Grady Fuson on Padres Prospects

How is Cesar Carrillo's progress viewed? Will Matt Antonelli turn the corner? Is Wade LeBlanc on the right track? How sure were they of putting Stephen Faris in Double-A? The run of Kellen Kulbacki surprising? MadFriars.com went to Grady Fuson, the Padres vice president of scouting and player development, to get those answers and more.

How do you think Cesar Carrillo is doing on his comeback?

Grady Fuson: I think he is doing fine because I gear this summer on health and the ability to rebound. That is the most important thing. He has had 10 starts.

He is not back to the Carrillo we knew in A-Ball and Double-A before. He is still kind of stuck as far as feel and location. His location and feel just aren't all the way back – not that we expected him to be all the way back.

Matt Antonelli has struggled for most of the year – the first time in his career that things have not gone his way and he has struggled a little bit. Do you see this as a learning year for him?

Grady Fuson: He has struggled a lot, let's be honest.

There have certainly been numerous flashes from the end of May. There were flashes of him turning the corner but nothing held. I kept thinking – when you think about the rebound that Kellen Kulbacki has made from .170 to .350 in a two-month period of time, why couldn't Antonelli go from .180 to .270? It just hasn't happened.

When this season is over, it will be a hard one for him to swallow and all of us to swallow. It is something he has gone through and knowing the makeup of that player, hopefully he will be better for it. It is surprising that he hasn't come out in a major way and rebounded to a larger degree.

Wade LeBlanc has rebounded. There are two or three starts that have really skewed his numbers but he has committed to the two-seam and made adjustments.

Grady Fuson: All three of those guys (LeBlanc, Josh Geer, Cesar Ramos). If you go back, there has been a pattern to their ups and downs. The three amigos of Geer, Ramos and Wade all started out a little slow. They had a flash of stints and then fell apart. All of a sudden, they started putting quality starts together and each one has had a rough start sprinkled in. I would say the last four or five starts each, they have been very competitive at least in three of them.

Stephen Faris has been impressive all year – what made you so certain he could handle the Texas League? Not only has he handled it, he has been exceptional.

Grady Fuson: Number one, the development of the breaking ball we did last year in the Instructional League where we got the hump out of his breaking ball and now he is throwing it out and down rather than up and down, which is a much more deceptive breaking ball to hitters. His confidence has grown because of that. Now he knows that is a legit weapon. Because his confidence has gained, his fastball command and feel has gained ground.

He is doing this really against our plan with the changeup. He can throw it in the bullpen but there was something going on where he was throwing it in the game almost yippy like in the first half of the year. Then he got so good with fastball/curveball and changing speeds off the curveball that for a few starts he dominated but was only throwing three or four changeups a game.

He is in Double-A now. He is not a kid anymore. I have always admitted they take a little more ownership. But I said to him, ‘Listen, there are two sides to this coin. You are pitching very effectively here but you are doing at the expense of not using this pitch. Without this pitch, you are going to end up struggling at some point at the next stage. You can sit here and pitch your butt off all you want but without establishing and getting that pitch fixed, well, you mine as well buy real estate in San Antonio next year.'

The last couple of starts he has used it more. The only way it is going to get better is to use it. As dominating as he has been, there is no concern in my mind that he can't figure between him and the catchers and pitching coach how to get that changeup in there 10 to 15 times a game.

Don't get me wrong, if it was a guy who was struggling with fastball command and could never get himself in counts where he could throw that pitch, that would be a little bit more understandable. Stephen Faris has had some six or seven inning starts and gone through it in 70 or 80 pitches. There are places in there for him to throw that pitch where he can't get stung to bad on the bad end of it.

Kellen Kulbacki has had an amazing run, shoulder injury aside. It has been nothing short of unbelievable.

Grady Fuson: This is a tremendous thing to see when you think about how down and out he was. He basically misses all of spring training, goes to Elsinore, we think it is close, by the time he gets close I have no place to put him. We send him down to Fort Wayne for him to start getting some at-bats. He didn't kill it there. We send him to Elsinore and basically for what time he played in April and what time he played in May – it was a zero.

For him to make the comeback he has made in the last 200 at-bats has been something to watch. On-base, batting average, doubles, homers, slug, OPS – the guy is just killing it.

His non-throwing shoulder has bugged him but he should be ok.

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