Andres Santos is ready for the U.S., what he thought of Reymond Nunez's first year, and much, much more.

PinstripesPlus: Kelvin De Leon was sent back to the Dominican Republic this year to work on the other aspects of his game, but he wound up having a very nice year statistically. Did you see the progress in the other areas of his game, especially defensively?

Mata: He's a great power hitter but he's not hungry enough. He doesn't show me he's hungry to play baseball. He's got all kinds of tools but he needs to learn how to play hard and show enthusiasm in the game. To me he looks like he's going through the motions. He's got some tools though. He can run, he can throw, and he can hit. Fielding-wise he needs a lot of work and he needs to be alive on the field, be happy to play baseball. Right now we're working on that.

PinstripesPlus: I realize he's a bit older but outfielder Francisco Santana had such a tremendous season this year. Even though he's 20 years old, is he a prospect in your mind?

Mata: Santana has occasional power and a beautiful swing, I like it. He can field, he can throw, and he's a good player. He's a little bit older but 20 years old, he's still very young. He's got a good chance because he likes to play and he plays hard. He loves to play baseball.

PinstripesPlus: On the subject of being hungry, I know Carlos Urena hasn't always shown that in the past and perhaps it was one of the reasons he went back down to the Dominican Republic for a second time. Since his altercation where he was shot, have you seen him show more hunger out there since his return?

Mata: He looks hungry to me. The thing with Urena is he a got a little bit fat. Right now though, he's the best hitter here. He's got power, he can use the whole field, and he can go deep to the opposite field. He just needs better fitness right now. He works hard but he eats too much. I'll tell you what though, the way I see Urena between last year and in this program, it's unbelievable the way he's swinging the bat. He's ready to go [to the United States].

PinstripesPlus: Going back to the new signees, let's talk about Gian Carlos Arias. How has his progress been since he signed back in July?

Mata: Very good. This kid can pick it and throw it. He uses the whole field when he hits. He can really swing the bat. The only problem with Arias is the body. He needs a lot of work on the body.

PinstripesPlus: Reymond Nunez came into the organization this year with the reputation of being a big-time power hitter. What did you think of his first year?

Mata: Not bad. It wasn't good but it wasn't bad either. He's 16 years old. He's a big, tall guy and he's a power hitter. He's a free-swinger, he swings at everything. But in this [Instructional League] program I see him more disciplined. He's taking the ball the other way more. He had a long swing and now it's short and quick with power. He has made a lot of progress and he looks good so far.

PinstripesPlus: Shortstop Abraham Ramos is another one of the late signees. What can you tell us about him?

Mata: He's got real good hands but he's real weak. He just needs to get stronger. He can swing the bat but he's real weak right now, but he can really pick it in the field.

PinstripesPlus: What about Erickson Lianora? He's a smaller guy too it seems.

Mata: He's raw right now swinging the bat and in the outfield. He's got a long way to go right now.

PinstripesPlus: Which of the pitchers from this year's Dominican Summer League teams should we be keeping an eye on as possibly doing something in the United States next year?

Mata: Andres Santos, number one. Jose A. Ramirez is another guy. Quintana could be one, he just needs to learn to throw the breaking ball a bit harder. It's too slow right now. He also needs to throw the ball down more too. Erick Tapia could too but he needs consistency throwing the ball over the plate, throw more strikes. He's got good velocity though. I saw Tapia sometimes throw 93-94 MPH but he needs to be more consistent in the strike zone and the breaking ball needs a lot of work.

PinstripesPlus: Talk about Henry Pena a little bit. What did you think of him in his first year?

Mata: He took too many pitches in his first year. He needs to stay more aggressive in the strike zone. I like the swing of Henry Pena but he needs a lot of work in the outfield. He's an average runner and he has an average arm, but he just needs more time.

PinstripesPlus: Elio De La Rosa, another one of last year's signings, didn't have a very good year at all. I realize he was hurt for a bit but what did you see from him this year?

Mata: He can pick it. He got a little bit bigger body-wise and he needs to work on his feet. Defensively with his hands, he's alright. Right now though he's progressed a lot from the [Dominican] Summer League to now. He has showed me more enthusiasm in the infield. Swing-wise, he's not ready yet.

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