Former big league third baseman Chris Truby is entering his fifth season as a manager in the Phillies’ developmental ranks. The 39-year-old began his coaching career in 2008 in the Pittsburgh organization after retiring from playing a year earlier. He joined the Phillies in 2009, spending two seasons as the manager for Class A short-season Williamsport prior to managing Class A Lakewood in 2011, then earning another promotion to be the skipper with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers last year.
During his playing days, Truby saw time with Houston, Montreal, Detroit and Tampa Bay. The Indiana native batted .231 with 23 homers and 107 RBI in 263 career big league games.
This week I spoke with Chris about several subjects, among them the Phils’ well regarded third base prospects, how he balances his goals to excel as a coach while helping his players improve and other players on the rise. Read ahead for that full interview.
– You’re a former big league third baseman and you got to manage third baseman Cody Asche for part of his impact season last year. What are your impressions of Cody and what his future could hold?
Cody worked his tail off on both the offensive and defensive side last year. He got better in all facets of the game. He has the desire and the will to be the best player he can be and I believe he will be a very good Major League third baseman.
– Another third baseman that played with Clearwater last year is Harold Martinez. Thoughts on H-Mart and his progress thus far as a pro?
Harold struggled a little once he got to Clearwater but he worked hard as well and finished the season strong. He too improved over the course of the year both offensively and defensively.
– Maikel Franco is a guy I know you’ve seen and coached. He seemed to make loads of progress last year with Lakewood. What do you think of Franco’s potential and the maturing he’s done?
Franco is a very young player that has improved with each year. He had a great second half of the season last year and I look for him to pick up where he left off. He has the ability to be a very good third baseman. For a young player, he is not intimidated by anything and has a great feel for playing third.
– Along with Franco, Kelly Dugan, Gabriel Lino, Ethan Stewart, Gabriel Arias and more of last year’s Lakewood standouts would be expected to climb the ladder and play under you this year. Generally, when there are exciting players at lower levels, are there particular guys that you haven’t coached that you look forward to reaching your level so you can help them develop or see them first hand?
That Lakewood team was young and had some good talent. I am looking forward to working with all of them as they make their way up the system. I haven’t had a chance to work with a number of those players and I am looking forward to getting to Spring Training and seeing these guys.
– Along with Asche, pitcher Kenny Giles was the other guy that really made a name for himself in the Phils system last year, earning a promotion from Lakewood to Clearwater and steadily displaying big time velocity. What are your thoughts on Giles and the impact he made last season? Future for him?
Giles was fun to watch. You just don’t see that type of arm very often. Pure power stuff. As a manager, or anybody watching for that matter, you just sit back and watch and enjoy it. He did a nice job for me last year. He really opened some eyes last year. He has a chance to be a special player.
– Cameron Rupp is a guy you’ve managed at multiple levels. He’s certainly held his own in the minors, but has a couple of more highly touted backstops that are younger than him at higher levels in the system. Thoughts on Cam? And is it possible the depth could be a hindrance to any of these well regarded catching prospects?
Cameron improved as much, if not more, than anybody that I have been around in the last couple of years. He really took charge of the pitching staff last year. He has great leadership capabilities. He learned a lot being around (Threshers coach and former big league catcher) John Mizerock last year. From an offensive standpoint he came into his own as well last year. We have some good young catchers in the organization but Cameron fits right into that mix.
– Lefty pitcher Jesse Biddle has looked great and is widely regarded as the Phils’ top prospect. Thoughts on Biddle and what he did with Clearwater last season?
Biddle has gotten better every year. The biggest area being the developement of his change up. He has become confident in it and is willing to use it at any time. His command of three pitches has gotten better as well. He is ultra competitive and that will help carry him to where he ultimately wants to be.
– First baseman/DH Chris Duffy showed a lot of power last year and looked good in his second trip to Clearwater, after having a weak showing during an early-season stint there. Late last season Franco credited Duffy with being an inspiration on offense. Thoughts on Duffy?
Duffy had a great year in Lakewood and showed some improvement in Clearwater. He can help take a lot of the pressure off the young guys by his presence. The guy can hit.
– When organization execs view you as a big league coaching prospect is that something that makes you feel good and does that impact your outlook? Secondly, of course, managers/coaches in the minors are there to help players grow and improve…how much of a focus by managers for themselves to also be climbing the ladder is okay? Are those focuses easily balanced?
If the organization is happy that means I am doing my job. We all have goals and would like to move up the ladder, but the focus is always on the player. It is a great feeling to see guys that we have worked with have success and move to the next level. That’s what it is all about.
– Did you spent time last fall at with the Florida Instructional League team and, if so, were you able to check out any of last season’s draft picks closely?
I did not attend FIL so I don’t know much about the new young players. I look forward to seeing them in the spring.