Gamboa helping outfielders excel

Tom Gamboa understands talent. His 30 years of experience make him ideal to work with converted outfielders Peter Ciofrone and Chad Huffman and to strengthen the games of Yordany Ramirez and Mike Epping. Gamboa also has an eye for talent and sees plenty of potential impact players.

Peter Ciofrone made the transition from the infield to left field this year. How do you gauge his progress this season?

Tom Gamboa: Peter has done very well this year. For a guy that – and this being my first year here but I was told we got him from the Red Sox and he is a guy that has moved around and never really found a home at any one position. This year he has found a home in left field. Although running isn't one of Pete's assets so he has to enhance what range he does have by getting good jumps off the balls off the bat but he has played very well for us in the outfield. He catches what he gets to and, of course, he has excelled at the plate. He has a chance to be a pretty good hitter.

From a defensive standpoint, not only on that club in Lake Elsinore but in the entire system, the best defensive player is Yordany Ramirez. It remains to be seen how far Yordany will get with the bat. This is two years in a row in Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore where you have to hit for some average to get to the big leagues. Certainly, his skills to run, throw and field – he is a bona fide major leaguer in those three areas right now. It is just a question of how far that bat can carry him.

In Eugene, Chad Huffman is another guy that moved from the infield to the outfield – and it seems a number of guys are making the move from one position to another. How difficult is that move for a player who has likely spent his whole life at one spot?

Tom Gamboa: The kid Epping showed to be a real skilled centerfielder just during the training camp we had.

Making position switches for a good athlete is an easy thing to do. Sometimes, the hitting takes a step backwards because the players focus - instead of doing something second nature he has to learn something of a new position.

And moving guys around it just depends on what their skills are suited from. I have never seen Pete play third base but that is where I was told he originally played.

Sometimes a guys hands or reactions or range, the accuracy of an arm. At times the organization feels about a given player that something is lacking or they just feel he would be better suited for another position.

You look at a guy like Craig Biggio who was an All-Star at the big leagues. A lot of people forget that he was a damn good catcher when he came to the big leagues. The move to second wasn't because he couldn't catch because he did it very well. It was a move because he could run so well they felt they could lengthen and enhance his career by moving him to another position, along with the fact that they got another good catcher from San Diego in Brad Ausmus to put Ausmus and strengthen themselves at two positions.

I think the fans need to understand that sometimes a position change isn't because a guy wasn't well suited – it just makes the team better.

Many years ago when I was with the Milwaukee Brewers we had a young Hall of Fame shortstop in Robin Yount and we were fortunate enough to get Paul Molitor who was also a shortstop. Molitor would have been a terrific shortstop but with Yount there, Paulie ended up playing second and third base during his career and ended up playing them both quite well. It just enhanced the team.

You were down in the desert and the Padres farm has been dogged in recent years as far as developing top notch talent – do you see the makings of impact talent in the lower levels?

Tom Gamboa: We are certainly hoping so. The early signs are very encouraging from the draft we got.

I spent five days with the Arizona club and we have two young outfielders – Cedric Hunter, a centerfielder that offensively he reminds me of when I scouted Terry Pendleton as a free agent. Terry could run, had lightning in his bat – this kid Hunter has real good pitch selection. He has the chance to be a Pendleton type guy with power and some speed. His pitch selection for a high school kid is really good.

Kyler Burke, a bit left-hand hitting right-fielder – an ex high school quarterback with a quarterback's arm. He can really throw from right field. It is nice to see us get some quality athletes.

Pitching wise, we signed a draft-and-follow, Drew Miller, who can get up to 94 MPH. I was at that game in Peoria. He has the makings of a real good pitcher.

Pascual Juan gets it up to 95 – a skinny left-hander that needs a lot of work on his delivery but tremendous arm speed.

We are making progress.

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