Top Scout Comes to The Padres

The numbers speak for themselves.  Given the chance to add a talent evaluator on par with the best in the industry, the addition of Grady Fuson was easy.  The San Diego Padres fought off bids from two other teams to add Fuson to their scouting department.

Grady Fuson is considered a scouting genius.

With the Oakland A's, Fuson was credited with directing drafts that produced Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Eric Chavez, Bobby Crosby, Mark Bellhorn, Ben Grieve and Jeremy Bonderman.

Then, as a top aide to Texas general manager John Hart, Fuson was credited with rapidly rebuilding the Rangers' farm system. Some even saw Fuson as the heir apparent to Hart, before the Rangers decided to extend Hart's contract.

So when Fuson became available last month, the Padres eagerly jumped into the bidding.

"Two other clubs were very aggressive ... and rightfully so," said Padres general manager Kevin Towers. "Look at Grady's track record. It's one of the best in the business. He's got a knack for picking talented players."

What will be Fuson's actual duties remains to be seen. But his first order of business might be to evaluate the Padres farm system. He then will assist Padres scouting director Bill Gayton with the June draft. Gayton and Fuson, 48, formerly worked together with the A's.

Recently, after a long drought, the Padres' drafts have produced some impact players -- most notably SS Khalil Greene, RHP Jake Peavy and 3B Sean Burroughs.

But the Padres are reeling from last June's draft, in which they backed away at the 11th hour from such highly regarded players as right-handed pitcher Jared Weaver to take home-grown high school shortstop Matt Bush with the first overall pick. Bush then embarrassed the club by getting arrested at a nightclub near the Padres' training base in Peoria, Ariz.

The Padres scouting organization has had an unsettled past.

"Grady is a very talented executive who brings a wealth of knowledge to our organization", said Towers. "His exceptional track record of developing young talent is a perfect fit for the organizational philosophy that John Moores, Dick Freeman and I are dedicated to."

Ted Simmons was considered a development guru when the Padres hired him in 1999. His responsibilities with the club have eroded steadily since 2003. Bill Clark was hired as the international scouting supervisor in 2000 and set up a still active training camp in the Dominican Republic before being fired in 2003.

The Padres also hired Bill Bryk as farm director and Randy Smith as director of international scouting. Smith is seen as being responsible for the Padres' signing of RHP Akinori Otsuka and has made great strides in signing a number of Australians this off-season.

The Padres have been pleased with Gayton's work. But Towers has always been eager to add another set of eyes and ears.

"Grady will bring fresh, new ideas to the organization," said Towers. "You always want to keep learning. And his track record speaks for itself. He's brought in quite a few impact players."

Fuson is coming home.  He played high school and junior college ball in the San Diego area.

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