While covering all thirty teams and the draft, Kevin, going back to his days at Baseball America, has always paid particular attention the fortunes of the Padres.
We caught up with Kevin to question him on what he believes is one of the deeper systems in baseball.
Baseball Prospectus’ Top 11 San Diego Padres’ Prospects for 2012
1) Rymer Liriano
2) Robbie Erlin
3) Jedd Gyorko
4) Cory Spangenberg
5) Joe Wieland
6) Anthony Rizzo
7) Casey Kelly
8) Austin Hedges
9) Joe Ross
10) Keyvius Sampson
11) Donovan Tate
With the Padres finally deciding to spend big money in the draft the past two years how do you think the new collective bargaining agreement will effect them?
Kevin Goldstein: Its fair to say that it might not affect them as much at first glance. If you add up all the money from the so-called hard slot its going to be closer than most of us thought originally. You are not going to have the full flexibility of the old system, and remember the Padres were being run by ex-Red Sox guys the past two years who kind of invented this stuff, so there will be some adjustments.
How do you think the new regime of Josh Byrnes and Chad MacDonald, formerly of the Mets, will compare to Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod?
Kevin Goldstein: We really don’t have an idea of how Josh/Chad will play out. There are some mixed reviews on Josh Byrnes out there. Some people really love him, other don’t.
Since I live in the Chicago area it reminds me of some of the commentary I’ve been listening and reading about [new White Sox manager] Robin Ventura. How good he will or won’t be no one knows, we all have to wait and see. To say otherwise is just foolish.
For me the most important thing about Byrnes is that he is coming from the Red Sox model as did Hoyer and McLeod, so it should be more of the same thing.
The trade of Mat Latos; what was your opinion of what the Padres gave up and what they got back?
Kevin Goldstein: There are a few ways to look at it but from the Padres point of view they are building for the future so they added to what is in my opinion the deepest system in baseball. While they don’t really have an elite prospect they will have more guys that are four-star prospects than any other team and more players in my top 101 than any other organization.
As far as what they got back I always love top catching prospects because they are so hard to find, so I like them getting Yasmani Grandal.
I’ve never been a big fan of Yonder Alonso; I think there are just too many holes in his game. When you are limited to first base, which most people think Alonso is, and you are seeing holes in his game at the minor league level that isn’t good for a first base prospect that is going to be expected to hit in the middle of the order at the major league level. His power has never really showed up and he struggles to hit lefties.
Brad Boxberger is a nice arm out of the pen and should be able to handle the seventh inning and Edinson Volquez is a bit of a wild card. If the club can get a good run out of him by July, by that time many of their pitching prospects will be ready and you can even add to the value of this trade by spinning him off.
I very much agreed with your statement on the BP Podcast that you can make a good argument for any of your first nine players - although in my opinion with the exception of Austin Hedges and Joe Ross because they really haven’t played yet - to be the top prospect.
The two players that you are a little down on compared to us are Keyvius Sampson and Jaff Decker.
First Sampson. A big part of your criticism, as I read it, comes from your statement that he is a rather “slight” pitcher. He’s put on twenty pounds of pretty good weight since he was drafted and is 6’1” and 210 lbs. Or was it more on that you think his delivery has too much effort?
Kevin Goldstein: If I did use the word “slight” it was a mistake and I should have written that it is more about his height. He just never really has the mechanics to make up for it and along with his injury history is a reason I may not have been as high on him.
I think he has really good stuff, he just doesn’t make it look great. I think he can be a starter but I can see him having more of an impact out of the bullpen.
Jaff Decker, “athleticism of a beer league softball player”?
I know you read our stuff on MadFriars and you have read some things I’ve written in Baseball America on him he’s been in very good shape the past two years.
Kevin Goldstein: Ok, ok here we go. We can both play this game. Is he in good shape for Jaff Decker or is he in good shape? Let forget about the athleticism part for a moment. Where does he play? I see him limited to left field where I don’t think he’s a very good defensive player. Finally what did he hit this year? He hit .236 with a .417 slugging percentage in the Texas League?
I rest my case.
Who surprised you most on the list? You seem to be pretty high on Cory Spangenberg.
Kevin Goldstein: I’ve always liked Spangenberg but the player that has surprised me the most has been Gyorko. The scouts that I have talked to have told me that he can really hit and that he’s a better third baseman than most think. He has enough of an arm, decent hands and his range isn’t bad.
And he can really hit.
He’s not the biggest guy in the world, somewhat wobbly and bow legged...but he can really hit.
Rizzo put up some great numbers in the first three months in Tucson but didn’t look so great in San Diego. With Alonso coming in from Cincinnati does this mean he is on his way out in San Diego?
Kevin Goldstein: I’m not sure that is a safe assumption. \I know quite a few people have been saying that but essentially you have two unproven players competing to play first base. It might be a good idea to know which one is better first before you make a deal.
Rizzo’s numbers last year would be good anywhere but I’m also convinced he got into some bad habits in Tucson last year, mainly getting a little pull happy. Personally, I like Rizzo better.
Was the Mike Adams trade really as good as it looks now? Both Erlin and Wieland look like they have a chance to be solid #3 starters or better.
Kevin Goldstein: It has the potential to be a really good trade for them because a starter is more valuable than a reliever and San Diego has a chance to get two pretty good ones. As good as Mike Adams is and as deep at Texas’ system was, its still a shocking amount that they paid last year.
To me Rymer Liriano is the classic Kevin Goldstein #1 prospect, young and tools galore.
Kevin Goldstein: A Kevin Goldstein #1 prospect what is that?
You like tools more than executives at Home Depot. Lets just leave it at that and move on...
Kevin Goldstein: Ok you keep falling in love with your Paul McAnulty guys and I’ll take ceiling.
You did a pretty good job on describing his negatives - with the exception that he also likes to chase sliders. However this is someone whom I see is at least two to two and half years away from the big leagues would you agree?
Kevin Goldstein: I think that is fair and really I would lean towards three and half years.
Any reason why you didn’t rank Anthony Bass? Pitched well last year in relief and limited starts. Also he has an outside shot of making the rotation?
Kevin Goldstein: I agree with everything that you just said but I also think he is a somewhat fungible commodity. I see his height as maybe a #4 starter, more likely a number five and you can find a lot of those guys.
Not to take anything away from him. His velocity has picked up, he has performed and he made the major leagues, which is great. There are just other players I like more.
Last question, where would the prospects that came over in the Reds deal rank in the Top 11?
Kevin Goldstein: Grandal would have gotten consideration for number one. He is an average defender with an average arm but he is a solid defender. When you can play that position and do what he does with the bat, you have something. Alonso would have been pretty far down on the list and below Rizzo.