Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has been ranking the top Padres’ prospects since 2007 when he took over for Kevin Goldstein, who is now the Director of Pro Scouting for the Houston Astros.
Eddy, who is Baseball America’s Associate Editor for their website and the minor league was kind enough to speak about his thoughts on this year’s list.
So many of these lists vary because some writers put more emphasis on performance while with others its about potential.
Your list is pretty varied. How did you balance it?
Matt Eddy: I’m sure some people at Baseball America would have had Fried at number one based on his ceiling. He was viewed as the best high school lefty since Clayton Kershaw but I opted for Casey Kelly because of the combination of his major league experience and that I think he is getting close to matching the potential we have all written about for years.
Casey has the potential to really become something because of the ground ball ratios that he generates off of his two-seamer/sinker. But the big issue with him is the health of his elbow which costs him a lot of time last season.
You have Fried ranked higher than everyone. He only pitched around 18 innings in the Arizona League what made you so high on him?
Matt Eddy: His ceiling was a big factor but the reports that we received on him factored in a little more. We are talking about a young left-hander with a firm fastball and the ability to spin the ball; something you don’t see a lot of.
His ranking is a reflection of that high ceiling. The Padres scouting reports on him before the draft described him as not as powerful as Kershaw but with the same type of stuff as Tyler Skaggs [one of the Arizona Diamondbacks top prospects].
Do you think Jedd Gyorko can play second base or does it seem to you similar to when the organization moved Chase Headley out to left field when he first came into the majors?
Matt Eddy: From the reports that we have seen he probably could handle second for a season or two but it is not seen as a long term option. The big reason the Padres would want him to get some development in the big leagues because his bat is ready now.
Donn Roach is a popular sleeper pick with many pundits. What did you think of him?
Matt Eddy: I think he has back of the rotation potential but would probably profile better coming out of the bullpen which is where the Angles had him. He really commands the sinker and his splitter. The fastball comes in at around 88-90 MPH and there are not a lot of starters that can be effective unless they have the kind of tilt that Brandon Webb has on his sinker.
For position players I thought there was a pretty good drop in the system after Jedd Gyorko, Austin Hedges and Rymer Liriano but you still seem to be very high on Cory Spangenberg despite a subpar season in Lake Elsinore.
Matt Eddy: It was more of a benefit of the doubt situation. I know when talking with the team they weren’t thrilled with his performance this year but they also took into account that the concussion he suffered in midseason really screwed up his development.
His first half was kind of mediocre and he just wasn’t the same when he came back from his concussion. However he did look good in the Arizona Fall League. He has elite speed and he’s going to have to improve upon his swing, probably get a little more balance in it. He’s not a really smooth fielder at second base but does seem to get too what he needs too.
On the same token RHP Keyvius Sampson struggled in the first half but was much better in the second half. How did he come out in your rankings?
Matt Eddy: He was in the number fifteen range mainly because his curve ball hasn’t developed the consistent break that the Padres envisioned. RIght now he profiles more as a number five guy or someone coming out of the bullpen where his fastball/change-up combination would be effective.
The Padres drafted three high school pitchers in their first four picks of the 2012 draft. We know what you think of Fried. What did you think of Zach Elfin and Walker Weickel?
Matt Eddy: High school right-handers are a much dicier proposition than lefties mainly because there are so many of them. Both Elfin and Weickel have talent but I just wanted to see a little bit more of them before I ranked them higher. I do like both of them, and Fort Wayne should have a really interesting staff this year, especially Weickel with his size.
Who is the sleeper in the system?
Matt Eddy: I like Fernando Perez, a left-handed hitting third baseman that they took in the third round out of Central Arizona JC. I know the Padres were really excited to get him and he has good power.
You have been doing this with the Padres since 2007. What is the biggest change you have seen since then?
Matt Eddy: To me the big shift was in 2009 when they went away from all of the college players and started to draft on upside with players like Donovan Tate and Everett Williams. I’m not sure they were making the best evaluations on those players because the change was pretty abrupt but it was a change. Then with Jason MacLeod and Chad MacDonald taking over as Directors of Scouting we saw a continuation of that philosophy with the drafting of players like Joe Ross, Austin Hedges and Max Fried.
Their farm system also got a big boost in the trading of major league assets like Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Adams and Mat Latos for prospects.
For more on the Padres’ minor league teams, check out MadFriars.com