Cherished Memories

Sam Geaney on the Lake Elsinore Storm

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 for 2016.

Today Sam chats about the Padres’ prospects in the California League.

You have always been a big believer in Franchy Cordero.  How good did it feel to watch him have the type of season that he had?

Sam Geaney:  There was a lot of care in making sure we were putting him in a place to succeed when we moved him into the outfield. We always believed that there was a lot there with Franchy and how well he played this year is really not surprising to anyone who has watched him as an athlete and knows him as a person.

He’s always been accountable and constantly is working to get better.

Franmil Reyes really turned it around in the second half.  What happened?

Sam Geaney:  There really wasn’t anything in particular, no real swing changes.  To me the improvement was just Franmil continuing to get better, particularly mentally and learning how to deal better with success and failure.

Another guy you were really high on  earlier in the year was Luis Urias.  We know a lot about his offensive ability, what can you tell us about him defensively?

Sam Geaney:  He’s a very intelligent player.  Luis does a tremendous job of making the routine plays; he goes to his right very well and has a good arm.  He also has the ability to play shortstop and that is something that we are going to continue to challenge him to do.

He’s a good athlete and with his intelligence – and the shifting that they do today – he could play either second or shortstop at the big league level.  But in order to get there, he knows that there is more work to be done.  We have been very impressed with the strides that he has made defensively as well as at the plate.

Josh VanMeter had a good year in Lake Elsinore before struggling in San Antonio.  Where did his power come from and what are you looking from him for next year?

Sam Geaney:  It was a tough year for Josh in 2015 when he missed most of the year but he really used his time wisely and got a lot stronger in the weight room.  He has always had good bat to ball skills, which we saw this year with the Storm, and I think the added strength will help him down the road.

What happened with Javier Guerra this season?

Sam Geaney:  It was really a variety of things; new organization, very high expectations for himself and he kind of got in a hole offensively early on.  Defensively he was very consistent and continued to make a lot of plays that most people can’t at that position.

At the plate we thought there were some mechanical adjustments that needed to be made and are implementing them in the off-season.

Ty France wasn’t hitting that great in Fort Wayne and then really turned it on in Lake Elsinore.  What changed with him?

Sam Geaney:  Nothing really specific.  He had a good on-base percentage with the TinCaps and has always had a good idea of what he was trying to do at the plate.  Maybe coming home helped some but I thought for the most part he consistently puts together quality at-bats and the numbers reflected that with the Storm.

I know the organization was thinking of turning Phil Maton into a starter.  Why did you choose not too and what was his biggest improvement this season?

Sam Geaney: There was some discussion of it but the more we were around Phil we began to see that it would be a pretty quick climb to the big leagues if he was coming out of the bullpen.  We also thought with his stuff, athleticism and really natural aggressiveness that he fit in better in that type of role. 

Enyel De Los Santos has a huge fastball.  How his command and secondary stuff coming along?

Sam Geaney: He’s always been able to throw strikes and the refinement of his fastball command is getting better.  He has the makings of a really good changeup, which is further along than his curveball.  He has a really good feel for the change for someone so young.

Chris Huffman is kind of an under the radar guy.  Where do you see his future?

Sam Geaney: He has a nice season this year.  As for his future I could see him in more of a swingman role in the majors where his stuff might play up in shorter stints but he could also exceed that.  He really has an ability to throw strikes.

What happened with Colby Blueberg in the second half?

Sam Geaney:  There really isn’t any smoking gun and he’s never been a huge stuff guy.  He’s starting to get to the level where he is really going to have to execute hit pitches because he is facing better hitters.  There is really nothing from a workload standpoint; just better hitters and better competition.

How would you describe Brett Kennedy?

Sam Geaney: He’s a very cerebral pitcher with a sneaky good arm.  He knows how to throw strikes, eat innings and keep the ball in the park.  Brett does a lot of things very well and we can be a bit aggressive with him because his is a very polished pitcher.

Our challenge with him will probably be more technical, in how he approaches hitters because sometimes he can be a little too fine and he needs to trust his stuff more.

Finally, Walker Lockett seemed to turn the corner this year.  What did you think?

Sam Geaney: There was a definite sense of urgency with him this year.  I think he came to Spring Training this season and took a look around and thought that he needed to show what he was capable of doing, and he did.

He was one of the veteran guys who dealt with some injuries and setbacks early in his career and he really put together a fine season.  We really liked the way he went about his work and approached his starts.

Monday we move to the Texas League and the San Antonio Missions and take a look at some of the top position prospects.

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