Padres minor league notebook

The Padres intend to sign one more player. Yefri Carvajal could see game action soon. Two players impressing in Eugene. Nick Hundley has made a transformation – but it isn't where you might think. Alfredo Fernandez had the scouts abuzz. Tim Stauffer hits something he had rarely done since being drafted. The best infielder in the system? It may not be whom you think. All this and more…

Discussions with Stephen Faris are taking place but the Padres don't expect any real movement until early next week.

Jeremy McBryde will likely go the draft and follow route with the team revisiting talks prior to the 2007 MLB Draft. Who knows – he may enter the draft again and the Padres may pluck him for the third straight year.

Yefri Carvajal had the hook of the hamate bone in his hand removed and has resumed swinging the bat. The hope is to have him back on the field in the next week or two.

Most of the Padres' front office saw the Eugene Emeralds during their minicamp prior to the season, but they have yet to see many of the same players in live games.

Based on the initial assessment, Padres minor league field coordinator, Bill Bryk, offered, "(David) Freese was probably the most impressive guy. (Aaron) Breit, our draft and follow signing, had the best stuff in minicamp."

Bryk, who just left Fort Wayne after checking in on the Wizards, came away impressed with the group assembled, particularly on the hitting side:

"Fort Wayne has got our best young hitting," he admitted.

That list includes four all-stars and the red-hot Nick Hundley, among others. While Hundley has been tearing it up with his stick, Bryk has been more impressed by the way his defensive game has improved. A poll of the staff last year had them bewildered at how his defensive game took a dive.

The turnaround in his defensive prowess has been immense.

"Much improved on both sides of the field," said Bryk. "He is throwing and catching much better. He is much more sound."

And Bryk also was impressed with the work put in by Fabian Jimenez on Monday, his six walks aside. "He was impressive yesterday. He made pitches when he had to."

There were a lot of professional scouts in attendance in Fort Wayne this week and when Alfredo Fernandez hit 95 on the radar gun it left many of them wondering and asking who he was. Fernandez has thrived in a bullpen role for the Wizards this year and is a potential closer as he continues to develop his confidence.

The recently promoted Josh Geer wasn't dealing like he is now during spring training. Pitching coach Dave Rajsich was worried about his velocity being down but noted that he is a big-game pitcher and when the lights come on he is at his best.

That has held true. Geer is hitting 90-91 with his fastball although he does regularly work a few ticks below that. His changeup remains his best pitch and he has been able to spot it at will. It earned him his promotion to Lake Elsinore.

Written off after entering the MadFriars.com prospect list at #19 following the 2004 season, Luis Cruz has flashed his bat and remains one of the strongest defenders in the system. Cruz, who was shipped to Mexico after an abysmal start to the 2005 season, has worked hard to return to the form and people are noticing.

"I said to him, ‘now you are the player I saw two years ago in Lake Elsinore,'" Bryk revealed. "He is working much harder and back on the radar. He is probably our best fielder at shortstop, second and third."

While some have wondered why Roger Deago continues to toil around in the Padres' system, the staff remains high on his ability to enter tough situations and come out ahead. Listed at 5-foot-10, Deago is actually around 5-foot-7 but his bulldog mentality has him pitching well above his listed, or in this case not-listed, height.

"He has a lot of heart," said Bryk.

And it is that reason that the team can plug him into multiple roles and know he won't complain and will do the job effectively.

Tim Stauffer was hitting 94 on the radar guns in Portland on Monday. Earlier in the year, the right-hander had been as high as 91 but was working in the 86-88 range consistently. It was a speed he has rarely seen since a shoulder injury in college. One scout said the last time he hit 94 on the radar gun was in May of 2005, right before he was called up the majors.

Jared Wells hadn't been great in his first two starts at Portland and the fear, as with most players who move up, is that he may have thought he had to approach the game differently. A bit uncharacteristic, Wells has walked quite a few batters this year. He kept things simple on Wednesday and was rewarded with a Wells-like outing.


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