Randy Smith on the 2012 San Antonio Missions

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

This week we take a look at the San Antonio Missions who after a big season last year that saw them win the championship finished with the second worse record in the eight team Texas League. Still the Missions had some interesting prospects in pitchers Robbie Erlin and Andrew Werner along with giant first baseman Nate Freiman.

Every year we talk about Nate Freiman and how he doesn't get much attention as a top prospect and once again he has put up strong numbers - this year better than ever.

What improvement have you seen in him since he came into the system?

Randy Smith: Nate has become more consistent with his swing and understands what he is trying to do in different situations. You don't find many players that hit for both his power and average. He's pretty quietly put up three amazing seasons.

With Yonder Alonso at first base with the big club are there any plans to try him in the outfield?

Randy Smith: No, he's a first baseman and we would like to see him continue to improve upon his defense around the bag, particularly with his range, but his bat is what is going to take him to the big leagues.

We really like the defensive progress that we have seen with him so far.

Dean Anna got the most plate appearances of his career and put up his best numbers. What did you like most about his game?

Randy Smith: He's a very versatile player and manager's love having him on their team because you know what you are going to get from Dean; a solid performance in the field and some quality at-bats at the plate. He played about five different positions this year and had a good year at the plate.

Cody Decker hit 29 home runs between Tucson and San Antonio and for the first time played more in the outfield than at first. What do you see for him going forward?

Randy Smith: Cody is another guy that is going to have to hit his way to the big leagues. We are going to continue to work on his versatility as we did this year. At the plate he put up some good numbers and he's kind of a streaky hitter.

The goal is going to be eliminate some of the valleys and hopefully get a little more consistency and even better numbers.

Talk about Keyvius Sampson's season. On one hand he led the Texas League in strikeouts with 122 on the other he seemed to have trouble with his control.

Randy Smith: He jumped a league and had a pretty good performance. His fastball command can leave him at times but that is just more of a question of a consistent effort, there isn't really anything mechanical about any of his problems.

He has a good fastball and change-up. The curve is there but just has to get a little more consistent.

Robbie Erlin missed a lot of time mainly because the organization was being very carefull with his elbow. How does he look now and where do you see him next year?

Randy Smith: Robbie came back and looked great. He can really pitch. He throws three pitches with great command and he's going to pitch in the Arizona Fall League. As for next year we fully expect him to contribute at the major league level at some point next season.

Andrew Werner has pitched very well with the big club and he was better in San Antonio than many of his numbers indicate. He was signed as an undrafted free agent. How did you guys find him?

Randy Smith: After 2010 we ran a tryout camp in Peoria, Illinois and he was one of the guys we signed. Anytime we can get someone to the major leagues out of a tryout camp, its a pretty good tryout camp.

The biggest thing with him is that he just knows how to pitch. He stays within himself with a good sinker and change-up and his breaking pitch has improved. He's a solid back-end starter and really has a chance to contribute on the major league level.

Mike Saeger, the San Antonio play-by-play announcer, was high on Jeff Ibarra the 6'6" 180 lbs. lefty. I've seen him pitch and he has kind of funky delivery. How would you describe him?

Randy Smith: He's an interesting guy. We dropped him down to make him a little tougher on left-handed hitters and so far its worked out pretty well. He has some good stuff from that angle.

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