Minor League Report: Mitch Talbot
Catcher Jaso getting tutored; Longoria in third-base contention
ST. PETERSBURG -- Mitch Talbot has great stuff, but he just needs to learn how to better handle things he can't control.
Talbot, 24, came to the Rays in the 2006 trade that sent Aubrey Huff to the Astros, and the right-hander spent the 2007 season at Triple-A Durham, where he went 13-9 with a 4.53 ERA.
"I get mad about things I can't control," Talbot said, "like the umpire, an error behind me, something like that; [it] just kind of takes me out of my game."
Recognizing the problem will be part of the cure for Talbot.
"A lot of it will come by just maturing a little bit," he said. "I am kind of a fiery pitcher. I think that does help me to an extent, but when it goes overboard, it kind of detracts from what I'm trying to do."
Dick Bosman, the Rays' Minor League pitching coordinator, agrees with Talbot's assessment.
"That kind of stuff is more of a maturity thing than anything," Bosman said. "It's just part of what kids run into on their journey through the Minor Leagues to get to the big leagues. I'm confident he'll overcome that. He's got a lot of help to do it, because we're right there in his corner, he's a good worker. And obviously, he can be a real nice addition to our staff in the big leagues. Strange things happen when you go across the white lines."
Given the fact Talbot tied for the International League lead in wins, he said he was a little surprised he did not get a late call to the Major Leagues last season. Conversely, he understood why he did not.
"Yeah, I kind of expected it," Talbot said. "But it was something they didn't think I was ready for. It was probably my own fault for showing immaturity out there."
Names in the game: Rays bullpen catcher Bobby Ramos played parts of five seasons in the Major Leagues with the Expos, primarily as a backup to Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter. This spring, one of Ramos' projects is catching prospect John Jaso.
"We're working on all phases of the game, leadership qualities, all the physical parts -- receiving and blocking," Ramos said. "[We] talk about calling a game, the day-in and day-out responsibilities as a catcher."
Jaso had a nice season at Double-A Montgomery in 2007, when he hit .316 with 12 home runs and 71 RBIs.
"I haven't seen him play [in a game]," Ramos said. "But I hear he's got a good bat. He's got a good body. It's just getting after all the little fundamentals of catching, handling your staff, being a leader, all the mechanics; we're doing a lot of work building that guy."
Jaso is all ears.
"I want to make a good impression and I want to get better," he said. "I'm ready to take whatever he throws at me and maybe ask for more.
"I mean it's not only the physical part of catching we're working on right now. We're having a lot of little group meetings with the catchers and the pitchers -- to know each pitcher individually; what they like to do in certain situations. Going over that part of the game is pretty big right now."
They're No. 1: Evan Longoria, the Rays' No. 1 selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft (third pick overall), is in contention to win the starting third-base job at the beginning of his third professional season. Longoria is fine with the rapid progression.
"I think everyone would like it like that," Longoria said. "The less time you spend in the Minor Leagues, obviously, it is more pleasant. There are still a lot of things that I need to experience and learn. I am just trying to take it one step at a time."
Class of '07: David Price, the top pick of the 2007 Draft, has looked the part thus far in Spring Training. The left-hander throws a fastball, slider and changeup, and every time the ball leaves his hand, there seems to be movement.
"In terms of stuff, [Price is] extremely impressive," Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey said. "[He has a] very nice delivery, under control, three pitches that, in my opinion, all have a chance to be above-average Major League pitches; [he shows] pretty good command of all three."
What they're saying: What they're saying: "So far, it's been amazing -- just talking to the older guys like [Dan] Wheeler and [Troy] Percival and some of the other guys. It's a great learning experience right now. I'm very excited to be here. It's an honor to be here and being around all these guys and learning new things." -- rookie right-hander Chris Mason, on being at his first Major League camp
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.