Coach’s Corner is a regular premium piece where we sit down with an Indians minor league coach and delve into the players on their roster and talk about some of the philosophies surrounding the development of players.
This is part two of an in-depth discussion with Akron RubberDucks hitting coach Johnny Narron. For part one, please click here.
Q: And Bobby Bradley, another big power hitter and a guy who also swings and misses a lot. What has made him successful up to this point and what does he need to continue to work on?
JN: Bobby’s done a great job of working on his lower half and balancing his lower half. Another young man who’s worked really hard on getting on time. He is on time now and his lower half is getting to the point where he’s got a good base to hit from. Just utilizing the middle of the field and not trying to get into pull mode. But the kid’s 21 years old. He’s a young, young player and another guy who comes in and is really focused on getting better every day. He’s done a great job of applying this information.
Q: I’ve noticed he hasn’t been swinging and missing as much recently. Is that a part of his game that he’s actively working on?
JN: Yes. His plate discipline is something we’ve worked on and something we work on everyday. The other thing is we work on change of speeds with him, so that he’s set and ready to hit the fastball, but also he’s able to hold his hitting position, let the ball travel to him and get that good swing off.
Q: Tyler Krieger started out his career hitting the cover off the ball last season and it looks like this year he’s facing more of a challenge. What’s his adjustment process to Double-A been like from your perspective?
JN: He’s got a very good plan, he understands what he wants to do and he does a great job of executing it. With all these hitters we’re talking about, you have to remember that this is their first year at Double-A baseball, except for Allen and Papi, but for the most part this is their first year in Double-A and Double-A is a little faster, quicker and better league. So they have to make that adjustment and Krieger understands his swing, he understands his swing sequence and his bat path. So he’s making that adjustment and he’s going to be fine.
Q: And Mark Mathias started the year on the disabled list with a separated shoulder. Now he’s back and playing catch-up. Was it just the late start to the year that has led to his early struggles and now he’s making the adjustment?
JN: He’s making the adjustment and now we’re doing some things to his swing sequence, but he’s very locked in and I’ve already seen those adjustments transition to the game itself. So I’m excited with what’s going to happen with Mark.
Q: Looking at Dorssys Paulino, he came into the organization with a lot of talent and hype, but has experienced a lot of adversity, including injuries and a position change. Where is he right now after all that in your eyes?
JN: He’s a young hitter that has a tremendous amount of potential. He’s still understanding the game and what he needs to do to apply his natural abilities to the game itself to be successful. It’s not been as consistent as we’d want to right now, but it’s starting to show up more and more every day and I’m really excited about what’s going to happen with Dorssys.
Q: There are two guys who are “veterans” in Double-A and that’s Jordan Smith and Joe Sever. Does it help having players with their experience at this level to be leaders for the younger guys?
JN: Yes, in that they understand how you have to calm yourself down and control your at-bats. And that’s the biggest thing they bring here to these young players is showing these players how to maintain their emotional feelings towards each at-bat and they’re able to do that. They give us good at-bats each time they go up there and our young players will be learning from that.
Q: I know Mejia gets all the attention and headlines, but your backup catcher, Eric Haase, has done some good things in his own right and come up big in his limited opportunities. How nice is it to have that kind of guy who can come in cold off the bench and take advantage of his limited opportunities?
JN: He’s a professional, he understands his role and he’s done a great job at that. He’s made some adjustments at the plate and he does a good job behind the plate. Quite frankly, I think this young man is potentially a big-leaguer. I think you’re going to see him in the big leagues because of his professionalism, his approach to the game and his understanding of what one has to do to be successful.
Q: And finally, Luigi Rodriguez has been through a lot over the last calendar year, obviously with the suspension. He’s back with the team now, so what’s your take on him?
JN: Well, obviously he’s only been with the team a short period of time. He’s a very talented young man. He’s got strong hands. He’s got a quick bat. We’re trying to work with him on syncing his lower half with to his upper half. He’s coming along with that really nicely and I think it’s going to work out well for him.
Jake Dungan is the Managing Editor for IBI and a podcast host on the Smoke Signals Network. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JakeDBaseball.