An electronic conversation with Mark Newman
Here are my questions and his answers:
Q: Obviously Brandon Laird has been hotter this season than just about anyone could have expected. After seeing him this weekend, and looking at his overall season, what do you think he needs to improve to get him to the next level?
A: Brandon needs to continue his growth as a player in a general sense. While there is no specific need, he needs to refine his approach at the plate and on defense. These are the subtleties of the game and involve adapting to various game situations and pitcher hitter match-ups.
Q: What are your overall impressions on the seasons of Phelps and Romine? Have they hit the expectations you and the organization had for them before the season? With Romine, I'm especially curious about how the organization views his defensive season (I've noticed Mosquera at Waterfront quite a bit.)
A: Phelps and Romine are both on track. Romine will be a very good defensive catcher at the ML level. He will also be a force with the bat. A really good looking young player. Phelps has met or exceeded all of our expectations.
Q: Shifting away from Trenton, you guys have to be ecstatic with the way Betances has responded after surgery. I know it's only four starts, but if he keeps performing like this (or anywhere close, frankly), could we see him with the Thunder toward season's end/playoff time?
A: Betances will be in Tampa. He is only 10 months out of surgery. He will go slow for the near future.
Q: Sticking with Tampa, the rotation down there has been outstanding all season long. Particularly intriguing is Graham Stoneburner, whom I got to see with Charleston earlier this year. Obviously the hard fastball is one of his strengths, and slider is improving. How much more work does the slider need before it's up to the standards the organization would like to see?
A: Stoneburner is making very solid progress with the SL. He should be in Trenton next year. This is his first full professional season and he has already been promoted once this year.
Q: I believe you mentioned to my colleague that David Adams' latest setback on his ankle sprain could cost a few more weeks of rehab. If that is the case, is there a promotion for Corban Joseph in the near future?
A: Adams had a tough injury and he will need a few more weeks. He is a tough guy and a great worker. He will be ready as soon as humanly possible.
Q: It seems that Manny Banuelos is close to returning to action after the long recovery from the appendectomy. What plans are there for his workload the rest of the way as far as getting him up to an appropriate innings load is concerned? Might fall/winter ball be an option?
A: Banuelos will get regular work for the remaining portion of the season. His arm is fine. Appendectomy.
Q: Moving down the ladder a little bit, what are the plans for Slade Heathcott and J.R. Murphy this season. Will they stay at Charleston all season, or might they wind up in Staten Island?
A: Heathcott and Murphy will stay with Charleston.
Q: Speaking of Staten Island, what kind of progress is the organization looking for from Kelvin De Leon in his first season out of rookie ball?
A: DeLeon needs to make contact and allow the plus power to play.
Q: Last one, are there any thoughts to bringing Christian Garcia back into the fold once he completes his latest rehab?
A: Garcia is no longer with the organization and who knows what the future holds. He has had several tough injuries and it is a shame that we have not gotten a chance to see the ability on a regular basis. A good guy with big ability and some very bad luck. We all hope he gets through this and gets to play again.