Peyton on Eugene hitting prospects

Nate Freiman

Eugene, OR: Eric Peyton, hitting coach at the San Diego Padres short-season affiliate in Eugene, has evolved in his approach to teaching. As a result, he feels he can help his hitters refine their game. It was evident with the Emeralds this season.

We are in year two in your coaching career. How have you evolved from year one to year two?

Eric Peyton: I am able to communicate with the players a lot better. Instead of talking, I am listening more, asking more questions regarding what they have been through so I can understand more of the mental makeup of each player. I now work on getting them to change their work ethic a little bit from the college atmosphere to pro baseball.

It has helped me a lot. I learn a lot more that way. I get to expand my teaching. Last year, I was limited. I would rather have a lot of options for these young men instead of the few. They were good for the team but it is better to keep learning new ways of teaching.

What have you noticed from the Eugene club. Was there a pulse of the team from a hitting perspective?

Eric Peyton: What I like is that they all listen. They tried to understand so they could make changes in their game. Some of the numbers were doing well as far as the team. As I talk to them everyday, the goal was to improve every single day – something small that might help them out.

You had Emmanuel Quiles for two straight years. It seems like he has more rhythm and isn't trying to swing as hard. Is that a fair assessment?

Eric Peyton: Yes it is. I have been impressed with Q. If he keeps understanding his plan of attack he is able to follow through with it. The more he sees, the more he is able to relax a little more and make adjustments, especially when he has one or two strikes on him.

Do you like Jason Hagerty's swing from the left or right side better?

Eric Peyton: I actually like it more from the left side but think he is pretty good from both sides. He is a good ball player with a lot of upside. He is pretty polished. He does a lot of things on his own. I just watch. He has been able to make a lot of adjustments.

How big of a blow was losing Bo Davis. While he needs to change some things to be successful higher up, he was a catalyst for this club.

Eric Peyton: He was just like last year with Dan Robertson. There is always a sparkplug on the team. Even when he was not hitting, he found a way whether it was defense or running the bases or throwing. His whole attitude towards the game. He goes out there and is having fun. The other players feed off that.

Matt Vern is a guy that has made changes and stuck with them even though the batting average probably suffered. There were times when you could see the results and it had to be sort of a teaching tool for you.

Eric Peyton: It is a teaching tool. All the credit goes to him. He is the one who has been working on it on his own. We gave him a plan and he has worked on it. It is starting to come more. It gives me satisfaction to know he is trying something that will help him out in the long run and taking that chance.

That is the thing about baseball. Everyday you are making adjustments. He has already taken the first step or two to make himself a better ball player.

Vince Belnome had been on base in 23 straight to open his professional career. That is a pretty good accomplishment.

Eric Peyton: He comes to play every single day. Ever since the first day of camp, he was very aggressive, very open, and has made adjustments. He is a gamer. He has played three different positions and his approach is how you want to handle playing everyday. It has been fun to watch.

When you get a guy like Nate Freiman who is so tall, is it tough to relate your body type and swing mechanics to his?

Eric Peyton: Definitely my first time working with someone that tall. But, Nate has been great. He has already made his adjustments. He swung the bat well. His approach – he comes to play the game.

The fun part with all of these guys is they come to work and try and get better at something everyday. With Nate, an 18-game hitting streak and a tribute to his hard work.

Was it disappointing that you struggled with productive outs at points during the season?

Eric Peyton: I am not disappointed, but I know that when I see the numbers, I incorporate that into batting practice and our drills. It was one of many things when you are playing as a team that you can improve upon.

You can get them to do it in drills but how do you carry that over to the games with situational hitting. As a National League club it is so important.

Eric Peyton: We weren't great but we improved. Situational hitting has come through at times. Being persistent, especially during batting practice drills, have given them more success. Guys are working on getting a better pitch to handle and you could see it on a day-to-day basis that they were improving and the results were coming through.

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