Apr 10, 2012|
Hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez is now in his 18th season as an instructor in the Red Sox farm system. Both in his current capacity of working with every level of the system and with his nearly two decades of working with top Sox prospects, from Nomar Garciaparra and Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia to Ryan Lavarnway and Bryce Brentz and Xander Bogaerts, Rodriguez has as broad a perspective on up-and-coming Red Sox hitters as anyone in baseball. He joined Minor Details in spring training to break down a number of top prospects in the system, and to discuss the search for the next great sound of an up-and-coming prospect.
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-- visited the minor details I am thrilled to have Victor Rodriguez the Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator in Victor has been here. I I am willing to bet that you are the the longest standing member of the Red Sox right now has anyone been here longer than you. Well have been hit eighteen years so I guess say and then you need coaches that I'm the oldest. The most -- -- rock got seventeen is made between me and came in and the rest of the guys are younger. So that's pretty cool that that you have like a hitting coordinator who's been here for eighteen years and a pitching coordinator has been here for seventeen I mean the amount of first you know that means that you work with a lot of guys in your impulsive you know share. An incredible amount of knowledge. And secondly it means that you know you're able to look at guys not just where they -- at a given moment but to know what they've done over the course of there. Over the course of their careers how much value is there to just. Having a guy around as the coordinator who's been here. You know away you get personal assistant. Did get to know what that that went -- -- is this will be important and he sees it that way because they'd ended and I mean -- the players. And saying get into on the stand a -- way it was going in game. He's been in place there really been around in this organization and and see guys you know coming into -- -- and -- -- -- else even. All the teams and immediately in -- so pleasing thing that's our bowl typically is immediately it's basically the rest. Well you're in an assistant position and we'll start with -- we'll talk about a number of guys you've been working with for quite awhile but. We'll start with a couple of guys who were either going to probably start the year in the major leagues or are very close to that point tonight yes. You know one of the most interesting guys this spring. Is Jose Iglesias and you've had a you've been working with him since since he came into the system in 2009. Matt how significant -- the strides that Jose has made from one year ago at this time. I think when I seen -- -- more mature guy more mature player and I think that -- he's always been but the mental side. -- on the mental -- -- Seems like easy. Comfortable -- You can always -- that -- if it physical mechanically. And but it in the mental right now is what his team to beat and or and be still be there you know completing the job. -- of the interesting things with him I mean he's made he's made different kind of contact this year than I've seen in past spring training especially. You know the thing that stands up for me is just his ability to actually. You know kind of impact the ball you know liner to center field a little bit more than that maybe we have seen in the past. Is that is Mike as a as the as the hitting coordinator someone who's seen his swing what's allowing him to kind of impact the ball in a different way than he had in the past. I think the main thing is he's being himself instead of in the past we see it hit. Case are seeing in in -- looking all the players and try to imitate them. And right now he's being himself we shall some media when he will -- for assignment he was able to drive the ball better I'd think he's just. Meaning himself stated this drizzly -- it -- that he does that he's able to control he's trusting his hands. Eight bodies in a bit facetious -- those things with the mental side being made trusting. Or the same thing he's done and he's allowing him -- when he screen and make that the ball to. So he's he's a little guy is it true that he would kind of fallen into the pattern of of imitating the swing of they -- a little bit with whom he worked out so. And and maybe Albert Pujols a little bit. Yeah last year -- yesterday he was he worked out with him so he came -- that team. We -- stance and Alex Rodriguez and we saw a lot of stiffness we've dealt for body we sold lacked a breather solely. You know if it be good to imitate somebody like that -- when you have a body like he's -- easily -- more of them may run a little -- little -- -- he's been doing it for a long time and the only doing -- having success with it. Okay if you -- little things that frankly we paid all the people so. I think that's what the main thing is are -- he on this do than that he -- being so. And he's willing to put that time and he's trusting everything that he's done so. You know I'm expecting a lot of things out of this. One of the interesting things to me as you know there is question of whether or not you know he's someone who's ready to start the year in the majors vs AAA. Mean what of that one of the questions is how would you respond to being challenged in the major leagues how does -- controversy. Last year he was he he had the face adversity. In AAA what was your sense about how we dealt with just being challenged at a level that was very advanced given his age given his professional experience. You know was he someone who. You know for whom that was difficult -- you know -- offensively or was -- someone who was able to use that as a learning tool and get better from it. Yeah I think I think it is decade if if that team easily thinking about keeping him is probably because he's a good defensive player. And and it seemed a little put any pressure -- dale fancy -- dancing game. If it's. They allowed him to do that just focus on defense and in and give us. The what you're capable with the bat I think it's going to be a better place at immediately when I think eventually he's going to earn his children is the only adjustment. And he's a lot of people did that cares for game. And at the will be with came -- and make sure that it's basic fundamentals site he's -- of the season so. You know always a lot of players that have problems -- Major League that are very good defensively and probably not as good offensively -- who did use. They got better and I can't see policy because of the scale Dallas he did LCDs Smith. You know they would know the hitters when they first but the defense part of the game that didn't immediately -- They got better yesterday you went -- experience. So that's what I seen this of course. You know at bats are -- one that's gonna get him better so. I think he's in a win win situation the case if he makes immediately -- -- be Davies and he got sent to the minor leagues. He's going to be rooting for him to so. That is the Bears to win win so will Mel Brooks has already has has been optioned to lots of minor league camp. He had a very good Major League spring training it's interesting for me to think about him because his first couple of his first professional experience was he was challenged. You -- you -- and you know you work for the middle he was hitting like a buck fifty through his first half of the season -- he responded to that. He was hitting like a buck fifty in the first half of the season in Greenville the next year and you saw respond to that -- put up you know respectable numbers at the end. How different how much progress has this guy made over the course of you know of -- what four years now professional experience but he had. That's the only guy and you know with the concede that that that's the fun part about it people are looking in right now. Seeing look at -- player. You know and we -- them for ideas going -- We said we saw -- -- -- but I think Davey sees himself as a player because of it. You know if they were not able to us what they would do it and made it -- sample of a guy Dave every year. Getting better and trusting what you need to do it now do you see it when you come into the cage and he's happy and plan. Not only physically but mentally and you understand that he need to speak with it and the game. -- is very very confidence and you know when you see guys that come it is. You can only think about -- emphasis that's what I've seen it -- made it last couple years. Didn't even know what kind he has probably and he has put himself in the season back on track because of trusting what he's doing -- data bases but stands out about his offensive ability what makes a good hitter. Believe that drive the ball in of the things that bat and you. Our only thing with him only concern is to keep democracy because he can get past it and think too many -- -- but when he's aggressive. He -- ability to strike zone. Ability to defeat that we -- like the old school feel sold in those things so. You know am expecting to see that things. You mentioned those different sound off about you referred to that with a few different guys in the system. It is that really like something that exists is that something where as a hitting coordinator here kind of wandering around you know four different fields all of a sudden you just you hear something and it kind of makes it answer it is sad yeah. I'd you know do diseases. When you live here so sounds of the bad I mean you read where you think about the bowlers friends. And their books and Jacobs. You know it's just. Natural ability they have that that when they make contact is that it's the sound. You know these other young players that you know they make -- that ended -- drivable but. Case of different -- some people feel that you use when they he would indeed just. Do you any good looking you bodies as they didn't Beatles those guys because that's the way it won't come off the bat you know. What is that is that you know is that bat speed is that you know -- -- -- hitting it on the sweet spot -- what is it that makes that at bat speed if you bat speeds you know they've they've made it -- velocity of the ball making contact with that at bat -- teammate did it sound. So you know -- it was brand name of throws and -- -- -- and Jacobs hit batting practice and he's a different sound. You know even all the guys -- driving the ball and eighty days they've been doing the right thing but these guys see something you can piece -- see -- gone with the package. So that's that's that's one of the other guys who makes some let's talk about all those guys that may sound. Rex is someone who I think he only played about a 108 games last year because he had a wrist injury and when he had a wrist injury. He has had a great run in Greenville it was right after as much miss -- he got hit on the wrist by a pitch. And I thought I know if he's going to be able to sustain -- power because you know wrists -- your livelihood accurate hitter. And then he did he he would hit eleven home runs about a you know month and a half and -- -- hit nineteen in Salem which is a tough park to do that game. He hit thirty home runs a 108 games that's crazy to me. Tell me about what you saw from friends Lester because you have not seen that kind of performance in bowl the previous. Well I think. That's what I'm saying -- guys at that at that level it's his first couple years when we -- come to the system and they tried to do more. They don't trust -- believe the and then brands that they did you before. It's probable I think what's more -- effort -- trying to do too much and last year. He was able to point totals will digging down and that that I believe it's right or guys voting old but he was existence because of that level. Now we see a guy. That is under control. ABC guys that he's in the whole field we see a guy -- -- -- the -- So all little things those that believe -- to make park on second drivable that's helped him I'd just say he only played on them and games. And look at the numbers it did in game right now -- indicated that at times. It out of that -- being on the comfortable what he's able to settle things down and get back on track so. You know we see that ability but. -- -- -- And based team with the things that didn't worry you'll see that seasons and that's what we've seen these guys that success is the biggest power guy and the system right now. Raw power guys. He's got to be one of them it's gonna be one of them you know I mean we had a few that have you know that that -- power. Age. And -- it at the end of the days they have to become the gators to be power hitters and man acting. We have seen a lot of things for him what day. I think that they're they hated his abilities feet made it more colleagues it was a Seattle those guys and we got a few of them you know we've got today that we that. And probably. You mean of blues with dad. -- Dan -- You know -- good power but I think it. This team -- -- -- become the hitters the better it is what they do see that. I would know better. With a guy like prince at the lower levels I always wonder whether or not those home runs are coming off of fastballs or -- he's also. Responding to breaking pitches and really able to power those up as well. What's your sense of of how advanced he is. He is with secondary pitches -- Our problems is hard to focus on -- and a justice of the stuff and because you. Just by looking at the game day high horse in as fast he's big so -- look for something soft. You know we look fastball and they make a mistake -- did it very involved in the zone. Wolf as the acting as though rents it if you breaking balls out when he dumped it might be ready for -- -- just Campbell. And yet that's something that they don't get better bite my. Don't think we'll see more humble breaking because of the -- features. But you know our -- was Izzo was going to be be ready for the past and it just so. You know good hitters. They can manage those mistakes they may -- with the breaking up and strong and but yeah we did a date me I mean it was an easy game last year and he made -- mistake with game was able to get it. Gee isn't that he was -- because he wasn't. He wasn't probably ready for it pace. And and it's it's fast. For fast it was a good break -- he was pretty fast so. It was more being in the position that he react right don't guess react exactly yeah exactly so. They get -- better they get bet me in and out it wasn't the right thing. Now they just need. You have some at bats both of you see him. The hard way you mentions in that context I mean he's a really interesting guy I don't I don't know that he's really struggled offensively. Since you've got to his numbers have been incredibly consistent. His seat you almost always see guys in their transition to professionals vision struggled. How how odd is it that he's never had to go through that and what is he is. And they gags came. We approach from day one you know is a guy that day I told the guys stated that. We might have to make adjustments in the and -- have more days. I feel that he'd just getting aggressive in the middle of the pack and win -- in in that we were happy we want them but. Not always being one of those guys at. You make adjustment. He's on Q did you know he knows he's swing mills Wayne needs to do comedy bases these days preparation days. Probably one of the -- so he has enjoyed watching him come to the case and do it -- batting practice and they -- into the game. You know we don't we'll see much of that thanks to singles to get him going the right rates. Guys those base of players that eight us everything they do they have confidence. Sure they will be. When he news. It's interesting to think about someone -- -- -- to make adjustments because he's always successful because the last guy who came through your system and he was just. Successful from beginning straight through the minors to my mind was Pedroia. You know and but he has swing that you know that as a as a hitting coordinator I imagine you look at it you can do a double take. But it was successful was there ever ever a time when you when you sat down. Instead. I know that's you know let's tighten up the swing and not like have you looking like just -- out of you know. -- out of your rear end or was it just like the results were so good just let him go. Guys like that team will need to. We need these guys are you know they need to find a way he was aggressive from day one and he has Cecil. He's still haven't sensed a little bit yeah -- -- -- feels by talking to him he was more about trusting. His daily preparation. For us and it vacant by the fact some of the game but anything else. If what you see from -- on these days -- -- confidence. Eight plus his ability he knows he simply goes out there a waiting game the right way but you know. It being that close that he happy everything that he'd it's -- -- that is. That's said tell me what your thoughts were when you saw the swing as a hitting coach as -- hitting coordinator who like who is expert at the technical side of the game like. What was your first reaction when you watched it. You know this thing is -- less is always been aggressive but he finally squared off you know he's like. And you look at the mechanics and you only but then there -- -- find ways to hit the ball was is it hard so he's like. That -- -- exact date we make sure you know this hitter when I first saw him as these guys. Just beat -- make an eight games arts and these guys nothing went right -- over the place. -- -- past success and you know he's a guy that you came in and that's. You know if that. Is. You know he's comfortable when it's in the games -- he was unbelievable and use -- fields. Hank Hughes and go to see what they need days ago this time we go to work on anything but it was well. Well. I'm not sure if -- ever show you the pictures of Youkilis batting the in his side in his college days but he is someone who's batting -- changed. More than I mean just about anyone else so I can remember him you know over the course of his professional career when -- went that way. How -- that process about how much of that was changes in the minor league system how much of it was at the Major League level. Yeah I think I came here plays movies rule but now with the swing. But he wasn't the guy that. On this -- -- And put together good at bats you know I think. Eventually he made adjustment of its own just to put sale in the -- season and -- But everything else is the guy that passes as Nichols is. Remembered. You've been hearing about people making him just. So he registered on -- zone yeah that's what I -- is not our style changes. It does it. Mine's -- but he always make adjustment and get back today. On the things he needs to. You know. Not much. In candidate who -- -- and I think that I would numbers -- something that. That surprised me that he wasn't a guy that both the club Q but. You know he's strong in exchange. He was able to this -- of pizzas and be pleased to be here he was able to. It pays him and tried rightly stated. That tells you that eight players. Please and get better and -- and school and things whenever they. They do the right thing in us. So getting back to some of the prospects are talking about especially the ones that special sound. So Brandon Jacobs he had a really really good year last year. In not in Greenville hit over 300 had no VP of like 375. You know seventeen home runs. Seventeen home runs along with along with. What thirty steals I think a really good all around year government what did you. You know what what stands out about him. Brandon Jacobs I think was as focused and got better I know they they give forty name mean. Lol. He's old he was up -- down I think was more day. He's -- wasn't I relieving thing. The main idea when he was -- -- business lack of focus lack of effort. As he wanted to do a lot but he was he was do you wanna -- that we've now. We go any purpose so last year this guy came came to training camp and he was well as anything he was with the purpose -- you speak. You could tell he when he wanted to he -- right thing and it target and we slope as last season -- these -- it. Him all season you're not in the in the game because he's shown in the game he's been the season but. In case for her cage would these guys come to the occasion he knows what needs to do. He knows them I'm thinking he's taking it game -- He wouldn't notice -- And work on the right thing you need to that a post game. And so far here we just got to slow him down because you want it a lot. And it's all -- that it is learning not to swing -- times today and its activities at the way he wants to hit a lot of space based totally debate as little as one of the war. And that's what I'd tease him that. And we just so he probably doing this better than. So you know just trusted the day game that means he CB yeah well he throws when it -- You know I think you just need to -- if we're able to get a little bit and it in the indictment. And yeah. -- you've got bases and hit two homers as well. When. It -- you guys -- was the ideal because -- One west -- is because you went west to see what mechanic needs change you have instead of trusting. He's meant I assume you believe the -- -- -- -- for a while getting back to. Do things. And Seymour and -- it -- -- -- four days and maybe focusing on the wrong thing. -- really interesting from just to watch because. His legs and he's his base is spread out more than you see. On almost everyone I guess how did how did that approach come about him you know who can do that how how do you be how can you be so. What allows a player to have that kind of spread out stance and still be able to create power. Days basically. Rules this is it that I think it was a guy that. It was -- but if it's possible so he got in Annapolis he should get us to a big -- movement. And eight you know he's in the postseason he's he's using his lower -- is age. In any state notable news is. Too many people that and these guys it's it's pretty strong he would him. I think he's allow him to beating the -- is this the best of his swing is he's as good isn't he can get angry -- it. He's a pro ideas for that kind of -- my -- body getting involved but. You know right now I've seen that decade of these rules policies with mechanics thing shortage in this old man that's what I'd like. -- -- Zander Bogart's the other sound the other guy who makes the special sound and he was doing it at age eighteen last year. In Greenville I mean to go their perhaps this I don't know if it. You know I don't know that anyone would have anticipated that he would -- ended up in Greenville last year for starters. And that not only would he end up there but he would hit you know that's just a ton of home runs at the age of eighteen. You know first glance like first impressions of a guy like that what stood out. Same thing young players that do that mistake though things just focused on. I'm getting them meaning the bus station. Getting them to understand when they -- the beaches. How's it you know what I can give them a while focusing on the field. About him blood sample size plate. And then. That's when you see these out these guys it's basically -- -- they have that power but just putting himself in the postseason. So when they make mistake when they make contact again the field and that respectable but it. Sixty homers but that kills you when it basically -- like that that right thing. At the right team that is above itself in there about it but it -- -- and they -- the season with everything they do. One of the things there was interest -- Rizzo has talked last year about how. He saw this guy making adjustments. Not only between games -- between weeks but he said that you can almost see him making adjustments. Insider bit. Between at bats or sometimes even inside of at bats is that is that accurate like when did you give an example of an at bat where you saw just a special approach from him. -- get -- and so and so and so I'm batting seventh at Georgia and please. The guy that guy to him pain. Hopeful that more than he was opened up with a game for the Nazis it was flying. And then eight to guide to look terrible and I was expecting to open up -- he'd be staples and and just react and usable. Industries it was a while wanna. The more saves. The Bears have asked guys so last year and I thought that that was over -- -- was swinging. But we do right instead of trying to do more. Personal the game down. And forties opening the postseason and tell them what you're thinking it was -- I was thinking that attributable fumbled it base and right handed hitter as that unhittable this may sound mean he was thinking a bone in them or allow them. And really tried to do too much just fight it out rumbles on base and he let they'd think -- hanging breaking ball he would. They feel we're defense so you know so looking to go looking to go you know. I'm looking to go opposite field he was still able to reacts to react and he had to pull the ball exactly I was able to react because -- plus -- -- it's unbelievable -- the look at it rumbled to see them plays but. Might look at it visa and travel he reacted that way and that's how do -- homers down no might look. Yes I'd be acting and having that you know that right -- police. It's -- it and he'd -- You know people's rights in and out of the field so when you see that is a -- of -- it is I keep hearing about these like you know balls that look like their line drives right senator and they just have to carry people. Friday you know that's something you can case. Because with the Aggies in and just keep saying go at it because ultimately -- the slowest -- -- -- do it and he's. How talented is this guy I mean you've again you have the advantage of eighteen years of -- talented guys coming through the system. How in terms of the beginning of his professional career who was the last guy who had you know this kind of this kind of ability. Fit you know and playable ability at such young age. Yeah we have a -- but you know guys like that we did that and you know. It's news. -- tickets -- because of that success at Indy. And the -- here when he first came here don't. So you know it's visibly is like that every wasn't hitting sixty homers -- -- doesn't it isn't easy. He was -- -- and Eddie Johnson and you know things if these guys -- us. -- these days. Is it more basket. When last I'll ask about you know. Because you get it you get new you guys to work with every year which I imagine is you know part of the excitement of dating you know of hitting coordinator. Getting the draft and you know go to work. So us -- hard is obviously very interesting time. He was drafted very high and also a switch hitter you know coming out of high school the initial opportunity to work with Blake's wife are what -- what has stood out about him. You know. I think it's that approach he's had a blows and it did the the ball comes out is bad have been different ways to you know both sides of the -- and I and from what I heard he only been hitting lifting them not to long ago in the inning for a short time. And he was insisting about it because I think that when he was in high school he decided that he was just -- -- alternate at bats didn't matter what hand the other pitcher was throwing -- He just wanted to really worked on hitting from both sides so even if there was a lefty on the mound which obviously you don't see a ton of he was going to bat left handed for that bad or he was going to hit you know right handed against right he's. And that is what how computers. And that's what they see it full confidence. Legitimate or not he's not fake. You know these com. V -- to lose he everything that he does this with a purpose and something. That. Confidence that Buchanan case he's looked healthy because when he does and you know -- kind except past I'm not a bonus he might -- You don't see it -- -- -- it fuels you mean frustration. -- keep it at that age group and that's one thing that's gonna help. It is based in these games when you've. At this age you know yours getting him at the start of his professional career. Typically it's a guy is supposed to learn and approach him in that first preseason is he someone who has one or where is he on that spectrum of anything national science. -- good approaches dusting courses that don't seem to losing causes them because at that time. At that age they didn't want it to whistled for her and -- really -- in the process. But hey that's our job to people who some pain and I'd give them understand that he'd do just that process that we can be better. Despite posting anything that you won't -- -- in this -- from being in the duplicity should. And -- and he divorce basis just like definitely things you know that would Bryant. So hey it seemed as they will learn that later. Didn't want to mess they -- him or we we do with him and make sure the groups that are. About that process process process that was so pumped. This is someone who shows power RC you know it is more of a line drive gap type that are. What I believe he's gone through our it's gonna have power -- power and athletes and peoples of the stadium might. -- speaking we did it seem easy Israel's right things and and thank you both sides of the plate or both both -- yeah I think -- invite -- feel. And -- it's easy -- it and you know I think that well and he's dead but element is stronger. In. -- you haters wrong about him right now is at least he is bigger than Jose Benicio. And -- -- -- needs is and others. I know that if somebody like. -- it again in shall I doubt it -- yeah I've done it's it's amazing to see us be about a 14845. Pounds of that and you know he's still listening to -- thinks that them you know. Hitting the baseball at its Fuzzy Ozzie. He does when he's on the hopefully make contact. -- -- plays on them for the there you know is so on the putting so. And is that located -- things getting better ensuing man believed to be more of the people -- the game. And he's playing became better on the control then. And -- -- exciting. What he's doing this year. Victor this has been tremendous have taken up you know enough -- time that I've always set back if all the development of the entire farm system. So vote thanks very much for taking the time to talk though I don't places -- -- get -- But to keep his side and it doesn't mean guys get better and and you know known in my arm so that day -- close. Out. We looked at them and if it is without them we can do anything so I'm real happy in. -- probably getting close as they and he -- -- that kind -- get them better and that's I think we have -- -- is is it because of them. You're part of it is wells that they do so much for certain programs --