Ben Sestanovich is in his first year as the Padres’ Director of Player Development after serving as the Assistant Director for the previous three years. In college, Ben pitched for Harvard University finishing his senior year second on the team with a 3.26 ERA in 30 innings.
He was kind enough to take some time with us to discuss some of the top Padres’ prospects in 2019 at their short-season affiliate in Pasco, Washington. Today is the second of our six-part series on each of the team’s affiliates.
MadFriars: Jordy Barley has a lot of athletic ability. How much of it did we see this year with the Dust Devils?
Ben Sestanovich: I saw him on three different occasions – twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs. Jordy had a nice year after two seasons in the AZL. We’ve always known he was a premium athlete, and we’ve seen him make strides on the field that were really encouraging. He can do everything you want a player to do; it’s just a question of being more consistent.
This year I really liked what I saw with Sean Guilbe. Where do you see him playing defensively in the future, and how can you get more production from his bat going forward?
Ben Sestanovich: Sean is definitely an interesting bat. Going forward, we are going to continue to have him play a variety of positions – third and second base and left field. He’s an intriguing right-handed bat with his power and approach. This year he started to make a few swing adjustments with our hitting coach, Pat O’Sullivan, but like all of our players, he will have to make continual adjustments as he moves forward.
Kelvin Melean is only 21, but this was his third season in Tri-City, and he seemed like he finally put it together. What did you see from him, and what did you like?
Ben Sestanovich: Melly is an interesting case. We signed him in 2015 and have bounced him around at various levels for several reasons – need and he was mature enough to handle it. We had him go back to the Northwest League for more consistent playing time, and he was a very good influence on the younger players in how he approached the game.
Logan Driscoll spent some time on the disabled list before he came back and put up some strong numbers. Does the organization plan to have him catch every day in Fort Wayne next year and continue to play him in the outfield?
Ben Sestanovich: I think he’ll primarily catch, but we will continue to expose him to the outfield. The other day we clocked him running a 4.2 down the first base line, so that is moving for a catcher. He’s really a nice player; very versatile and a solid left-handed bat.
Wen-Hua Sung led the team in strikeouts after struggling following his introduction to the U.S. game. What went right?
Ben Sestanovich: Mainly, he was just healthy, and getting consistent work was important for his development. His split-fingered fastball really made him tough.
Ben Sestanovich: I think velocity is important, but it’s not the sole determinant for a pitcher. Both Ignacio and Nick have unique fastballs; both have a type of cutting action. They are both pretty young, and we still could see some more velocity coming from both. I liked what both of them did outside the AZL this season.
Dan Dallas struggled in Fort Wayne and then put together another good year in Tri-City. What did he improve upon?
Ben Sestanovich: Dan wasn’t using his secondary stuff as much as he could in Fort Wayne. When he went back to Tri-City, he started to use it more and became a reliable bullpen piece for Mike.
Who else stood out for on the mound?
Ben Sestanovich: I thought Mason Fox had a very nice year. He started off the year in the AZL, and then went through Tri-City, Fort Wayne and finished off the year pitching in the Cal League playoffs with the Storm. I really like the two-pitch mix of his fastball and curve.