Today Sam chats about the Padres’ prospects in the Texas League.
You guys ended up with a totally different staff than what you began with at the start of the season. How surprised were you by the performances of Michael Kelly and Kyle Lloyd as starters?
Sam Geaney: We were a little surprised with Michael, but Kyle has performed at every level we have put him at. We thought they both pitched well during the year with all of the challenges that we threw at them.
With Kyle he has one truly plus pitch in his splitter and this year he demonstrated more ability with his secondary pitches. He probably profiles better coming out of the bullpen but this year he showed he can start too. You can really compare Kyle a little bit to Kyle McGrath – he’s kind of a right-handed version.
Michael finally got healthy this season – he had never thrown over 100 innings – and he pitched really well. He has one of the better arms in the system – particularly with his fastball - and he also did a few tweaks with his tempo. Right now his changeup is ahead of his breaking pitch. As I said, he had a very nice season and his big challenge will be to continue to improve on his fastball command and secondary pitches.
At the beginning of the year you talked about that the organization was going to take the reins off of Dinelson Lamet. He pitched very well in Lake Elsinore and was impressive in San Antonio. What is the next step with him?
Sam Geaney: It’s been a pretty impressive two years in how far Dinelson has come. He has thrown over 250 innings, cut his walk rate down, his strikeout rate is solid and we’ve seen improvement in his changeup.
He has also started to throw a curve ball, which is a little softer than his slider, to give him more of an off-speed pitch. Also, off the field he’s really made progress with his English and just became a Dad.
You had a pair of really good bullpen arms in Jason Jester and Kyle McGrath. What made them so effective?
Sam Geaney: Jason has four pitches, which is really impressive for a guy coming out of the bullpen. The key for him right now as I see it is getting more of a separation between his curve and slider. There is a lot of stuff to like about him; good fastball, he commands it well, athletic and he has a very aggressive presence on the mound that goes right after hitters.
Kyle had a great year. He gave up seven earned runs all year in over 60 innings. He has a very good curve and changeup and his delivery from the left side is so unusual it’s hard for batters to pick up.
Seth Simmons was a big surprise this season. What type of pitcher did you guys think you were getting when you signed him?
Sam Geaney: We had some guys in the organization that were familiar with him so we had some idea of what he could be capable off. Initially we saw him more as someone that was going to come out of the bullpen with his fastball/slider combination – mainly because of his size and that is what he had done in the past.
We had some circumstances in Double-A that kind of forced us to put him in the starting rotation and he really performed. He showed an ability to really hit his spots, vary speeds and had a great tempo.
What is the plan going forward to get Nick Torres a little less streaky? Also do you seem him more as a gap-to-gap hitter than as a home run guy?
Sam Geaney: Everyone in the organization really likes Nick and sometimes when he’s on a team that is not doing to well he can try to take too much of the burden of their record on himself and tries to do too much.
I thought he was better in the second half and was impressive when he was up in El Paso. Right now he’s continuing to work on his swing to turn himself into the type of player that we all think he can be. His defense in the outfield picked up too.
Nick Schulz had a very nice year. What was the thinking when you promoted him from Lake Elsinore when he was hitting only .231 and what did you like about his performance this year?
Sam Geaney: He had an impressive year. When you watch him play you could tell he was really becoming a baseball player in how he played the game; he gets on base and was constantly looking to improve on all aspects of his game. Another thing that comes to mind is that he is just a grinder in that he was going to go out there and compete in every inning.
He has a solid overall package and we are looking forward to seeing what he can do next year in Triple-A.
What did you think of Jose Rondon’s year?
Sam Geaney: We were very pleased with his maturation this season. He got a brief taste of the big leagues and really helped out El Paso on their run to the PCL Championship. There were a few growing pains in that he missed a lot of the end of last year with an injury, but we were happy with what we saw on both sides of the ball.
As with all of these guys, being healthy and continuing to work hard enabled a lot of his talent to come out on the field.
Next week we conclude our look at the Padres' minor leagues in 2016 with the top prospects for the Pacific Coast League champions the El Paso Chihuahuas.