MadFriars: Sam Geaney on El Paso

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

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

One of the best parts about your job has to be occasionally getting the chance to let someone know they made the major leagues.  How did it go with long-time MadFriars’favorite Cody Decker?

Sam Geaney: It was really cool. During this year I had developed a relationship with Cody and we had some really good conversations about his career. I think we he finished the season in El Paso he thought he was saying goodbye to El Paso and the Padres.

I had the priviledge to call him and let him know that he was coming up to the big leagues and it was a great feeling to get to tell him that. I got to do it because some of the other guys in the organization who usually do those things were busy. So I got to call Cody, Jay Jackson and Casey Kelly.

Cody is really an example that we use to all of the guys in the organization because of not only how hard he works, but how intelligently he works. I really couldn’t have been happier for him.

Alex Dickerson is kind of an under the radar guy with all of the attention that Travis Jankowski and Hunter Renfroe received this year.  What are the strengths of his game and what does he need to improve upon?

Sam Geaney:He has as much bat speed and raw power as anyone in the organization. You could literally hear the ball coming off of his bat from the scout seats in one of the games that I attended. He can play right and left field and a little bit of first, but I think left is where he is the most comfortable. As you know he’s a San Diego kid [Poway High School] who has taken a bit of a circuitious route to the big leagues, but he has also hit everywhere he has been. This off-season he had a chance to work with Mark Kotsay [the Padres’ hitting coach] which I think really helped him out.

We got quite a few questions on Rymer Liriano, mainly on why he wasn’t called up at the end of the year.  What did you see in him this season?

Sam Geaney:Rymer continues to be one of our most talented guys. He had a solid year and he got to the big leagues at a young age last year. We were happy he was able to get a full season at Triple-A under his belt because he hadn’t had that many plate appearances at the Double-A level and above coming into this year.

The biggest improvement I saw in Rymer this season was an improvement in his approach at the plate. He had a much better idea of what he was trying to do. He also got to play a lot more in center when Travis [Jankowski] got moved up to the big leagues.

As for why he didn’t get called up, again so much of it is timing and the guys that we already had in the big leagues. But overall, we like what Rymer did this season.

Again, you had quite a few quality outfielders this season.  Jake Goebbert posted a great on-base percentage (.392).  He’s eligible to be a free agent next year.  Does the organization see a future with him?

Sam Geaney: We had a really good set of outfielders in Triple-A this year. In regards to those guys and Cody [Decker] we have an interest in seeing them come back too. Some of them were dissapointed at not being called up and I can certainly understand that.

Jake is really a professional hitter. He gave us great at-bats this year and is very team oriented. He’s a good defender on the corners and can play first and center field too. He’s really a guy we would love to continue with but he’s going to have a lot of interest from other teams too this winter because of the type of player and person he is.

Rocky Gale finally got the call and was one of the better stories this year.  How would you describe his strengths as a player?

Sam Geaney:Rocky is really a testament to our players on how if you work you can get things done. He really only got a chance to be an everyday player at 27, so we are really happy for him.

He could always catch and throw but I also think on the El Paso club he was one of the better bat-to-ball guys at the plate. He has a line drive stroke and really can place the ball. He will do anything you ask of him and I believe he is a major league player.

I really enjoyed speaking with Chris Smith this season.  It seems like you have so many potential options with him.  Where could he end up next year?

Sam Geaney: He was definitely one of our favorites as well. Very easy and knowledgeable guy to talk with. He had an interesting route to get to us too. He’s from Southern California and was in a few organizations, got released and went back and got his degree - even coached a little while he was going to school - decided he wanted to pitch again and went the independent ball route and he ended up signing with us last year.

He had a really nice year and is someone we would have an interest in coming back. He’s a prototype veteran. He hides the baseball well, has a change-up and works well with the younger players. He also put himself in the discussion for a call-up this year if we needed a starter.

Any thoughts of trying to get Jason Lane interested in coaching?  And would it be on the pitching or hitting side?

Sam Geaney: It really could be either one since he’s had two careers. We really liked having both Chris [Smith] and Jason on our club as an example to the guys on the club of how you are supposed to be a professional. Jason was a little dissapointed that this season didn’t go as well as last - both on the mound and at the plate - but he did feel good about how he finished.

Once he is done playing, yes, I think coaching is a natural fit for him - and I really could see him as a manager - but right now I still think he wants to pitch.

Jay Jackson had a great year coming out of the bullpen.  What made him so much better in relief than as a starter?

Sam Geaney:I never saw him as a starter but I did like what I saw of him in El Paso. Very consistent and good stuff. Very athletic, crisp slider and he always seemed very prepared and aware of what he was doing on the mound. This is the first year where he was only a reliever and I think he was pretty happy with the outcome.

He has some swing-and-miss stuff.

We’ve been writing about Jerry Sullivan since 2009 and thought he had a pretty good year.  What does he have to do to take the next step?

Sam Geaney: Jerry was one of the better athletes on the team but his oblique injury came at a difficult time for him [Sullivan was out from mid-April until mid-June].

I saw a little of him in the Dominican Winter League. He’s a good pitcher, he’s not going to overpower anyone, but when he’s on he has a nice mix of pitches. At this point in his career he’s a veteran guy and as with the guys we mentioned earlier so many things come down to timing.

Everywhere Jerry has been a pitcher that can get guys out; he just needs a few breaks.


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