Saturday, May 12, 2018

PhoulBallz Interview: Lakewood manager Marty Malloy on top performers, injured players, more

Marty Malloy, image- Jay Floyd
The Class A Lakewood BlueClaws have a four-game win streak intact entering the weekend.  The team's pitching staff ranks third in the South Atlantic League with a 2.67 staff ERA.  Their offense, however, ranks last in the league with a .221 batting average. 

On Friday, I talked with BlueClaws' manager Marty Malloy about a few of his key pitchers and some of the disappointments at the plate. 

Prospect discussed include standout starters Will Stewart and Ramon Rosso as well as closer Addison Russ.  Position players Gregori Rivero and Daniel Brito were topics of discussion as were injured offensive contributors Jhailyn Ortiz, Simon Muzziotti and Cole Stobbe. 

Read ahead for my full interview with Malloy. 


-Left-hander Will Stewart is off to a great start with the team.  He's 20 years old and has a 4-0 record with a 1.46 ERA through six starts.  What can you share about how outstanding he has been?

All his starts have been quality.  And then obviously with the last outing, he was really, really good.  Eight solid.  Shut out.  Good change.  Good mix, making pitches when he has to.  Keeping batters off balance.  You know, obviously he's 4-0 and there's a reason behind that.

-Righty Ramon Rosso (21 years old) has looked just as good.  He's 1-0 with a 1.10 ERA in his six games.  What's been the key for him?

I just think he's attacking hitters, the same as Will.  When he needs to spin one, he spins it.  The guys are off-balance, he makes pitches, he's ahead in the counts.  He's not pitching from behind.

-Addison Russ has been exceptional out of the bullpen.  Thoughts on him?
 

You know, obviously, he's got the split that is the big equalizer, right now.  He's got a plus fastball.  I think he's up to 95 with it.  Like I said, he's able to go to the split for a strikeout when he needs it, but he's also getting ahead with his fastball and he's making pitches when he has to in the tough times of the game when it's on the line. 

-Is there anyone else on this pitching staff that's been standing out for you?

I think they've all been good.  You know, we're three games over .500.  We may not have swung the bats as well as we can or have expected thus far, but our starters have been really, really good.  Giving us quality starts, keeping us in the game, giving us opportunities to get to the latter part of the game and we've been successful for the most part.


Jhailyn Ortiz, image- Jay Floyd
-You mentioned the lineup not producing up to expectations and there are a few guys that we expected to be in the everyday lineup that are sidelined with injuries.  One of those guys is Jhailyn Ortiz.  Do you have any updates on him?

He's got a bruised shoulder.  I look for him to be back any day now.  I don't know the exact time frame, but it's something that's got him down in Florida, getting AB's (with the extended spring training team).  He's just taking care of what needs to be taken care of and he'll be back here in the near future.

-What things did you see from Ortiz earlier in the season before he was injured?

He's a big power guy that can play.  He's a big guy that can play right field.  He's got a plus arm.  He's got plus power and it's the matter getting him back, getting him healthy and getting him going.

-Simon Muzziotti was another guy that was injured and is not longer in the lineup.  What's his situation?

Well, he broke a finger on a bunt situation.  That ball ran in on him and hit him.  He's several weeks out, but he'll be down in Florida getting prepared to get back here.  He was off to a hot start, playing unbelievable in center field and giving us a threat in the lead-off spot.  But he'll be back.  He'll be fine. 

-Stobbe's another guy that's missing due to injury.  What can you share on him?

Well, he's a guy that had a strained (hamstring) and he's in Florida as well.  You know, obviously, we hadn't had the best weather unfortunately, so he's down in Florida in the sunshine and he's doing the same thing; rehabbing, just getting prepared to come back and be ready to go and finish the season.

-Brito was on this team for you last year and his early stats in 2017 were pretty standout, but not so much this year.  Just talk about his season so far?

I'm not worried about his numbers right now.  He's still doing the work he needs to do every day to get ready for the game.  It's a long season.  You know, a lot can happen between now and the end.  He's given us quality work, played quality defense.  He's just got off to a slow start.  I can't pinpoint just one thing.  He's still giving us AB's.  He's still in the game.  Doing everything that's asked of him and we'll look for good things from him in the future.

-Catcher Gregori Rivero's been pretty hot.  I see you're figuring out ways to keep him in the lineup each day, whether it's using him at first base or as DH.  What have you seen from him this year?

Obviously, he's giving us solid AB's.  He can catch, he can play first.  If something were to happen, he could go play other positions, if need be.  But we've got 25 guys on this roster.  They're all going to get an opportunity.  They're all going to get to play, but he's made those most of his opportunities and he's doing a nice job.

-The roster's a long list and I don't want to keep you too long, but is there anybody else on the team that has meant a lot to the group's success so far?

I think all of them.  We're in this thing together.  Some guys may be off to a quicker start than others.  It's a learning experience for all these guys.  Most of these guys are first year guys.  It's a daily grind.  It's a process, a journey, whatever you want to call it.  We've had a tough schedule so far.  Not to make any excuses, 'cause we don't do that here, but in one stretch (we played) 15 out of 18 on the road and that's new for these kids and they're just having to experience it, learn from it and get better every day. 
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