MadFriars' Preview: 2014 Eugene Emeralds

Synopsis: This should be a much better team than the one we saw last year simply by the fact that the Padres drafted eight college players in the first ten round of the 2014 draft as compared to four in 2013. In addition to the selectees coming to Eugene keep an eye on some holdovers from last years' very good AZL Padres team led by Franchy Cordero and pitcher Adrian De Horta.

Three Strikes with Randy Smith Padres Director of Player Development and International Scouting:

After you sign the draft picks what is the process for getting the players you want up to Eugene?

Randy Smith: Everyone we sign first will go out to our facility in Peoria to formally sign a contract and take a physical. Then we start doing some workouts with them and for most of them we will get them into some games and decide if they will be in Eugene or in the AZL.

Franchy Cordero really struggled offensively and defensively in his first month in Fort Wayne. What improvements did he make in extended spring? Also with Trea Turner coming to Eugene, where else do you see Cordero playing?

Randy Smith: The big thing with Franchy was that we had to get him out of the cold weather in Fort Wayne where he just got into a lot of bad habits. He hit well over .400 when he came back to extended. Defensively we did some work mechanically with him on his throwing where he had gotten into some bad habits.

As for both him and Trea for the moment they are going to rotate between shortstop and DH but we will send one of them to Fort Wayne shortly. It's not necessarily going to be based on what numbers one of them is putting up in Eugene, but more on who we think is ready.

The bottom line is that one of them is 21 [Turner] and the other is 19 [Cordero] and at this point in both of their careers we want them playing in the middle of the field as much as possible.

Michael Kelly was a first round pick in 2011 and despite a world of talent has had problems getting out of the short-season leagues. What is the biggest thing he needs to work on?

Randy Smith: Consistency. He has really good stuff at times and in other times he is very hittable. We think a lot of it with Michael is mental and just a question of trusting his stuff and having a consistent arm action and delivery. He is one of those guys that we have spent a lot of time with trying to figure out how to get the most out of him.

2014 Projected Lineup:

1b Marcus Davis/Trae Santos SP Andrew Lockett
2b Jalen Goree SP Michael Kelly
SS Franchy Cordero/Trea Turner SP Adrian De Horta
3b Joey Epperson SP Thomas Dorminy
C Jose Ruiz/Michael Miller SP Jimmy Brasoban
LF Jose Urea/Yale Rosen SP Bryan Verbitsky
CF Auston Bousfield RP Ryan Butler
RF Nick Torres CL Zech Lemond

MadFriars' Top 20 Prospects in Eugene: Franchy Cordero (#10) and 2014 first round draft pick Trea Turner.

2014 Draft: Eight of the Padres' first ten draft picks were college players who should see time in Eugene this summer, as compared to only four last year. The organization will usually send the college players to the Northwest League while the high school draftees will stay in the Arizona League for the full summer with rare exceptions.

Catch a Rising Star: Turner should be sent to Low-A Fort Wayne fairly quickly with an open spot at shortstop and the Padres' desire to have both Cordero and Turner playing everyday in the middle of the field. Despite his struggles in Fort Wayne in April, Cordero is a talented player and has all the tools, but its also time to translate it from the back fields of the spring training complexes of Peoria to the stadium.

Starting Pitching: The Emeralds will have some size in Lockett and Kelley, the question is what will happen on the mound. Locket at six-foot-five, 225 lbs. was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft and is relatively new to pitching after playing most of his prep career at first base. He looked good in 2012 in the AZL but a blister on his pitching hand that never seemed to heal kept him out of this season followed this season by more arm injuries. If he's healthy, he could be the ace of the staff. Kelly, only 21, was a top pick in 2011 and will be taking his second tour of the Northwest League. Another guy with good size at six-foot-four and 210 lbs. and loads of potential, in a somewhat similar vein with Cordero, its about doing it in stadiums as opposed to the practice field. De Horta, 19, started the year in Fort Wayne, but problems with his command 38 walks in 47.1 innings against only 36 strikeouts sent him back to Eugene. Thomas Dorminy was a tenth round pick from an NAIA school in Alabama whom the organization liked since he was a prep star in central Florida.

Pen: 2014 third round pick Zech Lemond, who alternated between the pen and starting at Rice, should at least start the year here before moving in as the Padres will try to limit his innings after a long college year. Also look for Ryan Butler, the seventh round pick in this year's draft, to also make an appearance as the organization at this point is much more interested in getting pitcher's some professional experience while keeping a tight rein on their innings after a long college year.

Infield: In addition to Cordero and Tucker, 2B Jalen Goree was a sixth round pick in 2012 who because of various injuries has yet to play more than 30 games in a season. He is considered a raw athletic talent who has some speed and a little bit of power. Marcus Davis is a rangy converted outfielder who struggled in Eugene last year but came back and impressed the powers at be in extended spring. He will compete with Trae Santos, who is also returning to Eugene after a so-so season last year. Joey Epperson, a late pick out of UCSB should see the majority of the time at third. Baseball America describes him as the type of rangy athletic player organizations tend to like but he's also 23.

Catching: Venezuelan Jose Ruiz and Michael Miller, who was also with the Ems, should see the split the position this year with 2014 sixth round pick Zach Risedorf likely to spend the season in the AZL.

Outfield: This should be Eugene's deepest position led by Nick Torres, a fourth round pick out of Cal Poly, whom the general consensus is can just "flat-out hit." The problem is he is supposedly limited to left field, but that is a place where a bat can take you places. Bousfield is a junior outfielder from Ole Miss whose game is said to resemble current Padre Chris Denofria in that he can play all three outfield positions and is very good at making contact. He hit .349 for the Rebels this season. Rounding out the outfield will be Jose Urena, who had a big year in the AZL last year, but struggled in Fort Wayne in April and Yale Rosen, an eleventh round pick out of Washington State who is seen as more of an athlete than a baseball player right now.

On the Spot: Michael Kelley was a supplemental first round pick in 2011 and should be much further along in his career path than he is now. C Austin Hedges is in AA-San Antonio and Joe Ross is on the verge of joining him in High-A Lake Elsinore. As stated above, the stuff is there, it's about learning how to pitch.

Under the Radar: Nick Torres should put up some big offensive numbers in Eugene this summer and become much better known to Padres' fans by the end of the year.

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