"Bernadina is a special talent."
Under Randy Knorr's guidance, the 2005 Savannah Sand Gnats cultivated several young, talented prospects. Some players instantly stood out, others are a sleepers, while others made great strides throughout the season. Randy Knorr told us about all these things and more in an in-depth Q&A session. (Free Preview!)
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CapitolDugout.com: Randy, first of all, which pitcher from your 2005 staff impressed the most?
Randy Knorr: Collin Balester was definitely the most impressive guy on the staff to me. When I saw him, I was like 'this kid is amazing.' He came to me throwing 94-95 MPH. Collin just has a big arm and a great idea of how to pitch. He just has a great attitude for pitching too. He's got that California attitude and it really works to his advantage I think. He gets intense out there but he knows how to put stuff behind him too. I really think he's a special guy. He has a huge future ahead of him. For a guy that young and already that good, the sky is the limit. He was definitely the most impressive to me.
CapitolDugout.com: Moving on to the starting lineup, which of your hitters stood out to you the most?
Randy Knorr: A guy that I like is Devin Ivany. He had a real good year for us and really came a long way I think. He was just a really consistent force and did well behind the plate also. He's got a real nice stroke and puts the ball in play with authority. You know, Trey Webb was another guy who was really good for us. He was a little older, but he was also learning a new position. So, he was dealing with a lot and still hit really well for us. And, while he was with is, Seth Bynum was just tremendous. He struggled with Potomac, but with us, he was outstanding. He was super on offense and defense. Also, Luke Montz has a big bat. If he can continue to learn to take the ball to the opposite field, that will be key for him. He has a ton of power.
CapitolDugout.com: What are your thoughts on Marvin Lowrance?
Randy Knorr: Lowrance is a very polished hitter, definitely. We really think he can be a special player because he has such a good bat. Before he was hurt, we really saw a lot from him. So, hopefully, he can bounce back nicely and pick up where he left off. Right now, the offense looks really good for him and the defense is the only question. We still don't know how he projects defensively. But, his bat looks like it is going to be special.
CapitolDugout.com: If you had to pick out some players from your 2005 squad with a lot of untapped potential, who would you point out?
Randy Knorr: Well, the first guys that immediately stick out in my mind are Rogearvin Bernadina and Edgardo Baez. Both of those guys have potential that is just through the roof. Bernadina is a special talent at the plate and in the outfield. He can do a lot with the bat with his power and speed. But, I would like to see him utilize his speed more. You know, I'm not asking that he lays down bunts all the time and play small ball all the time. He stole a lot of bases for us, but he could really do a lot with his speed. And, Baez has some big power. He could hit the ball out of anywhere when he puts it all together. It is mostly raw power right now. Both of these guys have been highly touted since they were signed. They've both been with Savannah a couple years in a row and we're hoping they've progressed enough to move on now.
The think with guys like Edgardo and Rogearvin, they get in the game and they revert back to how they use to play without much instruction. It isn't that they don't listen because when we practice with the, they can do it. But, sometimes, they are probably thinking that this is their career and they should do it their way. It's only natural. Once they learn to trust what we're teaching them, I think they'll really take off.
CapitolDugout.com: Randy, you mention some of your players' defensive abilities. Which players do you feel may possibly have gold glove type of potential?
Randy Knorr: Well, the first and most obvious one is Ian Desmond. Yes, he has some high error totals that might scare people, but you have to remember that he gets to balls that no one else could think about getting. So, naturally, his errors totals are going to be high. While I had him in Savannah, he looked fantastic at shortstop. Trey Webb, there's another guy who was very impressive. When you can have a converted shortstop playing at second base, you're going to have a guy with some added ability. And, he was just fantastic at second base for us. And, like I said, Bernadina is very capable out in the outfield also. He's got great wheels and he could be an excellent outfielder at the highest level. Another guy I think about defensively is Steve Mortimer. He's a really, really good first baseman. The only thing he needs to do is control his attitude out there. he needs to know he's going to make some errors and he's not going to get a hit every time up. But, he's got a lot to offer. He's a super athlete with great hands.
CapitolDugout.com: Before he went down with an injury, what did you see out of Daryl Thompson?
Randy Knorr: Wow, I forgot to mention him when I was talking about the pitchers. Daryl, he's very good. He was great for us. He got hurt, pitched great, didn't tell anyone at first and still pitched great. He was just amazing. He has tremendous stuff and a great attitude. When he was on, there was no one who was going to touch him. Hopefully, his rehab goes well and he comes back as strong as he looked when he was healthy. He's a great looking young pitcher.
CapitolDugout.com: Randy, are there any other pitchers from your 2005 team in Savannah that you think deserve a mention?
Randy Knorr: Oh yeah. Brett Campbell definitely deserves a lot of credit. He was absolutely lights out when I had him. I know he really struggled when he went to Potomac, but I'd like to think he was just tired. Ricardo Morales also was great for us. he, without a doubt, had the best control on the team. Since he signed, we've been preaching throwing strikes to him. So, he's always on the plate. But, he just needs to learn when he should throw strikes and when he should make a batter chase out on the zone. His stuff is pretty good, but he needs to go out of the zone in a while too.
CapitolDugout.com: Which of your players that you saw for an entire season do you think progressed the most or made the most improvements?
Randy Knorr: I think from a hitting standpoint, Devin Ivany progressed the most. When I first heard about him, I was told that he was a little weak with the bat but he was good on defense. But, I saw him come along way offensively. I have to say I was really pleased with what I saw from him. Trey Webb really came a long way too. For him to move over to second base and do so well was a really impressive. And, until part way through the season, I had no idea he had never played second base before. So, I'd be yelling at him about things and he never said anything about never playing it before. I didn't find out until one of my coach told me he'd never played the position before. So, given that this was his first time playing at second base, he did an outstanding job. With a lot of hard work, he adjusted really well. Ofilio Casto really took off late in the season too. Offensively, he went from really struggling to showing that he could adjust very well by the end of the season.