Questions for Randy Smith: California League

The Cal League is one of the best hitting leagues in baseball and is where many San Diego fans get to their first glance at the future Padres just up the road on the I-15.

This year the Storm on the championship behind some big bats and a some strong pitching. We caught up with Randy Smith to find out what he saw on this year's championship team.

A huge year by Jedd Gyorko and his statistics speak for themselves. What impressed you most about him that the stats don't show and do you think he could play second?

Randy Smith: He just has incredible hands and moves his feet very well. He played well defensively in Lake Elsinore and even better with the Missions. He plays a good third base right now but I think he's capable of playing quite a few places including second.

Tommy Medica clearly has the bat Jason McCloud thought he did when he came out of the draft.  What's the word on his shoulder? Any chance you try to get him behind the plate again, or is he going to need to find a defensive position this winter?

Randy Smith: He underwent shoulder surgery at the end of the season again so we are going to have to see how his arm responds once he's healthy. If his arm is healthy he is a very good catcher; receives well and handles a pitching staff well. As you can see he can swing the bat and put up his best numbers in the Cal League.

Catcher Jason Hagerty also played well this season. I know you like to talk about his progress behind the plate how did that go?

Randy Smith: Last year I told you he was the most improved guy in the system. He came into big league camp in the spring and continued to progress. Jason had a big second half this season and got promoted to AA. He struggled a little at San Antonio but he will hit and I think he will also keep making strides defensively.

Nate Freiman never gets much love from prospect rankings mainly because he's always considered "old" for whatever league he is in. However he's been one of the best players on all three squads that he has been on – Eugene, Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore. What do you think?

Randy Smith: There are a lot of things people say he can't do but Nate also just keeps putting up numbers – over twenty home runs and one hundred RBIs in Lake Elsinore to go along with improved contact; I'll take that. He has tremendous makeup and is always looking and finding a way to get better. With players like Nate you just have to just keep pushing them up the ladder and keep playing them.

Nate really has a tremendous work ethic.

A big year by your double play combination of Jeudy Valdez and Jonathan Galvez. How did they progress defensively this year?

Randy Smith: Again both of these guys are very young so there is still development needed for their all-around games. I think Valdez made only five more errors than he did last year at second, so that is improvement and Jonathan is coming along too at second. But you have to remember you are also talking about two middle infielders who hit over .290 with more than 30 doubles and 30 steals; and I like that especially when both of them are only 20 and 21.

How did you see Reymond Fuentes' season?

Randy Smith: With Reymond you always talk about speed and defense first. He continues to make strides and finished up strong this year. He has some pop but he has to remember his game is small ball. Keep adding onto those forty-one stolen bases he had this and work on the line drives and bunting.

A bit of a disappointing season by Matt Lollis – bad ERA but good K/BB ratios. What did he do well and what does he need to improve upon?

Randy Smith: Matt is just so big we also kind of forget how young he is. Last year he really rose through the system. He had some mechanical problems that we straightened out in mid-year and has been really throwing well in the Instructional League. I'm still really high on him with his size and athletic ability.

Jose DePaula's had a really nice second half to his year as he got further removed from the surgery.  Where is his fastball sitting these days, and what was behind the progress he made after July?

Randy Smith: He just got more comfortable in the league and in the second half let his ability take over. He has a fastball that has been clocked up to 97 and pitched very well in the playoffs. He is a lefty that has great stuff that looks really easy when he pitches.

A great find by the organization with Andrew Werner. What did you guys see in him and how do you see him going forward?

Randy Smith: We signed him and Erik Hamrin in a tryout camp right after Instructs last year, so we were fortunate that they were able to show us enough for us to bring them on. Werner is a lefty with command that can throw serviceable pitches. He competes well and really threw well for us this year.

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