Randy Smith on the 2013 AZL Padres

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

Today Randy chats about the Padres' prospects in the Arizona League for this season.

Pete Kelich obviously put up some amazing statistics. What type of pitcher is he and what can you tell us about him that is not in the numbers?

Randy Smith: I think he is the pitcher that we saw in the numbers. He has great command and can throw three pitches – fastball, change and curve – for strikes. We like him a lot and he is going to be given a chance to compete next year at either Fort Wayne or Lake Elsinore next year.

Adrian De Horta looked good until his last two starts. Can you give us a brief scouting report on him?

Randy Smith: He had a very good year. The last few starts he was a little fatigued and bothered by a blister on his pitching hand but he has a good body and is very projectable. We think once he fills out a little more his fastball will be above average.

Do you see Peyton Baskette as more of a relief pitcher or as a starter going forward?

Randy Smith: He's a young guy, left-handed and has good stuff so we are going to give him every chance to start. At this point in his development we want to get him as many innings as possible.

Peyton has a very good changeup and a good fastball and slider.

How good is Franchy Cordero and do you see him staying at shortstop?

Randy Smith: When we signed him they told us he was going to be a third baseman but we took one look at him and moved him to shortstop. What he did as an eighteen year old in this league was amazing. He has a great body, excellent tools and a very good awareness of what he is trying to do on the field.

All young shortstops are going to make errors but he can make all the plays and I think he should be ranked as the number one prospect in the league.

Second round pick Dustin Peterson hit well but without a lot of secondary numbers – walks and power. What did you like and what does he need to improve upon?

Randy Smith: The whole AZL team had about ten guys that were 18 or younger that we thought were prospects. With Dustin, as with the others, it's a transition in getting used to a wood bat and playing every day. I like what he did and at this point in all of their careers I'm not really worried about power or strike zone discipline because I think that is something that just comes with playing more professionally.

Jake Bauers really came on at the end of the year. Were there any major adjustments at the plate that caused this?

Randy Smith: He went back to the hitter that he was in high school and started to use the whole field. So many of these guys come in and get pull happy and try to become something they are not. He had a very nice second half and I'm pretty pleased with the year that he had.

Is Josh VanMeter's future more at second or at short? Also, Baseball America raved about his instincts around the field did you see that too?

Randy Smith: Josh is really a baseball player. He has a very good understanding of the game and the speed at which it is played. You really need to watch him for awhile to appreciate all that he does because his tools are not going to jump out at you.

He has the arm to play short but we are probably going to use him at both positions going forward.

This year the AZL Padres had two big power hitters in Reyes and Urena. How much of a shot do both of them have to be in Fort Wayne next year?

Randy Smith: Both of them are going to get a chance to compete. Reyes hit over .300 and ended up in the Top 10 for hitting and they pitched him really tough in the league. He has tremendous raw power, good arm strength and really just solid tools across the board. He's a big guy so our goal is to work on maintaining his agility.

Urena is very similar in that he also has tremendous raw power and finds a way to get the big hit. He's still developing physically and he is another kid who for only being 18 had a really good year.

Boykin fizzled at the end but you had to like what you saw of him in August. Can you describe the type of player that he is?

Randy Smith: A very good athlete with speed as his calling card right now. He exceeded our expectations offensively but he needs to work on hitting the ball on the line more so he can use his speed more to his advantage. I was very pleased with what he did this year.

Finally, this could be the most players that you have ever sent from the AZL to Fort Wayne next year based on talent. Do you see that too?

Randy Smith: Absolutely. We think we had quite a few players here, especially among the position players that are prospects. No one is written in ink for next year's Fort Wayne team and everyone is going to have to compete for their spot.

Can you describe the evaluation process? It is more than just spring training correct?

Randy Smith: Definitely. It's about what they did this past summer, Instructs, mini-camp and spring. How well do we think they are mentally prepared to play in cold weather and have the ability to fail and bounce back is a big part of the evaluation process.

So many of the Latin kids and guys from Florida, California and other parts of the country have just never played in that type of environment.

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