Prior to the start of the opener Class A Lakewood’s home stand on Wednesday, I sat down with BlueClaws manager Shawn Williams to chat about his club that currently has a 13-13 record and sits in fourth place in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division.
Williams remarked on reigning Sally League player of the week, Rhys Hoskins, exciting outfield prospect Carlos Tocci, outfielder Jiandido Tromp‘s lackluster production and plenty more. Read ahead for that interview.
-First baseman Rhys Hoskins is really posting some excellent numbers of late, 22-for-51 (.431 avg), 4 HR, 12 RBI over last 13 games heading into action on Wednesday. What can you tell me about Rhys and how he’s helping the team?
He’s been swinging the bat, obviously, really well. For me, it seems like every at bat he has, he’s having a quality at bat and that’s all you’re really looking for and can ask for. For me, that’s a huge thing for anybody, especially him. And he had a great road trip. He’s been swinging the bat really well all year. He had some tough luck in the early going and now, obviously with this road trip, he had some balls fall in and he had an excellent road trip and it went extremely well.
–Carlos Tocci is a guy that plenty of people expected to cool off at some point and that’s just not happening. What are your thoughts on the high level of consistency for him?
You said it. The big word for me is consistency. That’s a tribute to him, day in and day out. He’s got his routine that he sticks to and his preparation is outstanding. Offensively and defensively, he brings it everyday. He doesn’t give any at bats away. He always gives you a great at bat. Sometimes it’s almost like with two strikes, that’s when his at bat starts and he’s in there battling and having great at bats and getting his hits, running the bases, getting his bags. He’s off to a great start.
-I’ve noticed Tocci taking considerable time after games, working out with the trainer before he’s available to talk with the media. Is there anyone putting in as much work before and after games as Carlos is?
For me, it’s everybody. They’re all like that, wanting to do more. Sometimes you gotta kind of calm them down a little bit, ’cause you don’t want to wear them out. They have their goals, they want to keep moving up the ladder and get to their ultimate goal of playing in the big leagues. That goes for Tocci, that goes for everybody. They’re all like that. They all want to get better and it’s a compliment to all of them.
-Lefty pitcher Josh Taylor has looked good for you guys and tosses some heat. What can you tell me about his season thus far?
He’s been great, even getting to see him last year in the instructional league. He has a great arm. He has some good secondary stuff. He’s gotten off to a great start and his last game was outstanding. Very good fastball, he threw some very good curve balls and it’s just about applying consistency every time out and wanting to be as good as the time before and just improving on it. And he’s done that.
-You get to have a lot of involvement in these guys’ early development. Is there a type of guy that you have more fun coaching? Maybe the types of guys like Taylor who aren’t drafted and may not be expected to make a huge impact?
Not for me. For me, they’re all the same. I just try to give them guidelines of probably the daily routine and how to go about your day, so you’re prepared for the game, so that you’re ready and can have a good year and keep moving up. The biggest thing I love to see is seeing guys that you’ve had in the past and watching them, over the course of time, getting a lot better, or seeing guys get to the big leagues. It doesn’t matter who it is, as long as they get there it’s pretty cool seeing that.
-Outfielder Jiandido Tromp is a guy that seems to drive excitement among prospect followers when he performs well at short-season Williamsport and then doesn’t show the same output here with Lakewood. He’s not posting very good numbers right now. Is there any level of concern with Tromp?
Not at all for me. He had a very good road trip to get him back, at bats wise, to get him back on track to where, maybe- just like anybody, he had a tough stretch. For him it was early on. He had some at bats on the road trip that I think are going to carry over, and they did the last couple games, where he drove in two big runs for us. For me, he looks a lot like how he did last year where he’s getting back to having good at bats and putting good swings on it and sooner or later he’s going to drive the ball into the gaps and have some home runs. He’s a very dangerous player because he can steal bases. He’s got kind of those five tools you’re looking for, so I am looking forward to him getting going here.
-It seems like each year here there’s someone that opens the season on the bench and performs well enough to work his way into the lineup. Last year it was Willians Astudillo, who ended up chasing the batting title into the season’s final weekend. Is there anyone on this roster that’s forcing your hand to gain more at bats?
The thing I love is that all these guys are playing, even the guys that aren’t playing every day. You’ve got Tim Zier, you’ve got Damek Tomscha, you’ve got Herlis Rodriguez, who I think is third on our team in RBI and he’s probably got half the at bats. It’s a tribute to them and how their preparation is. The three of those guys aren’t necessarily playing every day, but they’re playing a lot, they’re always ready and all three of them have gotten off to a good start and are helping us a lot.