Q&A With Jaron Madison

With his second draft behind him, Padres' Scouting Director Jaron Madison has enjoyed his very brief break from the road. We caught up with him to talk about both process and specific players.

Congrats on getting some key guys signed quickly and at slot. Can you give a sense of how the process works with a guy from the time you decide to select him in a given round? Do you call each kid to let him know, or leave it to your area guys? Is negotiation generally in person with you?
Jaron Madison: We put a lot of emphasis on our area scouts getting to know the player that we have in consideration to be drafted. We have good relationships with these kids. So normally we'll be in touch with them as the draft unfolds as we have a good feel for where we have them on our board. So it's not normally a complete surprise to the kid. We don't tell kids exactly where we have them… we normally try to keep it relatively close to the vest.
The area scout normally makes contact with them immediately, congratulates them and sets a time that they can go by and meet with the family or meet with the player. And they'll just go over the basics - an introduction to the organization; hegives them a little pamphlet that has all the information on our affiliates and how the whole pro ball system works. And then if they have an advisor, they'll get information from their advisor and then we'll talk with the kid through normally the cross-checker or the area scout himself.
For guys drafted in the top couple rounds where we're talking about big money, Jason or Jed or I if we have relationships built with advisors, we'll handle a lot of that.
Normally, they'll agree to terms before they fly in and take their physicals and all that stuff.

After the first 18 names released, I've also heard Andriese, Quackenbush, and Gigliotti have signed and are headed to Eugene. Can you confirm and are there others? I assume you've got a few more you hope to get done here quickly, and then the rest go into the holding pool until MLB begins approving over-slot deals?
Jaron Madison: There might be a couple of other guys waiting for physical results, but nothing official yet.

They're going to have to come up with a better way to handle those kids in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, aren't they?
Jaron Madison: Hopefully they'll push the signing date up. It would help us, it would help the colleges out, if they made it July 15, or July first. All these kids who want to sign early, it will give them a chance to go out and get their first summer under their belt. The colleges will know, hey we lost this guy, let's go re-recruit and find these others guys. Something has to change. Dragging it out through the whole summer just doesn't make sense for us or for the kids. It's just pretty much a wasted summer. I understand why they drag it out with the bonuses how they are now, but there has to be something that can be done to make it quicker and help those kids' development.

Aside from catcher Rob Kral, who's headed to the Cape Cod League are any of your kids scheduled to go out to other summer leagues? Will you try to bring Kral in before, or wait to get a look at him on the Cape?
Jaron Madison: Since he's going out there, we'll continue to negotiate with him and try to get him signed. But since he's out there right now, we all have plans – me and our six cross-checkers are all going up to the Cape – we'll get a chance to get plenty of looks at Kral, see how he's doing behind the plate, see how he's handling the pitching up there, so we'll get a chance to evaluate him again and continue the negotiations.
We took a kid [Roberto Suppa] out of Canada who is going to play for Team Canada this year, so we'll get a chance to see him. They're going to Cuba, so I don't think we'll get to sneak out there, but we're going to get a chance to see him either in Toronto or up there in Canada before or after they do that trip.

Kral is one of a bunch of guys you drafted listed under six feet, including eight players listed under 5'10". Was there a systematic attempt to get guys who might traditionally not get a full look from scouts because of their size, or is it just coincidence?
Jaron Madison: I think it was just a coincidence. Obviously you look for the big, strong physical guys, and I think we did a good job of identifying and drafting plenty of those guys. And then there are guys who have college performance and have done well and succeeded and bucked the trend on some of the big strong-bodied guys and just come in a smaller package, and those guys get another look too. It definitely was not a plan – let's go find these smaller-bodied guys – but we realize that good players come in all shapes and sizes and we're going to scout them and evaluate them all the same.

You got a couple of those big-bodied prototypical guys in Collin Rea and Burch Smith. Were you surprised you were able to get those guys after the 10th round? Burch's name was thrown out as maybe a fourth, fifth round pick.
Jaron Madison: With Burch, I think he might have had some signability concerns that let him slide a little bit. We knew going into it that he was expecting quite a bit of money. A lot of times with kids, you have signability expectations and as the draft goes on and the team calls and says "he listen, are you still sticking to X amount of dollars" and he says yes, this is what I want, we can't do this now and sometimes guys like that slide. Are we excited that we had the opportunity to draft and hopefully sign Burch? Absolutely. In the 14th round, that's a great pick and we had him evaluated a lot higher than that.
Collin Rea is a guy I went out and saw. Our Northeast cross-checker Sean Campbell and Jeff Stewart saw throughout the year and had a lot of interest in, and we were excited he was still there in the 12th round. We're excited that we were able to come to an agreement and get him out to play.

Last year the club used a number of picks in the 10-30 range on high school/JuCo kids who were likely to be tough signs. When we look at the number of college seniors in that range this year, is it indicative of a sense of needing to get more bodies into the system this year?
Jaron Madison: This year, we took a lot of those tough-sign kids a lot higher in the draft [laughs]. They're gonna take some time to get done. Later on, we started looking at guys who've had some performance in college. We took some seniors who our scouts feel really strongly about to help the organization and have a chance to be big-leaguers. We did a little bit of a switch of priorities this year. Randy Smith and the player development guys are excited about the guys who've showed up already.

Conversely, you took some more picks on strong commitments like Boulware, Flores, Rollins after the 30th round this year. Do you feel like you've got much of a chance on those third day high school kids, or are they more protection/take a chance that they change their minds?
Jaron Madison: We don't have a sense at this point that any of the kids are going to come off of their bonus demands, or that we're going to reach up and meet what they're looking for. But these are guys that our scouts or cross-checkers really like, really have interest in, will continue to keep the lines of communication open with. If it looks like we won't be able to sign someone we took higher, that will free up a lot of money and we'll have an opportunity to open up negotiations and see what we can get down. These are all guys that our scouts feel passionate about and we wanted to have the opportunity to talk to them over the summer, see if things change, see if we can closer to the same point on a bonus and college scholarship plan and just see what happens.

What's the schedule for you and your scouts now?
Jaron Madison: I take off a week every year right after the draft, I go into kind of a slump. You kind of get back to normal and rest up. Then I'll head out and start seeing our affiliates. I'll go out to San Antonio this coming weekend, then back to San Diego to do Elsinore and some stuff in the office. Then I head out to Team USA, Cape Cod, and then sprinkle in Fort Wayne, Eugene and Arizona closer to the signing deadline. Then it's East Coast Showcase, Area Codes, AFLAC, Under Armour, we'll cover all that stuff. So, a one-week break and then right back to it. And I can't wait! [laughs]

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