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September 17, 2007 at 10:15 PM

Q&A with Spinners Broadcaster Mike Demos

Lowell Spinners broadcaster Mike Demos has agreed to do a series of Question and Answer segments with SoxProspects.com moderator Jonathan Singer. Here is the final installment for 2007:

JS: Who is the most exciting player you’ve seen this season on the Spinners?

MD: As far as excitement goes, nobody comes close to Ryan Kalish. Even though we only got a glimpse of him for less than a month, Kalish's impact was huge. He is one of few players who when he comes to bat, you expect something special to happen and if you are an opposing pitcher you are better off throwing strikes to him because if you walk him its an automatic double. Hopefully Kalish will recover well from his injury and if he does so he most certainly is on the fast track to Boston and someone who could be up for a cup of coffee as early as 2009.

JS: Who is the most exciting player you’ve seen on an opposing team this season?

MD: That is alot harder to tell. The league was very balanced this year and there are alot of players around the league who were outstanding and likely will be impact players at the next level. The one player who was most dominant perhaps, although we only saw him for three games, was Todd Martin of Mahoning Valley. He's one of those guys who reminds you a little bit of Vladimir Guerrero in his approach at the plate. You throw a strike and he's going to crush it. You throw him a ball, he'll crush that too. Basically you have to throw it in the dirt if you want to get him out. If I am not mistaken, he was a very late round if not undrafted player, so for him to be amongst the league leaders this year as well as dominant as he was makes it a great story.

JS: What was the most memorable moment/experience/game/play you had this season?

MD: Nothing can ever top the Futures at Fenway game back in mid August. Just the experience for everyone of getting to play there first of all and second of all the fact that the Spinners came back to tie the game in the 8th and then win on a walk off in the 9th will stand paramount in my mind. Many times this year I spoke with others around the team and we reminisced on all the great moments and big wins this year, but it all came back to Fenway.

JS: Which Spinners player showed the most improvement throughout the season?

MD: Hands down Willy Mota. At the beginning of the year he was still learning how to pitch after being converted from an outfielder and while his fastball topped out in the mid 90s he had trouble throwing it for strikes and the only secondary pitch he threw, a slider, often times did not have much bite and stayed up in the zone. But as the year went on he learned how to consistently throw strikes with his fastball and also work his slider in well and did not give up a run over the final month and a half of the season. That alone speaks volumes of Mota who only one year ago was roaming the outfield for the Spinners.

JS: Which player that no one talks about will have a nice major league career?

MD: Obviously at this level it is still hard to project. The few who will make the majors typically are already stand outs here or expected to stand out soon. However that being said, the guys who typically do not get alot of hype at this level, but end up making it pro are left handed relievers. Basically because if you are a lefty and can throw strikes, you've got a chance. Thus a guy who may be of the radar but could surprise is Adam Blackley. Don't be fooled by his ERA (nearly half the runs he gave up were in two games against Oneonta), Blackley dominated NYPL opponents this year, leading all relievers in strikeouts, averaging nearly 2 per inning and his curveball and changeup are unhittable. While he only throws his fastball 87-89, his offspeed pitchers are SO effective that they alone could be enough to make him a viable set up man someday in the majors.

JS: Is there one player that is considered the leader of the clubhouse?

MD: When Ryan Kalish went down due to injury and eventually left the team soon thereafter to rehab in Florida, the Spinners were left without their leader. Although he was only 19, if you ask any one of the players who the team leader in the clubhouse was, it was Kalish. I think following his injury it was tough for someone else to take that role on and as a result you saw Lowell tail off a bit down the stretch.

JS: What is your assessment on the job of the coaching staff this season for the Spinners?

MD: It was a great mix of both youth and experience. On one hand you had Hitting Coach Alan Mauthe, a long time veteran of the Spinners coaching staff and on the other hand you had newcomers in Manager Gary DiSarcina, Pitching Coach Laz Gutierrez and Infield Coach Carlos Febles. Year in and year out Mauthe has boasted one of the top hitting teams in the league which again was the case this year. When you look at the tremendous turnaround Jorge Jimenez had from a year ago and also some of the first year guys who made smooth transitions to pro ball, it is easy to see Mauthe's impact. The Spinners consistently had one of the top pitching teams in the league, but the real testament for Laz Gutierrez was teaching some pitchers who had struggled with walks in the past, to learn how to establish their fastballs for strikes and work off of it which paid huge dividends. Also, Gutierrez deserves alot of the credit for the transformation of Willy Mota and the establishing of Felix Ventura into a top notch closer. The pro experience Carlos Febles brought to the team proved to be a huge impact. Whenever guys got off the beaten path, Febles was instrumental in steering them in the right direction and telling them what it takes to make it to the next level. I think alot of guys really respected and looked up to Carlos as well, which went a long way. Finally for Gary, like I said earlier in the year in this feature, for a guy who never managed before, he looked like a natural. As in any season there are ups and downs, nothing is ever easy and I believe that he did a great job keeping the guys even keel throughout, while also teaching them how to win, have fun and also aid their development. In my eyes, the coaching staff did an exceptional job.