Francisco on Padres Latin prospects

Felix Francisco, now with the Houston Astros, was a key component in bringing the San Diego Padres Latin American prospect base to the forefront. MadFriars.com caught up with Francisco to discuss many of the prospects he originally scouted, including Jhonaton Spraud, Rymer Liriano, Euclides Viloria, Jeudy Valdez, Edinson Rincon, Simon Castro, and former prospect Jose Ceda.

We got a chance to see Jhonaton Spraud during the Padres fall Instructional League and came away impressed with his poise and ability to make contact. What can you add?

Felix Francisco: The story is around his hitting ability. He can run. he can hit. He is a guy who really loves playing baseball. He is a high-energy guy.

He is an interesting guy. He can run and hit.

He has a chance to play second base or centerfield because of his athleticism. It is going to come down to his hitting ability and his running speed.

A lot of hype has been built around outfielder Rymer Liriano. What are we looking at with him?

Felix Francisco: He is a potential five-tool player. He can run, hit for average, hit for power. He has an average arm but a good fielder. He is a young guy – the Padres plan to play him in the Dominican Summer League his first year to give him some experience playing.

Euclides Viloria had a great year, striking out a ton of guys in the process. What did you see from him that made you believe he would be a prospect and is stamina the issue for him?

Felix Francisco: He has always had the ability to pitch. That is something you find in young, Venezuelan pitchers. They make good pitches for their age. Euclides – a left-hander – everyone keeps hoping he will just keep doing what he has been doing and go up the ladder.

Stamina is part of the process with most of these players. You have to be patient with them and understand it is a long process.

Shortstop Jeudy Valdez had a great season but really struggled at Instructs. Is this a kid that can move up?

Felix Francisco: Jeudy played one year here and had good offensive numbers. He is a kid that has progressed every year. He is a very hard-working kid. I think his bat is going to take him up the ladder.

Edinson Rincon was fantastic in the Dominican and really showed a lot of heart in Arizona, not getting down on himself after a slow start. What do you expect from him in the future?

Felix Francisco: Rincon is a good player. He had a good season here. He struggled his first 20 or so at bats in Arizona and then he started hitting the ball well and showing people what he could do.

I think he is going to have a very good year next year. Some of these guys when they go to the states take a little bit longer to adjust with all the changes happening in their lives.

This is a guy, and everyone who has been around him knows, he is going to be ok. He is going to hit. There is no doubt about that in my mind.

Carvajal in his first year didn't have a good year. A lot of people were questioning whether he was the type of player we thought he was. This year, he showed what we saw when we signed him.

When you bring those guys over for their first year in the states, most of them will take time to adapt. Next year, they know what they will have to face. Rincon is the type of guy that can have that kind of breakout season.

We have talked at length about Jose Ceda. When we talk about Simon Castro – are they similar players with potentially similar career paths to the majors or will Castro have a little longer path?

Felix Francisco: Ceda was much better than (Simon) Castro. You see Ceda – he was overpowering every league he pitched. He had over 100 strikeouts in that first year with us.

When you talk about high ceiling you can compare Castro and Jose Ceda. Castro is much more shy than Ceda. Usually those guys take a little longer.

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