Sam Geaney on the First Six Weeks

Six weeks into his first season on the job, the Padres’ new Director of Player Development, Sam Geaney, has seen one of his three top prospects promoted to the big leagues, another one traded away to Atlanta in the Craig Kimbrel deal, and the third struggle mightily in San Antonio.

Such is life in the A.J. Preller regime.

There have been some surprises, namely Travis Jankowski in San Antonio and the resurrection of Donavan Tate’s career in Lake Elsinore. We caught up with him on Thursday afternoon for a brief interview on some of the bigger stories in the Padres’ system for 2015.

El Paso

Before the season we talked about the promotion of Austin Hedges to Triple-A El Paso after struggling at Double-A San Antonio last season.

We know you don’t make these decisions like this unilaterally, but what was the thinking on promoting him after one very good month in Triple-A?

Sam Geaney: It is a group decision, and I know we discussed this earlier when we were in the process of setting rosters, but we saw a very sustainable improvement in him starting with what he did in the off-season, in spring training, that carried over into playing under the lights in El Paso.

All of us - and our pro scouts - were very happy in the quality of his at-bats; his approach, some mechanical adjustments that we saw as sustainable going forward. Defensively he just kept getting better and better.

Is it better for his development right now to be a backup in the major leagues instead of playing everyday in Triple-A, especially when you have Rocky Gale available?

Sam Geaney: It will certainly be a different role for him than what he has been used to. Our staff at the major league level is certainly going to be proactive in making sure that he can stay as sharp as possible without having the normal workload that he would have in playing every day in El Paso.

We also like Rocky Gale a lot too, who is having another good year defensively and at the plate.

San Antonio

Two outfielders in San Antonio are getting attention for different reasons. One, what has Hunter Renfroe been struggling with and two, what has Travis Jankowski been doing so well?

Sam Geaney: Travis had a great spring and spent a lot of time on the big league side. Everyone thinks of him as really a long lean athlete but our strength and conditioning guys have told us that pound for pound he is one the strongest guys in the system. Last year he had a really tough injury and it’s really great to see him get off to the type of start that he has. Defensively, he has really been something in center.

I think for Hunter it will be a matter of time. You know I have been going back and forth between seeing players at various levels, and it's different at the more advanced levels in both the mental and physical part of the game.

Some things with him are mechanical and others come down to his approach. He has to refine a little bit of his aggressiveness at the plate and hopefully has begun to turn the corner on some things this month.

There are some good things that come out of his struggles, mainly in showing him the type of improvements he will need to make in his game to get to the big leagues.

Lake Elsinore

I thought Donavan Tate looked good in spring. What were you working with him on during Extended Spring and what are your expectations for him this year?

Sam Geaney: Mainly it was just making up for lost time with him. We had a few guys ahead of him but we wanted to make sure that he was also getting at-bats against live pitching every day. When an injury opened up some space on the roster we sent him out there.

There is still ability left there and right now we want to get him into game situations away from the practice fields and find out what we have.

Fort Wayne

Duanel Jones has always had a tremendous amount of talent but it had yet to really show up on the field until this month. I thought it was a little strange for him to be sent back to Fort Wayne after two seasons in Lake Elsinore but it seems to have worked.

What changed?

Sam Geaney: He is still a very young player and has ability on both sides of the ball. This year he has matured and grown a lot as a player. I think he has always seen himself as a third baseman and right now that is where we see him too. As for what changed it’s hard to say. But sometimes a change of scenery will help. The group we have at Fort Wayne is very young, and they are making mistakes as young players do; but Duanel is one of the older guys and a lot of the players look up to him as a leader. He has enjoyed working with the coaching staff we have there and right now we are optimistic. Last, I really liked what I saw from Franchy Cordero in the spring but he has been struggling again in both the field and at the plate. Any reasons for it?

Sam Geaney: We know a young shortstop is going to make errors and right now we are really still evaluating on why the gains we saw in spring haven’t really carried over to games with him at Fort Wayne.

We are aware of what is going on, but really will have a better idea of what we are or are not going to do in about a month or two.

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