Q&A with Grady Fuson

What is Grady Fuson's evaluation of the June Draft, now that he has had time to watch his youngsters? How difficult is it to keep two playoff teams intact? Is media and fan perception of the strength of the Padres minor leagues important? We caught up with Fuson, the Padres vice president of scouting and player development, to find the answers to these questions and more.

You have had a chance to evaluate the players in Eugene from the draft. How do you reassess that and has any surprised you?

Grady Fuson: I don't think anyone surprised me. That club got ripped apart quicker than normal based on injuries and needs. We had a lot of issues in July and August.

The hard thing was trying to keep this club (Lake Elsinore) and San Antonio standing pat. Guys that belong there and belong playing everyday and being a part of it and moving the secondary pieces around.

Everything was good in Eugene. (Mitch) Canham did not get a lot of time based on the injury he had and the delay in signing him. (Luis) Martinez got shoved a bit over his head quicker than he should have. That plan went to hell when Canham got hurt.

The infield thing worked itself out, even though (Lance) Zawadzki was hurt. We had to move Justin Baum quicker than we wanted to.

With that said, (Luis) Durango, (Danny) Payne, (Kellen) Kulbacki stayed in place a long time. Chalk, once he got healthy, was good.

The starting pitching was as advertised, to some degree. For the most part the bullpen wasn't that bad until some things got exposed over the last month. We got into the guys that don't command the ball and are here because they have a good arm and we are working on it and things kind of backfired.

Both of those lower clubs got ripped apart by August. It was the hardest to months I have ever had doing this. Just trying to keep two clubs in the middle of your system in the hunt, keeping the right guys in the right place.

Everything we did to try and help Fort Wayne seemed to backfire – from an injury standpoint and from a non-performing standpoint. That part didn't go well.

The best thing is so many players – you can count nine, 10, 12 who put themselves on the map. That proves that our depth is a lot better today than it was two years ago – and prospect depth, not just players that are playing ok. Guys that you are counting on and you know are players.

How difficult is it - and we will use Chase Headley as an example – to not bring him up to Portland. Obviously San Antonio was great for him but he likely deserved a shot in Portland. Is it because Portland wasn't necessarily conducive to the winning attitude you are trying to bring about?

Grady Fuson: Everybody has a different view of the purpose of Triple-A. Does a player have to go through Triple-A to be major league ready? In most cases, yea, you would like to see a little time there. Triple-A is such a different environment today than it ever has been.

The reality is it doesn't hurt a guy like Chase Headley to be in one place. He has dominated. His confidence is up. As he continues to dominate he comtinues to build his own self esteem. He was a mature player. He is a mature player and has his mind right. That is why I never felt guilty when we threw him to the big leagues. I told Kevin (Towers), ‘This guy can handle it. He is not going to have any fear. He does not need that extra step to prove that.'

The other thing is if you look at where we are with Lake Elsinore and San Antonio, next year will be the year where there will be some influx in the Double-A and Triple-A levels of our own kids that have come through the program – they have been drafted here, developed here, and are getting close. I would rather see that core group – the Headley's, the Antonelli's, the Huffman's, (Wade) LeBlanc – I would rather see those guys all stay together as they continue to climb.

There wasn't any major reason. The other thing is the business side of baseball. To put Headley on the statistical map – this guy is Player of the Year, he is in the running for Minor League Player of the Year, you always take a chance of possibly losing value of a player if he was to go up there for a month and struggle. That is important too. You always have to balance the value of your players to other organizations in trades or anything you want to keep in high esteem.

With everything that went on in San Antonio, the Padres have uplifted themselves as far as the media, how people see our system, the depth of it. That makes Kevin happy.

Is perception important? Obviously, you are building your own thing, but is outside perception important?

Grady Fuson: Yea, and I think more today than it ever has been. There are so many different clubs, and they have so many different styles in evaluating players.

We all know today that statistics are as big as they have ever been. When you have performing players, you have players that are putting up numbers.

You just never know when a scout, or a GM or a front office personnel are going to be grinding through stats and finds a player that looks interesting statistically, they have a solid scouting report on that player, and that player may get involved in a deal. It may be a player – let's say you are involved in a deal and the club comes back and says we want one of these three players. It might be a player you are willing to do the deal for.

It is no different than the deals that have come down the line and Kevin has talked to me and I have said, ‘No. This group of players they have given us, no way could we allow that in a deal.'

Every once and a while they hit you with a player and you say, ‘Ok. If we can get this guy and give up this guy, ok.'

Again, that is where you have to have depth.

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