If there is a captain of the Grand Junction Rockies, it is catcher Dom Nunez.
Of all the ballplayers I've spoken with he is perhaps the most aware and consistently present among them. I spoke with him after a game in which No. 8 overall pick Kyle Freeland got the start.
To my eye, you look comfortable behind the plate. How do you feel back there and what are you working on defensively?
Yeah, I feel really good. I've learned a lot pretty quickly so I'm pretty comfortable. It's a natural position position for me and receiving the baseball has been one of my strengths and throwing the ball is one of my strengths too. I'm working on blocking, getting to know these pitchers and stuff like that. Every day you just try to take something from each game and learn what you can. Ask the pitchers whatever they would like to maybe change going forward.
Speaking of pitchers, Kyle [Freeland] looked pretty good tonight but what happened in that first inning? Were they just going and getting some pitches? Nothing was hit hard except that double.
The double was a slider that found his bat, I think honestly.
He's swinging at the inside fastball and luckily missed by just enough that it lined up for him?
Exactly. So he looked good tonight and when he got locked in they couldn't touch him. In that third inning he was lights out.
What have you seen from the rest of the pitching staff?
I think the goal that they need to focus on is just keeping the ball down and if they are going to miss over the middle of the plate at least have it be down and not something elevated that can be really square up and put in the gap or over the fence. We try to start pitching more in an out so hopefully they're missing in or missing out. That's what happened to (Javier) Palacios last time I caught him. He was shoving, he was doing everything, throwing the ball wherever he wanted to and then guys got on first base and I think just lost a little bit of focus and started leaving the ball over the middle of the plate. But other than that, they couldn't touch him.
It's just little things, and every pitcher is different and you have to kind of find their trigger to get them to throw whatever they need.
In terms of hitting approach, and I don't know if you pay attention to stuff like this, but you are walking more than you strike out, putting the bat on the ball quite a bit. Is that a conscious effort to see a lot of pitches, work deep into counts, to get on base any way you can?
I have a two-strike approach and I just stick to that two-strike approach and spread out a little bit and make sure I'm letting my hands work and not really worrying about anything else but trying to put the barrel on the ball and just let everything else control itself.
But usually trying to see first pitch fastballs or whatever, if the pitch is there I try to square it up but hopefully I can work into a hitters count, y'know 2-1 or 3-1 count, because that's what I like to do because that's when if I get two strikes I spread out a little bit and basically it's all mentality, it's all confidence and that's how I am at the plate. I'm telling myself "There's shot at striking out. Trust your hands, nothing is beating you."
I'll get you out of here on this. I wrote about the trio of catchers here and I know Steiny going down hurts, but Hamlet ... what a player!
(Dom jumped in with exuberant agreement before I actually asked a question)
Yeah, he's awesome. He hits everything. I swear I tell everyone "this guy never gets out, it's unbelievable." He's a great energy, great dugout guy. Pitchers love his energy and I try to feed off of him. It's nice having a pretty good catcher behind the plate every single night and it's good for the pitchers to not have to worry about who is catching. They can just go out there and do their thing and that's it. Hamlet is swingin' it and catching the ball pretty well and that's all you can ask for.