In many ways it was a dream job for the former Rancho Buena Vista High and Palomar College pitcher who joined the Padres’ organization as an intern after his brief minor league career ended in 1994. In 2003 he left to join the Red Sox after serving in a variety of positions, including the Assistant Director of Scouting and Development.
Since re-joining San Diego McLeod has led the organization in a different direction compared to the previous regime of Sandy Alderson/Grady Fuson in selecting more expensive high school players with bigger ceilings, albeit with more risk as compared to the more collegiate oriented, and cheaper drafts, of Fuson.
McLeod always insisted that it was about taking the best player available, as was the case with his second round selection of West Virginia’s Jedd Gyorko in 2010. But he also understood that a small to medium size market team team needed to find and develop its own superstars and to do that it was necessary to take chances.
Despite a last place finish this season, the front office tandem of Hoyer and McLeod was fairly well respected in their two season so it came as a shock to many that they would be joining their former boss Theo Epstein.
After the smoke settled Jason was kind enough to chat about the recent developments with the Cubs and his legacy with the Padres.
As you know MadFriars primarily covers the Padres’ minor leagues so the overwhelming majority of our readers were big fans of the emphasis that you and Jed put on draft/development.
So the question we have is why are you and Jed leaving in what is seen as a lateral move?
Jason McLeod: The easiest way is just to describe it as a perfect storm. It was a combination of Theo [Epstein] getting the job in Chicago, Josh Byrnes being here, and certainly being qualified as a capable general manager, his relationship with Jeff Moorad and all of us having experience working with Theo in Boston.
All of this seemed to happen so fast. There have been some reports that this was being discussed during the last series of the year with the Cubs - can you give us a brief timeline of when all of this came down?
Jason McLeod: Its tough to really confirm a specific date but it was around two or three weeks ago from today [October 30] that Theo was going to Chicago and then some conversations started to take place, all of with official permission. Then the ball just started rolling.
Theo kind of kicked the tires a bit and wanted to see if we could get one of us to go over there since we had all worked together in the past.
In the past two years the talent level in the organization has grown. What was your biggest goal coming into this job for improving the Padres draft/development and do you think that you met it?
Jason McLeod: The biggest thing in the game is to win it all on the big league level and we didn’t do that but I do think we made a good start. The discussions that Jed and I had was essentially was to focus on two parts. One, we felt that the Padres had to develop a top ten farm system in order to compete and I think this year you will see that in Baseball America.
When I came on board a little later it was more about implementing process and systems to help us make better decisions. That involved ramping up the number of scouts that we had in the system, bringing in Jaron [Madison, the Padres’ Scouting Director], hiring more regional cross checkers so we could not only get more information but a better quality of information.
Jaron won’t miss a beat.
Jeff Moorad to his credit has always emphasized the draft/development process but he really put his money where his mouth is. The team has spent over $23 million in the draft since he took over. Did he ever impose any limits on the money you would spend?
Jason McLeod: From the day that I got here we were always on the same page with Jeff on what we needed to do to build up infrastructure in volume of manpower to being more aggressive with signing bonuses. You really can’t be successful without everyone having the same vision and all of us are really proud of what we have been able to get done.
As you leave what is the biggest memory that you will take of your time here?
Jason McLeod: Even though we didn’t get it done in game 162, it was really exciting last year. I’m going to always remember not being able to sign Karsten Whitson but on the positive side I couldn’t be more excited about the guys we got out of this year’s draft and the players we got back in the two big trades we had [Adrian Gonzalez and Mike Adams trades] that really brought a lot of talent into the organization.
In a lot of ways it is really tough to leave your home town team, the guys you grew up rooting for as a kid especially when you had more to do but that is just the way it can play out sometimes.