This week we take a look at Fort Wayne, where the Padres sent one their youngest teams ever featuring an infield with three teenagers - Jake Bauers, Josh VanMeter and Dustin Peterson and a late round pick that turned into an ace in Kyle Lloyd along with a seventh round draft pick from this year that could turn into being star.
All of us can see Trea Turner’s offensive numbers, but how good is he defensively?
Randy Smith: He’s a pure shortstop. Trea can make all the plays and has a good understanding of the speed of the game.
You’ve been pretty positive on Dustin Peterson all year. With young players like this how do you make them better defensively and how do you build their stamina for a better second half next year?
Randy Smith: When you send teenagers to full-season leagues they are going to run out of gas near the end of the season. I think this past year helped Dustin understand what he needs to do to play in a full-season league and a better understanding of what it takes to be a professional baseball player.
His defense picked up in the second half as he began to learn how to stay behind the ball and trust his arm more. At the plate he did have a knack for driving guys in. He likes being up there with the game on the line and I think we will see a good season from him next year. He put himself in a good spot.
What position do you see Fernando Perez end up playing at?
Randy Smith: Fernando had a great year. It was really important for him to get in the at-bats he missed last year with his injuries. If he continues to get bigger he might grow out of playing second base and have to move to third but we still have him playing both second and third. Defensively he needs to work on his throwing and footwork.
What did Josh VanMeter do better in the second half than he did in the first?
Randy Smith: Josh put on some good weight in the off-season and I think he tried to become more of a power hitter than he was and also had some pressure about playing so close to home. In the second half he began to become more of the hitter that we envisioned of using the gaps and being more patient. He’s a good player and another guy that should do well in Lake Elsinore next season.
When I was in Fort Wayne, I really liked Jake Bauers approach at the plate. He seemed to use the whole field very well for a young player. What type of hitter do you see him developing into as a hitter down the road?
Randy Smith: I really like Jake as a hitter. He uses left-center well, has the ability to turn on the ball and I think he will hit for both average and power down the road.
Kyle Lloyd had an amazing season. What was the biggest improvement you saw from him this year as compared to last?
Randy Smith: With Kyle the biggest thing was his splitter because it really helped to set up his fastball. As he became more aggressive with that sequence it made his other stuff better. Potentially down the road we could even move him to the pen, which would dial up his velocity a little and possibly make him even more effective. He had a pretty solid year and has a really good frame.
Chris Goff of the Fort Wayne Gazette brought this up in an interview with you; can throwing the splitter lead to elbow problems?
Randy Smith: I don’t think any more than any other pitch. People get hurt when they are over-used or have bad mechanics and I see either with Kyle. Additionally, if we took that pitch away from Kyle it really limits his upside and you don’t want to take away his meal ticket.
I’ve always been a Cody Hebner fan. How did you think he did on his transition to a starter?
Randy Smith: Cody has a good arm and is very resilient. He likes to go after hitters and has good velocity. The biggest thing with him is improving his fastball command and getting him to use all of his pitches more which he did when he was in Fort Wayne.
He’s going to get a chance to compete for a starters’ job in San Antonio.
We all know about Ryan Butler’s big fastball what else does he throw and is he going to start or relieve?
Randy Smith: That is the big question. As a relief pitcher he can move faster through the system but he may have more value as a starter if he can harness three pitches. We will make that decision before he leaves the Instructional League.
If he is a starter it will take a little more time than if he comes out of the bullpen.