An interview with Randy Smith

Understanding the International market, and the scouting that goes on there, takes more than idle chatter. It takes an expert on the subject, Randy Smith, a former general manager and current director of international scouting.

Talk about your job as director of international scouting and how it has changed over the years.

Randy Smith: When I took this responsibility a few years ago we changed our focus. Instead of scouting the world, we went to scouting the majority of the countries that players are coming from – where 99 percent of the players are coming from and that is primarily the Latin America countries, Mexico, Japan, Australia and that has been our focus. We have not gone to South Africa. We haven't gone to Italy or Europe and some of those places where there is a player or two coming out of but it is not a good investment for your resources.

The Padres have been active in Australia over the last few years. How much talent is there to mine over there?

Randy Smith: The Australians don't have a tremendous amount of baseball experience. The guys that we signed don't have the level compared to someone in the states or their counterparts in the rest of the world. They don't have a lot of game experience. The things that we like there is you obviously don't have a language barrier. You are dealing with athletes that are fairly big. It is a country that endorses their sport. And to play baseball in Australia you have to be pretty dedicated. That is one thing about the five guys we signed out of there have. They all have that desire to succeed and put forth the effort it takes to make it to the big leagues.

Why have you been able to sign guys from that area yet we don't see as many coming from Latin America?

One thing about Australia is it is a market you can be a competitive in. The best players, at this point, aren't cost prohibitive. The best players in Latin America are probably going to go to the big market clubs. In Australia the best player still has an opportunity to go to any of the franchises.

The National Tournament is their very best players. Out of the eight teams and 160 guys there is probably twenty guys that are worth following in the under-18's. And another ten in the under 16. You might see one guy throwing 70 miles per hour and the next guy is throwing 85-88. They are not facing a ton of good pitching or a lineup full of good hitting. The best high school team here would probably beat the under-18 team. There are still players there and you have to be aware of them.

It seems to be a little more difficult to pick up position players that come from Australia. Talk about finding quality position players.

Randy Smith: I think it is a more difficult skill set for a positional player. Since I have taken over we have signed two position players, Clint Naylor, a catcher, and then Murray Hopley, an infielder. I think it for those guys the lack of experience and lack of at bats makes it harder to catch up. But both those kids have exceptional makeup and in Naylor's case he has got a lot of arm strength and a left-hand hitting catcher. They are premium position guys.

We talk about Australia and I kind of changed our philosophy a little bit in saying if we are going to be active out there we are going to go after the premium guys there that play a premium position and are a little bit more advanced than just the raw tools guys there because I think they have more ground to make up there than other parts of the world.

Do you also get to follow the guys you sign through their minor league careers or are you out scouting the next great talent?

Randy Smith: With my title being director of professional and international (scouting) I do get a chance – it is not like I sign them and forget them. I spend a lot of time watching them during extended or during the summer I will come out and watch five, six, ten games in the Arizona League, plus the Instructional League I am around the majority of the time. I do get to see these guys.

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