Madfriars Q&A: Jaron Madison on the Draft

We caught up with the Padres' Scouting Director to discuss the club's overall strategy and to get details on some of the club's picks up and down the 2012 draft.

Coming away with three of the top high school pitchers in the class has to be considered a coup, no matter how you look at it. Was the game plan heading into the day to focus so heavily on the mound?

Jaron Madison: When we looked at the makeup of the draft, in the days before and even the morning of, it looked like it was really hitter-heavy, and we thought that was going to be the strength of the draft class. Obviously we can't predict what's going to happen and who's going to be available to us. We never thought in a million years that we would get – Max Fried we thought was going to be gone before we picked. Eflin was a guy we were pretty sure was going to go between 7 and 33; Weickel we would have bet he would go between those picks, and Jankowski, we were hearing his name again before we picked too.

As things started to unfold, we just had to adjust our sights and make some changes on the fly so we could add as many guys as we could to the system. But if you'd have told me that morning, hey, you're going to walk away with those guys, I'd have told you you were crazy.

After you took Jankowski, I heard Brad Chalk's name mentioned more than once.

Jaron Madison: No chance (laugh). This guy is not a slap and spray hitter. This guy drives the ball. He works counts he gets on base, he's also a plus centerfielder, a plus runner. This guy has a chance to impact the game and not just be decent. He really has a chance to be a guy.

You look at Jankowski, and this kid was from a smaller school, but he's always hit. He hit in the Cape with wood. He plays above-average and some of our guys had him as a 70 defender in center field. He's a 70 runner, he steals bases, he gets on base. He was just a prototypical leadoff guy who plays center field, and that was hard to pass up.

You use that description, it seems like you could also be talking about Mallex Smith too.

Jaron Madison: He's one of the fastest runners in the draft just pure speed. He's been toying with hitting lefthanded and switch hitting for a couple years. We worked him out. Chip Morris did a great job with him down there in Florida. Willie Boss saw him. We had our Northeast cross-checker see him during the year and a couple of other area scouts. He was a guy, again, can really impact the game with his speed as far as stolen bases. He has a nice simple swing from the left side and drives the ball, doesn't just spray the ball around.

He's definitely an interesting player with athleticism and tools. He was behind D.J. Davis – he's one year older – but the tools when you grade them out are almost identical. We feel like we got, tools wise, they're almost identical. He started out a little slow, but as the year went on, he got better with the left-handed swing. He was driving balls and he did well. His asking price might have scared some teams off, but he was a guy our scouts felt passionately about and we figured we'll talk to him and see what we can do.

In a draft when a lot of observers figured you might go for a high school shortstop, you finally took one in the sixth in Jalen Goree. Tell me a little about him

Jaron Madison: He was going to a junior college to pursue baseball, so I anticipate that he'll be signed and out playing relatively quickly. We'll have [him and Fernando Perez] both go out at shortstop and they'll both have every opportunity to prove that they can stay. That's why we have the player development staff.

He was a guy that kind of popped up the middle or toward the beginning of the spring. He wasn't a big name for us coming into the spring, but really came on. Our area scout David Franciel (sp) really loved the kid and the makeup. Chip Lawrence went in and saw him and kind or raised the flag that we need to get some more looks at the guy.

He's strong, he's athletic he can run. He has some explosiveness to him. There are still some things he needs to work on. He catches the ball, but he needs work on his footwork and his timing and rhythm, but he fields everything and he makes all the plays. He's just been getting by on his natural athleticism. At the plate, there are some drills that they'll work on with him to help his swing path and to use his hand-eye coordination. But he has a chance to stay on the dirt and impact the ball and those are guys that are definitely interesting to us when they are fully committed to being baseball players.

With the signing deadline brought forward and a chance to actually get some of your top high school kids into the system early, how will the club handle managing their workloads? For so many of the high school kids, between showcases, national team obligations, fall ball and their school teams, they've had a lot of innings already this year.

Jaron Madison: Once the kids sign, Randy [Smith] and Randy Johnson down in Peoria, our field manager, they'll get together with each player, sit them down with our roving pitching guy, and they go through and map out a plan for each pitcher. Tell them these are your innings limits, these are your pitch limits, and they really structure it and make sure everyone's on the same page. You're not going to throw a perfect game in Eugene this year. We care about those guys throwing perfect games in the big leagues. We're really looking big picture for them.

You took Dane Phillips, who didn't make it to Arkansas for the school year. You announced him as a catcher, although there's not much consensus he can stay there.

Jaron Madison: Dane is a guy that hasn't had much time behind the plate. He has a lot to work on, but he's a really aggressive kid and he has passion for catching. We're going to give him every opportunity. We had Brett Mayne and AJ [Hinch] watch video on him just to see what they thought about him before we took him. There are things they think they can address and help. If we can make him into an average catcher, that's great and increases his value. But his bat is special and has a chance to be an impact bat and that's what it really came down to.

Among the late picks, you took a very young high school athlete from Canada, Jacob Robson. What can you tell us about him?

Jaron Madison: He's one of the youngest kids. Murray really loved the kid – liked the bat, loved the makeup and thinks he has a chance to be a good player. We'll probably watch him a little bit over the summer. He plays for the Canadian national team, so we'll see him quite a bit, and see what we can work out before the deadline.

With your final pick, you took a flier on Terrance Owens, who has spent the last three years playing quarterback at Toledo. How on earth did that come about?

Jaron Madison: He was an interesting case. Great athlete obviously. Chad McDonald actually saw him playing in a game on TV, and he actually had a couple conversations with the kid to see if he'd be interested and see if he still had it. He said, ‘hey, if I don't go play in the NFL, I'd be interested in trying it out. We'll see what happens with that.

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