Padres Q&A: Jaron Madison

The Padres' scouting director went home last night and got well-deserved sleep. After months of tracking players, preparing for the draft, and trying to get guys into the system, the 2011 draft culminated with three high-profile signings just prior to the deadline. We caught up with Jaron to talk about plans for those late signees, the process at the deadline, and thoughts on his second draft.

MadFriars: What were your goals when you walked into the draft war room, and by 12:01 this morning, how did you feel about reaching them?
Jaron Madison: We came in with the very clear goal of identifying impact-type prospects and players and really focusing on scouting those guys hard, getting to know them, and bringing high-level impact players into the organization. As we put the board together, things fell into place. We had to use some strategy to get guys in the right place to select them and not lose out on some other guys that we had interest in. It absolutely worked out and yesterday it came to fruition. We feel really, really good about our draft class.

[We had] anywhere from 10 to 15 different reports [on the top guys]. Joe Ross I saw myself two or three times, Jason saw twice. Not only did we have different looks, but we also went back and got second and third looks on some of these guys ourselves. Austin Hedges being a local kid, not only did our scouts get out and see him, but a lot of the guys that work in the front office, AJ, Brad Ausmus, catchers who can help us catching. Brett Mayne actually went out and saw him outside of his area to give us his opinion. We got plenty of looks on all of these guys. It really made us feel good on draft day to get them. We were high-fiving up and down the hallway yesterday.

MadFriars: If someone had told you two months ago that you'd get 22 of your top 23 guys signed, what you have said?
Jaron Madison: We would have been excited. Obviously, the real disappointment was not getting Brett Austin out but we made a serious run at trying to get him to agree to a contract. At the end of the day, I think he just had some personal reasons and some family reasons that swayed him to stay local and go to NC State. We never want to convince a kid with money to go out to pro ball. It was best for him to stick around and go to NC State. We respect that and wish him the best of luck.

MadFriars: Now that they've signed, what are the plans for the kids who came to terms yesterday?
Jaron Madison: Michael Kelly is [in San Diego] today and he'll sign his contract today and probably head over to Arizona some time tomorrow. Austin Hedges and Joe Ross will probably both be in on Thursday and sign their contracts and then probably head out to Arizona on Friday. For the most part, I want to say most of those guys will just do complex work until the instructional league. Joe Ross might get in an inning, but I doubt it. None of them have really thrown much over the summer. Hedges hasn't played much. He might be the closest to game ready and able to get a few at-bats under his belt, but for the most part, I think they'll just do complex work and throw bullpens and get ready for instructional league.

MadFriars: So you signed them all to 2011 deals? Was that your plan, or was that a point of negotiation?
Jaron Madison: All of them are 2011 deals. That was our intention our whole time. Obviously, if we could have signed these guys immediately after the draft, we would have done that to get them out so we could get them going this year. We had every intention of getting them going as quickly as we can.

MadFriars: It's got to be weird for these guys. It's probably the first time in quite a while they've gone two full months without playing an organized baseball game.
Jaron Madison: It's tough on the kids. They really want to get out and play and they have that competitive nature. It was tough for them to sit around all summer. We knew that they wanted to get out and play and it was clear that we all wanted to get them out, but the process doesn't allow for that. So it was tough on those guys and I know they probably got a little stir crazy, sitting around waiting, but the process has to take place.

MadFriars: What's the plan with Burch Smith?
Jaron Madison: To see where he's at right now. He wasn't throwing a lot over the summer. We'll get him back to full bullpens and probably get him a few innings and see how he's feeling and how the stuff comes back. If he's ready to go, we'll send him up there to Eugene… that's what I would envision.

MadFriars: With all the focus on the high school kids who signed yesterday, can we step back and talk a bit about the college arms who signed early and have been really solid up in Eugene?
Jaron Madison: We obviously saw a lot in these guys and we were able to identify the stuff that they have. They've gone out and done what we thought or even exceeded expectations right out of the gate. It's long college season, and they are tired now. So we're really excited to see all the work they put in in the offseason, you know come in to the instructional league and then starting in spring training when they're fresh and healthy and seeing how much better they can be.

MadFriars: You mentioned that guys are actually signing over the next few weeks. Can you give our readers a sense of what the actual process was last night?
Jaron Madison: Well, Ilana Miller, who's the manager of minor league operations has a big part to do with that. She actually sends an email to the commissioner's office detailing we've come to an agreement. These are the terms of the contract: signing bonus; college scholarship plan; whatever else has been negotiated and agreed to. She submits this to the commissioner's office and we get a return-receipt saying they got it. As we're all on the phone with agents and families throughout the night, the hall's pretty busy with people running back and forth passing along information. It's a pretty hectic process, and she's able to stay under control because she's been doing this for years. It's not a real difficult process, but with the time constraints and making sure you get everything in properly, it's tough. But she's a master of it.

MadFriars: Had they all already undergone physicals, or do they need to do so before actually signing the dotted line?
Jaron Madison: We were able to get physicals on all those players this year before the deadline and that's our intention every year to get these guys in and get physicals so that's not a hang-up.

MadFriars: So after all this, what's next for you?
Jaron Madison: I do have a couple more [minor league affiliates] to hit and we have the scouting director's meetings coming up in Minneapolis next week. And then after that, really try to spend some time at home with the family and try to get back into some sort of normal life after being on the road for 150-160 days or whatever it's been. And really, just trying to relax and enjoy life a little bit now that the craziness is over. And then it starts up again in September, colleges are starting to play again and high school scout teams are getting going and we're moving past 2011 and looking toward next year.

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