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BlueClaws Quotables: DeNato on first pro save, Viza on loss record

Sliding into a key role at the back end of the Class A Lakewood bullpen late in the season, Phillies 19th round draft pick Joe DeNato has notched his first two pro saves in recent days.

Through 22 pro games combined at short-season A level Williamsport and with Lakewood, the Indiana product has tallied a 3-1 record with a 1.78 ERA and a 9.68 K/9 mark.

I spoke with Joe this weekend about his first minor league save, being drafted by the Phillies and more.

-DeNato commented on his initial professional save against Hickory in a 3-0 win in Lakewood on Thursday...

We had the shutout going, so I just really wanted that pitchers' BP, but I mean, I just went out there, knowing that I needed to throw strikes. I kind of struggled with that with the first batter. Luckily, I didn't walk him. He ended up getting on base though, but overall I just wanted to get the job done.

-I asked DeNato if the Phillies were on his radar among teams interested in drafting him after posted a 13-1 record with a 1.82 ERA as a starter in college this year...

The Phillies weren't a surprise. There were about four teams that were contacting me leading up to the draft and the Phillies were one of them. I mean, I was happy to be drafted by them. I'm from San Diego, so honestly I never followed the Phillies that much, but obviously they're my number one team now. Yeah, it's been a good experience.

-DeNato commented on if the transition to the pro ranks was what he expected...

I mean, I didn't really know what to expect. I just tried to go with the flow, you know, just try to do what I can do and do what I'm told. You know, it has worked out so far. I'm just going to keep trying to succeed.

Selected by the Phillies in the 32nd round of the MLB amateur draft last year, Tyler Viza was an under-the-radar prospect, sporting a 1.41 ERA in 12 games last year with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies.

In his first full season of professional baseball, at age 19 this year, the six-foot-three 170-pounder has already set the single season team loss record for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, having dropped 17 of his 21 decisions this year.

I recently spoke with Tyler about his infamous record, his near future and more.

-I asked Viza if it's difficult to stay positive with a record for losses looming...

Not really. Every day's a different day I come out every day with the same mentality with the same goal in mind and that's to give my team the best chance to win as is possible and, unfortunately, this year, it didn't happen as much as I'd hoped or had expectations of. But that's the game of baseball. You win and you lose sometimes and it's just how you deal with it that makes you who you are.

-Viza shared thoughts on the type of feedback he gets from his coaches during rough times...

Sometimes they want to see how you react when things don't go your way and I think that's kind of where they wanted to see where I was. They told me that, coming into the season that I might struggle a little bit coming into this league and, um, they thought that I could handle myself and keep my composure and I thought I did so this year. I took every day one step at a time. You know. That's all you can do.

-Viza spoke of which older teammates had an impact on him this season..

When (Mark Leiter Jr.) was here, his dad and his uncle played in the big leagues and they've given him some mentoring and he was definitely someone I looked up to in a pitching role. We have great players here, great teammates. Knapp was great behind the dish this year. Lino earlier in the year. Mayorga has caught me a couple times, same with Astudillo. You know, I'm really looking forward to coming back next year with a vengeance and really prove what I'm capable of.

-I asked Viza if he feels as though he would be ready to advance upward a level to Clearwater next season...

That's for the coordinators and everybody to decide, but I'll bust my butt in the off-season and try to prove that I do belong there and that I will be ready. But if I come back here, or they send me to Williamsport, or where ever they send me, I'm gonna do my best every day.

I also talked with the BlueClaws' backup catcher Jose Mayorga, who spoke about his season having spent time with Reading and Lakewood.

-Mayorga commented on his year and his role...

Well, I've been feeling good the whole season. I think that has been my job, whether it's here, in Reading, or in Clearwater. I think that's what I have to do to get a chance to get to the big leagues, so I'll keep doing that. If they need me to go tomorrow to go to anyplace I have to go, I'll just keep working hard and see about advancing to the next level next year.

-I asked Mayorga about what he learned when he moved up earlier in the season...

It helps a lot because I spent one week in Reading and it was a good experience because I learned about pitchers who throw better pitches in different counts, where in this level it's not the same. They have better pitchers over there with experience most of all. And I think that's the most important thing- I tried to learn from people that have been playing longer than myself. And it helped.

-Mayorga offered some thoughts on Viza and pushing through all the losses...

I think that he could pitch in other levels. It's not a good year for him, but he's got good stuff, pitching and, well, I have been talking to him and he had a good year last year and this year is the opposite. But, I think that he will make it and he just needs to keep working hard and keep his head up and that's the same as he has been doing. He's had a bad year. It happens. Even in the big leagues, sometimes people are hitting .300 and next year they hit nothing. That's part of baseball.

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