Fuson on San Antonio Missions prospects

Former San Diego Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson pushed many of the players that were seen in San Antonio this year. Some responded and others did not. Do they offer hope for the future? MadFriars.com spoke with Fuson about those topics.

Going into the year, Cedric Hunter was considered one of the Padres' top prospects and had a bad year, hitting .261/.294/.331. What happened?

Grady Fuson: We have kind of let Cedric go all these years and be the type of hitter that he wanted because he had so much success. The big thing with Cedric is that he never learned what pitch that he could drive best. He offers at a lot of things around the zone, and that is where the weak ground balls and little pop flies come from, and thus ends up with so many non-quality at-bats.

By August, he was ready to start making some changes and started to begin to become more selective. Terry [Kennedy, the manager of the Missions] said he was the toughest out at the end of the playoffs.

The big thing with Cedric is if he is going to be a .270 hitter with no on-base or power, he's not going to make it. If he can hit for a little higher average, but with some gappers and more on-base, he has a chance especially if he can stay in center. He's another guy that needs to get more physical in all aspects of his game.

Last time we briefly spoke about this, but I know that you are happy with what Eric Sogard has done at the plate - but what part of his defense do you see needs work?

Grady Fuson: The number one thing is the pivot, he was not consistent turning the double play. If he isn't going to be a big range guy, then he has to be flawless at this part of the game. For example, David Eckstein does not have the greatest range in the world, but when he gets to the ball he makes the play. Eric's reactions are fine, he just needs to become more consistent.

Along the same lines, the team played Lance Zawadzki at short much more during the second half. Did you see a improvement from him by giving him a more regular defensive position?

Grady Fuson: With Lance, his ability to focus was so much better this year that he was really able to incorporate what he was working on before the game into the game. The only downside is I think the heat got to him a little bit in San Antonio at the end of the year; he lost a lot of weight.

Logan Forsythe had the type of home and away splits that Chad Huffman had last year. Do you think the park got into his head a little and what do you think of the perceptions that he doesn't have enough power to stay at third?

Grady Fuson: The ballpark gets to everyone there, but in reality is not much different than PETCO. The key is a good approach is a good approach, regardless of the ballpark. In the end, its going to balance itself out.

I do think he has enough power to stay at third, but right now he doesn't have the turn and burn skills that (James) Darnell has. He's a young developing hitter that stays inside the ball so well that most of his power is to the center of the field or to right-center. Its a good sign for young power hitters, and once he learns to really turn on the inside pitch, you will see an increase in his power numbers.

Remember, the rap on Adrian Gonzalez when he first came up was that he didn't have enough power and turn on the inside pitch. He learned how to make the adjustment and hopefully Logan will too.

A big goal coming into the season was to see improvement in Mitch Canham behind the plate, who is relatively new to catching. Did you see it?

Grady Fuson: We are still in the improvement mode, there was some good this year and some bad. Occasionally, he would loose focus and box balls, but its just about developing consistency and is really no different than (Nick) Hundley at this stage, and Nick has another level to climb in the majors too.

Mitch has gotten to the middle of our system pretty quick and still needs some work on calling games. Right now, he has a bit of a college mentality in trying to trick guys and is still making the adjustment from aluminum to wood. For example, if someone looks bad on two straight fastballs, make them prove that they can hit that pitch before calling something else. This year, he couldn't have asked for two better guys to work with him on a regular basis than Terry and Orv [Franchuk, the Missions hitting coach] two former catchers.

Craig Cooper had the best year offensively of anyone. Do you see him staying at first next year or could he go back to the outfield?

Grady Fuson: With the graduation of Blanks, both Cooper and Mike Baxter are two similar players - but we see more at-bats at first going to Cooper at first and more for Baxter in the outfield.

Sawyer Carroll made it through three levels this year, which is in itself remarkable. What was your general impression of him this year?

Grady Fuson: He made tremendous improvement in using the whole field. When we first got him, he could not handle the ball away, he was pulling everything. He made some remarkable improvements. He was a little older than the league in a couple of places, and we needed to push him to where his age was the equal of his play. He hit .317 between three levels, and we think his power levels will take a big leap next year because he sacrificed some of that to develop into a better hitter.

Your pitching coordinator Mike Couchee made an interesting comment about Ernesto Frieri in that, ‘He doesn't look pretty, but he finds a way to get the job done.' What did you think of him?

Grady Fuson: Ditto. He has a crazy finish to his delivery, some recoil. He has a good arm, is around 90 to 95, his breaking ball has improved, and he has a knack for making the quality pitch. He still needs to get down in the zone better, but you have to remember this was his first full year as a starter.

Brandon Gomes had a great year but isn't someone most Padres' fans know about. What do you think was the reason behind his success this year?

Grady Fuson: Both him and Evan Scribner are somewhat similar guys. They have a good way of staying down in the zone and they get a lot of strikeouts. Gomes hada very good year for us, kept the ball down and has good velocity and a splitter.

Scribner is deceptive, good velocity and is around 91 to 93. I think in the second half he lost a little bit of his sharpness and started to get up in the zone.

Kellen Kulbacki didn't show much power early in the season before suffering a torn hamstring. Was the shoulder injury he suffered last year still affecting his ability to drive the ball?

Grady Fuson: I think there was something still in there, he probably wasn't 100 percent . We really didn't get him that many at-bats and we lost a whole year of development. This fall we still weren't able to get him going with his hamstring, you know it was detached from the bone when he injured it in San Antonio.

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