Mid-season Portland update with Padres' Tye Waller

San Diego Padres' Director of Player Development, Tye Waller, joined up with John Conniff to get a mid-season update on the prospects within the system. Waller touched on how players such as Dennis Tankersley, Humberto Quintero, Jon Knott, Xavier Nady, and anyone who made an appearance with the big club, and explained his level of excitement for the future. Waller also broke down the individual teams starting with Portland.

Thanks for sitting down with us again. First question, how have the Padres' prospects in general performed this year and do any in particular stand out for you?

Tye Waller: For the most part I'm pretty pleased, but then it depends on how you look at it and who you define as a prospect. Tank did well when he came up for his four starts. Quintero did a heckuva a job in the time he has been in the big leagues has been catching some winners and hitting. We got Jon Knott up to the big leagues and he has made some progress in Portland. Nady hasn't played regular yet, but is starting to get some time recently. Guzman is on pace to eventually get an opportunity. At Portland he's been stealing bases and consistently putting the ball in play.

Tim Stauffer is pitching outstanding in Portland. His stuff has been consistent throughout the year. His last starts have been very good, especially against Sacramento right before the all star break. Justin Germano stuttered a little bit after he was sent back down, but he had a very good outing last night, 9 innings with only throwing 79 pitches. A lot of times when someone struggles guys start to panic, but his stuff is still there throughout.

I'm very pleased with what is going on at the AAA level.


Currently the Padres have one of their better teams in Portland. The team has some of the best depth for position players and pitchers. Three big right handed bats in particular Jon Knott, Xavier Nady and Tagg Bozied have been drawing a lot of attention. How do you see them fitting into the Padres in the future?

Tye Waller: It's difficult to say, all these guys are hitters, and all play corner positions; so I can't tell how they really will all fit. It does give you options; usually that is what happens when you have a surplus. Most of these guys are going to get an opportunity to prove they can play in the majors.

Jon Knott definitely has some power, more of a corner player, fitting in the mix - with Giles, Nevin and Klesko is going to be hard. He's going to just have to wait for the opening to get consistent at bats. This is Jon's first full season in AAA and he knows what he is working towards.

With Xavier Nady we have worked on trying to cut down the leg kick and make his swing less complicated, in essence a shorter path to the ball. He has to make sure he gets a good pitch to hit and some things can only learn at the MLB level, which the only way he is going to accomplish this, is when he gets a shot. He can play a day or two in CF which he did in Portland, but that is still something we need to evaluate further. There have been guys in the past that are not the prototype center fielders, we are always looking for options to get him into the line-up. To bring in another power hitter.

This interview was done just prior to Bozied going down for the year:

Tye Waller: Tagg Bozied - Is becoming real consistent with his power. Right now we just want to see him keep swinging the bat. We know he's been a little down because he isn't up in the majors yet, but the game find you if you keep on producing. - game finds you if you keep on producing.

Jake Gautreau seems to have regained his stroke, after struggling in Mobile last year. What is the reason for the resurgence?

Tye Waller: It's about his pitch selection and not trying to do to much. For players like Jake, when certain things come so easy for you, there is a tendency to try to do more, which can hurt you. If Jake keeps on using the whole field, he's going to be successful.

Freddy Guzman has drawn a lot of attention for his ability to steal bases and his speed, but there is some question if he has enough of an arm to play CF or if he will ever hit for more power. What are your thoughts?

Tye Waller: We're very happy with how Guzman is progressing is in Portland. During spring training, Guzman's arm was a problem because of his injury. Right now he's showing that he has a better arm than many people thought. It's just a question of him keeping his mechanics strong.

Maybe a question about Alex Fernandez, had a decent year last year - but seems to have fallen down. What do the Padres think of him? Is he really a few years older and how are they working to get him to take more walks and swing at better pitches?

Tye Waller: It's been one of our goals with Alex. He is streaky and needs to have better plate discipline. The unfortunate part is we have quite a few guys that play his same position and his playing time has been diminished. The other guys have been more consistent, and he hasn't been as effective as last year. We try to give everyone an opportunity, but playing time is based on performance.

This year Portland has a very deep and talented staff in Tankersly, Stauffer, Germano, Sweeney and Oxspring. How do you see these pitchers helping the Padres? Tankersly was particularly impressive in his four starts with the Padres. Is he still in the team's plans?

Tye Waller: Brian Sweeney has showed what he was capable off in the big leagues. When he is on, he is a finesse pitcher who changes speeds and hits his spots. His opportunities are going to be determined by the needs of the big club.

Tye Waller: Chris Oxspring has an arm. He has four average major league pitches that he can throw for strikes and his confidence is starting to come along too. I feel very good about the five starters we have now in Portland, and also about Marty McLeary. Our depth at Portland provides Bruce Bochy and Kevin Towers with more options on the major league level.

What makes Darren Balsley so much more effective in working with the staff than his predecessors?

Tye Waller: Mainly that he has really developed a relationship with these guys and they trust him. Balsley focuses on details and gets guys to believe in themselves and him. It's all about being comfortable with what they are doing and believing that they can make a difference. The stuff that he does with these guys confidence goes both ways, and it doesn't hurt that he has worked with a lot of them in the minors which can ease their transition.

John Conniff can be reached at Conniff@sandiegosports.net

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