We caught up with Sam Geaney, the Padres’ Director of Player Development for the fifth segment of our six-part interview series on the top prospects in the system.
Today Sam chats about the San Diego’s prospects with the San Antonio Missions in 2018.
MadFriars: What part of Austin Allen’s defensive improvements were you most impressed by this year?
Sam Geaney: With Austin, it’s always kind of the same story every year we talk, he just keeps finding ways to get better every single day and at the end of the year it turns out to be significant. A big thing with him is that he always dominates the offseason in Florida; he works out with some good guys like Francisco Lindor.
I think last year in High-A he didn’t end the season as strong as he did this year. He really sustained his fitness and his quickness was the same at the end of the season as it was in the beginning.
The majority of Josh Naylor’s games this year were in left field. What are your plans going forward with him?
Sam Geaney: I was really pleased with the strides that he made defensively out there this year and a big part of his improvement was that he really bought into playing out there. You could also tell that he really enjoyed too. Early on he was a little overly aggressive, especially with his throws, but those are the types of mistakes that you also wanted to see. He wasn’t tentative and he wasn’t afraid.
He’s not there yet, there is still work to do but I think with his bat and his desire to get better in the outfield he’s going to start to put himself into the mix on the big league level pretty soon.
Everyone is excited about when Fernando Tatis will make it to San Diego. I know you have answered this a few times, but do you have any questions about his ability to handle shortstop defensively?
Sam Geaney: Zero. He’s a very gifted player offensively and one of the more unique things about him is that as he has gotten bigger and stronger, he’s also gotten faster and quicker. For a big man h,e moves incredibly well and can make all the plays.
Buddy Reed started to pick up after a brutal start. What adjustments did he make?
Sam Geaney: He was so hot to start the year in [High-A] Lake Elsinore it was natural to see a little regression to the mean. When he went up to San Antonio he got away from a few things with his swing, but he was able to come back to where he was at the end.
So far in the fall, he’s looked good.
Ty France had a good under the radar year. What do you see for him next year?
Sam Geaney: Ty checked a lot of boxes this year. He was able to put together strong at-bats consistently all year and he can play multiple positions in the field. It’s been nice to see one of the better people – and harder workers – in the system begin to get some more attention. He’s a great guy and fun to be around.
On a side note, when we have situations where we need an emergency pitcher; he’s fun to watch. He’s got a pretty good curveball.
Logan Allen was your best pitcher this year for the Missions and maybe in the whole organization. What makes him so effective?
Sam Geaney: Logan has always had a mature way about him and surrounds himself with good people. In a way, he’s kind of like Austin Allen in that he finds some way to improve every day. He has a good command of his fastball and the changeup is a weapon. His slider and curve also improved this year.
To me his big jump this year is that he was more efficient with his pitches, which allowed him to go deeper into games. Also continuing to be healthy and make all the starts he did helped as well. I also think Logan is a better athlete than people think.
Cal Quantrill had a very up and down year. What went well for him and what needs improvement?
Sam Geaney: I thought Cal had a very successful season. Cal is the type of player that thrives on competition, on the field with fellow teammates; anyone. He wants to be great and at times this year, he showed us what he could be capable of. He’s further away from his surgery and towards the end of the year the changeup started to get more swings and misses at the Triple-A level. There were some funky outings in the middle, but he has good velocity and I think the key is for him to continue to be able to get to the quality changeup on a more consistent basis.
His breaking ball also showed some more development as well.
Jake Nix had nine starts with the Missions and one with the Chihuahuas. What part of his game would you like to see him improve?
Sam Geaney: Because of some of the injuries that Jake has had, he doesn’t really have a ton of innings under his belt. We were happy to get him out there this year and obviously he performed well. Right now, with Jake it’s more of just improving at the margins a little more; getting a few more swings and misses, improving his secondary pitches and things like that. He has very good stuff and right now it’s just finding the best way to use it.