Casto has hit well in Triple-A.
Columbus Hitting Coach Charles “Boots” Day was kind enough to take some time for a Q&A session to discuss why the team has started slowly at the plate, who to keep an eye out for throughout the season, which prospect has the greatest potential, who is major league ready, and much more. (Free Preview!)
CapitolDugout.com: Early into the season, which players have surprised you by either their performance or development at the plate?
Charles “Boots” Day: Number one is Darnell McDonald. He had a terrible spring for a guy that led the league in hits last year. I couldn’t believe the turnaround he had from spring training to now. Tony Batista, Melvin Dorta, and Bernie Castro have all had a great start. We have a couple guys we need to get going such as Larry Broadway and Brandon Harper, but hopefully we can get those guys going and get some runs and key hits when we need them.
CapitolDugout: A guy you don’t hear too much about is Darnell McDonald, who led the league with 157 hits last season with Durham. What are your overall thoughts of him and what should we expect the rest of the season?
Boots Day: Well I am looking forward to him having a very good year. Everything is coming together for him and he has been very consistent.
CapitolDugout: In your opinion, who are the top hitting prospects that we should keep an eye on this season?
Boots Day: We just lost Kory Casto back to the big leagues. He is a natural with a really nice swing. We have to get Broadway, Harper and Dorta going. Darnell McDonald looks like he is coming around. Although they have struggled to an extent, they are the key guys who will knock in runs.
CapitolDugout: Kory Casto, just called back up to the Nationals organization, batted .324 with 4 HR in just ten games with the Clippers. What type of role do you see him fitting in on a big league club and what do you feel are his best attributes thus far?
Boots Day: He uses the whole field, has great power, and knows how to hit. Every at bat, every pitch, he knows exactly what he wants to do. Before games, he is always in the batting cage and always wants to hit. He is a true, pure hitter and you don’t find too many guys like that.
CapitolDugout: Which offensive prospect would you say has the most potential?
Boots Day: Larry Broadway has great potential because he has a good swing. Although he hasn’t figured it out yet, he has been a consistent Triple-A hitter in the past and he knows how to get it done. Right now he is struggling with his approach to the plate but I don’t think it will take too long to come around.
CapitolDugout: As you mentioned, Broadway has struggled this season at the plate following a disappointing showing with the Nationals in spring training. What do you think the future holds for him?
Boots Day: I think he has a bright future but he just needs to straighten things out. He will get it done and he will figure it out. I’m just waiting for it because I know it is going to be big when he puts it together. He’ll end up having a good year.
CapitolDugout: As a team, the Clippers are batting just .228, 13th in the International League. What do you contribute to the slow start at the plate for the team?
Boots Day: You can always say the weather, but you don’t like to make excuses. The weather does have an affect on the performance. The bat doesn’t feel right in your hand or the ball doesn’t feel right in your hand. I think getting out of spring training, we had some guys coming off a good spring while others were still trying to put it together. Usually a player brings it into the season, but unfortunately most of our guys didn’t. We’re looking to get back into the groove and as the weather gets warmer, we are starting to tee it off better and take better at bats. Since some of these guys haven’t played in this league, it will take some time to get acclimated.
CapitolDugout: What things do you work on with these players during a slump? Do you try and change their technique or approach?
Boots Day: You work with them in the batting cage and mention certain things that might help. They don’t necessarily have to follow my instructions because they will bring up stuff themselves that they want to work with and once that happens, you go to their weaknesses. Every day we are in the batting cage and out on the field and we will continue to work on it until we get it right.
CapitolDugout: In your opinion, who do you feel are the guys most prepared for the major leagues at this point?
Boots Day: Right now, the only one to get a call up would be Tony Batista. He has done everything very well. A couple guys are on the brink, but not quite ready yet.
CapitolDugout: Tony Batista, now in his 16th season of professional baseball, currently leads the team in hits and RBI. What have you seen from him that has given him the early success that he’s had?
Boots Day: He is a leader and an experienced veteran. His past situations have helped him for this season. He brings a lot to the club and makes the other guys play harder. He will get on them and remind them what to do and how to do it.
CapitolDugout: Can you give us a personal assessment of the team at the plate thus far and your goals for the rest of the season?
Boots Day: We had a rough start the first ten games, and didn’t do well at all. We are starting to come around and I look forward to these guys to have consistent plate appearances, bring their averages up, hit some home runs, and score more. Once our guys get going, we should do a lot better in the run department and get those clutch hits to help win games.