WEEI>On Demand>>Minor Details Ep. 97: The enormous gap between Triple-A and the big leagues

Minor Details Ep. 97: The enormous gap between Triple-A and the big leagues

Aug 19, 2014|

The 2014 season has been a fascinating case study in the immense challenges that players face in the transition from Triple-A to becoming full-time big leaguers. A case can be made that the gap between the two highest levels of competition is now larger than ever. Red Sox hitting coordinator Tim Hyers and bench coach Torey Lovullo explore that phenomenon, while also examining some measures that the team can undertake to narrow that huge divide.

Transcript - will not be 100% accurate

Let's learn to pump the -- This has been a fast -- that in the transitional difficulties of going from Tripoli to the big league. -- -- -- offense perhaps too reliant on players without prior big league appearance has gone this year from the best in the majors last year to would have the -- -- In highly regarded young players quite frankly have gotten undressed at times a big league pitchers were able to dissect them with surgical precision. Why is this happening why the players with minor league track records that have betrayed you if any weakness is haven't been able to gain a foothold as every -- big leaguers. We'll examine that question as well as some of the things that the Red Sox trying to do to address the matter. With Red Sox bench coach -- -- but first. We'll take stock of the issue with Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator Tim hires who has who has had an interesting perspective on the matter this year. More than a month in the big leagues this season working with Red Sox hitters at the highest level before turning to as usual work with hitters throughout the minor leagues in this month. In so he's in position to take stock of a dazzling reality that confronts players. When they arrive in the big leagues they are up against pitchers with absolutely overwhelming stuff at times who have both the tools in the knowledge to be able to use it. To dominate young hitters. Here's how hires describes the difference in pitching between AAA in the majors right. Now. I think one the biggest -- I think pitchers. The command and control of their stuff you know and triple it legacy. You know -- velocity -- -- reckon ball then and things like that but hasn't won that big jobs. Is you know at that typically -- level they really can command you know -- stuff there are complete package and so. And collect a lot of mistakes and in your mistakes. And then also they I think it typically little they really -- -- toward game plan and they do a lot of -- Hitters in their tendencies. And a recent weaknesses then then at the secret level I think they really go after. A lot more because of the technology and you know they're spiritually and triple way. You know in America in this city it's seen her that often to really get tickets are report. Is your feeling that this stuff between Tripoli in the big leagues is in fact comparable at this point are you seeing. You know a a grave a significant separation part of the reason I ask because this a really interesting time in Major League Baseball. Offensive numbers are getting crushed across the lead. We're seeing strikeout rates getting huge and I think that that's not just a question of approach the guys are coming up with. But a question of just the actual stuff that we're seeing in the big leagues. And I'm wondering if that trickled down to AAA or there really is a considerable separation. Between let's say fastball velocity or sharpness of breaking pitches -- goes even beyond the command question. Parameter you know visit to apprehend you know I think you know we see guys you know -- look at the numbers and see the -- You know that's president. One of the things that you know surprising to me is just that fastball velocity coming out here. You know you can work -- -- starter and get a couple of babies from him and then here comes dependent. And the guys in the bullpen that really throw hard and half pit stops and on the velocity inaudible and I think over the last you know 56. Seven years is in numbers that. I look at his a big change in the game you know you look at Doritos and Seattle and the Yankees -- as walking habits and -- ball really hard we're you know pitch sliders cutters and and then the velocity -- -- up so I think that's one thing they're really hurts offensive numbers. To go long which in the sky report expert yeah I think there's a big jump from Tripoli typically. You know unsure what you're gonna seek good stuff is this you go out to do it at -- And and so they're you know they're typically level you know every night it is equality arms and customizable and stuff you to really challenging. I mean is it safe to say that you can put up a very impressive manually track record. Even if you don't show the ability to hit 95 miles an hour. I that the negotiators that they can make the adjustments. You know it's not that you have to hit nine -- all the time. And you better have a plan you better understand what approach trying to achieve. You know there's there's certain hitters you know not created equal experience some guys have to. You can say she's a little bit are you ready that it fastball. In certain counts and I think -- to fight you know it is easier if you can't count fastball and you know it is easier for you out if you haven't figured I guess you really came can handle. Fast. So thinking about I think you about the game planning part of top part of the equation how how drastically different is is that how how quickly. Our vulnerabilities exposed in the big leagues and then just. Challenged over and over and over vs what you might see. In Tripoli where you know it it seems like there's a greater effort to get advanced scouting information and AAA. You know there's more video available certainly have opposing starters and that sort of thing. But you're probably not seeing kind of you know precise breakdown by you know by a you know what how what -- what this is what this hitters they voted to do. Against fastballs in you know in that are up to weigh in in kind of this you know in this. Six square inch window. Near -- Iraq I mean it is and you know I think it is they're there is a bit of difference and is just because. You know at the big league level you have. A number number of people watching video and submitting information. You're -- cultures rilya. You know trying to come up again and plan your catchers that are that are there they're getting exposed to the hitters haven't history -- -- different editors and different styles. And so it it is pretty you know that strategy where I think in -- mileage -- -- you're you're able to CPU but it's hard to future and our. You know the quality not the same in the different angles. Information. You know different speeds and that other opposing pitchers are throwing toward. You are not as available and act quick. So I think that's that's where you know to -- -- level they can really -- and so you make a mistake they can -- last year in certain areas. Are certain different speech or combination or a sequence. Which you have to make an assessment to or you know the opposing in opposing pitcher has to -- -- AAA as spectacle that slow process and you know and you don't play there's this search engine play as often. In terms of in in terms of the gap that now exists you know given the advanced planning the event planning that is available to guys. Do you think that there is. Greater benefit to kind of a more deliberate process to graduating guys too big leagues and one of the things that one of the things that they've made that conversation. I'm really interesting to hear I thought was a guy like a Gregory Congo. In the pirates' system in the entire world was saying you know time to move it up time to move -- when he was hitting 350 over the course of you know the first couple months of the season and you know no way -- really know and really. Committed to the idea that there could possibly be. Benefit to giving him more time to be successful in AAA. You know in in order to prepare for the big league do you think that there is an argument given given where we are in terms of stuff in terms -- advance scouting. To kind of give guys more of a time to really establish themselves at that AAA level. Are acting very. I think guys did you know players need to mileage to learn about themselves learn about the change in play -- game and understand again. You know better about what they can do you know could say optimistically at the play. But I think the one unknown as whenever sit jumps from triple layer of the minor leaks to the big quakes. If Howard is he gonna handle that next job and there's a number of things prediction disrupt you know success in the morning has. You know I remember you know. You know just talk and other players and that first week the first month. Is just controlling your emotions and in -- step in and then in the exposure on your front of big crowds. You know on the TV interviews but he. Everything that goes right partner you know we -- playing in the major leagues is how do you handle that can you control your heartbeat and you control. Being guided canyon and control those things so you can slowly getting him play it. At the level around and that same intensity that you reported an entirely. You know and everything in the big leagues physics boat so you aren't making areas strikeout a couple of times and it's magnified compared to. In the minor -- it's like OK you know as many people saw it. The attentions are drawn to it so players straight in Russia. You know underneath the mat and move on and it's been really didn't hampered the conference were in the paper out of a handle you know that's failure. Mean the exposure that are getting. So I think this one are known that we don't know and and players you know handle it different. Differently and so that's one thing and another -- You know going out and just plan. Being the same you know playing the game the same way he did in an entirely in you know you know most it's under those that are secure is that we want to play in the big and very aggressive and they they -- -- and strokes stroke play. And you know and let all of that the athletic ability take over. Where are sometimes has stepped into the basically I wanna be perfect and they want everything to go right in so it is that. Things can be. And set back because. You know that thinking too much is that going out and play in the game so I think there's a timetable for. That you know I think they're for kids are going to. You know handle that differently and just don't know industry and it takes some time in an error perhaps some failure and they are about -- spoke about today. Given where we are in terms of the quality of pitching that you are seeing across the board in the big leagues and the advance scouting stuff. Is it necessary to kind of and to kind of be more patient in terms of in terms of when you judge guys about that based on their performance in the big leagues in you know I I realize that it's going to vary from person to person but. When you talk about getting beyond the small sample size what have you done that in the big leagues. -- So that's a really good question. I think you know you you definitely have to be special players and I'm not sure there's there's a certain formula that you go by. But you know I think if you see a player that's you know moving forward and understanding you know what they can do deploy. In making strides handle some of the failure. That's in front of him prosecuted combines science are -- experienced. To be around some you know -- -- to learn and so. Yeah keep moving forward. It's especially. A good question and one that you know I think can be debated and I'm not sure we have you know the right answer. Well you know you you have the opportunity last year to work with both Jackie Bradley junior and -- -- they've become kind of front and center on terms of the conversation. About that challenge of transitioning. From Tripoli to the big leagues. You know put in the context of what you know about about the distinction between those levels. What has to go into preparing to be a really good big -- mean you've seen. You know you've seen what David Ortiz is doing behind the scenes on a daily basis in order put himself in position to be -- hitter that he has. Are are you surprised by that transitional challenges that those two guys have faced over the course of 2014. Yes I'm almost surprised that I. You know there's been some not so -- both -- You know that you know about you really started out really well this year. The first month month and a half -- -- and that -- and it's. But what about voting is you know he never stopped working she's always gives a percent -- college coach or. And he has. You know -- -- the work ethic and have that desire to play into -- And I think that's one thing that you know I really admire about it and once saying that he -- gonna help them in the future you learned a lot about himself. This year and I think that that is -- -- secure a lot of weight move forward burgers you know in this game you're gonna fail and there's there's good players on the other side of and so these seniors are a lot about himself in assembly rejected -- and wanting a Jackie's defense Israeli. You know I think -- -- some cops and it's in the -- excuse that we -- see what he's capable of doing what you can bring to it a movement. I think you know rejected another or Libyan coast are shocked. This siege you know the struggle all this long. But I do know this -- is working hard is -- everything he's got. Minorities you know put in the work to be a very clear that there equator -- stated contribute to you know to the Boston Red Sox -- Is too young guys are no they're going to some wrought iron. And another late in the Hayward muscular to do it quickly or you know sometimes it's it's obsolete and you. You gotta learn gotta make the adjustments to survive and think that's one thing that Pedroia and David Ortiz a lot of -- -- kinda. Relay that information to the young guys and and you know it's sometimes this can be potentially that they'll they'll grind through it no -- prepare for the. Talking to Red Sox much to Red Sox hitting coordinator Tim hires. I am curious with a guy like Bradley because he had had such -- such -- -- I mean both of them really had had great track record of success but Bradley especially. You know had shown the ability to get on base -- really high eclipsed. And and you know really posted solid averages on base percentages across a few different levels and he had moved quickly. In the minor leagues in the in the minor leagues are flaws are are kind of those holes and hitters approach. Going to be exposed are they going to be known or do you not know what they are until they get to the big leagues are even able to address film. When they're in Tripoli before they've had that exposure to the highest level. I'm you know it's I think you know jacket I think there -- some things that you know we will bring unity you know there's a few holes there's -- -- -- you need to make. -- you know you look at his numbers look good in my earlier had such great success. And like these senators just wasn't batting average on base percentage Mary. Trying to doubles is getting on base in and you know very productive scored runs force in. And those things and you know -- -- typically. You know maybe it's a thing we're gonna feel the league adjusted to themselves some of the the weaknesses and now it's a period where. Interject -- you know makes some of those adjustments to. You know took two you know to practice and the finger and he -- -- -- in. So that's -- national -- parts and ended the unknown. How players. You know initiate -- -- the first time you know out of how they'll react. And so -- the part that's unknown -- I know Jack -- and that is working hard and that he's you know of their everything is my. You know to make those corrections and it's. It's it's it's something that we're looking at you know forces sport to -- to -- to -- -- you know just move forward. Based on your time up in the big leagues this year and seeing you know seeing the kind of caliber of the caliber -- you're familiar with him but you know it's it's just different -- On the day to day basis rather than. You know -- as opposed to kind of moving around different levels of the minor leagues and your attention is somewhere between the GCL -- in the first. The initial phases of professional ball and you know it and -- to the cusp of guys in guys who are ready for the big leagues. Is there anything that you will that you take. Made it that you would apply differently in terms of instruction. In getting guys ready for that final step between Tripoli in the big leagues. Oh yes some I've learned a lot exist hanging around you know Pedroia in this sort of like a set Ortiz -- Gomes in Napoli in some of the purchaser been there. Just that they can have just little things and the intensity to each day that they come to the park ready to play and the work that they could -- an optical optical out. See that -- third or so earlier they're working on their game and just not hitting areas did you sense and it's station elements. You know trying to be the best and ready to compete every single I don't know it's really fun to watch status that they around the an amount just talk baseball where elements. And you know see him go about the competition nursing -- The one thing that I will really stuck out in the is just the normal thing is just playing in the game the right way. And does not just you know what the -- part you know moving runners over and get him sacrificed our balance. And drive and a runner in from third base and these -- to pride and met and exceeded that's that fine line between winning and losing. It is in some of those -- small detail parts. That's the one thing -- you know when I go back and talking to -- minor -- is that you know don't overlook the little things don't overlook that in theory you know. Prepare and daily to. You know -- situation in our understanding. Your game plan so there is so important and then the next thing is just being consistent with your work. Indian consistently your swing. Through that you can't you know -- you're gonna have some ups and downs and that's if you can stick to some sort. He consistently that and start and and you know continuing. To grow additionally understand or shall -- understand what you're trying to do in the batter's box. In -- competing every day is this something that I want this and Andrea to tomorrow it I ask is are crucial first and so you know. Very good players you know that do that in and -- out. It is really interesting you mentioned fundamentals to think about. You know there was a period where I feel like it was OK to kind of to kind of cut some corners. In terms of execution you know execution of those finer points. But but you know in -- in a run scoring environment where. There's such a scarcity of offense you know where one run is simply -- one run and the third inning can really make -- difference. It really does seem like. From a from an instructional standpoint. You know emphasizing that aspect of the game the ability to kind of advanced the runner. With the ground ball to second really does take on a heightened imports in rather a heightened importance in this era. It is sure and anything a direct sucks this year you know and then there. The job that we wanted to do you know and basically it's one round or you know just looking back I'm sure there's opportunities that we -- You know it took advantage you have to win some of -- it and you know how important just one game can be a -- jokes and then when you move into the playoffs and you know they really -- pitching and you're -- three run Jack you're gonna. You know you gotta get those scoring opportunities but also you know the playoffs there's a lot of wondering gains in -- a lot of you know -- steps we have you know keep -- and are moving a runner over or that you know leadoff double is moving over from second question two outs and it really. You know that with the pitching that we have and you know low score and things that you know it really can make a difference so well the partly to be prepared if they're called upon. You know they're going to be in that situation you know that's what is expected of them. Units to succeed in this in those times in that that really helps when Leno in organizers. Well pretty fascinating time in the system the upper levels are are kind of flush with some guys. Who are right on that costs so a particular interest in time to take us to take stock of this question Tim thanks so much for joining. You're welcome there's a pleasure thanks very. Mr. talk in the. In Europe profound struggle for a players making their way from target to the big leagues. Jackie Bradley junior under -- will meadowbrook -- -- All of their numbers in the big leagues get torpedoed. To the result expect these sorts of struggles from their young players in so why what can they do to aid their players to minimize the transition. To take stock of the questions I sat down with Red Sox bench coach toward the -- to explore the topic starting with this. Two coaches and people -- -- the organization sometimes the -- blowing through the system in forget about those inherent transitional challenges. I think we all do I think there were all generally excited by the amount of prospects type of prospects. We have our system I think we're we're loaded and player development. Has done a great job of promoting these guys. Scouting department is done a great job of getting the right guys come into the system. So you know we cautiously maneuver through that because. As we all know moving forward the big league level that it's a challenge you love this a pretty spectacular place he's the best players in the world and and no matter what you think you're ready -- it is a young player once you get here. This experience little bit different there are some twists and turns are so different roads you just have to prepare yourself for. That you can't quite prepares prepare yourself for the correct way and -- here in learn. And we've seen a lot of our young players to go through some growing pains -- see a lot of real players some great moments. But by and large and like the guys we have here and it's our job to continue to to promote you know from within and get those right guys playing here. I have a hypothesis that there is a bigger to bet that there's a bigger gap now between. Triple in the majors than any other time foreign -- -- think that is because the stuff that we're seeing -- -- -- and -- what -- -- stuff in the big -- -- Would have qualified as outrageous stuff like five to ten years ago. And as we -- increasing velocity across the board guys are challenged him in ways they had before. -- advancement of scouting reports shifts are going to be pretty dramatic in terms of changing. What happens to a test testicle profound when he gets the big leagues. In my book or bad is that their properties. No you're right on your right on and we're trying to close that gap as much as we can between Tripoli and that is we just -- -- he can't quite do it. Bruce -- is now a third working coach. Besides the manager in the touch it to talk about shifts and base running terminology lingo that we have here to prepare him. To bridge that gap once -- here for example yesterday. Daniel Butler struck out on the front door cutter right handed pitcher he came back to dugout he -- never really seen it's like -- in the minor leaks -- your right. The pitchers here at this level the players here at this level are spectacular they are the best in the world. They know how to work they know how to make adjustments and they are attacking guys a little bit differently at this level and just quite -- -- quite. Can't get that experience unless -- here to face up front door cutter. That Daniel Butler saw yesterday. I mean you have playing experience in in the majors that goes back multiple decades you have -- Tripoli coach for. You worry that triple -- manager for a number of years. You've been a Major League manager or coach for a number editors next before it gets back at another it that that'll be -- -- at -- conversation. He is it is it. Different to your eyes that that separation that kind of adjustment the guys are making. Absolutely you know what all kind of go it -- chronological order there when I was a player there was no advance scouting reports. There was one guy was sitting in the stands for a couple days it give you heads up as to what was happening who's hot who's not. There was no that's program we can watch video watch released points and you know we you're just basically as a survival mode as you were a young player trying to get adjusted to the guys that. We're more established now is maintain that players like Lou Whitaker and Al Trammell knew exactly what was coming because they face those guys 6070 times so. That's that's where that the game has changed and there -- transitioning through when I was a coach. Her manager and insistence -- try to prepare the as most -- from middle sample is and is physically. And fund medical -- -- fundamentally they were good enough they -- just have to gain that experience -- -- -- -- -- it is a younger player going in transition into the big league level from a mental standpoint. We want confident young Smart players come here to Boston and when I was to -- and that's that's -- don't try to send the big leagues so. As you as you handle that that Major -- transition from the Major League side not getting -- you know. There's been the rookie development program for number of years that something that you -- party to in Cleveland I I think that the Indians were one of the first organizations actually that gave the Red -- the idea to do this thing. What more is there are there more steps that you guys are trying to attempt by now they can help to ease that transition. Absolutely you know even -- the Major League staff and the front offices currently put together a little. Below programmer will format that we can hand the players that are getting called up to just help them transition in and to be good Major League teammate. Now that's mostly from just the rules standpoint so you know we're always examining -- self examining is is an organization. Throughout not just the -- staff the players that are here but I know the front office in the scouting department were trying to protect -- as fast possible because it is challenged. We know there is some some great and growing pains that these young players go through and we try to do is we want to limit that Beaufort when he. Too -- for rate if we can kind of give some tidbits or some secrets as to what might be coming down the pipe and I think we're doing that very very well. What can stuff makes onto the list. That's fairly private I don't know I don't know if at that'll be for public knowledge that. They'll just little things like how to. You know come up here and in -- it's got to report. Or to just come out here and you work with. With focus and energy because what happens it would these young players find out is that they're not invisible you know these young players come up here and everybody's watching what they're doing with a very -- nine. And would Major League players try to do the young players choose topics -- choose conversations to help them. To bring him along in Ira I -- reform you know myself in a situation where Dave Bergmann who was. Almost at a back -- player -- -- -- truck tires trying to conversations with me. About hitting where I was just confuses what he was talking about but I I now know today that -- is trying to bring me along -- young player so. We're trying to promote that we're trying to promote those conversations daily. With veteran players and young players were trying to promote that time conversation between managers coaches and players and there's just there's just this usual standoff between players. Young players and veterans young players and coaches it takes little while from the gained comfort to have those conversations were trying to protect gap as quickly as possible. It's interesting to think about the number of things that are being thrown at players like because you have all these new tools it's not just that they can be attacked differently. But they have to process a lot of stuff that's different as well. By virtue of that you know. How how it how beneficial is it to measure guys playing time when they make it up here just so that they have. Kind of like maybe play two days it for once have they just have a moment to process. Everything that they're trying to learn this. Well it's a great question I think you're you're spot on with what you're trying to get to that. You know we we take baby sister with guys you know you can -- who knew he vets who has had some success it's it's come a peer perform. -- go back when we need you. Will pitch again in in in you can process what you learn and I think that's just to track record of some successful younger players have come out here. And -- -- were not at least two -- -- he's doing very very good job force but you know it's about him him learning what's happening on a daily basis. And going back down and applying that so he's able through the front door cutter that some of these established big league pitchers to throw. And what we don't wanna do is overload them too much we don't wanna sit there and in making a school setting where we're trying to teach youth. What to do by writing stuff down on board. I don't wanna confuse people who were trying to do we're trying to get the practical experience we need to have them walk here daily and have some of these things whether good or bad. Happen and they learn from. Let's kind of went to see me mention -- for instance because he was a guy who I can only imagine that it was kind of -- in a daily conversation figuring out. How much do we need to play this guy you know he was because he was playing essentially I think that is great about the 2% -- games that -- that he was up in the big leagues for. Which is by by your guys' own description I think that you wanted to get guys most of the young players in games five times a week. You know that's that's clearly a little bit short of that how much do you -- do you guys wrestled with. With that player development in spite of it and making sure that a guy. That a guy does get on the field so that it's not just kind of clinical alert or scholastic setting where he's you know staring at the textbook that doesn't ever get apply. Yeah. Well in movies case it was always extraordinary sit down to sit down and during game that he wasn't planned -- for questions and we all welcome those -- questions he is one of those guys that was bridging that gap quickly. And showing confidence in asking questions. But you're right we wanna have moved to come here sit on the bench he's just too good for that he's got there and teaching -- -- learn -- play the outfield. Teaching you how to a you know figure out is approaching and with which she's doing quickly meet the talk about his aptitude that some that we measures as it's. As an organization is a guy like go out there and hear something and apply something and watch something applies to try something and apply it and keep improving and that's really what this is about for young player so for him to come here and not get that. That game applications just didn't make much sense that's why is that there Tripoli and another thing I wanna make sure that's perfectly crystal clear. One main key point between player development in major league's image that level is about winning we're about winning here player development is about development of young players. Winning kinda gets placed back on the back burner certainly when he could be categorize the type player development but it's not the most important thing. And come here these young players understand the serious this is this is a little boy's game played by men for. For a very good reason and that's very competitive these history that a quickly. Your goal is it's kind of make that transition as fast as possible at this point nonetheless based on some of the stuff we've been discussing about the increased challenge. Of that gap. What are we talking about in terms of of a reasonable transition period to. When when we. And say we know what a guy is is it becoming is is that timetable becoming kind of a long -- it because because there are different challenges that now exists it is bad. Tripoli took Major -- movement. But -- -- very broad question you can kind of you can attack in three or four different ways values and attacked each one -- -- a lot. I mean I can talk about using under Bogart's for example who. Was more than holding his own as young players rookie for the first couple months in the league made -- him and we we all knew we all know that. He got a little little downtime where he sort of make some adjustments who's -- you can see that he started to apply some of the things we've talked about he's gone back and watch video about. From what he's done is successful minor league player he supplied that once again he's kind of back on the up elevator more than qualities holdings -- so. You know with that type of environment without type situation than with -- he showed great aptitude he's shown the ability to make adjustments and come out on the other side of it. You know you can't save the template with. Project too long because. Back to what I said the very beginning of this this interview is -- we have an an overloaded. Player development system with it's creates a very competitive environment. Think competition is part of development and who were the guys that wanna go out there compete. Who with -- with -- guys that are winning players that go out there and be be a tough minded player which takes which takes to play in Boston. And you know if if if you don't do your job. Certain times you will be passed -- so you know it's yet to be seen who were those guys are still wanting. To let young players your development shows what they can do we see some young guys come on the other side but. The -- can get a little bit shorter -- it can happen quickly where some younger players and player development -- are coming -- quickly. Thanks to both -- the lower income higher for joining this week ago. If you'd like to hear the complete interview with both of them -- up a minor details podcast at WTI dot com last putt. As ever -- producers Saturday and bill kept telling. Into all of -- protecting its next week.

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