MadFriars' Announcer Series: Eugene
Matt Dompe completed his first full season as the Eugene Emeralds’ play-by-play announcer which is a pretty good gig for anyone that has been in Oregon in the summertime.
Last season with Chris Fisher having to leave the team for personal reasons in mid-season, Dompe, who was then the public address announcer, took over the reigns for the radio broadcasts and continued on into 2012.
Other than members of the organization, no one sees as much of a minor league team as their play-by-play announcer who makes all the bus rides, eats the same meals and stays in the same hotel with all the players and coaches.
The difference is that they are employed by the team, not the San Diego Padres. We caught up with Matt at the end of the season to talk about the 2012 Eugene Emeralds.
Justin Hancock was the best pitcher for the Emeralds this year. What made him so effective?
Matt Dompe: Pitching coach Nelson Cruz raved about Hancock all year long. He has four pitches of which Cruz already rated three of them as big league caliber. He is a big guy and a quick worker. When Hancock was able to get into a groove he was pretty much lights out allowing one run or less in 12 of his 15 outings.
Two high Padres' 2012 draft picks Jeremy Baltz and Dane Phillips played quite a bit for the Emeralds this year. Baltz had a very good year while Phillips struggled. What did you see?
Matt Dompe: Baltz was one of the most consistent hitters on the team. He has some pop when he turns on the ball but was most successful when hitting line drives between the gaps. Hitting in the middle of the order all season, Baltz led the team in RBI with 43. He also showed some sneaky speed by swiping 12 bags in 14 tries.
Phillips started off hot in the NWL, but cooled off as the summer wore on. He hit his first professional home run in his 12th game played and at that point held a .310 average. Phillips would go homer less for the next month hitting just .214 (21x98). He’s a big left-handed hitting catcher who put a lot of work into his receiving. By the end of the season the Ems pitchers and coaching staff all had a lot of confidence in Dane’s ability to block balls behind the plate even in big situations with runners on third.
Joe Ross was another high pick from last year who came to Eugene after being in Fort Wayne and after rehabbing in extended spring. What did you see as his greatest strength and his biggest weakness?
Matt Dompe: For Ross his presence on the mound is noticeable immediately. He is well put together, as most first-rounders are, but the smoothness of the delivery of his fastball at 94-96 is impressive. At this point inexperience can really be the only knock on him. It was a tough first full year of professional baseball with the shoulder soreness that sidelined him for much of the summer.
Stephen Carmon kind of came out of nowhere to have a very good year. Tell us a little about him offensively and how did you see his defense at short?
Matt Dompe: It was a slow start for short stop out of the University of South Carolina Aiken with the glove and the bat. Carmon committed 10 errors in his first 15 games but went on to commit just three errors over his final 34 games. His feet and hands are just so quick the coaching staff had to convince him to slow things down and when he did he became the defensive backbone of the infield.
At the plate he managed just 10 hits in 50 at bats to start his pro career. He started to work the count deeper and draw more walks and as a result his batting average started to climb. He battled some an illness and an oblique strain but when he came back from the DL for the stretch run he hit safely in 12 of 13 games and really became the top of the order rabbit the Ems were looking for to set the table.
Everyone raves about Emeralds closer Roman Madrid's slider. What did you think of it and was that the reason for his success this year?
Matt Dompe: Madrid’s slider is nasty, a devastating strikeout pitch. It’s the weapon he uses to put the hitters away but another key to Madrid’s success, like any reliever, is how he pounds the strike zone. As the closer he is of course coming in late to finish off close ball games. He did have 11 walks in 37.1 innings, but only once did he walk multiple hitters in the same outing.
Chris Nunn, the team's other all-star, had a great ERA of 0.57 this season. What made him so effective?
Matt Dompe: Nunn is a tall lefty with a herky-jerky motion who mowed down NWL hitters all season. He could get a wild hair up his nose as evidenced by issuing at least two walks in 6 of his 24 outings, but Nunn’s strikeout rate was mind-numbing. He led the circuit by punching out 12.93 hitters per 9 innings.
A guy who got some attention at both the Arizona League and in Eugene was catcher Rodney Daal. We’re pretty sure he can hit as the numbers indicate but what did you think of his defense?
Matt Dompe: Daal was a good catch and release defensive catcher but did have trouble blocking balls in the dirt. He has plans to work this winter with Yankees catcher Russell Martin so it will be very interesting to see how he progresses into next year.
Maxx Tissenbaum kind of went under the radar this year. What can you tell us about him?
Matt Dompe: Tissenbaum is a good offensive infielder. A left handed hitting second baseman, his contact is loud. He probably doesn’t have enough range to play 2B in the majors, but when he was inserted into the middle infield the Emeralds ability to turn double plays increased dramatically. He joined the club late because his Stony Brook Sea Wolves played their way to the CWS in Omaha. Maxx finished the year hot pushing his average to .296 which was 6th best in the league.
Going into the future, who was the top prospect that you saw for the Emeralds this summer?
Matt Dompe: Joe Ross clearly has the biggest upside from the 2012 Eugene roster. Offensively you can look at guys like Baltz, Carmon and Tissenbaum to develop but one guy that scouts really liked was the lefty starter Brandon Alger. He was pitching in a piggy-back situation all year as the Padres limited him to three innings per outing. He didn’t give up an earned run for over 23 innings to start his pro career and the 26th round selection from Indiana Tech finished with strong numbers 4-1 with a 2.32 ERA although fatigue did seem to catch up with him towards the end of the season.