MadFriars: Sam Geaney on Lake Elsinore

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

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

First, what happened in the second half? [the Storm went 19-51]

Sam Geaney: I’m not really sure, but I do think the talent we have there was better than their record. We still believe in a lot of those players and we are in the process of finding out what went wrong and correcting it.

Jose Rondon had a good year in Lake Elsinore but struggled in San Antonio. What did he do well in High-A?

Sam Geaney: I thought Jose did a nice job with the Storm. Overall I liked his approach, especially with two strikes. Early in the count he is aggressive and he makes good contact.

From what I saw in San Antonio his swing got a little big, which is going to cause him some problems. He has a little bit of the old addage just enough power to get him in trouble.

Auston Bousfield made a big jump from short-season Eugene to High-A Lake Elsinore. He had a big first half but struggled in the second. Did he wear down phyically in the second half?

Sam Geaney: He did wear down a little for someone in his first full year of professional baseball. He’s an advanced player from a big time conference [Auston played at Ole Miss in the SEC]. He’s a good athlete, but not an imposing figure. We would like him to get a little stronger so his body will be able to handle the amount of games next season.

That will be one of his challenges this spring.

What was the biggest improvement you saw in Ryan Miller this year?

Sam Geaney: He missed some time with his back, but still had a nice season. We are going to send him to winter ball in Australia with Michael Collins [his manager with the Storm] where hopefully he will continue with his development.

Ryan is very athletic and can really throw, but is still a little raw even though he has made really big strides since we have had him in the organization. He did a lot of good work with Rylely Westman, our minor league catching coordinator and really progressed. We like him, a very positive presence in the lineup.

I saw Chase Jensen late in the year and I liked what I saw defensively and at the plate. What did you see?

Sam Geaney: He is a a guy that does a lot of things well; he moves well, makes the plays you expect and can hit with some power. In a way I think he’s a little like Rocky Gale in that he has some ability but hadn’t really gotten much of an opportunity before this year.

I thought he played well with the Storm and has some defensive versatility. I look forward to seeing him play next season.

Ryan Butler started off great after a big year in Fort Wayne as the closer. We all know about his fastball velocity, but how did his secondary pitches look this season?

Sam Geaney: He has a tremendous amount of talent, it’s just about being consistent - which is mainly in what you referred to with his secondary pitches. He has a very good slider and change-up, but it’s just about being able to repeat them.

I think his fastball/change-up combination will be his bread and butter but he is capable of flashing a 55-65 slider [on the scouting scale of 20-80].

Is the move of Zech Lemond to the bullpen permanent?

Sam Geaney: I think long-term we want to be able to use him as a starter. He started out strong - it was an aggressive assignment sending him to the Cal League - and he kind of struggled with his fastball command some later in the year.

We are going to continue to monitor his workload, but there is a lot of talent there.

What does Rafael De Paula need to do to take the next step as a pitcher?

Sam Geaney: Probably with his stuff he would be better suited to a short relief role in the big leagues, but right now we want to continue to use him in a starting capacity just to give him some more experience and expose him to more situations.

He has one of the better change-ups in the system, can bring it in the mid-90s with his fastball and is athletic. When things are going well he also has a quality slider.

Kyle Lloyd led the organization again in strikeouts but didn’t put up the same peripheral numbers he did last year. What do you see his role going forward?

Sam Geaney: Kyle has certainly earned everything with his performance so far. He led the organization in strikeouts last year and this and has earned an opportunity to pitch in Double-A next year.

It will be a good test for him, but we also though the Cal League was too and he put up some numbers in Lake Elsinore.

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