Randy Smith on the 2012 Eugene Emeralds

We caught up with Randy Smith, the Padres' Director of Player Development and International Scouting from his headquarters in Peoria, Arizona for the second segment of our six part interview on the top prospects in the system.

This week we take a look at the Eugene Emeralds who just missed the playoffs but featured one of their better pitching staffs in the system.

Justin Hancock had a great year in Eugene after struggling in Fort Wayne and the AZL last year. What do you think caused him to turn this around?

Randy Smith: Mainly he just threw more strikes. He has a plus fastball and he is still developing a comfort level with his breaking pitch. I think it really helped him going out to Fort Wayne to start the season even though he struggled there in May. When he got to Eugene a lot of things just came together for him.

Can you tell us a little about lefty Juan Mercano who also had a nice year with the Emeralds?

Randy Smith: We signed him over the winter out of Venezuela. He has a pretty good feel for pitching, fastball, curve and change. He has some more velocity than what he showed this summer in Eugene.

You had two NWL all-stars out of the pen in Roman Madrid and Chris Nunn. Can you give us a brief scouting report on both?

Randy Smith: Madrid is a big guy with a power slider. He has a good fastball that sits in the low 90s but his slider is really filthy. He needs to continue to watch his body because he is a big guy and keep the ball in the strike zone but he had a nice year.

Chris Nunn is just a good pitcher. Lefty with a good body and solid arm. Both of them had strong seasons in Eugene.

Jeremy Baltz appears to be much more of an all-around player than most of us had thought. He stole some bases and has some good strikeout to walk ratios. Do you think he will stay in left field and where are you looking to see him improve next year?

Randy Smith: Jeremy will stay in left field. We see his profile as an offensive outfielder. He needs to add some strength and was a better outfielder than advertised. As you said he was also a better baserunner than many thought too.

Everyone raved about Brian Adams athletic ability and in a very small sample size he looked really good. What was the biggest thing you guys were working with him on once he got into camp?

Randy Smith: He had a broken hand early which set back his development time. As I said before he is just a great athlete with speed, power and strength. He just needs at-bats to improve upon his pitch recognition. We will be excited to see what he can do in the Instructional League. He really knows how to compete. The goal is to get him on the Fort Wayne team next season but a lot of things also have to come together.

A bit of a sleeper was your shortstop Stephen Carmon out of the University of South Carolina at Aiken. One, do you think he can stay at short as he moves up and his plate discipline seems to be one of the best that you have in your system?

Randy Smith: He is very much a shortstop. From what I saw in the Northwest League if he wasn't the best he was certainly near the top. He has good hands and a very quick release. The more you get to see him the more you will like him.


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