Interview with Kevin Goldstein

Kevin Goldstein has been closely following the Padres' prospects with Baseball America and with his current home at Baseball Prospectus, and since 2005 he has been gracious enough to talk with us on prospects, the draft and everything and anything related to development.

We caught him in a rather upbeat mood, as San Diego's system has seen an infusion in recent years of more high ceiling prospects, which always falls into Kevin Goldstein's sweet spot.

You have Donavan Tate as the Padres number one prospect, despite the fact that because of signing difficulties and injuries he has yet to have an at-bat in professional baseball. What did you see in him as an amateur that makes you so high on him?

Kevin Goldstein: I don't accept the argument that you can't rank a player because he hasn't had a professional at-bat; I know you guys do that, but I disagree. My belief is that you can't get a true picture of a system by not including someone like Tate who easily has the highest ceiling of anyone in the Padres' system. Seriously, can you think of anyone that even comes close to his tools?

He got over six million dollars for a reason. Potentially, he is someone that can hit 30 home runs, steal 30 bases and play a great defensive center field. He has plus power and plus speed, and I will take that everytime.

Last year, you had Allan Dykstra as the Padres' number seven prospect, a player who had very limited at-bats professionally. This year he didn't make your list. Why? Was it his performance or has the talent gotten that much better within the system?

Kevin Goldstein: His performance put him that far down. He didn't turn out to be as good as I and everyone else thought and really didn't even look like the player he was at Wake Forest. I thought he just looked very slow with a very slow bat.

If you go back to the point about ranking players before they really play in pro ball, do I think someone like Logan Forsythe will have an easier time reaching his potential than Donavan Tate? Yes, but you also have to ask yourself what will that potential or ceiling be. With Donavan it could be pretty special.

You are one of the very few people that have Dexter Carter in your Top 10. What did you see in him that made you so high on him? > Kevin Goldstein: Really, where did you guys put him?

I had him at #27 and Denis had him at #22. Obviously, he didn't make our combined Top 20 list.

Kevin Goldstein: I look at it this way, he threw about 120 innings that were pretty good in Kannapolis [the White Sox Low-A affiliate] and 20 innings that were bad in Fort Wayne, that is a good season. He's 6-foot-6, throws hard with a nice downward plane and you just don't find that type of potential that often. The White Sox guys were very high on him, but of course, he does need some refinement.

You also have James Darnell slightly higher than most. Do any of his defensive problems scare you off?

Kevin Goldstein: Absolutely, but his problems frustrate me more than they scare me. He is somewhat comparable to Ryan Braun, although, don't get me wrong, he is not the prospect Braun was in that he has the athleticism to be a good third basemen but isn't. It's the same with Darnell, you wonder how hard is he working at it?

Two part question – what do you see as Rymer Liriano's biggest asset and what could keep him from reaching his potential?

Kevin Goldstein: Truckload of tools, but he is quite raw. He certainly has the ability to rocket up the list but what is holding him back is really what you find with so many Latin American teenagers, particularly from the Dominican Republic; he just hasn't played in that many games.

So many of these kids don't really play that much organized baseball and are so geared up for workout type skills it just takes them awhile to really lean how to play. For example, you don't see a whole bunch of Dominican catchers because it is such a demanding position in terms of game skills.

Liriano is overly aggressive at the plate and on the base paths, and right now, he just really needs to play more.

Lance Zawadzki tends to hit much better when he stays at one position. What do you see as his best position and do you see him as an everyday player?

Kevin Goldstein: I do see him as an everyday player but one whose best position and most valuable position are not the same. He has enough range to play shortstop but wouldn't be great there, even though he does have a cannon of an arm. Defensively, he is a better second baseman, and the bat plays well at both positions.

There has been some talk of moving Logan Forsythe to another position. Do you foresee that in his future, and does he have enough power to stay at 3B?

Kevin Goldstein: That is exactly why I didn't rank him that high. He doesn't really fit the third base profile and isn't the type of player that can gracefully move over to second base. Physically, he is a third baseman. Offensively, he is a second baseman.

What was the biggest reason for Simon Castro's improvement this year, and what could possibly derail him in the future?

Kevin Goldstein: I think maybe all of us didn't realize just how good he was. I saw him quite a bit this year, and he was one of the best pitchers in the Midwest League. He is a true number two starter, big body, good fastball, slider and developing change. As for derailing him, the only thing that I can see is injuries.

Which person on the list do you believe has the best chance to move up the most?

Kevin Goldstein: I would take Liriano, always bet on the tools.

Questions from MadFriars Readers

After the Padres drafted Donovan Tate and then Everett Williams in 2009, they set up quite the organizational battle for CF/LF over the next few years. How do you see that dynamic between the two playing out over the next 3-4 years of development? Between those two and the other young, talented OF crop the Padres have (Jaff Decker, Rymer Liriano), how do the Padres ensure everyone gets proper development time?

Kevin Goldstein: You make it work. I think you will always see Tate in center with the other guys working on the corners. Tate is a special talent and that will be the priority.

Does you foresee Wynn Pelzer remaining in the rotation, or a setup man/closer in the end?

Kevin Goldstein: I see him more in the rotation. He fits that profile, especially if his changeup keeps coming. You don't make guys into relief pitchers until you have too.

Do you think Cory Luebke will be in the Padres' starting rotation sometime before the end of the season, and do you see him as a number three starter?

Kevin Goldstein: No and no. As you know, I talk to quite a few scouts, that is what the rankings are based on. It's tough to find people that really like him; above-average command, but he doesn't really have a big pitch. I see him more as a back of the rotation starter and think he will be in San Antonio for the year.

Who would you pick as your sleepers, for both players and pitchers?

Kevin Goldstein: Jonathan Galvez for the hitters, but he needs to find a defensive home; but the scouts really believe in the bat. I also like Sawyer Carroll who has an outside shot as being a starter on a second division team or a really solid bat coming off of the bench. His power does need to pick up some for a guy that will be in the corner. For pitchers, I would probably take Keyvius Sampson, very athletic and fluid motion, and I could definitely see him in the top ten next year.

What do you think of Jaff Decker? From what I've read ,you were not impressed with his athleticism?

Kevin Goldstein: That is putting it lightly. [laughs] I don't want people to think that I don't like him because I do. There is no question that he has innate ability not only hitting but in playing the game. I just don't see a lot of 19 year olds developing into great players with that body. I saw him play numerous times in person, great player and kept asking myself what does he look like when he turns 25, and I just didn't like any of the answers. Could he be an exception? Sure, but right now it is really hard to see.

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