Tuesday, August 8, 2017

PhoulBallz Interview: Lakewood hitting coach Nelson Prada

Nelson Prada, image- Jay Floyd
Last week, I sat down to chat with the hitting coach for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws Nelson Prada about much of his team's lineup.  Key topics included second baseman and lead-off hitter Daniel Brito, the South Atlantic League's RBI leader first baseman and designated hitter Darick Hall and last year's first overall draft pick outfielder Mickey Moniak, among others. 

The BlueClaws were in the midst of a four-game win streak to start the month and had just beaten division rival Greensboro in walk-off fashion at the time of this discussion.  Read ahead for the full interview.

-Huge win. Brito with a big hit there to win it.  He's had some ups and downs this year.  Can you talk about Brito a bit?

Yeah, I mean, we've been working with Brito honestly to hit the ball the opposite field and he's been pulling some balls through the year.  Even Hagerstown, they shift him sometimes, which is something that's not good for him.  You know, he's a hitter and he's supposed to use the whole field and hitting the way like he did today.  He went to the opposite field today.  He's been good.  In the second half, he's been trying to do that a lot and we've been working with him to use the whole field and he's had good results. 

-Is that the same thing that Hall needs to be doing, working on hitting the other way?  I've seen teams shift him.  That seemed to be where he needed to improve earlier in the season.

Well, I think, you know, with Hall it's a little different.  I really believe that all the hitters, they have to use the whole field, but Hall is, you know, he's a power hitter.  He needs to use the whole field, but not for base hits.  He needs to drive the ball out of the park. You know, to all fields.  He did it already.  Out of 20 home runs, he's got maybe four to the opposite field.  Maybe three or four to center field and then another 12 pulling.  So, I think he's been using the whole field.  Not very consistent, but he's on his plan. 

-Talking about a plan, I am sure Mickey Moniak has had a plan from the start.  With a lot of high expectations for a guy like him, what have you seen from him this season?

I think Mickey is having good success, for a 19-year-old kid.  He's facing a lot of 23, 24-year-old kids from college.  It's not an excuse, but I think the results for me they're really good.  I think he has really good plate discipline, even when he's swinging a little (at) some pitches out of the strike zone now, we had a little conversation the other day.  He's thinking about, maybe, the results.  Being a guy that has been hitting all of his life, you know, he doesn't see the .300 (average) on the board and it's a little in his head.  And he's going out of the strike zone trying to do too much.  And we've had that conversation already.  Maybe like a week ago.  From there he's been good again, taking walks, and he's got a couple hits yesterday and I think two hits the day before.  You know, he-- if we can get him to finish .270, maybe 50 RBI, maybe 8, 10 homers, we'll be good.

-Jesus Alastre has had some success since coming here and maybe can be a guy to add some energy to this club.  Can you comment on him?

Yeah, Alastre, he's a player.  Um, he's a guy that has played already in the Winter League in Venezuela for a little bit.  He got maybe 50 at bats with the big league team over there, so he's got some experience for a young guy.  I think he brings a balance in the (bottom on the lineup).  Marty (Malloy) keeps him down there and he gets hits at the right moment at the bottom of the lineup.  It's not like we bunch the better hitters on top and then you don't have anybody down.  He have him down there hitting .300 and, you know, I think he's a good hitter and he gives us a little experience in the lineup. 

-In recent weeks, maybe the club hasn't scored as many runs as it has in earlier parts of the season.  Is there a big focus on changing that?

Well, we won 40 games in the first half and I think we got hits at the right time.  This team has been pitching well all year.  We got, like I said, we execute well, you know, to score runs.  And in the second half we have-- as the year goes we've been better.  In the first month, we hit .220 as a team.  the second we hit .250, the third we hit 260 as a team.  And then in July we went down again to .230.  But already in August we've (been winning).  So, I think the guys we've been focusing on executing.  That's the Phillie way.  Move the runner, score the run, get the bunt down.  And when you can do all that, you can create runs and that's what we're trying to do right now.


-Another guy I wanted to ask about before I let you go is Austin Listi.  He's joined the club and has seemed to fit in, with a couple teammates from college Darick Hall and David Martinelli on the team as well. 

He's a guy that he fits right in.  He's got a couple guys that he's played with, like you say, D. Hall and Martinelli.  You know, he came and he hit really good the first couple games and then he struggled a little bit the last two games.  He's chasing too many breaking pitches in the dirt.  We gotta work a little bit on being more patient, get your pitches, don't go out there and swing at everything you see.  It's just about plate discipline and having a plan.  He just got here.  He's had a couple good games, he's had a couple bad games and we're going to talk about discipline tomorrow and a plan at the plate.
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