Jones on lower level Padres prospects

In part two of our interview, San Diego Padres roving infield instructor Gary Jones reviews the infielders at the A-ball level and has some comments on outfielders Jaff Decker and Dan Robertson.

I know as a defensive guy you are going to rave about shortstop Beamer Weems, but first what made the organization put him up there in the first place? He didn't hit that well in Eugene and frankly that has always been a question mark with him?

Gary Jones: I'm not sure, but I do know that he doesn't lack for confidence. He got off to that good start, and if I had to point one finger to it, it's that internal belief. He gets off to a good start, which gives him another boost, and then he is trying to get better with Shane Spencer [Lake Elsinore batting coach]. He's also doing a good job of keeping the ball out of the air and getting on base and that is the type of game that he wants to play.

Defensively it's all there. It's my belief that he could go to the big leagues and play shortstop right now on the defensive side. He can make all the plays, he has an arm, which may not be quite as good as Zawadzki's, but its close; he just doesn't show it as much. He's just that good, that he understands when he needs to show it.

He always has his feet in a good fielding position. The only rare times he gets in trouble is when he lays back on balls, but he instinctively always gets himself in good position. He is one of the better guys that I have seen is not getting the in-between hop because his feet are always in great position.

One other player that is getting a lot of attention is third baseman James Darnell. Some question if he can stay at third base, and we wanted to know what you think about it?

Gary Jones: I think he can stay at third base. He has a chance to become a very good third baseman and I love him and Logan Forsythe both, and I'm not sure who is going to end up being the better player. I think both of them are that talented.

Darnell has the physical size, talent, arm, and he is going to have power. I just think he has a chance to be a real good third baseman at the major league level.

Drew Cumberland, what improvements have you seen with him since he first came into the organization in 2007?

Gary Jones: The biggest improvement that I have seen is that he has slowed the game down. Everything was always full bore, kind of a football mentality. You can still go full speed, but slow it down in your mind. It is amazing how well he has matured physically and mentally.

There was a question about his arm strength, but it has really picked up with our throwing program. He is separating the ball more from his ear so he has a better follow through. I think this guy has a chance to be special; he runs, throws, can steal bags and hit the ball into the gaps. He has put on some good physical weight that hasn't slowed him down. I really think the sky is the limit for him, and I know I am a little biased, but he has talent.

Cole Figueroa got off to a slow start in Lake Elsinore and came down here and played like the organization thought he would. What was the big change?

Gary Jones: He is doing exactly what we thought he would do coming out of spring training. He got hurt in kind of a freak accident in Lake Elsinore turning a double play with his knee and rehab it, and now he is doing what we anticipated him to be capable off.

He is another guy that has a chance to play at the major league level, both with his glove and his bat. He is another guy that doesn't lack for confidence, which is different from being cocky. You combine that with his talent and he has a chance.

Allan Dykstra has struggled with the bat all season. Before we get into his offensive struggles, can you give us an idea of how he is doing in the field?

Gary Jones: Defensively, he is doing fine. He is a big target over there and has a good arm. Sometimes he looks a little awkward because he is so big. We are trying to work on giving him a better base so he isn't as narrow with his feet. Sometimes, he gets so narrow he doesn't get the good push to both sides so he can improve his range a little more.

What was the problem with his swing? Was he diving out over the plate a little too much?

Gary Jones: We tried to keep him from getting out too far so he could get through the zone a little quicker and get to the inside pitch. Sometimes, you have guys that get off to bad starts and seem like they can't get out of it, but he is swinging the bat much better, and right now, I just think its a matter of time.

I've been doing this for a while, and I don't think I've seen many teenagers with the ability that outfielder Jaff Decker has. Is he that good or am I being too much of a "homer"?

Gary Jones: [laughs] He's pretty good and can really hit. One thing that might get lost is that he is a pretty good outfielder with a good arm that can run a little. His bat is what gets people excited, and he has a special whip in it. He kind of reminds me of Matt Stairs with the whip and when he first came up, he could throw, run and really hit; just like Jaff.

He's also a much better athlete than people give him credit for. He can run and play center field if he needs too.

How about Dan Robertson?

Gary Jones: He is one of those guys that every manager wants on his team because he can do so many things. He can hit for average, move the runner over, hit the ball into the gaps and run into one every now and then. Defensively, he can play all three outfield positions and has a very good arm. I think he is a guy that is going to play a long time.

He has a very good feel for what needs to be done at the plate and works very hard. He has a chance and that is all you can ask.

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