Interview with Padres' Jeff Kingston Part II

Paul McAnulty in Double-A? Travis Chick overmatched? Sean Thompson a Big Leaguer? Jared Wells still in Lake Elsinore? George Kottaras progressing? Drew Macias a prototypical PETCO Park centerfielder? Fernando Valenzuela's potential? Brett Bonvechio someone to look out for at third base? Matt Bush repeating Fort Wayne? Colt Morton, will he ever move up? Gigantor promoted? All these questions and more answered by Jeff Kingston, the Director of Baseball Operations for the San Diego Padres.

We continue with part two of our interview with Jeff Kingston. In this segment we review the Mobile, Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne affiliates.

John Conniff: Why was Paul McAnulty, after being promoted to the Padres, sent back to Mobile, instead of Portland in AAA?

Jeff Kingston: It was really based on the situation within the organization more than anything else. We really don't have any doubt that Mac can hit in the Pacific Coast League, right now it was just a better fit for us to have him in Mobile.

John Conniff: How much has McAnulty improved his defense in the outfield from last year?

Jeff Kingston: His defense has come along way. He has very deceiving speed and is able to get jumps like Brian Giles. He has great instincts in the outfield.

John Conniff: One of the Padres biggest surprises last year, and arguably thepitcher with the most upside in the entire organization, is Travis Chick. With Chick's struggles this year, after skipping the California League [high A] is there any feeling within the organization that he might have been rushed?

Jeff Kingston: With his ERA and record its easy to knock him and our decision right now. He has good makeup, and loves challenges and we thought he was ready to take on AA. I think the environment has hurt him and his ERA is artificially inflated.

He hasn't pitched as well as we hoped, but hasn't pitched as bad as his numbers indicate either, so we don't think he was rushed.

John Conniff: Another one of your really promising young pitchers in Mobile is Sean Thompson. Do the Padres see him as a starter or relief pitcher?

Jeff Kingston: Everyone in the organization believes he will be a major league pitcher. He has a plus curve and change, the whole key with Sean is his command of the fastball. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but we like him as a starter.

He's a pretty young guy, good peripheral numbers and his command could improve. He has what it takes to play in the majors.

Lake Elsinore:

John Conniff: The best pitcher on the Storm this year has been Jared Wells. Any idea when we will see him moved up to Mobile?

Jeff Kingston: It's really just a matter of time. We like for a guy to have his feet set before moving him up. He will be up soon enough, it really just more of an organizational need.

What is impressive about Jared is that he has pitched well in some really tough hitters parks in the California League and has posted some very solid numbers.

John Conniff: Let talk about the top position prospect in Lake Elsinore, catcher George Kottaras. What are your thoughts on him and has he improved the defensive aspect of his game this year which was questioned somewhat last year?

Jeff Kingston: Kottaras is our best prospect in my opinion. He is fairly raw in terms of baseball experience. He has great hands, really soft hands, and calls a great game. The only real knock on him is getting the ball out of the glove quicker on steals. We're not concerned about his defense and it would be a surprise to us if he is not an everyday major league player in a few years.

John Conniff: Three other position prospects, first baseman Fernando Valenzuela Jr., third baseman Brett Bonvechio and center fielder Drew Macias have also had nice seasons. How would you evaluate them?

Jeff Kingston: Fernando Valenzuela doesn't have the prettiest body, but he has great hands and a knack for squaring up on the ball. You have to look past his body, he has a major league bat.

John Conniff: Has there been any thought to moving him to another position?

Jeff Kingston: There has been some thought, but he has limited mobility. He is a really good first baseman, which is his best position.

John Conniff: How about Bonvechio and Macias?

Jeff Kingston: Bonvechio works the count really well . He is a solid third baseman and a good looking hitter. He has an advanced approach at the plate, and will be ready to move up to AA. His development is pretty important to us because of our lack of depth at third base.

Macias is a sleeper with a lot of tools. He has well above average arm and speed. He is starting to come on with the bat, but is still going to need some work on his swing. He can really go get it and profiles as the type of center fielder we want to develop for PETCO.

Fort Wayne:

John Conniff: The first question we have to ask is how is the team evaluating the progress of Matt Bush, the number one pick from last year.

Jeff Kingston: We see Matt Bush as a long term prospect, he's very talented with a lot of tools. Right now I think his struggles are due to a lot of inexperience, but we are pleased with the progress that he has made. For him to compete against guys that are much older and more experienced than he is says a lot. In fact we think one of the reasons that the Wizards overachieved in the first half had a lot to with his play defensively.

John Conniff: Bush has played well in spurts, especially defensively, but he has still only hit above .230 for one month. Do you think the Padres may keep him down in Fort Wayne for another year?

Jeff Kingston: That is a tough call, it wouldn't hurt him to repeat. There is a chance he could go up or down next year.

John Conniff: Two other Wizards have had nice seasons, catcher Colt Morton and Peter Ciofrone, who has played a variety of positions. Your thoughts on them?

Jeff Kingston: We like Colt Morton a lot. We would have liked to move him up earlier this year, but we are really deep at catcher and didn't want to take playing time away from any of our other guys. He is well above average defensively and the power is there. He can be a special player if he can cut down on his strikeouts.

Ciofrone is a similar player to Valenzuela. A real nice line drive swing, he can just flat out hit. We are trying to find a position for him, he hasn't played much second base this year, which is where he has mainly played in the past.

John Conniff: A draft and follow player that has attracted quite a bit of attention is Kyle Banks, "Gigantor" a draft and follow out of Yavapai Junior College in Arizona. Any idea when we will see him in Eugene?

Jeff Kingston: The Gigantor will most likely stay in AZ all year. He has unbelievable raw power (80 out of 80 on the scout scale) and can really hit a fastball. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to more breaking balls and offspeed stuff as the league adjusts to him. He had four base-on-balls the other day, so his patience and plate discipline will be tested.

Have a question about a prospect in the San Diego Padres' system. Send John an email at Some questions will be forwarded and answered on air during weekly segment on the flagship station for San Diego Padres' baseball, The Mighty 1090. The show airs each Friday at 10:35 AM PST with Brian Wilson and Ernie Martinez.

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