Padres' Randy Smith - Winter Roundup

Before starting up spring training we caught up with Randy Smith, the Padres Vice-President of Player Development and International Scouting, to find out what has been going on with the team before spring training in Peoria.

You were in the middle of the Instructs last time we spoke. Who stood out?

Randy Smith: Austin Hedges had a very good camp, particularly on offense. The expectations were that the defense was there but the bat would take some. It wasn't the case in the Instructs because he swung it well. He was our MVP on the offensive side.

For pitching Adys Portillo was very good and carried it into the winter leagues. Both of these guys are only 19 so you have to feel pretty good about that.

You have been with the Padres for awhile and it seems like the past few years the organization has gotten much more athletic. Is that accurate?

Randy Smith: Absolutely. The scouting department has done a good job of finding guys with the tools that fit PETCO; controlled aggression on the base paths and athleticism. Most of the games we play are 2-1, 3-2 so if you can take that extra base it's going to translate into some wins by the end of the season.

On the same line of questioning, there also seems to be much more power arms in the system with the emphasis on fastball command as opposed to the changeup.

Randy Smith: It's a combination of bigger more physical athletes and velocity. If you don't use it you will lose it. We had guys that were throwing so many change-ups in the past we saw some decreases in velocity as opposed to now. The changeup is a great pitch, but you also have to use it appropriately.

Unless you have a major league average fastball, no matter how great your other pitches are, you are going to have a tough time pitching in the big leagues.

First base at Tucson became less crowded with Anthony Rizzo going to the Cubs. Right now will it be a battle between Matt Clark and Cody Decker?

Randy Smith: The way things stack up now those two are the front runners. Clark has put up some numbers in Tucson last year and really everywhere he has been. Cody was having a good year until he got hurt but as you know he has some pop too.

After being drafted in '09 the organization really improved Keyvius Sampson's mechanics and last year his changeup was a big reason for much of his success. Going into the Cal League do you see him having a better curve or two-seam fastball?

Randy Smith: Getting him more comfortable with his breaking ball was the big focus. He needs to be more consistent with it. If he could get to the point where he can throw three above-average pitches for strikes we will really have something.

For Keyvius last year the big factor was just being healthy. It's funny the only time he struggled, and I think that was two starts, was when we gave him too much time off.

He has a great work ethic and has really matured.

How about Donovan Tate?

Randy Smith: He had a wrist problem at the end of the year, so there wasn't any Instructs for him. But right now he feels great and is ready to go.

Drew Cumberland was pretty excited about getting the ok to continue his career. Have the Padres officially cleared him to play and if so, where do you see him starting?

Randy Smith: He has one more doctor's appointment in Atlanta which should clear him to be one hundred percent. He will be in camp in late February and our goal is to probably get him to San Antonio.

But so much of that will depend on Drew, he hasn't played in a year. He will determine where he ends up.

Do you see Drew playing shortstop and second or just second as reported earlier by Bill Center in the U-T?

Randy Smith: We plan to play him at both as we always had. In the past most of us have told him we can see him at second more than short but each year his arm strength and accuracy also improves which is why he ends up at short. We are going to continue to play him on both sides of the bag.

Gary Jones [the Padres infield instructor] has a done a great job with him.

Solid debut by Cory Spangenberg. What was the biggest point of emphasis with his defense at the Instructs?

Randy Smith: Just getting him used to all the angles at second mainly. Turning the double play, the footwork and so on. The important thing to remember about Spangy is that he is a baseball player that gets it done. It may not always look pretty, but he will make the plays. And with his bat, that really works.

Also you talked about getting Casey Kelly to throw more off of the plate. How did that go?

Randy Smith: In September was with the big league team, so he wasn't at Instructs. Buddy [Black] and Darren [Balsley] really worked with him and it went pretty well from what I understand.

Casey is just around the plate so much, the more he can expand the zone the better off he will be. He's a tremendous athlete.

Last question; the outfield in San Antonio. Other than Reymond Fuentes, who are some of the candidates?

Randy Smith: As always so much will depend upon what happens at the big league level. Jaff Decker and Dan Robertson could go back but right now we really don't know.

The outfield in AA is our biggest question. We have the talent, just don't know exactly where it will all end up.

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