MadFriars: Sam Geaney on Tri-City

We caught up with Sam Geaney, the Padres’ Director of Player Development for the second segment of our six part interview series on the top prospects in the system.

Today Sam chats about the Padres’ prospects in the Northwest League for this season.

This was a much better team than most of thought it would be. Shortstop Peter Van Gansen said he thought most of the team played with a chip on it’s shoulder to prove they were better than most people thought. What did you think?

Sam Geaney: This really was a talented group of players and we were very happy with the way that they played this season. A lot of credit has to go to the staff up there with Anthony Contreras [the manager], Nelson Cruz [pitching coach] and Marvin Benard [batting coach]. Those guys gave all of the players a crash course on what it means to be a pro in how you prepare to play the game and held everyone accountable.

There is a lot of pitcing to talk about. Who stood out to you?

Sam Geaney: That is tough because there were so many guys. Phil Maton put up as domianant performance in that league that we have seen in a long time. He has three pitches, a 90 to 93 MPH fastball with tons of finish, power breaking ball, change and a natural feel for throwing strikes. He was a starter in college, so we had to be a little carefull with his innings but there is a lot of discussion about moving him back to a starter for 2016.

Again, there were a lot of guys that were really impressive and as I said on the AZL Padres, we really can’t give enough credit to Mark Conner and his staff for their abilities to find talented players in the later rounds. Wilson Santos is another player that stands out. He’s been up and down a few times, but he has a big arm.

Three college pitchers - Jerry Keel, Brett Kennedy and Trevor Megill - you were careful with because of the innings they had already thrown. Do you see them all as starters or relievers going forward? Sam Geaney: We like what we saw from all of them. Kennedy was limited because of how many innings he threw at Fordham. He has a good change-up and sneaky fastball. If you had to go for a big league comp it might be Ian Kennedy. His breaking ball needs to tighten up a little. A really intelligent pitcher.

Megil is not altogether back from his surgery, but is a great prospect. Big fastball and he has pure curve. Jerry Keel is a really tough look for a left-handed hitter. There are a lot of options for him either in the bullpen or as a starter.

Peter Van Gansen had a a very good season. What stands out about him to you?

Sam Geaney: He’s just a very good baseball player. All of his at-bats are quality and were very competittive. I think he did a great job at shortstop defensively and he has some pop too.

SDSU’s Ty France was a thirty-fourth round draft pick and just had a great year. Do you see his future at first or third?

Sam Geaney: For someone that hadn’t played that much first base he did a very good job there as well; and not just offensively. He really showed some ability with the glove too. He’s a bit uncoventional, but this year really helped his versatilty which he will need as he moves up.

What happened with Carlos Belen this season?

Sam Geaney: I spent some time with him in the last weeks of the season and I’m still pretty high on him. It’s easy to be negative with the errors and the strikeouts, but he did get better this season.

WIth so many young players it’s about learning how to be locked in mentally for the game and there is where we saw an improvement. Not taking bad at-bats into the field and treating each at-bat separately. Defensively, he can make all the plays. His arm looks good, his feet work well and in the scond half is where we also started to see the improvement. When I was there I saw him make a couple of great bare handed picks.

Offensively, the improvement from the beginning of the year was impressive - and he can actually run a little for a guy his size.

Again, the talent is there, it’s about consistency.

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