Jones talks Padres prospects' defense

Gary Jones is the Padres minor league infield coordinator whose job is to ensure that everyone understands not only how important defense is to the big club but also how to get better.

Jones has been with the organization since 2003 and managed in both Fort Wayne and Mobile before accepting his current position. Throughout the year he not only instructs everyone up and down the system but also takes over as interim managers to give the other skippers a well-deserved break. He even took over for Randy Ready in Portland when Ready was summoned to take over the mantle of hitting coach with the Padres.

Let's start with Matt Antonelli who has had a tough year this year. Can you give us an idea of what he has done well and what he still needs to improve upon?

Gary Jones: Most of his struggles are offensive, and he is working hard to improve upon them. He's been working with quite a few guys and there has been improvement, just not consistent improvement. Defensively, I am real happy where he is at. He's improved his range and lateral movement to both sides. His footwork around the bag, specifically his pivot on the double play. He's put his hands closer together to release the ball quicker and Randy Ready was very pleased with what he was doing defensively as well.

He is on track from a defensive standpoint but it's just a matter of getting his confidence back offensively. Once he does that, I think he has a chance to be the player we saw a couple of years ago. I like to tell people that sometimes when young kids struggle at different levels that sometimes we put unfair expectations and timelines on them. Their timetable may not be what we think it should be. It may take someone six years, instead of four.

Our job is to make sure that we are patient and persistent. There is progress, but sometimes it doesn't come at the pace we want.

Another guy we've talked about in the past is shortstop Sean Kazmar. I've seen him several times and he always has quite a bit of ability, he just hasn't been able to put it together on a consistent basis.

Gary Jones: Early in the year, he started off in a little funk, offensively and defensively. Again, he's been playing better. He got called up last year and played well. I think if they need him he could do it again and not embarrass himself or the organization. He could play good defense at either second or short if injuries were to happen.

Offensively he's been hitting better.

Gary Jones: He has just enough power to get himself in trouble sometimes. His consistency is getting better and maybe its finally registering with him that he needs to hit more line drives and get on base and give up a little power. Which is ok, because he needs to figure out that his game is about getting on base, hitting the gaps and moving runners over.

The four guys that you have in that San Antonio infield are pretty impressive. The first guy I would like to talk about is third baseman Logan Forsythe, who seems to do everything well. What do you see that he needs to improve upon?

Gary Jones: From a defensive standpoint, he is right on track. He has the arm strength, the lateral movement to his left and right. He comes in on balls and has good body control. He just needs to continue to get the innings there. Every once in awhile, he will airmail a ball, but he's pretty good.

Offensively, it's also there. I think the power will come and there are quite a few players in the majors that power comes after being in the major leagues for a few years. I think he could eventually end up hitting 20 to 25 home runs.

There has been some talk about moving him over to second base. Could he play second?

Gary Jones: We haven't really even talked about that yet. He is doing such a nice job at third we want to see how it plays out, but he is athletic enough to play second.

Lance Zawadzki strikes me as someone that has a very good arm, is athletic and has good quickness, but gets into trouble relying upon his arm too much.

Gary Jones: That is the constant battle with him is to keep him aggressive and to not lay back on balls, that is when he gets himself in trouble. He does have that bazooka for an arm, but as he moves up the ladder the game speeds up more.

You may think the guys at the upper levels don't run out those balls, but they do. When the game speeds and you lay back on balls that is when you start getting those in-between hops and start making the errors. He's worked on it and is really doing very well. To me, the big key for him is being able to stay on the field. Also, he changed his mindset on his work habits and really goes out there everyday and improves at getting better defensively.

He's taking the ground balls in BP with a little more intensity, which helps him during the games. If you practice at the same intensity, which is close, its not going to be the same, but the closer you get the better off you are going to be.

It's understanding that I have to work with a purpose, not that just this is what I am supposed to do. This year, he is really taking them with a desire to improve.

What about Eric Sogard? He puts together some great at-bats, but there is some question about how well he moves at second. What improvement have you seen from him this year?

Gary Jones: Sogy is a little deceiving. He doesn't look like he is going full speed because of his gait, but he has improved his first step quickness to both sides, especially to his left. He gets in trouble when he tries to time balls too much. He is another guy that we wanted to work on getting better footwork around the bag. He's very deceiving if you just watch him for a day or two - but he is really working.

Outside the lines, he is so laid back, but between the lines, he is a competitor. He puts together solid at-bats and I think he's going to be a major league player. He has a confidence about himself that he can do it, and that is half the battle.

He seems like he is very prepared mentally for whatever comes down the pike.

Gary Jones: He has a very good understanding of the mental part of the game and that is why he is going to be a major league player. He knows how to make adjustments. He understands what pitchers are doing to him. He knows how to play hitters, very rarely does he make a wrong decision.

Last guy in San Antonio, who you must really like because of how he plays defense, is first baseman Craig Cooper. Can you also talk about how he looks in the corner outfield positions?

Gary Jones: Coop has always been a good defensive first baseman. This year he has a few more errors than we would like, but I think that is just him being a little too nonchalant around the bag. He has good footwork, he has a good arm and is just a solid first baseman. There is nothing over there that he cannot do.

He is a good outfielder and did a great job for us out there last year. He got good jumps and has enough arm to play both corners. That is a plus for him that could help land him on a big league roster; a right-handed hitter with some power that can play a few positions.

That is a nasty park to judge whether he has power. That was kind of the knock on him if he has enough juice to play those positions.

Gary Jones: Again, sometimes the power thing in the minors can be a little deceiving. We can focus on it a little too much. I can remember a few guys in the Oakland system, one guy Jason Giambi, who we weren't sure would have enough power in the big leagues and that did eventually come.

Sometimes it just takes guys a little longer. Before you hit for power, you have to become a good hitter.

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