Nobody knows the arms of Padres draft picks Cesar Ramos and Neil Jamison the way Troy Buckley knows them. For the past few years Buckley has been right in the middle of their development as Pitching Coach for the Long Beach State Dirtbags. MadFriars caught up with Buckley to find out exactly what we got with with our supplemental first, and sixth, round picks.
On Cesar Ramos:
Troy Buckley: You are getting a really polished left-hander who is going to feed off location more than just pure stuff.
He has four pitches, a fastball, a curveball which is more of an early count pitch. He has added a slider which has been more effective as an out pitch for him, and then a changeup.
Above average fastball command. That is his bread and butter. Be able to put the ball down in the zone. He is going to feed more off location than he is as far as missing up in the middle of the plate.
Athletic – I still think he has some body projection as far as strength is concerned. Left-handed who is a very good competitor and understands the game pretty well. I think you have a guy who has a chance to be a potential starter in the big leagues, three-four-five, probably the 4-5 range. I think this guy has a chance to be pitch efficient and get early contact and let his defense play for him. With that park it is spacious and that will bode well. Those are his strengths and being left-handed is a huge plus.
As a left-hander who does not have electric stuff, how important is his mechanics?
Troy Buckley: He understands his mechanics fairly well. He understands what he has to do. He does have some leverage, long arms and their is some lankiness to his arms. He has learned his delivery over the course of his three years here and he understands what works for him. He doesn’t falter from it. He takes a lot of pride in studying and breaking things down, sometimes to a fault. He learned here that when you compete it is not about your delivery, it is about making pitches and execution and then during the week trying to get that delivery back to put less stress on your arm or to be more efficient downhill.
Will Ramos have to adjust to his reliance on video now that he will enter the minors and video may not be as prevalent?
Troy Buckley: I think maybe a little bit for him. I think in the end – I coached in the minors and we did some video. You want to see a guy when he is going well and players change over the course of their career. When you get fundamental good stuff of where they were at, you always want to archive that. There will be some of that going on no matter what level he is at. I don’t think it will be as accessible possibly as it is here. He learned enough here, during that maturation process of being in this program, that he shouldn’t need the video as much as he may think he needs the video.
That is going to be the test. Have you figured things out with your body? Have you figured things out with making adjustments without running to the Tivo or the tape or the computer to look at each pitch that you threw? That is what I think they will have to understand in order to survive out there in the middle of a game, in the middle of a week in a 140-game schedule because it is not about mechanics every time out. Those guys in the Big Leagues either repeat their bad mechanics or repeat their good mechanics and they repeat what they want to do. That is where I have been trying to get our guys to do that consistently in order to execute pitches when they need weapons.
On Neil Jamison:
Troy Buckley: He was our closer the last two years. He came in as a mid-range setup guy. He lacked true fastball command for us, for his whole entire career here. It has gotten progressively better but we primarily pitch with the fastball here – it is about 65-to-70 percent of the pitchers are fastballs for starters. If you can't command it and put it where you want it – that is our system. Neil struggled with that and was a setup guy his freshman and sophomore year and then closed last year and this year was a first team All-American.
You are getting a very mature young man. A San Diego guy who is as good an evaluator – knowing the game better than any pitcher I have ever had. Tremendous makeup. Tremendous competitor. Very athletic. Has gained some strength and he needs to still try to somehow, some way put on more weight and hold it. That will be very important for him over the course of a half season and a full season.
Where do you see Jamison ending up as a pitcher?
Troy Buckley: I think he has a chance to pitch a long time. He is 88-to-93 with his fastball. He has our best breaking ball which is more of a slider and he has the feel for a changeup. In the end he is going to have to figure out how to get left-handed hitters out if he is going to close in a minor league system or even a chance to get to the Big Leagues. I think in the end he will be a right-handed situational guy. If I had to envision him, that is where I would see him. Middle relief, short relief and I think he has a chance to do this a long time.
What was his season like this past year?
Troy Buckley: Had 14 saves and didn’t give up a run this whole year here. It is ridiculous and I probably should have used him more. We were fortunate. We had a really good pitching staff. We led the nation in ERA and shortened the game up a lot. He is a reliever there is no question about it.
Did the Padres get two players who can pay dividends down the road?
Troy Buckley: You are getting two good local guys. I think Ramos is a little farther along and he is just going to have to learn how to pitch every fifth day. They both have a chance to contribute in the organization and even at the Big League level.