Padres Prospects Q&A and Opening Day
The countdown has dwindled to just eight days before the first pitch of the 2012 season is thrown at Parkview Field. Scroll to “giddy with excitement” in your dictionary of colloquial phrases, and my picture should be listed there.
To shed some light on what the Opening Day roster might look like for the TinCaps, I chatted with Jeff of PadresProspects.com. He was down in Peoria, AZ to get a look at the minor league side of camp, and gives some good insight into how things are going down there:
Mike Couzens: How do you divide your time between watching games at each level throughout the minor league complex?
Padres Prospects: I definitely focused on the low-level guys while in Arizona. I sent out a quick poll on Twitter while preparing for the trip and it was clear that people were much more interested in the next wave of talent coming through the system. I’d recommend to any Padres fan – or Minor League baseball fan in general – to at least catch morning workouts one day while you’re at Spring Training. Usually you’ll get to see just about everyone take batting practice and occasionally you’ll catch a few bullpen sessions as well.
MC: Who do you see as being some of the top players that could start the season in Fort Wayne?
PP: The obvious candidates are 2011 draft picks Joe Ross and Austin Hedges. I was able to get multiple looks at both guys while in Arizona and each seems like an immediate contributor. . Matt Andriese, Cody Hebner and Duanel Jones are three more really intriguing names.
MC: What have you heard from scouts, coaches, etc. about players with a lot of buzz, including Joe Ross, Austin Hedges, Duanel Jones and Jace Peterson?
PP: Nothing but great things about Ross and Hedges. Coaches have been blown away by both guys’ makeup and coachability – not to mention the fact that both guys have elite physical tools. Jones has mostly gotten positive reviews. When you watch him hit you’ll see lots of good stuff like 400-plus foot home runs and a frame that’s ready to put on muscle. Peterson is a pretty interesting case. 2012 will be his first year playing baseball full time (he also played football in college) and you can see how Peterson’s immediate potential to improve could have a huge effect on the TinCaps season.
MC: Is there anyone, from having watched players in camp, who you think will be a standout in Fort Wayne that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention?
PP: I already mentioned Andriese and Hebner, both are college guys who could really see great results early. The Padres have put a premium on flame-throwing arms recently and those guys are just a small example of the exciting pitchers coming through the system.
MC: Given that guys are getting into camp between 6 and 7 AM and playing in hot conditions, what’s the attitude around the facility every day?
PP: Very positive. The Padres have brought in several former major leaguers – like Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin – to speak to the minor leaguers from an area of experience. From what I saw and have heard the players love working with these guys. Valentin especially was really connecting with a lot of guys, keeping them loose so they could focus on their game.
It should be a great season for TinCaps baseball.
Thanks to Jeff for taking the time to answer a few questions. You can follow him on Twitter @PadresProspects.
Opening Day (if you like coffee with your baseball)
Today is officially the first day of the 2012 Major League Baseball Season. The Mariners and the A’s traveled to Japan to get things started. First pitch time? About 6 AM Eastern. If you’re on the West Coast, you might as well have stayed up all night to catch the first pitch! But, hey, the first game of the year was exciting because it went into extra innings. Seattle ended up winning 3-1.
I woke up around 7:00 this morning and tuned to KIRO-AM in Seattle, the home of the Mariners. If you ever want to hear someone call a great baseball game, listen to Rick Rizzs.
He’s one of my favorite broadcasters to listen to, and I think you’d find the same by tuning in to a Mariners game this season.
Act fast, though–you’ve only got 161 left.
My Morning Jacket, take it away!