Waller on Padres' prospects in Portland, Mobile

We caught up with Tye Waller, the Padres Director of Player Development, before his upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic to briefly review the mid-season status of Portland Beavers and Mobile BayBears prospects Ben Johnson, Josh Barfield, Paul McAnulty, J.J. Furmaniak, Greg Sain, Sean Thompson, Travis Chick, Mike Thompson, and the signing of Wilson Valdez.


John Conniff: Both Josh Barfield and especially Ben Johnson were struggling going into mid-May, until you had a talk with them. Now they are the two of the hottest players in the system, what magical words did you tell them?

Tye Waller: Where did you read that? (laughing) I watched Ben play some games, and it was the same thing as every year with him, he just needed to relax. I asked him when was he going to relax and stop forcing things? When he relaxes you can really see how well he can play. I can't take any credit for that, its just Ben's ability coming out.

With Josh Barfield its just working on his plate coverage, and getting him to swing at better pitches. We're working on trying to get his average and on base percentage up.

John Conniff: Why was Wilson Valdez signed? Do the Padres now see JJ Furmaniak as a third baseman?

Tye Waller: Were going to try to rotate all three, Furmaniak, Valdez and Jesse Garcia at SS. JJ has done an outstanding job for us, can play a lot of positions and is very much in our plans. We signed Valdez because he is a good player whom we think can help our organization.

John Conniff: Greg Sain was promoted to Portland, but had his troubles earlier this year. When did it change?

Tye Waller: I don't know if Tagg Bozied woke him up (when he was in Mobile) but competition always helps. He was struggling. He is a guy who we thought could produce some runs.


John Conniff: Have the Padres been happy with the defensive progress of Paul McAnulty in the outfield?

Tye Waller: If you play the corners, your best position is batter. Mac has really poured himself into it. He's got to hit and so far he has, although now we are also starting to see the power come from him too. He's becoming the hitter we envisioned.

John Conniff: Arguably, two of your best arms are at Mobile, Sean Thompson and Travis Chick, both of whom are very young (21). Is there any different approach the Padres are taking with these pitchers because of their age?

Tye Waller: We've had Sean for a few years now, so we have an idea of what he can handle. We watch his velocity from start to start. With Sean it's all about location, spotting his fastball and getting his curve over. He's really becoming more of a pitcher with every start.

Travis Chick has pitched well, but can get into trouble making a bad pitch, which can kill you as you move higher. He's a big strong kid, and at 21 is really learning on the job. We should see a better Travis Chick in the second half.

John Conniff: Has anyone surprised you this year with their development?

Tye Waller: Mike Thompson. I don't want to say he surprised but he is starting to pitch the way we thought he could pitch.

He wouldn't embarrass himself but wouldn't play over the league. In Lake Elsinore we saw signs of him coming around. Now he is putting it all together. He is just doing it every time out.

It is not a surprise.

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