Padres Instructional League Notebook III

Mat Latos

Instructs are for fundamentals and the San Diego Padres prospect contingent failed miserably in that regard on Thursday.

  • The Padres lost 4-0 with all the runs scoring off starter Rey Garramone. It wasn't entirely his fault, though, as the defense was poor.

    Garramone did leave a few balls up in the zone and Oakland was waiting – hitting them hard. His head was coming off line, causing his arm to stray and his release point to be inconsistent.

    Felix Carrasco made at least four miscues at first base and never looked comfortable in his switch from third.

    His first gaffe was coming off the bag on a ball that he could have stretched for. Instead, he stepped off and tried to swipe tag the runner, missing. He then let a popup drop between him and Eric Sogard. While the ball was closer to Sogard, Carrasco had the angle on the ball without the sun in his eyes. A hopper right to him went untouched as he tried to move towards first base with the ball and did not concentrate on setting his feet and fielding it. Twice he yelled ‘Going' when the runner at first barely made a move towards second base.

    Carrasco wasn't alone in his mistakes. Drew Cumberland lost a ball in the sun and had it drop to the dirt. Andrew Parrino rushed a throw to home trying to cut down a runner and sailed it over Aeden McQueary's head, allowing a run to score.

    The positives included Brad Chalk hitting the only extra base hit for the Padres and showing very good pitch selection. He stayed back on a curveball and took it down the right field line.

    "He has more pop than people believe," said Padres' minor league field coordinator Bill Bryk. Luis Durango cut down a runner at second base by throwing behind him when he made a break for third before deciding to come back towards second base. It was a heads up play.

    "It was the best throw I have ever seen him make," Tom Gamboa said. "Before, he looked like he was pushing the ball."

    Cory Luebke used his noggin in his two innings of work, masterfully setting up hitters and punching them out. It took him 31 pitches to finish the A's off. He did try and overthrow a few pitches when he got two strikes but appeared to scold himself and come back with a solid pitch.

    Chris Perez also had a good outing. He lost it to one batter, letting his emotions win out, but settled down and battled back. He did not allow a run in his two frames and flashed a curveball with good bite.

    Alexis Lara also worked a scoreless inning, working in his changeup and fooling hitters badly. He has a lot of kinks in his delivery and a hitch that makes him easy to steal on.

  • The Padres tried out a middle infielder on Wednesday. He went through the entire morning session, sticking with Parrino for most of the day. He looked fluid in the field and even earned a few ‘Nice play new guy' remarks from the rest of the team during their 14 outs drill.

    "We are always on the lookout for good players, especially middle infielders," Bryk said.

  • Mat Latos is not throwing his knuckle-changeup anymore on the advice of the Padres' brass. It is a pitch that had good spiking action but was not necessarily a pitch he could throw in the strike zone. Better hitters, therefore, would just lay off the pitch if it were recognized.

    He worked on his straight changeup in the pen with Garramone on Thursday. He uses a Vulcan grip on the ball, placing it between his middle and ring finger. It has good life, going down and to the right.

    John Hussey – the leader in first-pitch strikes thus far through Instructional League with 80 percent – has been using his changeup more than ever. He has thrown with much more confidence and the success of his off-speed pitch is a big reason why. His velocity is down from where he topped out at 92 MPH last year, but it is not a concern now that he is throwing better quality strikes in Instructs.

    "Staying on top and not drifting is key," pitching coach Dave Rajsich told him. "Your release point will stay consistent."

  • The fielding drills have continued for Drew Cumberland, Lance Zawadzki and Jeudy Valdez. They each went onto the back field with roving infield defense coordinator Gary Jones.

    The common denominator for each of them has been not standing tall.

    "Don't stand tall so you can anticipate," Jones said. "You can't expect a good throw and you will be in position to make the play. If you are too tall you won't be able to adjust."

    Zawadzki said the same is true for throwing. By not standing upright, he can get a better line to first base and keep his throws accurate.

  • Cumberland was getting the business from Padres' vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson during batting practice. Fuson was throwing him pitches and tossing balls to his weak areas.

    "Let's see – Cumby liked to leak out over the plate so I am going to throw it – there."

    While it was all in fun it was also a real issue Cumberland is attempting to correct. He gets off balance and lunges for a ball rather than taking it where it is pitched.

    Fuson had the same kind of fun with Kellen Kulbacki – a player that has looked very good at Instructs. After Kulbacki pulled an inside pitch foul down the right field line, Fuson yelled, ‘KK – how do we keep that fair?"

    "Stay inside the ball," Kulbacki responded.

    "Exactly."

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