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Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A short interview with Mark Newman

At the halfway point, what are your evaluations of Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott and Ramon Flores?

They’re all doing less than we’d hoped, less than what they’d hoped, but they’re all two years younger than the average age of the league. It’s not a big deal for us.

Given that, then you must have been pretty pleased with what J.R. was doing before you bumped him up.

It was also his second year here. If you look at Zoilo Almonte, Brett Gardner, Chien-Ming Wang, sometimes it takes a second run through the league for them to perform the way we expect. We’re really interested in how they do in the second half.  That gives us a better indication to how well they’ve adjusted to the league than the first half.

Are you seeing improvement from those three as the year has gone on?

I think so. I think they’ve gotten better. There’s some internal measures we use that we don’t talk about. They’re proprietary. But we think over the course of the year – certainly in Heathcott’s case, he started slow and has gotten better. Tyler Austin started slow, he’s gotten better. Ramon Flores has impacted the ball – we like all three of them.

Has this year been especially trying for you, with all of the injuries at the big league level? Have you moved guys faster because of it?

No. We don’t do that. They need to move when their development dictates. … We can’t let a misfortune at the major league level panic us into doing what we shouldn’t do with a player. To me, that compounds the problem and doesn’t do much for us long term.

So J.R. would have gone up at the same time no matter what?

Absolutely. We’d been talking about moving him for a month and a half before we moved him. That had nothing to do with that.

Have you continued to see improvements in his defensive game?

He’s done well. This has been a three- or four-year project. He’s made steps along the way, so he’s doing well.

What’d you see that caused you to bump Jose Ramirez up when you did?

Basically his performance here. We’ll see how he does there. He hasn’t been particularly good there yet.

Where are we at with Sanchez and getting him here?

Right now he’s got things he’s working on there.

Anybody here who has surprised you this year?

Kyle Roller’s done very well. He’s probably exceeded expectations. Tommy Kahnle’s done very well. The rest of them … not disappointing. They’re OK. They’re not there yet.

What about Turley? Where’s he running into trouble?

Well he didn’t last game. He was throwing strikes and commanding his fastball. And when he does that, he’s good.

Where else throughout the system have you seen pleasant surprises?

Shane Greene is here now. Rafael DePaula, he’s never played (in the States) and he threw five shutout innings yesterday in A-Ball. Carmen Angelini had been out two years and was hitting over .300 in Tampa and is here now, so that’s been a plus. Zoilo. Murphy has made a leap forward offensively.

A kid named Dietrich Enns. He was a reliever when we signed him, and he had to pitch two innings, then three innings, because of circumstance and he kept doing well so he became a starter. And he’s done well. He’s had one start in the Florida State League, and that was good. That just happened. Things aren’t all the result of long-range planning.

What are you looking for out of Pineda tomorrow?

Strikes and continued improvement of his command. His stuff has gradually improved. Command, control, hope he uses his change-up a little bit. It’s coming along for him. He’s been good. He got up to 96 his last time out. That’s not going to be all of it. If he’s pitching at 92-93, he’s around the plate, that’s good.

Is the whole Pineda situation frustrating for you guys, or is it a blessing in disguise to be able to get him into your system for a while before unleashing him?

He was a pretty good pitcher before he got hurt. When we traded for him, he was an all-star.

The other guy in that trade, Jose Campos, how is he coming along?

Um, OK. Normal progress. We’re not unhappy with it.

Would you expect DePaula to be here at some point, or is he at High-A to end the year?

Don’t know. I could tell you he’s there to stay all year, but if he throws three no-hitters in a row we’d probably move him.

More than one Pineda start with the Thunder?

We’re going to look at this start and then talk to Cash and we’ll see. We’re going to evaluate the performance and decide. We’re not big on timetables. Around 80 pitches, 6 innings.

ETA for Eric Jagielo to start?
Around a week.


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