MadFriars Interview: AJ Hinch

Dale Thayer, minor league FA to big league closer

AJ Hinch is a busy man these days. With the Padres dealing with more roster churn before May 15 than some organizations face all year, the head of pro scouting has had his hands full. But that's just the start of the story.

One early hallmark of the San Diego Padres' baseball operations team is how collaborative the group is. With two former GM's, several former farm system directors, and many combined years of experience among the Assistant GM ranks, the group recognizes the opportunity to benefit from leveraging expertise even outside their job descriptions.

"We're not territorial," said A.J. Hinch, whose official role is head of professional scouting. "We want to hear as many opinions as possible." That explains why Hinch, who has had plenty to do in his day job given how injuries have decimated the big club and upper level minor league system, has still been on the road to see many of the names the Padres will consider when they have seven picks among the first 100 overall in next month's draft.

"Yeah, we've seen pretty much everybody," laughed Hinch, about his efforts on the pro side that include signing veteran free agents Kip Wells, Anthony Reyes and Daniel Stange, among seven moves made since opening day just to keep enough warm bodies on the rosters in Tucson and San Antonio. And with four minor league signees currently populating the big league pitching staff, his work's far from finished.

But preparing for what is likely to be an active trade season and trolling the minor league free agent market is just one aspect of what he and his staff are working on.

"We all operate under the umbrella of Josh [Byrnes, Padres General Manager]," said Hinch.

So, with the organization considering big league options in the middle infield earlier this month, Byrnes, Hinch, and Randy Smith worked hand-in-hand to come up with a plan to get as much information as possible on Everth Cabrera, Beamer Weems, Alexi Amarista and Logan Forsythe.

"Randy gave [Tucson manager Terry Kennedy] a framework, but we all weighed in on something like that."

And that collaboration carried over down the system as well.

"With Gyorko, we knew one hundred percent that we didn't know anything until we tried it," said Hinch of the decision to give 2010 first-round pick Jedd Gyorko a look at second base in San Antonio. "Whether he stays there or not, we know more than we did before."

And in case all of that isn't enough, Hinch is on the road looking at amateurs to add another opinion on what's already come in from local scouts, cross-checkers, scouting director Jaron Madison, and others.

One of the reasons the Padres had such success with their haul of early picks in last year's draft was the "all hands on deck" approach they took. A dozen or more staff members got a look at some of the players they were considering. And while staffing has turned over significantly, the same approach will drive this year's final decision-making as well.

"We're all trying to help Josh have the best information possible," said Hinch. "If that means

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