Tye Waller on Lake Elsinore, Fort Wayne prospects

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 Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne prospects Michael Johnson, Jared Wells, Chris Kolkhorst Matt Bush, Mike Ekstrom, Clayton Hamilton, Yordany Ramirez, recent draftees making the jump to full season and the health of Reilly Embrey.

Lake Elsinore:

John Conniff: What is the status of Michael Johnson? Also, any thoughts on when he may be promoted?

Tye Waller: We will know more after the all star break. Right now he has been doing some agility work with the team.

We wanted to make sure that he had a good season before we promoted him and had the confidence necessary to advance. We will play it by ear, and make that decision as a group.

John Conniff: Same question on Jared Wells, who has been one of the best pitchers at Lake Elsinore this year, do you see him being promoted soon?

Tye Waller: Jared has been throwing a really good fastball, 91 to 93 mph, along with his slider and a change. He's becoming much more consistent, and right now our thoughts is that it doesn't hurt a guy to have a full year in a league. Last year we were able to promote Tim Stauffer through three levels, but with some other guys we didn't have as much success.

Fort Wayne:

John Conniff: You have two college pitchers, Mike Ekstrom and Clayton Hamilton who are performing very well in the Midwest League. What is the criteria for the Padres moving them up and because they are college players do you feel you need to advance them quicker because of their ages.

Tye Waller: Well we look at a combination of things, how are they getting the outs. Are they getting outs outside of the zone? Velocity, etc...also they are not guys that we have to rush. Hamilton is 22 and Ekstrom is 21, so they have a lot of time. We would rather be a little cautious.

John Conniff: A Matt Bush update?

Tye Waller: He has improved each month that he has been there. As 19, he's playing in a very tough league. He's having a good year for where he's been and we are really proud of how hard he has worked. The position he plays [shortstop] is tough but he keeps working.

John Conniff: Yordany Ramirez, who was the number #23 rated prospect by MadFriars.com, is struggling so far this season, any reason?

Tye Waller: Ramirez is a 5 tool player and hasn't played a lot of organized baseball so its not a big surprise to us that he is having some difficulty. We'll see if we can get some more improvement from him in the second half, but he is a project.

General Questions:

John Conniff: There have been some reports that the Padres are considering starting some of their high draft picks at Lake Elsinore or even Mobile. Is there any truth to those reports?

Tye Waller: Right now we will start everyone at Eugene, since nearly all of our picks are college guys, and then sort it out from there.

John Conniff: How do you ultimately decide where to place each drafted player?

Tye Waller: That influx of talent, you have to get a feel from the scouts on what these guys are capable of and where they can start and compete. Do we have spots available? Do we move a guy like Chris Kolkhorst who had a good half?

We compare the guys in the draft and where they can start. How long it will take to get them in shape? As an example, (Mike) Ekstrom was tired when he came to us last year.

John Conniff: Can you describe what "extended spring training" is?

Tye Waller: The guys play games everyday, work on fundamentals and conditioning. Usually we have about 35 to 40 players there at one time. When the Arizona League starts, (which it has), extended spring training becomes that league.

John Conniff: Last question as a Poway High grad, what is the status of Reilly Embry?

Tye Waller: He's still rehabbing his wrist injury at Peoria. Hopefully we will be able to get him to Eugene this season.

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