Recently, I caught up with the Phillies’ director of player development Joe Jordan to discuss several key subjects throughout the minor leagues. Jordan, who took over his current role following the 2011 season, commented on pitching prospects Adam Morgan and Ricardo Pinto as well as outfielders Cord Sandberg, Roman Quinn, Cam Perkins and Aaron Altherr along with catcher Tommy Joseph. Also a topic of discussion is the realignment of some minor league coaches this year plus field coordinator Doug Mansolino.
Read ahead for the comments from Jordan and click here for his exclusive injury updates from last week.
–Adam Morgan (0-1, 5.00 ERA in two starts) is back in action at the Triple-A level for the IronPigs. What’s the outlook for Adam right now?
Adam had a good camp. He just progressed all the way. We got him built up there at the end, so he was ready to go to Lehigh. Adam looks good, you know. He’s fine. He just needs to pitch. He needs to compete. He hasn’t been able to do that for a while. He got his feet wet in the fall league a little bit, which is what he needed. But, he had a good spring training and he just really needs to continue to get mound time, for me. His execution (in his first start) in Lehigh wasn’t very good, but the weather wasn’t very good. But, he’s fine. He just needs to get out and compete.
-I talked with Lehigh Valley pitching coach Ray Burris last week and he asserted that Adam’s shoulder injury, which needed surgery, resulted from his mechanics and Ray saw it coming. Is it common that this sort of thing is noticed well in advance and it ends up with such a negative result anyway?
I think a lot of times what happens- yeah, we try to identify things early that we feel might become a problem. Now, if a pitcher’s having success, sometimes they’re not real open to change. You know, they’re being successful and things are going well and, so there are opportunities maybe after a guy is hurt for them to be a little more receptive. You know, this is going to happen again unless we can adjust a couple things.
So, it’s an ongoing process with Adam. Because, you know, he’s done things a certain way for a long time and there are some lower half things that he can do and he’s capable of doing that will help him stay healthy.
It’s just, you just have to keep grinding away at it. It’s hard because he was so successful. You know, he was 10 days away from the big leagues when he got hurt, so it’s hard to address those kind of things when guys are having success and winning.
-Is Morgan’s ceiling still the same as it was prior to the injury?
He’s going to be a major league pitcher. You bet!
-I’ve begun to hear great things about Class A Lakewood starter Ricardo Pinto from his coaches. What are your thoughts on him right now?
I think the world of him. He’s a great talent. He’s a young guy who really has a business-like approach to what he does. He’s very competitive. He’ll stand up for his teammates. He’s got as good of a right-handed change up as we have in our system. I like him. We’ve just got to get some good weather and let him do what he does, but he’s got a chance to be a good piece for us, going down the road.
-Outfielder Cord Sandberg was selected in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft but hasn’t busted out quite yet. Coaches say he’s looked at as a leader, even at 20 years old. What can you tell me about Cord?
Cord is a guy that’s starting to figure himself out as a baseball player right now. He’s a dual sport guy, signed to go play football out of high school. He’s got a good presence about him. He’s a confident player. He’s got a long ways to go, as a player, but I just think the way he carried himself, the way he goes about his work, you know, there’s intangible qualities that he has. Players notice. And I think it does impact whatever club that he’s on. He goes about it the right way and guys pay attention.
–Roman Quinn is off to an excellent start for Double-A Reading. He initially had a rough time adapting to the pro ranks while trying to learn to switch-hit and learning to play shortstop. He seems more comfortable after a switch to the outfield and has things progressing at a terrific pace now.
I mean, everything’s going great with Quinny. He’s really starting to understand what kind of player he is what his potential is. I think going to the fall league was a great experience for him because he’s able to look around and match himself up ability-wise with some of the best prospects in the game. And Roman is in a very good place, a very confident player right now. And I think the position switch was a part of it and the fact that he’s becoming so much more confident and comfortable as a left-handed hitter. You know, he had a full plate when he became a professional. He had to learn to play shortstop and learn to switch hit and I’m sure it was overwhelming, but he’s gotten comfortable with the offensive part of it and I think he’s very comfortable back in center field. And, listen…he’s got a chance to be a big piece for us. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing (and) he’s got a chance to be a very good player.
-I recall last time you and I spoke you mentioned a desire for some of the Phils’ upper level outfield prospects to step up. Cam Perkins was one..he started slow at Reading this year after time in Lehigh Valley last year. Altherr, who got a cup of coffee in the bigs last year, was another. What have you been seeing from those guys?
I think as far as Perk goes, I don’t think he’s forgotten how to hit, but we’ve got to get him on track because he’s a good hitter. The experience at Triple-A set him back. I think it’s fair to say that. But, I think he gained from it, but he’s off to a slow start…Perk will be fine. He hasn’t forgotten how to hit. He can still hit. He just needs to have a good night or two to get going.
Altherr is back. He’s healthy. Both those guys have a great opportunity. There’s opportunity for guys in the outfield in our organization. So, I think both those guys are going to play into our future.
-I spoke with IronPigs catcher Tommy Joseph recently and he’s finally back healthy after some injury issues. He’s always positive even when there may not be a lot to be positive about. What can he do to get back on top of his game?
Tommy just needs to play. I just (saw that club). He really hasn’t found his groove at the plate. He did a fine job behind the plate, but he’s swinging at a lot of pitches that he won’t swing at once he gets locked in. He’s expanded his zone a little bit, but he just needs at bats. He missed so much time competing, so he just needs to play.
-Are there any guys in extended spring training that you think will get some time on a full season club this year?
There’s several guys down there (that could), if we have needs. There’s Scott Harris, whether it’s (Alejandro) Arteaga, whether it’s (Yacksel) Rios, both of those guys were (in Lakewood) last summer. You know, there are other guys. I feel like there are some answers down there, if we have needs (in Lakewood) we’ll be able to address on the mound especially. Position player wise, we have a handful of guys. Gustavo Martinez is an outfielder that we really like. Carlos Duran is another one. Two Venezuelan kids that, really, we didn’t have spot for them and they’re getting innings and getting at bats down there. We’ve got answers in Florida, if we need them.
-What goes into deciding any coaching reassignments each year? It’s known you’re in charge of the players, but what about the coaches?
It’s my call as far as where guys go and I have a lot of feedback from my staff. You know, Doug Mansolino, my field coordinator, he and I really the two of us together put together the staff assignments and where guys need to go. We do evaluations at the end of the year and so much of this- especially when guys’…roles change, it’s a lot of times about where each guy is going to fit best based on the personnel that we’re going to have on each club. It’s always a challenge at (Class A) to have the right coach, especially a bilingual coach, because you always have that flavor here. Whether it’s (Tocci), Canello, (Tromp), Cumana, and obviously the American players. We just feel like it’s a challenge and we just felt like, going forward, that’s the role that we wanted Nelson (Prada) in and he’s done that. He’s been a hitting coach for many, many years. He does it every winter in Venezuela. And Shawn (Williams) was with Williamsport last year and we felt like this is a good challenge for him when we promoted and sent (Greg Legg) to Clearwater. We kind of wanted (Legg) to go with that group that he had last year (in Lakewood).
Some things just fall into place, but sometimes for different reasons. And, so, I’ve got my rovers that I lean on, but really “Manso” and I are kind of the two that collectively get together and decide where we feel like that staff fits the best. Most of the time it’s just based on the roster and the challenge for the staff as well.
-I’ve heard many great things about Doug Mansolino, who is in his 30th year as a coach, from veteran players and coaches that have been around, all the way down to J.P. Crawford, who’s really on his way up. What is it about Doug that makes him so valued?
There’s not a more important staff member in our player development department than Mansolino, than Doug. You know, we’re in the business of developing players, but we’re also in the business of developing staff and he gets that. He’s about all of it, whether it’s about the players, the staff, the coaches, managers, these guys really, really lean on him. His responsibilities are anything that happens on the field. He’s responsible for every coach, every player plan, everything. And, so he has a big job. We’re very fortunate to have him. He is as good a baseball guy as I’ve ever been around and he’s passionate, he’s a teacher. He gets it. He gets it. And he turned down a major league job to return to this job last winter. The Texas Rangers tried to hire him away from us and it didn’t work out and we’re fortunate to have him.
-Do you have any sort of inside angle to share about why Doug chose to stay around?
He just couldn’t- he was gonna miss me too much.