Dyer on Padres catching prospects

Nick Hundley

Duffy Dyer joined the Padres this season for his first year as the roving catching instructor. On his watch, both Nick Hundley and Luke Carlin have seen time in the big leagues. And there are some impressive backstops in the pipeline.

Jose Lobaton has always had a rifle arm. I don't know if it's the footwork that needs a little bit of improvement to put it altogether? But, how do you get that improvement at this stage?

Duffy Dyer: Well, you just have to keep working at it; it takes a lot of practice. He does have a very good arm, arm strength. The thing he needs to work on, and he's got very quick feet. So, he's got the two qualities for a good thrower. The one thing he needs is better accuracy. He bounces a lot of balls and he throws a lot of balls to the shortstop side of the bag and that comes across it. So, the thing we're working on the most is his accuracy because he does have the arm strength and he's got good footwork.

Luke Carlin obviously was in Portland and now is seeing time with the San Diego Padres. What did you see from Luke during his time in Portland and when you had him even down in spring training?

Duffy Dyer: Well, I actually only saw him spring training. Well, I did see him one game in Portland. He's probably just defensively our best catcher in the organization as far as receiving the ball and throwing. He's a little older, got some experience; he's played quite a bit. He's 6-7 years in to pro ball. He's a fine receiver, calls a good ball game, good all around defensive catcher and that's what they needed up there at the time. And this year at Portland, for about the first time in his career he swung the bat very well.

Nick Hundley was in Portland too before getting called up to San Diego. He's progressed over the years for me, when I first saw him to now. What have you seen from Nick?

Duffy Dyer: I think he's probably the most improved catcher in the organization from when I saw him in fall ball last year. He has come a long ways defensively. They thought he could swing the bat pretty well and he's starting to get hot now. He's warmed up the last few days; he has been struggling over the last month. His defense, he's doing very well in Portland defensively. They want him to catch more, get more innings under his belt, and more experience in the defensive situations before they call him up. I would be very surprised if he doesn't get a call up before the year is over.

Mitch Canham in Lake Elsinore; he's a little bit raw in terms of catching and even in the throwing aspect as well. So, he's got a lot to learn. When you're talking to him, there are so many areas of this catching game that need improvement. Is it just a little bit at a time? I guess you could be overfeeding him at the same time.

Duffy Dyer: Right, you don't try to change too much. I've tried to change his footwork a little bit, and his stance when he receives the ball. He gets very low; he catches balls almost on the ground. He does it without turning his glove over and he's very flexible. He actually gets down too low and it hinders his throwing a little bit. So, I'm trying to get him to catch a little bit higher and still give a low target; bend over a little bit more from the back instead of squatting down so low at the legs. He's responding. He hasn't caught that much. This is his first full year in professional ball and he's only caught a couple of years at Oregon State I think. So, he's really learning in an under the gun type situation. So, he needs to catch a lot of games and, again, I think I've seen a lot of improvement in him defensively and he's swinging the bat real good right now also.

Luis Martinez is also relatively new to the position. I think he's in his maybe fourth or fifth year catching. What are you seeing from Luis?

Duffy Dyer: I like Luis. He's a good all around catcher. He's got a very even temperament; doesn't get too excited, too up or too down. With his performance, he handles the pitching staff well, very mild mannered, and doesn't get too excitable. He receives; he's got good soft hands. He's getting better at blocking balls in the dirt. The ball in front of him he's very good at. But, he lacked range to the side, so we've been working quite a bit on getting a little better range on balls in the dirt one side to the other. And he has improved in that. He's got a good arm. Again, he needs to improve more on his accuracy then, because he does have a good strong arm, he's got good footwork, a good release, but sometimes he's not very accurate.

You've got two young Latin kids down in Arizona and Eugene. Wary Polanco and Emmanuel Quiles. What do you see from those guys? Obviously, they are a long ways away with a lot to learn.

Duffy Dyer: We're all very excited about Q. All excited about Q. For as young as he is and lack of experience, he's doing a great job down there. And swinging the bat very well. I think he was leading the club in home runs and is right up there in RBIs during extended. He's caught a lot down there and we're all very excited about him.

We think if he continues to improve the way he has in the past year that he is going to move up fairly quickly. We're excited about Q.

Polanco is very raw. He has got a long ways to go to understand the game and the lack of communication, because he doesn't understand English very well, has really slowed his progress. I have a tough time communicating with him and I need to get an interpreter as do a lot of the other coaches. He hasn't played as much as he probably would have liked. If you just look at his tools, his arm strength and the way he blocks balls in practice, he's very good. But when the game situation comes along, the game is still a little too quick for him. He needs to slow the game down a little bit and that will happen with experience; the more innings he gets behind the plate. I think he's got the tools to improve.

Now, Clint Naylor is the Australian who has also been in Arizona and Eugene. He got a little bet bigger this year. His problem hasn't necessarily been his catching, but we'll focus on the catching here.

Duffy Dyer: Yeah, he does everything fairly well. He's got an average arm; he's got an average release. He's not going to throw out the real good runners. But, he is fairly accurate. He's probably the most accurate of the three catchers down there, but he is a little slower. He's got good hands; he works real hard; he's a great kid. But, he's got quite a ways to go. He needs to catch quite a bit too to improve.

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