Abe Flores: The AAA bullpen, evaluating players and more

HH: The guys who were promoted over the last two weeks: Mike Kohn, Ryan Aldridge, Amalio Diaz. They all seem like they could help out at the MLB level.  Who do you think has the best shot at having an impact in the majors?

ABE FLORES - I think they all have a chance to be major league pitchers. I want to see how they react to this level [AAA]. They all have a chance... With their ability, once again, to show fastball command, secondary stuff command, action on that [secondary] pitch. That's what will separate them. Guys just don't chase here [in AAA] as frequently... Now you're going to walk them. They're just more patient up here. If you make mistakes, they punish you... You can't feast on the bottom of a lineup, because those guys can hurt you too.

HH: How about Ryan Aldridge? I'd read that he used to throw in the mid-90's before the string of arm injuries. Is he back up to that? 

ABE FLORES - He's back up to that. Impressive guy. Two pitch guy, fastball/slider. Two plus pitches, aggressive.

HH: I've heard Aldridge's slider is in the upper 80's. Is that correct?

ABE FLORES - Ryan Aldridge is not upper 80's. 78-82. He has good action on it. He can make guys chase with it if he sets it up.

HH: And Amalio Diaz? What kind of stuff does he bring to the table?

ABE FLORES - Fastball/slider guy also.

HH: Stepping back to the big picture. This year the MLB bullpen is off to a bit of a rocky start, and it's more expensive than it's been in years past. Can you give us an idea of what the strategy is, the short term strategy and the long term strategy, for rectifying that situation?

ABE FLORES - I'm not involved with the major league club. Just the minors. So you'd have to direct that question to Tony.

HH: I guess the answer to that question is obvious in terms of long-term strategy...

ABE FLORES - Yeah, the long-term strategy is always our home-grown guys. They go up there, and they contribute to that club. That's always the long-term strategy. We can create the funnel of players up to there that help us succeed at the major league level - that's always long term. And short term.

HH: Do you think the organization is going to get more conservative with managing that funnel, out of need?  Some arms that have left the system over the last couple of years, Darren O'Day, Alex Torres via trade last year, and then before that there was Bobby Jenks, Kevin Greggs, Jose Arredondo - do you think that the organization is going to be more conservative with its arms in the future?

ABE FLORES - No. I wouldn't even say it as that question. I would just say, all situations are different. We handle it case by case. One was a trade.  One we didn't take back. So it depends on the situation.  I don't consider it a question of being conservative. Do we thoroughly evaluate our players? Absolutely. Are we constantly reviewing what we have in the system? Always. Obsessively compulsively.

HH: Have the metrics by which you evaluate players changed at all?

ABE FLORES - No... It's not something that's new...The growing pains that our young players go through... it's about knowing mentally that they belong up there [at the next level]. They have the physical ability; it's mentally, can they break through and know that they belong up there? That they can compete and win up there?  That's the bridge...

HH: Do you find yourself, in your role, using new tools to check in on, and evaluate players? I know pitch f/x has changed the way that amateurs study the game of baseball at the major league level, is there something comparable in the minor leagues?

ABE FLORES - Something that's been around for a while and that we just adopted with the Angels is "Inside Edge."  It's another teaching tool: it basically charts all of our pitchers' pitches, also all of our hitters' at-bats, and the different kinds of pitches they see. You can print these out nightly, and you can get different kinds of reports which let you know the effectiveness of their stuff, or the effectiveness of their at-bats, their hot zones, their cold zones.  You can go on and on and on.

HH: Do you think that this tool is going to change the way you evaluate players substantially?

ABE FLORES - No, I think it's the least.... I think there's no way around physically evaluating - I think there comes a point where, you have to trust your staff's evaluation, because they're around those players every day. I think you need to physically see these players yourself with your own eyes. There's a statistical element to it. Knowing your players' makeup, and skill set, and tool set. 

HH: Do you have a formal role in the draft process?

ABE FLORES - I do not have a formal role in the draft. I have a shopping list of needs to fill out rosters, so that we can actually put teams out on the field when we start short season. That's what I care about.  Those guys do a great job, I have complete confidence that they're going to pick some tremendous players who can help our system out up to the major league level.  They also do a great job of picking really good organizational players that develop our prospects.  With us, with the Angels, we develop through winning.  They're going to always bring high caliber guys to the table.

HH: Are there curfews, or chaperone situations, at the lower levels?

ABE FLORES - There are curfews at the lower levels. Chaperones - they stay with host families at the A-Ball level.

HH: The immigration bill in Arizona - could that effect our younger Latino players? Are they getting coached or prepped for what they need to do to abide by that new law?

ABE FLORES - It's not going to affect our younger players. Each player at any level is required to have a couple pieces of ID. We give all of our younger Latin players Arizona ID cards, they should all have three numbers in their cell phone - my cell, their manager's cell, and the complex director's cell.  If they're in Arizona they have three contact numbers for redundancy's sake so that we can all verify the player's employment with the Angels. We have no concerns.

Again, thanks to Abe Flores for his time and insight. 

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