Tonight on Behind the Big Leagues, we sit down with former Diamondbacks catcher and current manager of their Double-A affiliate, Robby Hammock.
NICK- First of all, congratulations on your promotion from the Visalia Rawhide to the Mobile BayBears. Mobile was loaded with talent in 2014. Guys like Chase Anderson, Jake Lamb, and David Peralta have already been called up to the big leagues. Who is one player not named Archie Bradley that you believe could take the 'next step' in 2015?
HAMMOCK- I can really only speak on the guys I had last year in Visalia. And although I don't know what my team will be until the last day of Spring Training, I can give you a few names that the organization is very high on to possibly take the next step in 2015. Brandon Drury is an obvious choice since coming over in a trade a few years ago. He's young, very talented, and gets better each year. Another guy that made a huge splash during his games at big league camp last year was Rudy Flores. He then followed it up with a dominant year in Visalia. Also, Alex Glenn could be a guy that flies under the radar but he was very good for me last year.
NICK-Speaking of Archie Bradley, when you watch him take the mound, is there anyone he reminds you of in terms of his talent and mechanics?
HAMMOCK- I have had limited time watching [Bradley] pitch. I know of his struggles last season. And if he is with me this season, I am anxious to see where he is at and hopefully help with getting him over the hump.
NICK-Who are some your managerial influences?
HAMMOCK- I'm very early in my managerial career and continue to learn each year. I try to draw off all past experiences as a player along with everyone I get to work with every year to try and take something from their experiences also.
NICK- I have fond memories of you playing for the Diamondbacks, particularly in 2003. Are you still close the guys like Matt Kata, Brandon Webb, Andy Green and Lyle Overbay?
HAMMOCK- I'm still close with Matt Kata and Andy Green. Andy has helped me a ton over the past few years with my coaching career and I was thrilled to see him get the big league job this year.
NICK- As a manager, have you been thrown out of a game yet? Is there any strategy involved to be tossed from the game by an umpire?
HAMMOCK- Sometimes being tossed from a game definitely has value as far as waking up your team. Most of the time it's simply from a poor call at a very crucial moment or poor calls that add up.
NICK- How does players being called up between minor league levels work? Do the managers have influence over that or is it mainly taken care of by [Farm Director] Mike Bell?
HAMMOCK- Players being called up between Minor league levels is the ultimate decision of the Farm Director. But coach's and coordinator's opinions are of high value to Mike Bell which is one thing that sets him apart from most organizations.
NICK- I have to ask the obligatory Randy Johnson question. What was it about you that made Johnson decide you were HIS battery mate?
HAMMOCK- I can't put a finger on why RJ wanted to throw to me. I know he was a very intense competitor on the mound. As was I when I played. My priority was always the pitcher and I think he realized that.
NICK-What is it going to take for the BayBears to be The Southern League Division Champions?
HAMMOCK- In order to win a Championship, we have to start from zero. We have to create a culture and environment that gives everyone that best opportunity to perform at their best each day. And we have to keep our nose to the ground and grind out each day until we finally look up at the end of the season and we will be exactly where we need to be.