We caught up with him in the off-season to discuss the inaugural season of the Tucson Padres.
Anthony Rizzo just had a huge year but his numbers were different in the second half, after he came back down from San Diego, .288 batting average compared to a .365 batting average when he left.
Did you notice any change and what is the biggest part of his game that he needs to improve going forward?
Tim Hagerty: He was so dominant in the first few months in Tucson. San Diego fans were clamoring for him to be called up. The thing is, he was one of the youngest players in Triple-A.
The Padres were challenging Rizzo by sending him here this year. Over last winter, some publications predicted he'd start the year in San Antonio. So, to do what he did in the Pacific Coast League, at his age, was astounding. I think concerned Padres' fans should remember most players at his age are in Lake Elsinore or Fort Wayne.
James Darnell had a big year in San Antonio but struggled somewhat in the better hitting environment of Tucson. What did think about him in the thirty-five games that you saw of him and any reason why this occurred?
Tim Hagerty: Very good player and likable person. Terry Kennedy said the Padres asked him to keep a close tally on how many games he played at third base compared to left field, to ensure he was developing in both spots. He's a player Padres' fans should be very excited about. If he doesn't make the Major League team out of Spring Training, I'm sure he'll be a middle of the order hitter in Tucson in 2012.
Logan Forsythe put up some solid offensive numbers when he was with the T-Padres. How did his defense look particularly at second and short?
Tim Hagerty: The T-Pads infield was a revolving door this year because of injuries and call-ups. It probably benefited players like Forsythe and Parrino who were able to adapt to multiple spots. I thought it was a smart plan when Terry Kennedy batted Forsythe second in the order. It was fun watching Everth Cabrera and Forsythe in front of hitters like Rizzo and Guzman.
Jesus Guzman was very good for Tucson and in some ways even better in San Diego. Did anyone in Tucson really believe that he would produce the way he has in San Diego and how was his defense at 3b/LF?
Tim Hagerty: He's a good example of how the Tucson hitting conditions are less drastic than some people claim. Guzman hit three home runs in 120 home at bats in Tucson, and has four home runs at PETCO Park in fewer at bats. His rise has been a great story. He told me at the beginning of the year he was disappointed he didn't get a Major League opportunity with the Giants last year. He is certainly grabbing a hold of this chance with the Padres.
LF/1b Matt Clark is always under the radar. Can you describe the type of season that he had and what you think the future will hold for him?
Tim Hagerty: He hit some of the longest home runs we saw this season, and they came in bunches. In July, he homered in four straight games. He is a strong player who nearly smashed one out of the stadium during the Tucson home finale. I think he'll be a valuable Major Leaguer.
I was a little surprised when Andy Parrino was sent down, but understood they wanted him to play every day with Everth Cabrera coming back. How well did he play shortstop this year and what did you think of him at the plate?
Tim Hagerty: I think he will be playing professional baseball for a long time. Not necessarily always in the Major Leagues, but I think all 30 Major League organizations would desire someone like Andy. He plays all over the field very well, switch hits, plays with passion and has some pop in his bat. He hit the first T-Pads grand slam. Parrino always shows a quiet intensity that managers and coaches love.
Wade LeBlanc has always been able to get people out with his changeup, you saw that at Portland. Did you see any change in the way he pitched this year?
Tim Hagerty: He was a Major League pitcher in Tucson this year. It was admirable how well he handled being sent up and down throughout the season. He's a veteran now and grasps that his role for a few months was to fill in when needed in San Diego. We never saw waves of attitude changes with Wade. He has smooth mechanics and has been relatively injury free, so I think you'll see him in the Major Leagues a long time, somewhere, in some role.
Brad Brach came up and pitched well for the T-Padres. How would you describe him?
Tim Hagerty: He works very quickly and goes right at hitters. He's an entertaining pitcher to watch late in a game. We saw a lot of opponents swing and miss at bouncing pitches because of Brach's split-fingered pitch.
Will Inman had a real up and down year. At one point he was one of the leaders in the PCL in strikeouts. What does he need to improve upon and how do you see a future for him coming out of the pen?
Tim Hagerty: Some of our fans thought when Will moved to the bullpen it was a demotion. Not true. The Padres saw he was creeping up on his innings limit for the season and they wanted to apply his pitches more incrementally the second half of the season. It was great to have him such an integral part of the pitching staff after he had to miss most of 2010 with an injury.