This past week I spoke with Class A Lakewood manager Shawn Williams and the team’s pitching coach Aaron Fultz. Below are interview excerpts from both men as we check in on a few familiar names like catching prospect Deivi Grullon, this year’s second round draft choice Scott Kingery as well as 2012 first round pick Shane Watson, plus more.
–Catcher Deivi Grullon has had some ups and downs at the plate this year. Has he made solid progress and are you pleased with his seeason?
I am pleased. I know the numbers aren’t there offensively, but he’s had some tough luck, he’s had some tough outs. But, for me, more importantly, he’s finishing the season strong. His RBI’s and power numbers have come here lately. He’s gotten better, he’s having better at bats, but more importantly for a catcher, that comes first. He’s done an outstanding job all year. He’s done an outstanding job. He’s learning a lot. For me, he’s grown up a lot. He’s getting better with the English language, things that are helping him. He’s got one of the most important characteristics as a catcher- he’s a leader. He’s one of those guys that everybody goes to, a like-able guy in the clubhouse and he’s been huge for our pitching staff.
-A pair of names that fans would be familiar with on this team are early round draft picks from this year Scott Kingery and Kyle Martin. What have you seen from those guys since they joined the team a couple months ago?
Both of them are very good ballplayers and they are baseball players.
Kingery- very impressive defensively at second, all around player. But he can really turn a double play, he can run, he looks very hitterish in the box, he puts together good at bats. For me, he’s had a very good year with us, for the first year in and playing every day. He shows up ready to play every day. He’s a gamer and he’s got the tools there too that are impressive.
And Martin, another guy that can swing the bat, good defensively, a very good base runner, very smart, he can steal a base, good instincts. Both of them are guys that have instincts, which are hard to teach. They have them and they’ve really helped our club here in the second half.
-Shane Watson has made about 10 starts since his return from a second shoulder surgery. I know he has shown some good velocity. What have you seen with that from him?
Up and down I guess. It’s about what you would expect when coming back from missing two years. He’s shown flashes of “Wow, that’s pretty impressive!” And he’s shown flashes of, “Oh, he hasn’t pitched in a while.” It’s what you expect. It’s like I told him, the only thing I want you to do is finish this year healthy and it’s a plus. Obviously, the stuff is going to be there once he gets back 100-percent, so just finish this year healthy and see where it goes.
-Are there guys on this team that could be competing at the next level?
I think we’ve got several people that, can compete at the next level. But the thing about this is as well as Clearwater’s playing, you know, their pitching’s doing pretty good, they’re hitting, they’ve got a good team. As far as going to the next level, there’s just not a spot to go in. I would expect a lot of our guys to have a chance to move up next year, but with the trades (adding depth) and the way things are going, there’s not a lot of spots up there.
-Which members of your current staff could fill spots in the rotation at the next level up, with the Clearwater Threshers, next year?
I think you could make a case for four or five of my guys out of the six. (Elniery) Garcia’s been solid all year. He’s grown a lot. Viza and Casimiro, Watson, of course. As long as he’s healthy. I mean, Austin Davis has done an awesome job and then you look at Will’s numbers. Morris is five or six and 0 with a (1.41 ERA). I think it’s going to be a battle. It’s where we want to be as an organization to where we want to get a lot more depth than we have had to where it’s going to be a fight to see who goes.
-And that’s a good thing?
That’s a great thing!