Throughout my time at DRB, Chaim was always one of the more forthcoming interview subjects — as demonstrated here and here – and thankfully he again agreed to waste some of his time for everyone’s benefit. For those unfamiliar with him, here’s the bio/intro I used last time:
Chaim Bloom is the Assistant Director of Minor League Operations. He formerly wrote at Baseball Prospectus and graduated from Yale. Bloom has worked closely with the minor league affiliates and rosters during his time in the organization, including dealing with payroll and development. A few in the industry have tabbed him as a future general manager and recently he was kind enough to give us some of his time.
How giddy is the player development department about the new prospects and the upcoming draft picks?
We are all very excited. Our staff are teachers first and foremost, and having such a talented group of students makes their job that much more fun. But beyond that, a constant influx of talent is essential to our success. Because of our resources and the competition we face, scouting and development may be more critical to us than to any other organization. The players we’ve just acquired, and those we hope to draft and sign this summer, represent countless hours of work by our pro and amateur scouts and we can’t wait to play our part in getting them to the big leagues.
Is Robinson Chirinos the most interesting and flexible prospect in the world?
It’s no secret how much we value versatility. But while Chirinos can play the infield, we’re most impressed by his catching ability and the way he carries himself playing one of the more difficult positions in the field. To have taken to that role so quickly, and to care the way he does about handling a staff and running a game, says a lot about how he is made up. He also shows potential as a hitter, and we feel he has a chance to help us a lot in the future.
Both have the ingredients to get important outs in our division. Russell is a big man with power stuff and an intimidating presence, while Brandon has excellent deception, a good fastball and swing-and-miss secondary pitches. Obviously one has big league experience and one doesn’t so you can expect Russell to be the first to contribute. In his time in the majors, he’s shown that he can strike guys out and limit extra-base power and those are two good building blocks for success in the AL East.
Could Hak-Ju Lee defensively handle shortstop in the big leagues right now?
Our scouts are tremendously excited about Lee. He is a premium athlete at a premium position, very quick and a disruptive runner. Not everyone who plays shortstop has the pure physical ability to make some of the highlight plays that separate the great ones, and he does. We believe strongly in allowing players to develop at their own pace, but Lee profiles as an above-average shortstop down the road.
There are contrasting opinions on Brandon Guyer’s future position. Would the team feel uncomfortable with him in center field? Does the team feel his power surge is legitimate?
We plan to get Brandon time at all three outfield positions—he absolutely has the foot speed to play center. His profile is very intriguing in that he’s shown that he can impact all aspects of the game. He’s an asset defensively; he runs really well and is a great base stealer; he makes a lot of contact, and he also has the size and strength to hit the ball out of the ballpark. Players like that can help you win in many different ways.
How concerning is Chris Archer’s control? And what can be said about his secondary stuff?
Obviously Chris walked a lot of hitters early in his career. But the arrow is definitely pointing in the right direction. When you have a pitcher who’s a good athlete, he has a much better chance of learning to repeat his delivery on a consistent basis, to stay balanced, to keep his lines to the plate clean. That’s what has begun to happen with Chris over the past couple of years. Both his fastball and his other pitches project well. He has a power breaking ball that he’s learning to command, one that can be a true out pitch. The changeup is coming and he has the arm speed to throw a good one. He is still young and because he’s athletic he can continue to improve.
Do you think high character players are more valuable to an organization with unusual philosophies?
Character and makeup are important regardless of an organization’s philosophy. The positive environment in our clubhouse has helped a number of players succeed here, and the character of our guys is what sustains that. We want good people and good teammates, but beyond that we also need competitors—players who have the drive and determination to overcome failure, and the ability to tune out distractions that may sidetrack them.
What’s the latest on Tim Beckham’s progress?
Tim showed us some important things in 2010. First and foremost, he came to camp in great shape and really improved as a shortstop. He also made progress with his two-strike approach and plate discipline, and in part because of his great work ethic, he rebounded really well after a slow start. Tim’s athleticism and bat speed haven’t gone anywhere, and he’s made strides in building his foundation. Now it’s up to time for him to take the next step and turn his potential into consistent results. He’s raring to go and has been working out in Port Charlotte since mid-January. We think very highly of Tim, and we’re as eager as he is to get his year started.