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Chat: Grady Fuson

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday June 10, 2004 11:00 AM ET chat session with Grady Fuson.

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Grady Fuson is the Assistant General Manager of the Texas Rangers.

Grady Fuson: Good morning everyone. Thanks for having me on - sounds like this might be fun...

Rangeressary (Frisco): Has the recent success of Jason Botts sped up any talks of moving Teixiera to the OF?

Grady Fuson: No, Teixeira's anchored in at first. Botts is starting to put some things together, and it certainly puts us in a nice position for the future.

M.J. Hindman (Dallas): Is the reason that Lizahio Baez wasn't assigned to Clinton originally because he was being converted to catcher and do you expect him to split time with Dustin Smith in Stockton?

Grady Fuson: Obviously we had some catching shakeups in the system. THe coverage after the McKinley deal was to get Esposito to 2A. Lizahio will most likely end up in Spokane once we get things figured out with the draft.

Marc (Houston): Grady, Want to give a load of thanks from us Ranger fans for all of the work you put into the draft. I wanted to ask about Karl Herren--what do you see in this kid to make you like him so much?

Grady Fuson: Getting a lot of questions regarding KC Herren, so let me try to address them all... Obviously by the number of comments here, this is an intriguing pick. He's a football kid with a tough mentality that we liken somewhat to Layne Nix coming out of HS. Strong athletic kid with some upside power that has a chance to stay in CF.

Jeremy (Richardson): I'm intrigued with the performance of Ian Kinsler this year coupled with surprising time he spent at major league camp this spring. Give us an update on his progress? Is he a player to be excited about? What is the plan for him in the second half?

Grady Fuson: Ian is definitely off to one of the most dominating seasons that any of us have seen in the minor leagues in a long time, and at this point there's no sign of him slowing down. We'll consider at some point in the near future moving him up in the system. With the number of quality shortstops we have in the system, that's another factor. He came into camp with a gleam in his eye, another 10 lbs of muscle, and has improved in all facets of his game.

Marc (Texas): What players in this draft do you see the Rangers having the most trouble signing?

Grady Fuson: Marc - at this point we don't have any major issues, especially in the top third of the draft. Our 10th rd pick, Justin Maxwell, is a unique case. Going into the year he was considered arguably one of the top college players, but he broke his arm and wasn't able to play. He's a bright kid, college is important to him. He's going to the Cape - we'll scout him this summer and see where it takes us. This could be a potentially big sign for us if the opportunity presents itself, but we won't know until the summer plays itself out.

Adam J. Morris (Houston, Texas): How involved is the scouting director/assistant G.M. in trade talks with other teams? For example, the Rangers made several deals where they got back minor leaguers last season...how much input do you (or any scouting director) have in regards to who the team wants back, and in evaluating whether the trade is worthwhile to make?

Grady Fuson: My role is to assist John in any decision making process that involves deals at the major or minor lg levels. John is ultimately in charge of those decisions, but there are a lot of heads that go into making deals and putting lists together. When you oversee the minor leagues and scouting, you are involved from that standpoint.

m oliver (san angelo): With Kozlowski returning, how has he looked and felt? Also updates on AJ Murray and CJ Wilson.

Grady Fuson: Koz is doing great, he's actually a tad ahead of schedule. He is in Stockton and pitching healthy - no issues at this time. It will take some time for him to build up some arm strength - right now he's pitching at 85-88, and we all know he's capable of more than that when he's 100%. Right now the rehab process is in full swing. AJ Murray is only 3 months post-op, so he is still in the early stages of his process. And CJ Wilson is about a month or two behind Kozlowski.

Texasportsfan (Arlington, texas): What is the timetable on moving Danks up from Clinton?

Grady Fuson: I've always said that there is no time table, especially for young HS pitchers. People need to remember that this is his first full year of pro baseball, and it is a long hard grind. That said, he is pitching somewhat dominant, and we'll certainly consider promotions as we go forward. We always want to be sure these guys are ready mentally as well as physically.

M.J. Hindman (Dallas): Assuming Diamond signs relatively quickly, is there any reason that he could not be assigned to a minor league roster fairly soon (e.g. overworked this spring)? And where do you see him beginning his career?

Grady Fuson: MJ - Haven't decided yet. I'm considering possibly giving him a little time off knowing he threw a lot of innings last summer, and around 100 this spring. We have a full 3 month summer, and I don't want him in a position of overthrowing. We will manage all of the pitchers we bring in for their own safety.

Clint (bend, tx): Is there anyone in the minor league system that is playing under the radar to fans like us, but you have your eye on. (stats not quite there yet?)

Grady Fuson: Good question, Clint. Off the top of my head, Adam Fox is having a solid month and a half, and has really put himself on the radar screen. He struggled a little bit last summer, and even early this season. Now he's put up a month of solid power and tremendous defense. He kind of comes out of the Chris Sabo mold.

zywica (Ft. Worth): Do you have a feel for your Spokane rotation yet, and will you be going back to the tandem starter system in Clinton and Stockton soon?

Grady Fuson: I certainly have an idea of who we'd like to get into the 8-man rotation in Spokane. On the surface, the college guys we drafted will be in Spokane, the HS guys in Arizona, but there could be exceptions. That said, it will be somewhat dictated by how soon we sign certain pitchers... The 8-man in Stockton and Clinton were dismantled for a short period of time because of injuries to Masset, Rupe, Sarmiento being out, and Chavez missing a few starts. With the draft done and having extra guys we like, I see us putting the 8-man back in place by the second half.

Rangeressary (Frisco): Obviously the drafting of Cornell has intrigued many of us considering his upside. From your analysis has his arm recovered, and if so what type of velocity does he currently have?

Grady Fuson: Very unique case. I think we all in the game of baseball have compassion for the injury that Marc endured prior to last year's draft. We've gotten some interesting medicals that lead us to believe there's a chance we can be a part of the rebirth of this kid. I hope he's willing and prepared to take this step in his life to let us try to help him. I think it's important for him to understand that he needs to be involved with professional people in the medical & strength and conditioning fields to get him back to health. I am proud of our medical staff, and the chance for them to get him back on the mound healthy. Our minor league medical coordinator Kevin Harmon can't wait to be part of this kid's future.

Marc (Houston): Has Juan Senreiso put himself on the map the radar screen this year? Do you see him playing at Frisco if he continues to hit like he has this year?

Grady Fuson: Juan has always been blessed with amazing tools, but it's taken some time for him to put some of the instinctive parts of the game and the hitting together. He is the ultimate example of a toolsy player who is somewhat raw developing the instinctive part of their game. You can only imagine what a young Juan Gonzalez or Sammy Sosa went through in their early years in the minor leagues. Make no bones about it - this kid has huge abilities.

zywica (Ft. Worth): Do you expect LaMacchia to be pitching in Spokane (or anywhere else) soon?

Grady Fuson: Marc has not rebounded on his rehab as quickly as we had imagined. That has no bearing on when and where he's prepared to go pitch. The problem with a lot of college guys is they're used to touching a baseball just once a week, on Friday nights, and do very little in between. In our program, where we try to build players for the future, they are touching a baseball 3-4 times a week, and he is not at that point yet. But in his bullpens and simulated games, he certainly looks to be on his way.

Jeremy (Plano): Give us an update on Cain Byrd. What kind of stuff doe's he bring to the table? Has he advanced any in ability since high school?

Grady Fuson: Cain Byrd just finished pitching in the Junior COllege World Series in Grand Junction. We had a short window in which to sign him and that process was a success and he is on his way to Arizona in the next few days. What we liked about him was he's 19 yrs old, 6'3" 190, great frame, velocity from 88-93, pretty good strikethrower, and we're excited to get him going.

Brett (Arlington): What chance do you give yourself of signing Sam Demel? Do you realistically expect to make a run at him?

Grady Fuson: Randy Taylor, our area scout, certainly knows what direction this kid could possibly turn. We know he's signed to go to TCU. I think we'll let the summer play out, get our eyes on him a coupld of more times, and depending on the player's interest and our interest the decision could be made at a later date.

We miss you in Oakland Grady! (Belmont, CA): How did you have so much success when drafting in Oakland? Were you pleased with your draft on Mon./Tues.?

Grady Fuson: It's nice to be missed, thank you. Number one, in Oakland we developed some parameters and a plan as to the type of player we wanted to be part of the A's. We varied off that plan only occassionally. The other part is that we built a scouting staff that bought into our plans and our parameters and we were able to keep the staff together for quite a few years - that's an important facet for a scouting director to have most of the scouts together for a length of time, because you have a better feel for how each scout evaluates and understands the makeups.

Scott (Abilene, Texas): Grady, Buck Showalter was reportedly in the draft room during the early stages of the draft, what did he contribute to your efforts or was he just an interested observer? Have you ever had a manager in the draft room before?

Grady Fuson: Scott, we thought it was great that Buck and his staff were at home and able to come up in the morning. It shows a sign of support and togetherness in the organization. To answer your question, Art Howe used to come up and poke his head in during the meetings along with other coaches, and Tony LaRussa would also stop by and say hi. I'm sure Buck would have liked to stop in last year, but the club was on the road.

Jeremy (Plano): I've been intrigued with Nick Bierbrodt since he shut the Rangers out a few years ago? Do you think he could bea real find? How is his stuff looking?

Grady Fuson: Nick is a former number one pick that has climbed to the higher levels of the games, but has had some issues on and off the field the last couple of years. We believed it was a no-lose proposition to bring him in here with the relationships Buck and Mark Connor have with him from the past. Our coaching staff did some work with him here before sending him out and were very pleased with his progress.

Nathan (Sherman): You mentioned the logjam at SS ahead of Kinsler, if he keeps playing the way he has and forces a promotion, what moves might be made to accomodate him in Stockton?

Grady Fuson: Regarding all of the questions I'm getting about promoting guys... sorry, but I can't tell you everything.

Jeremy (Plano): Who has the best pure stuff at this point inthe Ranger minor leagues?

Grady Fuson: Interesting question - hard to name just one. Some names that come to mind would be Regilio, Rogriguez, Thompson, Danks, Lorenzo, Jimenez, Beltre, Volquez, and Rupe. All of these kids are up to 95 at times with good hard breaking stuff, and for the most part all performing and pitching well.

Neil (Evanston, IL): Grady, What about tandem pitching made it so attractive to you when you first saw it, and why is it a more effective way to bring up young pitchers? Are there any more plans to use it at a higher level?

Grady Fuson: Neil, I got involved in it with some trepidation about eight years ago. After using it, have seen the success that it brings to an organization's pitching department. Number one, it gets guys on the mound more often but with less abuse. It teaches them to come out of the bullpen, as well as starting. Historically, it has decreased by a large degree the amount of serious arm injuries. I believe besides developing these young men, we have a personal accountability to keep them healthy. The young pitching arm is very fragile.

Weaver was a must (Long Beach): The Rangers have long needed a No. 1 starter. Given that...how do you pass on Jered Weaver?

Grady Fuson: How do you - or any of us - know he's a number one starter?

Sean (Boston): Are ya'll still high on Nivar and do you think he has a chance to push Nix over to a corner spot in the future?

Grady Fuson: Do they say "ya'll" in Boston?... Sean, I think at this point Laynce is showing that he has a combination of CF ability and the power that could bring a tad more upside offensively. But Ramon is still highly regarded in this organization as one of our top ML-ready prospects. His speed, athletic ability and life on the diamond is a combination you just don't find very often.

texxasguy (Burleson): I think this "issue" that Buck feels more comfortable in his support level with Hart is a media creation. In my experience as a high school principal you do everything you can to keep and support someone doing a great job (as Buck is)and I suspect you feel the same. Any comment?

Grady Fuson: You're right - I think it is a media creation. Buck and his staff are doing a tremendous job with the change in the direction of this franchise. I think the whole staff, including the front office, has worked hand-in-hand in the progress that this organization has made.

Ranger Fan (Gilmer): What has happened with Matt Lorenzo at Clinton, and do you see Wes Littleton turning things on in Stockton this year?

Grady Fuson: I don't think anything has happened to Matt. You've got to remember that this is his first full season, and he was literally flawless through his first 5-6 outings. He's still competing, and pitching well, it's just his line scores don't look as flawless. Littleton certainly got off to a disappointing start in April and May, but there are many signs that he is starting to put some things together. He has a unique delivery, and when you have a unique delivery there are times early in your career when it's tough to get things working in unison. I know Andy Hawkins is working hard with Wes to clean him up. People need to remember that some of these college guys that dominated in school tend to put a lot of high expectations on themselves early in their careers until they realize they're no longer the big fish in a little pond, and I think Wes could be one of them.

Sean (Boston): I'm a transplanted Texan. Can you give us your thoughts on on some of lower round draft pick pitchers that are having alot of success this year like Narron and Andrews?

Grady Fuson: Sean - we miss you down here.... Obviously a guy like Kam Loe, making the huge jump from A-ball to 2A is holding his own. Adam Fox is playing well. Brian Mattoon, Cody Smith are both very efficient pitchers that throw strikes and get ground balls.

M.J. Hindman (Dallas): Did Herren's public declaration that he wanted to be treated like a 2nd or 3rd rounder have any impact on where you took him or do you think that somone else would have nabbed him soon after you tapped him?

Grady Fuson: MJ - I don't know where the "declaration" came from. We knew that if he didn't go in the top few rounds that football & baseball at the U. of Washington might be an issue. We liked him enough - largely due to the work of Gary McGraw - to consider him at the top of the draft.

Brett (Arlington): How has Vince Sinisi taken to the outfield? We've heard good things through the media. And how do yo feel about his power coming along?

Grady Fuson: Brett, Sinisi has done a tremendous job in LF, learning the position. We've always felt he was athletic enough to go out there, and that has certainly held true. As far as his power, I would have been very pleased if he would have hit somewhere around 10 HR's this year - he's already at 6, and looks like he may surpass our expectations. With all good hitters, performing power is the last skill to come.

Mark (Dallas): Grady: You mentioned the guys hitting 95 mph. How important is hitting 95mph? You have guys like Steven Rowe that can't touch that but still get guys out. Your thoughts please.

Grady Fuson: Mark - good point. Just because one throws 95 doesn't mean he'll be successful in the art of pitching. But when you have that skill, it certainly gives you more room for error.

mark (san angelo): How concerned are you in the offensive struggles of Bourgeois this year?

Grady Fuson: Jason is a young, talented individual who we thought enough of to add him to the roster this winter. The Double-A level of our game is a very difficult level to conquer, and lots of players who perform at A-ball get stuck conquering the Double-A level for a time. It takes some time to get some of these guys over the hump, but remember we have the whole second half - another 70 games and 200 AB's for him to get his legs underneath him.

Jake (TX): In light of the way Oakland's 2001 draft was portrayed in Moneyball, to you feel vindicated when you see where some of those draftees -- guys like Bonderman, Crosby, Cotts, Dan Johnson, Mike Wood -- are now? And have you spoken with Michael Lewis yet?

Grady Fuson: Last question goes to Jake... Number one, no I've never spoken to Michael Lewis. Number two, I don't feel that vindicated is the right word. We always worked together as an organization there, like we do here. That was a team and a unit, no different than it is here in Texas. The only thing that upset me a little was the way the staff was portrayed, and the perception that the job we did do is held with little regard.

Grady Fuson: Thanks for having me. I appreciate all of your interest. It was fun. See you at the yard...


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